St. James’ Fall Adult Formation Course Selections


What DO We Believe:

Gender and the Creeds of the Church  

The goal of this series is to look at our two ancient creeds — the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds. What do they say about what we believe – the Trinity, Jesus’ humanity, the nature of God and the Holy Spirit? And particularly – you could have guessed that from the title of this series – we will look at gender. We will look at the gender of the words used in the creeds, the assumed gender of those reciting the creeds, and even the gender of the Trinity. What do scripture, theology and history say about our creeds and how we perceive them?

The desire is not to be prescriptive but rather to add one voice among others that may also be valid and true for our tradition. We invite the participants to consider thoughtfully their beliefs and how these are in accord with or differ from the creeds recited week by week. The participants are invited to think about how the creeds were developed over the first four hundred years of the Current Era and how they have been modified since. The understanding of God is not frozen in time. Traditions develop and change. How do the many threads that make up our faith – race, gender, status, philosophy – weave into the rich tapestry of the creeds?

Materials: Gender and the Nicene Creed, Elizabeth Rankin Geitz (New $14.95, Kindle $9. 99; Used $5.93, and up) plus handouts

Meeting times: Sundays 9:15-10:15 am, 6 sessions: September 23, 30, October 7, November 11, 18, and 25)

Facilitator: The Rev. Chuck Stewart, Deacon


A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic and Hopeful Spiritual Community

In this instructive and hopeful book, John Pavlovitz dives head-long into the anguish, rage and despair many of us are feeling in this extraordinarily anxious and divisive time in our nation’s history. Pavlovitz believes that now, more than ever, we as communities of faith need to talk about the cost of discipleship and what it means to follow Jesus.

Pavlovitz notes how so much of Jesus’ ministry was what he calls “table ministry: the way he so often used the act of sharing a meal, the act of breaking bread, as a way of letting people know that they were seen and heard and known and respected.” And Jesus did this with a startling diversity of people.

How diverse is our table? Who is welcome? Matthew 5:9 tells us that those wishing to reflect the character of God must be “makers of peace.” But how do we make peace with those whose religious beliefs, politics and behavior don’t seem to be compatible with our own?

Pavlovitz sets out just how to build a “Bigger Table” based on these core principles, or “legs”: Radical Hospitality, Total Authenticity, True Diversity and Agenda-free Community. We will explore each of these by reading selected chapters from the book and use the Discussion Guide from the back of the book to share our thoughts with one another.

Materials:  A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic and Hopeful Spiritual Community by John Pavlovitz (Paperback $14.40; Kindle $7.93)

Meeting Times: (Session 1) Sundays 9:15-10:15 am, 6 weeks beginning September 23 or (Session 2) Sundays 10:30—11:30 am, 6 weeks beginning September 23

If less than 5 people sign up, only 1 of the sessions may be offered.

Facilitator: Debra Rose Brillati



How People of Faith Must Work for Change

This is the title of a compelling book, written by Jim Antal, a denominational leader in the United Church of Christ, public theologian, and past colleague of mine.  “Jim shows how the Church can engage the urgent moral crisis of climate change.  This book will inspire both the courage and conviction people of faith need to realize God’s dream of a just world in which humanity is reconciled to all of creation.”  Archbishop Emeritus Desmund Tutu.  Because climate change amplifies all forms of injustice – hunger, refugees, racism, poverty, inequality, deadly viruses, war – defense of creation is a campaign for justice.

Consider joining me on a 6 week journey reading and discussing the chapters of this book, with the hopes of putting some of our thoughts into actions to care for God’s green earth.

Materials: Climate Church, Climate World by Jim Antal (Paperback $25)

Meeting Times: (Session 1) Sundays 12-1 pm, 6 weeks beginning September 16 or (Session 2) Wednesdays 5-6 pm, 6 weeks beginning September 19.

If less than 5 people sign up, only 1 of the sessions may be offered this fall. The class may be offered again in January.

Facilitator: Kip Coerper


Meeting Christ in Prayer

         This 8-week program will take you on a journey through daily prayer and journaling exercises to become more aware and responsive to God’s presence in your daily life.  You will be invited to share your weekly journey with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ at our weekly meetings. 

                  The overarching goal is to self reflect in a prayerful manner in order to strengthen your faith muscle and effectively live into your baptismal call according to your unique gifts.  No prior experience with prayer groups is needed, just a desire to strengthen one’s faith, enrich one’s prayer life, and deepen one’s relationship with God’s presence in daily life.  Please note that what is shared is prayerful conversation and should be held with the appropriate respect and confidentiality.

Materials: Meeting Christ in Prayer: An 8-Week Life-Enriching Experience Based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (Available from facilitator $14).

Meeting Times: (Session 1) Sundays 9:30-10:30 am, 8 weeks beginning September 23 or (Session 2) Thursdays 5-6 pm, 8 weeks beginning September 27.  If less than 5 people sign up, only 1 of the sessions may be offered.

Facilitator: Katelynn Roffo, Ministry Intern


Set Apart 

A 6-Week Study of the Beatitudes 

In this updated, newly formatted six-week Bible study through the beatitudes, author Jennifer Kennedy Dean examines the promise of blessedness in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount. Unlike a circumstance-driven emotion, such as happiness, blessedness is eternal and grounded in the reality of Christ in you. Set Apart is now available in an easy-to-use size with an updated preface and scripture index as well as new video introductions from the author. Best-selling author and internationally known speaker, Jennifer Kennedy Dean, guides readers to realize that we were made for holiness, and this core concept of the beatitudes is accessed through a praying life, a life lived in the present-tense power of God. It is only when we continually pursue holiness that blessedness comes, and we discover the power and fulfillment of the promise of God.

Materials: Set Apart: A 6-Week Study of the Beatitudes by Jennifer Kennedy Dean (Paperback $12.71; Kindle $6.15)

Meeting Times: Thursdays 4-5 pm, 6 weeks beginning September 20 (Note: No meeting on October 11). Minimum of 5 participants plus facilitator.

Facilitator: Cathryn Buck


All courses will meet at St. James’.

Sign up Sunday September 9 or 16.

Facilitators will be available on those days to answer any questions you may have.

You may also contact them directly:

Chuck Stewart (

Kip Coerper (

Debra Rose Brillati (

Katelynn Roffo (

Cathryn Buck (