Adult Formation

Adult Forums

Sundays at 10:30 in the 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.

Spring 2017 Forums

By David Romanik

Spring Forums

Being the Church: Reclaiming the Heart of our Faith

Those who follow sociological trends closely know that the last few decades have been difficult for the Church. The statistical benchmarks are alarming enough: Congregations are aging rapidly and average Sunday attendance is declining in almost every Christian denomination. Moreover, the Church’s cultural preeminence has eroded appreciably in recent years. The Church as we know it is undergoing significant, and in many cases, destabilizing change. In some ways, however, the most worrisome change is how impoverished our ecclesiology has become. We have spent so much time and energy either fiercely protecting our traditions or struggling to remain “relevant” that we have misunderstood the truth of the Gospel. In other words, we have, quite simply, forgotten what it means to “be the Church.” This year, our Spring Forum Series will explore this urgent topic. We will hear from several faith leaders who are experimenting with new models of ministry and Christian community. We will also consider how the more traditional aspects of our identity help and hinder how we understand the purpose of the Church. Throughout this series, we will strive to discover those features of our common life that are non-negotiable as we remember what it means to be the Church.

April 23
Nourishing Body and Spirit at The Abbey

The Abbey is a neighborhood coffee shop in Birmingham, Alabama. As a project of the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama, the Abbey’s mission is to offer a place of hospitality and conversation to the community. In addition to selling house-made baked goods and locally sourced coffee and tea, however, The Abbey is home to an Episcopal worshipping community. Join the Reverend Katie Nakamura Rengers, the founder and director of The Abbey, as she discusses the joys and challenges of this innovative ministry.

May 7
Making Room for the Sacred through the Interfaith Hospitality Network

We often assume that practicing hospitality essentially comes down to inviting people into our homes or preparing them meals. At its most basic, however, hospitality is about making room in our lives for others. Indeed, hospitality is one of the essential tasks of the Church: Christians are meant to create space in their lives, not only for other people, but for God. For many years, The Redeemer has been involved in the Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), an organization committed to helping homeless families and single women in our area achieve lasting independence. While Redeemer parishioners have prepared many meals and hosted many families in our Parish House, our work with IHN has ultimately been about making room in our lives for people we would not normally encounter. Join David Romanik as he facilitates a panel discussion with Jennifer Doyle, the Executive Director of IHN, and several volunteers from Redeemer as they share the joys and challenges of practicing sacred hospitality.

May 14
Rediscovering the Church’s Mission

One does not have to spend much time with Peter Vanderveen to hear him proclaim, “The mission of the Church is to be the Church.” While there is a self-evident quality to this statement, one could argue that the sentiment is not universally appreciated. Many of the initiatives the Church has focused on in recent years, while worthy, have not necessarily been expressions of its core identity. Indeed, some churches have a sense that their primary responsibility is to work for social justice; others see their role as providing political direction to their congregations. Join Peter as he articulates his sense of what it means to “be the Church,” and how that can inform our life both as a faith community and as people in the world.

May 21
Future Shock: Is the Episcopal Church Destined for Extinction?

The Pew Research reports that “the Christian share of the U.S. population is declining, while the number of U.S. adults who do not identify with any organized religion is growing.” Similarly, over the last ten years, average Sunday attendance throughout the Episcopal Church has declined by 26%. Join Donald V. Romanik, President of the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) for a lively and provocative conversation on current and future trends in the Episcopal Church as well as some creative and innovative ideas for a revitalized church that could become a  model in reversing this national decline. ECF is an independent, lay-led organization that helps congregations, dioceses and other Episcopal communities of faith engage in visioning and develop leadership and raise resources for ministry. Donald has been President of the Episcopal Church Foundation (ECF) since 2005. 

Lent 2017 Forums

galatians mixtapeThe Humanity of Paul: A Passionate Proclamation of the Gospel

By David Romanik

Of all the Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton’s legacy is one of the most complicated. A prolific writer, public servant, and deeply influential thinker, he was also prone to rage, courted scandal, and refused to let grudges die, which infamously led to his fatal encounter with Aaron Burr at Weehawken. These less admirable qualities certainly tarnished his legacy, but they also gave Alexander Hamilton a distinct historical advantage over his revolutionary counterparts. Many members of this country’s founding generation are so revered that we simply cannot relate to them. In contrast, the brilliant and controversial Hamilton has remained deeply and defiantly human. In a similar way, the apostle Paul has retained his humanity through the ages. Like Alexander Hamilton, Paul wrote prolifically and influentially, relished a good argument, and had a hard time letting things go. He was brilliant, controversial, and incredibly passionate. Unlike other writings of the New Testament, which tend to be orderly and focused, Paul’s letters are often emotionally charged tours de force. For this reason, Paul has remained deeply and defiantly human in our imagination. Moreover, Paul’s deeply human qualities make his writings extraordinarily relevant for Christians today. This year, our Lenten forum series will explore Paul’s humanity. We will examine Paul at his most passionate and consider how Paul’s story can help enliven our understanding of the gospel. All forums will meet at 10:30 on Sunday mornings in Room 1-2-3.

March 5
“I’m Just Like My Country”:
 Paul and the Immodesty of Grace

Alexander Hamilton has been experiencing a resurgence in popularity lately, in large measure because of the hit musical about his life currently on Broadway. Not only has Hamilton: An American Musical used hip hop and other newer musical styles to expand the musical theater genre, it has also enlivened our understanding of one of our country’s most fascinating founders. Surprisingly, many of the musical’s insights about Alexander Hamilton can be applied to the apostle Paul. Just as Hamilton audaciously believed he was destined to play a seminal role in the history of this country, Paul boasted that his life and vocation were specifically ordained according to God’s definite plan. Paul made this claim not out of self-regard, but as a testament to God’s grace. Join David Romanik for the next two weeks as he explores how this hip hop musical illuminates our understanding of the apostle Paul.

March 12
“We Fought With Him”: Quarreling for the Gospel

Alexander Hamilton’s life was shaped by conflict. Not only did he clash with the people around him over both ideological disagreements and personal slights, he was also plagued by a nagging sense that his upbringing was incompatible with the person he aspired to be. Paul’s life was also characterized by conflict. His passionate commitment to the grace made known in Jesus Christ led him to contend with his fellow apostles, his congregations, his own past, and with people proclaiming another version of the gospel. Both Alexander Hamilton and Paul harnessed these conflicts to give clarity to their respective visions of the world. Join David Romanik as he concludes our discussion about the surprising intersections of Hamilton and the writings of Paul.

March 19
Apostolic Sarcasm: Paul’s Surprising Rhetorical Range

Christians are taught from an early age to respect the Bible as the Word of God, and this often leads us to treat Scripture with uncritical reverence. This may result in a failure to appreciate the full rhetorical range of Biblical language. In particular, we may have difficulty noticing places where biblical writers intentionally use humor, absurdity, or sarcasm. Paying attention to these places, however, allows us to have a more robust experience of the Word of God. Join Dr. John Herzog, a parishioner and retired professor of New Testament, as he examines some of the places where Paul’s rhetoric reveals deep truths about God and the nature of our lives.

March 26
Knowing Only Christ Crucified:
Paul and the Foolishness of the Gospel

One of the striking characteristics of Paul’s writings is how carefully reasoned they are. Many of the apostle’s most effective arguments emerge from a precise, rational exegesis of the Hebrew Bible. Nevertheless, there are a number of moments when Paul is forced to acknowledge the limits of reason. The most dramatic example of this is his conversion, the seminal moment of his ministry, which Paul cannot explain with logic alone. Ultimately, this informs one of Paul’s fundamental convictions: the truth of God transcends our limited capacity to apprehend it. Join Peter Vanderveen as he explores how the “nonsense of Paul” can inform our faith and our experience of God.

April 2
Bearing the Marks of Jesus: Paul’s Endurance for the Gospel

Even casual readers of the New Testament notice how frequently Paul finds himself in danger. Yet whether he is attacked by angry mobs, flogged by religious authorities, or imprisoned by Roman officials, Paul remains steadfastly committed to his proclamation of the gospel. In fact, the trials he experiences give clarity and focus to his understanding of God’s purpose. Moreover, Paul sees his suffering as the most effective articulation of the grace revealed in Jesus Christ. Join John Herzog as he concludes our series about Paul’s passion for the gospel with an examination of his toughness and his heart.

February 2017 Forums

For the Bible Tells Me So:
How Scripture Challenges Everything We Thought We Knew

By David Romanik

When Jesus teaches in the gospels, he frequently plays into the expectations of his listeners, only to pull the rug out from under them at the last moment. This rhetorical strategy is not unique to the gospels; it occurs throughout the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. The effect is often disorienting, but if we read closely, it can be illuminating as well. During the month of February, our Adult Forum series will explore the ways that Scripture confounded the expectations of its original audience in order to reveal deep truths about the nature of God. Moreover, we will consider how the true message of Scripture is often inconsistent with the ways it has been caricatured throughout history. It is when we truly understand Scripture that we can begin to recognize the ways it shapes our lives today. Join us on Sunday mornings at 10:30 in Room 1-2-3.

February 12
“You have heard it said, but I say to you…”

The Sermon on the Mount includes a series of statements that scholars refer to as “the antitheses.” Jesus makes a statement rooted in the Law and the prophets (“you have heard it said”), then offers a new way of understanding that statement (“but I say to you”). Over the past few years, the running joke among The Redeemer’s staff is that this essentially summarizes Peter Vanderveen’s approach to the interpretation of Scripture. Join Peter as he defends this hermeneutic and explores how it allows us to more fully understand both Scripture and the world we live in.

February 19
Let Me More of their Beauty See:
 Reading “Familiar” Verses in Context

When people read Scripture for encouragement, guidance, and instruction, they often turn to a predictable set of verses. Contemporary readers of Scripture, however, do not always read these verses in the same way as their original audiences. Sometimes these inconsistencies can result in problematic, even destructive interpretive errors. Join Diane Chen, Professor of New Testament at Palmer Theological Seminary, as she considers how attention to the historical and literary settings of the most “familiar” verses of Scripture can safeguard against taking texts out of context, bring out their transforming power in greater dimension, and help us apply Scripture appropriately in our lives.

February 26
“Charge that to my account”:
 Paul, Philemon, and the Economics of the Gospel

At a superficial level, Paul’s letter to Philemon is one of the New Testament’s more pointless entries. Not only is it a piece of business correspondence that seems to have little bearing on our understanding of God, it also appears to paint a deeply unflattering portrait of Paul himself. Nevertheless, this letter has much to say about the way we should live in light of the gospel. Join David Romanik as he examines this underappreciated letter and its unique perspective on the world.

January 2017 Forums

Aspiring to Love
Part II

By David Romanik

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 religious persecution, this was not a superficial decision on Penn’s part. Indeed, Penn hoped the colony he established would be a place of tolerance, mutuality, and fraternal love. From its very inception, in other words, Philadelphia was more than a place; it was an aspiration.

This past spring, our forum series showcased some of the extraordinary organizations in this area that are helping Philadelphia live up to its name. In January, we will revisit this theme, specifically highlighting the joys and challenges surrounding the issue of education. Presenters from Church Farm School, the Education Law Center, and Saint James School will describe how their organizations are making it possible for students to succeed in an ever-changing world. Beginning on Sunday, January 8, we will learn about the ways people of this area are encouraging us and our children to aspire to love.

January 8
Education Law Center

The mission of the Education Law Center is to ensure access to a quality public education for all children in Pennsylvania. Through legislative action, local advocacy, and support for community organizations, the ELC provides support to the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable students. Join Maura McInerney, Senior Attorney at the ELC, as she discusses the work and mission of this organization.

January 15
Church Farm School

Located in Exton, Church Farm School prepares a diverse group of boys to lead productive and fulfilling lives. As a Christian community in the Episcopal tradition, Church Farm School serves students of many different faiths and traditions who might not otherwise have opportunities for a college preparatory education. Join Head of School Edmund Sherrill as he discusses the mission and ministry of this institution.

January 22
Saint James School

Philadelphia has the eighth largest school district in the country, and its public students are overwhelmingly poor: 79 percent of them are eligible for free or reduced price lunch. St. James School is an Episcopal middle school committed to educating traditionally under-resourced students in a nurturing environment. The school provides a challenging academic program and encourages the development of the moral, spiritual, intellectual, physical, and creative gifts in its students. Join Head of School David Kasievich as he discusses the mission and ministry of this important institution.

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's Brown Bag Bible Study

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!