The education of the adult members of our congregation has long been an important part of the mission of First Presbyterian Church.  That effort has been matched by a desire “to know and grow” as disciples of Jesus Christ which extends beyond our membership into the larger community. 


Ongoing Classes

+Pastors’ Study | Wednesdays at 12 noon – beginning September 6

Our study continues through Paul’s letter to the Galatians.  Meet at 12 noon in the classroom above the church office.  Study and discussion led by Pastor Glen or Pastor Kelly.  

Adult Education and Formation | Sundays at 10:00 am

Our Academy of Christian Discipleship offers short term courses with quality offerings taught by a rotating selection of excellent faculty.  We have a congregation that has an interest in a deepening of personal faith and discipleship.  We are an educationally interested group of people – with many professors, honorably retired ministers, authors, and experts in their field.  We seek to provide quality Christian learning for adults.  

+Ending Poverty | Beginning September 3 at 10:00 am  – Room 225 (through October 15 – no classes on 10.1)

This class, led by Dr. Hendrick “Hal” Serrie, focuses on the invention of poverty, one of the scourges of humankind.  We will examine how it developed in the Neolithic Period and morphed into permanent class and caste systems in all ancient and modern civilizations.  We will discuss how poverty threatens the survival of homo sapiens in the present.  And we will explore some of the current attempts at ending poverty and creating a better future for every human being worldwide. 

+Cold Brew and Conversations | Beginning September 10 at 10:00 am – Room 223 (through October 15 – no classes on 10.1)

This course, led by Rev. Kelly Fitzgerald and Mike Frandsen, imaginatively explores central topics of Christianity.  Grab a cup of coffee and sit at the feet of some of the 21st century’s most fascinating scholars and practitioners of the Christian faith through Animate: Faith Curriculum.  In each session, the group will watch a video featuring a leading voice from the Christian faith, spend time on personal reflection and journaling, and share ideas with the group.  In the first session, you will meet Brian McLaren.  Brian is one of the unofficial founders of what has become the Emerging Church.  The first class will address the question, “How have you embarked on a journey of seeking God and keeping the spiritual quest alive?”  All ages are welcome – from high school and beyond!

 

 


 Academy of Christian Discipleship Past Course Offerings:

+The 8th Century (BCE) Prophets: Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah of Jerusalem

To what role were the prophets of ancient Israel called by God? Is there an analogy today? Some say that they were meant to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Is this statement true? What was the social context of Amos, Hosea, Micah, and Isaiah of Jerusalem? How did they speak to this situation? How do they speak to us today? Course duration: 6 weeks (April 23 – May 28)

+The Road from Jesus to the Church

This course combines history and theology as Christianity moves from a handful of disciples to an extensive and elaborate movement. The class focuses on how the early church’s struggles mirror our own.

+Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life: You and Your Spiritual Gifts

+Connecting the Old and New Testaments

There are more than 200 years of history which transpire between the end of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ. What happened during those years? And what role do those events have in shaping the ministry of Jesus? Some Bibles include a set of books between the testaments which are known as the Apocrypha. What do they contain? Do they reveal anything important about the working (and the message) of God, or should they just be ignored? This class is a combination of Bible study and history with the goal of getting a clearer picture of the world into which Jesus was born and the shape of the Hebrew faith that was active at that time.

+Job: Three Views of One of the Bible’s Most Human Characters

An opportunity to delve into a most interesting life — one that raises issues and questions we all face every day. As Job’s drama plays out we will discover that there is more to this man than just “patience.”

+Spiritual and Moral Issues in Modern Fiction

Explore an engaging list of short stories and chapters of contemporary literature. The weekly readings will provide the grist for discussion of the intersection of faith and decisions of our daily lives.

+Guests in God’s House: What People of Different Religions Offer Each Other

Christians find their way, truth and life along with people of other religions in our one world home. But what is involved in being religious people in the world? What can we learn from our neighbors regarding the issues we all face as people of faith? How is religious practice involved in the deepening of faith and the transforming of lives? How do religions, including our own, encourage the search for truth? What are our understandings of “authority,” “revelation,” and “faith?”

+Forgiveness: The Exploration of a Christian Discipline

The Christian faith is indelibly marked by the invitation to receive and the imperative to offer forgiveness. A quick trip through the Bible will reveal the central importance placed upon forgiveness. It marks God’s interaction with the Hebrew people and is a clear mandate for those who would be followers of Christ. But what is there about forgiveness that makes it so important to both those who forgive and those who are forgiven? This class will search for answers in both the divine pattern and the biblical injunction. Then we will look into our own contemporary world for situations and examples that we can examine and learn from as we try to develop a discipline for faithful living.

+The Eleven Nations of North America

Since the early days of European settlements, America has been divided into rival regional cultures, defined by geography, history, religion and fundamental values. These regional cultures have persisted to this day and mark the fault lines in contemporary American society and politics. According to the Colin Woodard’s landmark book, American Nations (2011), there are eleven distinct regional “nations.” In this course we will discuss his findings and share our own experiences as those who have lived and observed life in different parts of the country. Taught by Dr. Hal Serrie, professor emeritus of anthropology and international business at Eckerd College. He has specialized in American national character and ethnic identity.

+Love, Commitment and Partnership: How the Church Looks at Marriage

Marriage is much in the news, but seldom is the church’s perspective accurately reflected or even casually mentioned. This class will examine Christian marriage from several perspectives (biblical; historical/cultural; ecclesiastical; political). How has the church looked at marriage and at weddings? What values are at the heart of our beliefs? Why do we do what we do, and say what we say? How in the midst of it all is its message of love, joy and partnership communicated to the couple and the world? Join us as we look at wedding vows and societal changes; at church and state debates and family traditions. You may fall in love all over again. Taught by Parish Associates John Cairns & Floyd Churn

+Discovering the Kingdom of God

Every time we say the Lord’s Prayer, we repeat the phrase, “Thy Kingdom come…” but our picture of that kingdom is vague at best. Does it refer to the Heaven in our future? Is it a reference to moments closer to our time – to something that is part of our current life and time? Many writers suggest that the “Kingdom of God” was the most important concept in all of Jesus’ teaching. If that is so, it becomes a key ingredient in our grasp of the Christian faith. In this class taught by John Cairns, we will examine several approaches to understanding the Kingdom – both through Scripture and through our current experience. How do our prayers, our hopes, our lives open the Kingdom of God to us to a place where we can discover the meaning of Jesus’ most important teaching?

+Peace & Justice

The Church is called to ask two basic questions before God: Who are we? What are we to do? These questions were presented in a very practical manner during this summer’s first course called Summer Hour: Mission Focus. The peace and justice ministry team will off er a course facilitated by Dr. Maurice Luker that will explore the biblical and historical resources for enacting God’s mission by bringing peace and justice to God’s world. In listening to God’s Word, we will begin to distinguish the diff erence between the values and actions of the Church and those of the world.

+Summer Education Hour: Mission Focus

In June 2014 we featured several of our mission partnerships: Plant With Purpose/Haiti, CEPAD/Nicaragua, Family Promise & Resurrection House, Restoring Hope in New Orleans (RHINO), and Mision Peniel – supporting immigrant laborers.

+Understanding Bullying in Today’s World

A distinguished team of specialists from Samaritan Counseling Services will discuss bullying with First Presbyterian Church the four Sundays following Easter. Director Rick Howell will lead the discussion. Our first session will examine the development of those who bully. Research is showing that these psychological characteristics begin in preschool years and accelerate through adolescence. Howell will look at the development of bullying and interventions that remediate these behaviors. During the second session, he will help us understand those who are bullied. This key background information will lead to a discussion for the following two sessions about what we as bystanders can do to intervene. Howell, trained as a pastor/counselor, will show us a path that will lead to constructive plans for addressing individual problems as well as directing us towards planning what First Presbyterian Church might want to do to support local organizations who deal with bullying every day.

+The Intentional Family

A 4-week parenting class to help parents and guardians be more effective in a world so busy and fragmented. Led by Clare Carter, the director of our award-winning preschool, and Glen Bell, senior pastor of the church.

+Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible

While much of the Bible presents God’s word for us, the Psalms mostly represent our words to God. In these pages we find songs of thanksgiving as well as individual and communal complaints, descriptions of God’s glory and blistering words directed toward Israel’s enemies, and in the midst of it all, petitions for God’s mercy. The Psalms deal with most of the issues of our faith. They are quoted throughout the New Testament and have influenced the poetry and prose of the church from the early years until the present time. Most of us know some verses or whole Psalms from memory. It is no wonder that Dietrich Bonhoeffer called the Psalms “The prayer book of the Bible.” Here is your opportunity to become better acquainted with this treasured book of the Bible with this class taught by Dr. Maurice Luker.

+The Church of the Future

Clearly, the world is changing, and so is the church. But what is the nature of that change? Is it for better or worse? If we could jump ten years into the future and stand on a ledge and look at the church – at our church – what would we see? Or more importantly, what would we hope to see? In this class we will off er several partial answers to those questions, and hopefully provide an opportunity for you to shape a vision for the church as it moves forward. You will be invited to consider five different perspectives and to form a picture of the future that we can live in and celebrate.

+Catholics and Presbyterians

We live in a pluralistic society where we all know people whose faith and religious practice is different from our own. This course will help those who have contacts in each tradition to sort out the similarities and differences, the facts and the mis-information. It will also help those who are unsure about “some things they have heard” to gain some clarity.

+Credo: The Confessions of the Church

“Let us say what we believe . . .”, but do we really believe it? How did the church come to the conclusion that what was written down is the “right belief?” And is it still “right” for us today? Together we will look at both what has been said and our own responses to it.

+Christmas Traditions and Memories

The Christmas season is filled with stories and treasures that mark for us the ways we have celebrated throughout the years. Everyone seems to have a treasured memory of “the way we used to mark the holiday” or some item that still evokes the recollection of past Christmases. During this Advent season, we want to tap into the memory bank and release the joy we have long associated with the time of Christ’s birth.

+A Quick Trip Through Church History: An Introductory Overview of the 2000 years of the Christian Church

This class traces the history of the church, not in elaborate detail, but with broad brush strokes, stopping to note the people and events that defined or dramatically altered the church and the way it went about its business. From the struggles of the early Christians trying to say what they believed while they were being persecuted, to the work of giant reformers like Martin Luther and John Calvin, to the 20th century debates about issues like biblical interpretation and civil rights – it’s a fascinating journey. Along the way, we will meet people like Constantine and Augustine, Jan Hus and John Wesley, Aimee Semple McPherson and Pope John XXIII.

+Finding Path to Peace and Justice

This course explores peacemaking—and its parallel concept—justice. What do these terms mean in the midst of our current situation? Can these biblical concepts be translated into our daily routines? Explore the biblical basis for peacemaking, the wide variety of ways peacemaking is being practiced by Christians today, what First Presbyterian members are doing to be peace and justice makers, and other related themes.

+Exploring the “Why” and “How” of Mission

If mission is what we are to be about, how have we pursued that goal historically and locally? This class will begin by taking a broad look at the way the church — and particularly the Presbyterian Church (USA) — has shaped its approach to mission, and then it will move on to particular mission programs, including First Presbyterian’s efforts to be faithful to Christ’s call in our own backyard.