Adult Formation

Adult Forums

Sundays at 10:30
Parish House Lower Level, Room 1-2-3

(during the academic season)

Adult Forums are scheduled weekly. Subjects cover a broad range of topics and guest speakers lead us in contemporary issues of the day and theological discussions. See the most recent issue of the weekly News from The Redeemer for details.

Click here for a booklet of the complete offerings for 2017 Fall & Advent.

April Forums

Not of This World
Faith, Culture, and Christian Responsibility

By David Romanik

In his book American Jesus: How the Son of God became a National Icon, historian Stephen Prothero makes two seemingly contradictory claims: that American Christianity “has been formed by Christians and non-Christians alike,” and that “the varieties of American religious experience have been shaped by the public power of the Christian message.” Prothero’s argument is intriguing because it suggests that Christianity has both influenced and been influenced by non-Christian traditions. Moreover, it assumes that “American Christianity” exists somewhat independently of its theological origins: that faith is, at least partially, a product of the culture that surrounds it. There is something unsettling about this claim. Both Scripture and the Christian tradition are somewhat ambivalent about engagement with the world. In fact, based on some interpretations of the tradition, it would be easy to assume that a faithful life requires us to eschew the broader culture in favor of a pure expression of piety. At the same time, it is virtually impossible and probably inadvisable for us to remove ourselves completely from the influence our secular society. How can the Church respond to the culture even as it fulfills its responsibility to transcend it? Our Spring Forum Series will explore this question. We will examine some of the ways that faith and culture influence each other and consider how this contributes to our understanding of the gospel and our Christian vocation.

April 8
Faith on the Small Screen

Over the past 70 years, few mediums have more thoroughly encapsulated our culture than television. Television has been a touchstone of our common life, the locus of many shared experiences: from political upheaval, to sporting events, to sitcom finales. Perhaps unsurprisingly, television has also functioned as a barometer for how Christianity is understood in the wider culture. Join David Romanik as he explores the ways depictions of faith on television have evolved over time and how they can help us understand our responsibility as Christians.

April 15
The Enchantments of Mammon

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells an incisive parable about a poor man named Lazarus who lives at the gate of a rich man’s house. Jesus is unsparing in his criticism of the rich man, not necessarily because he is rich, but because wealth warps his understanding of the world and his fellow human beings. In many ways, this parable is part of a long tradition. The Church has long challenged the societal assumption that money is the solution to every problem. Join Eugene McCarraher, professor of history at Villanova University, as he explores this tradition and considers the ways it can shape the lives of contemporary Christians.

April 22
The Believing Bard

In a skeptical review of several recent “updates” of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, the critic Adam Gopnik commented, “Shakespeare believed in fate, order, and forgiveness; we believe in history, justice, and compassion--three pairings so similar as to sometimes seem the same, though they are not.” Gopnik’s penetrating observation reveals that the world Shakespeare inhabited is, in many ways, entirely distinct from our own. Specifically, Shakespeare’s worldview was rooted in and shaped by a powerful sense of God’s providence, while our secular society has difficulty seeing beyond what is immediately apparent or useful. Though our outlook has changed, Shakespeare’s work continues to have deep relevance to the human condition. Join Shakespeare scholar Dr. Anne Hall as she examines the Christian themes in Shakespeare’s plays and explores how they speak to us today.

April 29
s Spiritual Sonnets

Despite the way they are usually characterized, Shakespeare’s so-called “love sonnets” contain lurid allusions to lust, hatred, recrimination, crudity, venereal disease, love triangles, betrayal, adultery, sexual blackmail, and threats against an ex. Nowhere are these prurient themes more evident than in his “Dark Lady Sonnets” to “the woman coloured ill.” In the midst of these tormented and obsessed texts, Shakespeare pens three “spiritual sonnets,” which shed light on the entire sonnet sequence. Drawing on themes from the Book of Common Prayer and the traditions of the Anglican Church, these “spiritual sonnets” are key to understanding Shakespeare’s life and work. Join Dr. Glen Skoler, a clinical and forensic psychologist, as he explores how Shakespeare attempts to find a “spiritual solution” to his own unhealthy love obsession by using the Renaissance metaphors of the Anglican Church.

March Forums

Praying As We Ought
Discovering Who We Are Meant To Be

By David Romanik

One of the themes that runs through the New Testament is the idea that we must be taught how to pray. In Luke’s gospel, Jesus institutes the Lord’s prayer only after his disciples say, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” In the eighth chapter of Romans, Paul notes, “we do not know how to pray as we ought.” In many ways, this is one of the more difficult concepts found in the Bible. We generally think of prayer as something organic, a natural and visceral response to grief or danger. It seems the height of arrogance to presume that there is a particular way we should pray. Why then is the Bible so insistent that we “pray as we ought?”

The theologian and ethicist Stanley Hauerwas argues that the quality of our prayer is intimately tied to our relationship with the world. As he puts it colorfully, “bad liturgy eventually leads to bad ethics. You begin by singing some sappy, sentimental hymn, then you pray some pointless prayer, and the next thing you know you have murdered your best friend.” Though Hauerwas is known for occasionally speaking in crass hyperbole, the point he makes is deadly serious. Our prayer shapes our perspective on the world. In other words, the way we relate to God says much about what we expect from the people around us. If we only interact with God when we are in desperate need, then our impression of our fellow human beings will be shaped primarily by what they can provide for us. On the other hand, praying “as we ought” leads to a more compassionate and generous perspective on the world.

During the season of Lent, our forum series will explore how we are called to pray. Join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 as we consider how our prayer might transform our experience of the world. Unless otherwise noted, all forums will meet in Room 1-2-3 of the Parish House.

March 4
“Humbly I Adore Thee”

When his children got married, a late parishioner of this church would tell them to remember two things: that there is a God, and it’s not you. This message of humility is an exceptionally good reminder for someone who has just entered the covenant of marriage, but it is also a succinct summary of what a perspective shaped by prayer looks like. At its most basic level, prayer requires adoration: acknowledging that God is God and we are part of God’s creation. Yet, it is often this way of praying that is most likely to elude us. Join Peter Vanderveen as he considers how we might more effectively practice adoration.

March 11
“Our Sacrifice of Praise and Thanksgiving”

At the very heart of our common life is the Eucharist, the sacrament instituted by Jesus Christ on the night he was handed over to suffering and death. It’s is easy to think of the Eucharist as a mere communal meal, a way of bringing everyone in the community together. While this is certainly an aspect of our Eucharistic celebration, there is a much deeper meaning, one that informs how we are meant to live in the world. Join Tory Dunkle and David Romanik for this intergenerational forum, as we explore the true significance of the meal we share every Sunday. Since Daylight Saving Time begins this Sunday, this forum will meet after the 10:00 service in the church.

March 18
“That We May Be Strengthened in our Weakness”

According to the Letter of James, members of the early Church who were sick called upon the elders of the community to come lay hands on them. This is foreign to our experience, not just because those who are sick have access to professional medical care, but because we tend to conceal our infirmities from those around us. Nevertheless, one of the central assumptions of the Church is that we should feel empowered to bring our troubles to God, that we should acknowledge our vulnerabilities and admit our dependence on God’s grace. One of the most dramatic and powerful ways we do this is through the sacramental rite of healing. In this rite, which is also known as “unction,” representatives of the Church pray for God’s grace to be given for the healing of spirit, mind, body through the laying on of hands. The sacramental rite of healing has been part of the liturgical life at The Redeemer for a number of years. Join members our Healing Ministry team as they discuss the power that comes from acknowledging our dependence on God’s grace.

February Forums
Aspiring to Love Part III
When William Penn founded a city on the banks of the Delaware River in the 17th century, he took a unique approach to naming it. Instead of honoring a benefactor or the place he had come from, Penn named the city for a virtue. Drawing from the Greek words for “love” and “brother,” Penn called the city Philadelphia. Having escaped from religious persecution, this was not a superficial decision. Indeed, Penn hoped the colony he established would be a place of toleration, mutuality, and fraternal love. From its very inception, in other words, Philadelphia was more than a place; it was an aspiration. For the last several years, our winter forum series has showcased some of the organizations in this area that are helping the communities around Philadelphia live up to its name. In January, we began this series specifically highlighting organizations that The Redeemer supports through the Outreach Grants Committee. We’ve already heard presenters from Episcopal Community Services, Eldernet, and other agencies describe how their organizations are working to make a difference for the most vulnerable among us. On Sunday, February 11, we will continue to learn how the organizations this parish supports are aspiring to love.
February 11
The Advocate Cafe
Since 1983, the Advocate Cafe has been a mainstay of the North Philadelphia community. Located at the historic George W. South Memorial Church of the Advocate, the Advocate Cafe serves a nutritious meal to more than 100 people every weekday. It also provides dinner for children who participate in the Advocate’s after school enrichment programs. In addition to enjoying meals at the Cafe, patrons support the work of the Advocate Care by volunteering to serve meals, clean the dining room, and manage the community clothes closet. For this and many other reasons, the Advocate is an anchor institution in its neighborhood. Join the Reverend Dr. Renee McKenzie-Hayward, vicar of the Church of the Advocate, as she concludes our series by sharing stories from this remarkable and important ministry. 
“God’s Truth Abideth Still”: The Reformation 500 Years Later
During the fall, we commemorated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation with a series of forums exploring its continuing relevance. Unfortunately, our final forum was postponed due to the threat of a gas leak in the Parish House. Happily, this forum has been rescheduled for the first Sunday in Lent, partially because it was a convenient day, but also because the theme of “reformation” is enormously significant in the season of Lent. Just as the church is constantly called to reform itself, the season of Lent invites us to do the work of self-examination and discern the ways that we can more fully reflect God’s grace.
February 18
The “Other” Schism
The Protestant Reformation precipitated a profound transformation within Christianity, but it was not the first time the Church was divided as the result of theological controversies. Almost five centuries before Luther’s protest, the churches of Rome and Constantinople broke communion over questions of theology and ecclesiastical authority. In our bias towards simplicity, we often pinpoint the split between the Eastern and Western churches to this particular moment in history. In fact, however, the schism evolved over centuries, beginning a conversation that was relevant during the Reformation era and, in many ways, continues to this day. Join Joseph Loya, professor of theology at Villanova University and priest in the Eastern Catholic tradition, as he examines the ongoing dialogue between East and West and warns that we oversimplify history at our peril.
Saying What We Mean and Meaning What We Say

sarah rudenAuthor Sarah Ruden to Speak at The Redeemer
Sunday, February 25 at 10:30am

In December of last year, Pope Francis shocked the world by suggesting the translation of the Lord’s Prayer traditionally used by most churches was not particularly accurate. Though hardly surprising to many, the Pope’s declaration reminded us how important the work of biblical translation is to our faith.

Sarah Ruden is a prolific writer who has published new and sometimes challenging translations of some of civilization’s most important texts. In a book called The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible, Ruden turns her attention to Scripture, brilliantly and elegantly explaining some of its most famous passages. Ruden reexamines and retranslates from the Hebrew and Greek what has been obscured and misunderstood over time. Though not a Biblical scholar, Ruden reveals what translation can accomplish when done well. Her translations of some of the Bible’s most famous texts allow us to read them as if for the very first time. One reviewer, who refers to Ruden’s “translating genius,” suggests that her provocative book represents a “strong jolt to our complacent and comfortable acceptance of Bibles that say the same old things the same old way.”

Members of The Redeemer are using The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible for their small-group Lenten Studies this year.

On Sunday, February 25 at 10:30, join the people of Church of the Redeemer in Bryn Mawr as they welcome Sarah Ruden for an event entitled “Saying What We Mean and Meaning What We Say.” At this event, Dr. Ruden will discuss her new book and share her powerful translation of the Lord’s Prayer. Please contact David Romanik for more information.

Men's Brown Bag Bible Study

12:00 pm, Conference Room, Parish House

Bring your lunch and your inquiring spirit to join in a wide-ranging discussion about writings of C. S. Lewis, the Gospels, the letters of Paul, and the religious issues of our day.

    Contact: Bob Peck

Women Exploring Scripture

Thursdays   12:00- 1 pm
Bring your lunch if you wish

We are reading and comparing the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, encountering Jesus and the Word He was sent to proclaim in a fresh way. Come with a beginner’s mind. No previous Bible study experience is necessary, all questions are welcome, and there is no homework. Expect to gain new insights into your understanding of the scriptures and the life of Jesus and to have a goodtime. We wholeheartedly welcome new members!