Adult Education and Formation
at FCC Camden
As an "Open and Affirming” church committed to embodying the Gospel in our lives, as individuals and as a community, we value opportunities to inquire and deepen our faith and commitment to serve God and others. Our program in Adult Education and Formation is one means of supporting this work. We explore our faith through an array of offerings, including classes, retreats, and service projects. Some of these are seasonal (e.g., series offered during Advent and Lent), others occur at regular intervals during the seasons of the year. Some of these occur within the church, but our church "happens” in other gatherings in homes and various outdoor services (the annual Easter Sunrise service and, in August, 2019, a Sunday morning service in Merryspring Park). The women of our church host an annual Women’s Retreat in the Fall, and the church as a whole offers other "day” retreats during the year.
"Living Grace” is the core theme for this year’s programs, structuring many of our activities and events during the course of the year. In such ways, we explore how we understand and practice the gift of grace as expressing divine impulses—i.e., the sustaining and renewing energy of love and "just peace”—in our lives, as individuals, as a community of faith, and in global perspective. Classes offered by members of the professional staff as well as lay people, meant to challenge and deepen our faith as well as strengthen our witness, will be augmented by special events throughout the year, including guest speakers, retreats, and other activities. As a community with a strong core of active older adults, offerings related to health and wholeness augment offerings in other areas.
All courses will be offered via Zoom; pre-registration is therefore required so that participants can be given a link to join the groups. To register, please contact Becky Brace at the church office (236-4821). Note that some courses have limited enrollment; registration in such cases will be on a first-come-first-served basis. All courses are offered without cost to participants.
Faith and Public Issues: Elections 2020
Faith and Public Issues. Beginning in late September, the "Faith and Public Issues” forum resumes its work, offering a six-week program for those interested in exploring the upcoming elections through the lens of our faith. Each week we will be highlighting an online resource (generally, short videos on related topics) and, for those interested in conversation about them, a moderated discussion led by Roy Hitchings and Mark Burrows.
Many church members and friends have asked, "What could we do to educate ourselves about some of the key issues in this very important election?” "How can we advocate for what we believe?” "What does our faith say about this?” The Faith and Public Issues task force got approval from the cabinet on 8/25 to address this issue. Beginning in mid-September we will be posting relevant information in the Beacon, in "This Week at Church” emails and through our website to help educate and discuss issues including: where do our candidates stand? key policy issues at stake in the upcoming election; effective advocacy; and how to ensure everyone can vote.
The national UCC has an impressive and informational website called "Our Faith Our Vote”. They have taken some strong stands such as: "Faith is focused on hope and built on a foundation of action”; "As Christians, we serve the poor, feed the hungry and stand with the oppressed”; we must "raise our voices and vote.” They also clearly state that active involvement in these important issues and the political process, while simultaneously staying non-partisan, is a legitimate and needed expression of our faith. We respect that each of us may approach the topic of politics and faith differently. Please view this as an invitation to discuss how we, in the spirit of our UCC values, might engage our faith in an impactful public life.
Faith and Public Issues: Schedule for Fall, 2020
Facilitated by Roy Hitchings and Mark S. Burrows
September 22: 7 – 8:30 pm
Please be in touch with Roy or Mark if you intend to participate so that we can issue you a Zoom invitation.
- An introduction to this work and an overview of the UCC website, "Our Faith, Our Vote”
- "Get Active in the Elections”: What are we allowed to do, and what are we prevented from doing, as a church? What remains for us to do as individuals, acting on our conscience? Ordering the "Our Faith Our Vote Toolkit” from the UCC national office
- Form Focus Groups on themes (see October 6)
September 29 (all further times to be announced)
- Introduce UCC's "Tuesday For Nurture” webinar series with link
- Engaging in the political process; remaining non-partisan—UCC info
- Using absentee ballots—LWV link
- Listing of candidates with links to their websites
- LWV's "Voter Guide” can be emailed and posted on website
- Voter rights, registration and how to fight voter suppression—UCC video with Staci Abrams
- Discussing selected issues from the UCC "Our Faith Our Vote” website: Climate/Environmental Justice; Racial Justice; Immigration; Gun Safety; Human Rights in the World; Voting Rights; Disabilities and Mental Health, etc. (focus groups will report in for our discussion)
- Policy issue discussion: Continue focus group discussion on key themes and issues
- How can you help to get out the vote? Strategies and ideas.
- Open discussion of issues related to the presidential debates
Election Day Tuesday Nov. 3
White Privilege: Let's Talk
This 6-week course will be led by Ute Molitor and Mimi Benedict, with excellent video and written materials produced by black and white leaders of our denomination. Full details are on our Racial Justice page.
Mimi Edmunds and Deborah Cautela are offering to host a discussion group in October on the Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison’s book Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. Those interested should contact Deborah at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Church History Course
A Church History Course led by Prof. Mark S. Burrows, entitled A Short History of Christianity to the Protestant Reformation: The story of the Church’s emergence and development into a global institution. This six-week online course will run after church on Sunday mornings from 11am to noon, on Zoom. We will explore key dynamics operative in the development of Christianity as a dominant force—for good and ill—in the Eurasian context. This course is designed for those with little or no familiarity with this story. We will begin by considering how a loosely organized "Jesus movement” took on a form that would quickly expand around the Mediterranean, across Europe and the hinterlands of central Asia, eventually establishing itself as a world religion. How this unexpected and unlikely development happened is the focus of this course.
Session #1 Nov. 8
Origins. The unlikely story of how an institutional church emerged from the early "Jesus movement”
Session #2 Nov. 15
Founding Fathers—and Mothers. Martyrs, monks, and mystics
Session #3 Nov. 22
Hierarchies of Order. Patriarchy, women and a feminine spirituality
Dates for continuing sessions will be announced in October:
Defending Orthodoxy. Schools, universities, and other novelties
Eclipsing the Middle Ages. Humanism, Gutenberg, and colonialism
The Age of Reformations. Theological strife, Christianization, and modernity
Mark Burrows earned his Ph.D. in the History of Christianity, and is well-known for his research and publications in historical theology and spirituality. His work explores various facets of this broad and complex narrative, focusing above all on developments in the European Middle Ages. For further information: www.msburrows.com
Plans in the Works
Fireside Book Discussion with Mimi and Skip. Join an informal exploration in late November (date to be announced) to explore Brian McLaren’s new book The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World's Largest Religion Is Seeking a Better Way to Be Christian.
Date and time TBA.
Book Group exploring author Meggan Watterson’s Mary Magdalene Revealed: An exploration of the ‘first apostle’, her feminist gospel, and the Christianity we haven’t tried yet. Led by Deborah Cautela as a four-week offering in winter, 2021.
Specific details about programs, events, and offerings are to be found on the church’s website calendar and in the "Latest News” sidebar on the homepage.