Dates: September 23 and 30
Title: Beguiled by Beauty: a Spirituality of Compassion and Justice
Description: This class will explore some ancient Christian wisdom linking beauty with care for humanity and for creation. Instead of thinking of justice primarily as a moral obligation, we will consider compassion and justice as flowing out of a spirituality of beauty. Beguiled by the beauty of others, we naturally are provoked to desire their well-being.
Facilitator: Dr. Wendy Farley joined the SFTS faculty in 2016, where she is serving as the Rice Family Chair of Spirituality and Director of the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction. Before that she was a professor at Emory University where she was chair of Theological Studies for over twenty years. She is the author of several books but for the moment she is delighting in the many natural beauties of her new home.
Dates: October 14, 21 and 28
Topic: The Book of Job: Unconventional Answers to the Problem of Human Suffering
Description: The Book of Job introduces us to a man who experiences great suffering for no apparent earthly reason. What follows the opening chapters is an extended debate between Job and his conventionally religious friends about the nature, causes, and meaning of Job’s suffering. Towards the end, God (“Yahweh”) “from the heart of the tempest” interrupts their debate with an answer that comprises the longest speech by God found in the entire Bible. The Book of Job is widely regarded as one of the most profound writings from the ancient world. In this class, we will read together many of the Job dialogues and explore the various answers posed there to the question of why humans suffer unjustly. We will also investigate the history of this enigmatic yet profound book and its role in Jewish and Christian attempts to justify belief in an all-good and all-powerful God in the face of apparently arbitrary human suffering. Please join us for an in-depth study of the book that Alfred Lord Tennyson called “the greatest poem of ancient or modern times.”
Facilitator: Tim Cahn has been a member of Seventh Avenue Church since 1999 and has served multiple terms on Leadership Council and on various Church committees. Tim is an attorney whose practice currently focuses on helping non-profit organizations, including being General Counsel to the Inner Sunset Community Advocates Inc. He also is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Golden Gate University School of Law teaching various intellectual property law courses.
Dates: November 11, 18 & 25
Topic: Dissatisfaction with the “Satisfaction Theory of Atonement”
Description: Using Elizabeth A. Johnson’s book, Creation and the Cross – The Mercy of God for a Planet in Peril, we will explore her critique of Anselm’s theory about the necessity of Jesus’ death on the cross.
Anselm creates a dilemma: The offender needs to make satisfaction according to the dignity of the offended. Finite humanity’s offense against God is an infinite offense. A finite being cannot satisfy an infinite offense against an infinite Lord. Therefore, the God-Man must die as payment to restore the dignity of the God-Lord. Johnson invites us to re-root our sense of God in the consistent Biblical narratives of the God who creates and redeems: “But what if the dilemma in Anselm’s treatise were a false dilemma? Try to imagine this: What if God neither needed nor wanted the cross in order to save the world from sin?” (p. 17) “Imagine this: under the satisfaction theory, the forgiving father in Jesus’ parable would be obliged to tell the prodigal son that he had to work off his debt in the fields before rejoining the household. Instead we see an embrace, new clothes, a ring, a feast! The merciful love of God is not so constrained” (p. 17)
Facilitator: The Rev. Fr. Dale Trunk was a Capuchin Franciscan Friar for 25 years. After ordination, the Order sent him to Rome for graduate study in Franciscan Spirituality. Returning to California, he served as seminary director, hospital chaplain, and associate pastor. In 1998, after cycles of burn-out, he “retired” from the Order and the priesthood. Currently, Dale ministers as a Flight Attendant, spiritual director, and gardener.
Date: Saturday, December 1
Place: Mercy Center, Burlingame, CA
Title: Advent Retreat — Advent: The Power of Looking
Description: Two major ideas stood out as we prayed through the lectionary texts: power and looking. We combined them into the theme — The Power of Looking.
The powerful actions of the natural world urge us to be alert; but does this alertness ask us to be on guard against danger, or be open to newness? Or both?
Looking and seeing are not the same. We look at a lot of things, passing many of them with little or no engagement. But sometimes we are startled into awareness – by a piece of art, the beauty of nature, attentiveness to another person. This is when we see, and something changes within us. As Benedict urged in his Rule, “Look with the eyes of your heart.” In so looking, we can see, and experience the transformative power of the Holy.
During this day long retreat we’ll consider what it means ‘to look’ and then, ‘to see’ as we prepare ourselves for the Advent of the Christ.
Facilitators: The Rev. Jeffrey Gaines is Pastor/Head of Staff of Seventh Avenue Church and has served this community since December 1991. He received his Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ in 1979 and his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA in 1975. From 1979-1991 Jeff served First Presbyterian Church of Monterey. From 1995 – 2003 he was also Executive Director of Spiritual Directors International. The Rev. Jenna Meyers is Associate Pastor at Seventh Avenue having received her Master of Divinity from San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2015 and her Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion and Philosophy from Cornell College, Mount Vernon, IA.
Dates: January 6 & 13
Topic: Help from the Tradition with Discernment
Description: Using Scripture, your own wisdom and experience, and tradition we will explore the arena of discernment with large and small decisions that we make. Both individually and corporately.
Facilitator: The Rev. Dr. Tom Glenn currently lives in St. Louis, MO with his wife Susie who is an attorney. They have two grown children and five grandchildren. Tom just recently retired as Parish Associate at Shandon Presbyterian Church in Columbia, SC. In addition he has a Spiritual Direction practice, is on the staff of the Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction at San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo, CA.
Dates: February 3 & 10
Topic: Intimacy with the Beloved: Drawing Near the Heart of God Through Sufi Poetry
Description: Sufism arose as the mystical expression of Islam. A particular gift of Sufism to people of all faiths is the poetic imagery of our relationship with God, who is often referred to as “The Beloved”. Through poems from Rumi and Hafiz, we will experience a passion for mystical union with the divine and explore how these ancient words can breathe new life into our relationship with the Beloved.
Facilitator: The Rev. Scott Quinn was ordained a Lutheran minister and served for five years as an associate pastor of a congregation in Dallas, Texas. His career includes working as an educator and spiritual director at an interfaith spirituality center in Austin, Texas; serving as Director of Community with The Chaplaincy Institute, an interfaith seminary and community in Berkeley; and currently he is the Executive Director of the Marin Interfaith Council in San Rafael. Scott is also a supervisor of spiritual directors, is Core Faculty for The Chaplaincy Institute’s Spiritual Direction program, and has been on staff with San Francisco Theological Seminary’s Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction. www.scottquinn.net.
Dates: March 17, 24 & 31
Title: Vices and Virtues of the Enneagram
Description: During this class we’ll look at the 7 Deadly Sins plus 2 more from the optic of the Enneagram.
1. The Sins of the Heart: Eco-centric Generosity, Success through Appearance, and Seeking Happiness through Sorrowful Pain.
2. The Sins of the Head: Seeking Wholeness through Isolation, Persecuted Persecutions, and Opportunistic Idealism
3. The Sins of the Gut: Angry virtue, Coming on Strong, Going with the Flow.
Facilitator: The Rev. Doug Lubbers is an ordained Presbyterian ministry (PSUSA), who serves in a specialized ministry at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. For 15 years, he has been the Director of Mission Integration, Chaplaincy and Interpretive Services at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital. He has also served four congregations as Pastor in New York, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth. Doug was educated at Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and hold a M.S. in Health Care Ethics from Creighton University Medical School. He is certified as a Pastoral Educator with the Association of Clinical Pastoral Education. He has served presbytery’s CPM. Occasionally he is a consultant in teaching enneagram workshops. Doug has three grown sons, and three grandchildren. He is married to Pascale Couderc and together, they have seven children. Doug is also a Parish Associate here at SAPC and serves on COM (Committee on Ministry) of San Francisco Presbytery.
Dates: April 14 & 28
Topic: Death, Dying & the Meaning of Life
Description: We will focus on Jesus’s death and resurrection as a lens for this discussion. So many people in the congregation are dealing with the impending or recent deaths of family members. We fear for the death of the Earth as we know it. How does our faith address these realities and concerns.
Facilitator: Carol Campbell has been officially part of the SAPC community since 2012. She has deep Presbyterian roots and a longstanding interest in seeing Christianity evolve from belief-centeredness to Love-centeredness. These days she enjoys being a grandmother, gardener, very amateur landscape painter, fledgling political activist in Oakland, student of the Enneagram system of understanding personality types, voracious reader, and wife to her beloved Jane. She is approaching the 30-year mark as a psychotherapist in private practice in the South Bay.
Dates: May 12, 19, & 26
Topic: Speaking of Faith
Description: Often when we think of what it means to speak of our faith we think of evangelism and quickly turn and run in the opposite direction. But if a relationship with the Divine and participation in a community of faith are life-giving to us, why don’t we speak out more about it? We don’t hesitate to recommend a restaurant that we love or a TV show that we can’t wait to watch. How much more so should it be with our faith that is core to our very being? Join us for three weeks of examining our discomforts around speaking of faith and seeking new ways to engage this practice through the key concepts of belonging, behaving, and believing.
Facilitator: The Rev. Dr. Leslie Veen is the Director of Contextual Education for Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley. In this role Leslie assists the students in getting out of the classroom and into various ministry settings to put what they are learning into practice. She is also a Parish Associate here at SAPC as well as an active member of the Presbytery of San Francisco.