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.

January 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 tolerance, mutuality, and fraternal love. From its very inception, in other words, Philadelphia was more than a place; it was an aspiration. 
For the last three years, one of our 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 will revisit this theme, specifically highlighting organizations that Redeemer supports through the Outreach Grants Committee. Presenters from Episcopal Community Services, ElderNet, and other agencies will describe how their organizations are working to make a difference for the most vulnerable among us. Beginning on Sunday, January 7, we will learn how the organizations this parish supports are aspiring to love.
 
January 7
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 21
ElderNet
Founded in 1976, ElderNet of Lower Merion and Narberth is a nonprofit organization that helps older individuals remain independent by providing a variety of free, practical services so they have access to healthcare and an improved quality of life. Staffed by professional social workers and trained volunteers, ElderNet serves adults of all ages, especially frail older or younger disabled persons with low to moderate incomes who reside in Lower Merion or Narberth. Join representatives from ElderNet as they describe the important work of this organization.
 
January 28
Episcopal Community Services
Since its inception almost 150 years ago, Episcopal Community Services has endeavored to serve vulnerable populations in the Philadelphia area. By empowering individuals and families to determine and follow their own paths, ECS is committed to transforming communities. In recent years, ECS has taken on the challenge of reducing intergenerational poverty by fostering economic independence and encouraging everyone to participate in sustainable, positive change for our communities. Join Victoria Sickes as she discusses ECS’s new strategic vision. ECS is one of the primary beneficiaries of the Outreach Grants program.
Advent Forums
Advent Forum Series
Time, Eternity, and God
 
More than any other season in the Church year, Advent is concerned with time. For many of us, this is most evident in our countdown to Christmas; indeed, much of Advent is concerned with lamenting how little time is available to us as we attend various holiday gatherings, shop for family and friends, and do our end-of-year charitable work. In this sense, Advent simply becomes an extension of our over-scheduled and excessively busy lives. When understood properly, however, Advent reveals the unique relationship Christians are meant to have with time. It is the moment in the liturgical calendar when we acknowledge that in Jesus Christ, the eternal has come to dwell among us. The implications of this recognition are profound: we are free to live our lives understanding that time is not a commodity to a spent, but a gift from God. Moreover, we can view the world not from our parochial historical vantage, but from the perspective of eternity. This year, our Advent forum series will explore the ways that time is measured in the Christian tradition and how this can change the way we experience the world.
 
December 3
A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven
We generally assume that there is only one way to measure time, but in fact, the measurement of time is often relative and dependent on many variables. This is a persistent, if unfamiliar theme in the Bible. Indeed, one of Scripture’s fundamental assumptions is that our faith can reorient our understanding of time. Join Jo Ann Jones as she explores the biblical understanding of time and consider how it can shape our perspective on the world. 
 
December 10
“You are Unchangeably Eternal”: Theological Time in Augustine’s Confessions
Despite revolutionizing Christian theology, Augustine of Hippo is probably best remembered for writing Confessions, one of the world’s first autobiographies. Modern readers of Confessions tend to focus exclusively on the lurid details of Augustine’s young life and the story of his conversion to Christianity. This, however, ignores the more important and, frankly, more interesting part of the book, in which Augustine lays out his theological vision. In particular, the African bishop describes time in a way that fundamentally challenges our experience of the world. Join Peter Vanderveen as he examines a new translation of this ancient autobiography and explores how it might shape our lives today.
 
December 17
Messiah and the Sovereignty of God
There are few pieces of music that are more familiar than Messiah, George Frideric Handel’s sweeping oratorio about the coming of God’s anointed. Unlike some of Handel’s other oratorios, Messiah does not have much of a plot. It is not particularly focused on the life of Jesus, though he is purportedly its main character. Indeed, Messiah’s text seems to go out of its way to avoid anything that is directly applicable to our situation. This is because Messiah is not about us: ultimately, it is meant to illustrate how God transcends time and our experience of it. Join David Romanik as he examines this extraordinary piece and considers how it illuminates our understanding of God.
October & November Forums
October 8
By Schisms Rent Asunder, By Rummage Sales Distressed
In 2012, Phyllis Tickle published a book entitled The Great Emergence: How Christianity Is Changing and  Why. Tickle’s primary observation is that the Church experiences the equivalent of a “rummage sale” about every 500 years: a destabilizing and dislocating moment when it is forced to reevaluate what it means to be the Church. Noting that the Reformation was the last such moment in church history, she argues that we are in the midst of a “rummage sale” moment today. If this is indeed the case, we are left to wonder what the Reformation reveals about who we are as Christians. Perhaps more urgently, the similarity between our era and that the Reformation invites us to consider what guidance the Reformation (or any of the Church’s other “rummage sale” moments, for that matter) can provide as the Church finds its way forward in a rapidly changing world. Join David Romanik as he begins our series on the Reformation by discussing Tickle’s book and exploring these questions.
 
October 15
Reconsidering Justification?
Of all the issues that led to the Reformation, the most theologically significant was the doctrine of justification: the assertion that we are reconciled to God through grace and not through the mediation of an ecclesiastical authority. Viewed with suspicion by the Roman Catholic hierarchy, this doctrine became a major flashpoint in the conflict between Protestants and Catholics. In 1999, however, the Catholic Church’s Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Lutheran World Federation issued the “Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.” It was an astonishing historical moment in which the two primary antagonists of the Reformation came to an agreement about the era’s most controversial issue. As more churches have embraced the Joint Declaration in the intervening years, some have wondered whether Catholics and Protestants are moving toward reconciliation. Join Steven Boyer, professor of theology at Eastern University, as he examines this landmark agreement and explores its implications for Christian unity.
 
October 22
Mission is the Mother of Ecumenism
While the Roman Catholic Church has sponsored missions around the world for more than five hundred years, Protestants were not actively engaged in cross cultural mission until the 18th century. Interestingly, the very first Protestant mission was a collaborative effort among several denominations. Though latecomers to cross-cultural mission, in other words, Protestants were on the vanguard of the ecumenical movement. Indeed, long before ecumenism was fashionable, Christians of many denominations were cooperating out of a shared sense of their responsibility to bear witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Join Paul Rajashekar, the Luther T. Reed Professor of Systematic Theology at the Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia, as he explores how the Reformation influenced both the ecumenical movement and the mission all Christians share.
 
October 29
A Brief History of Truth
In John’s gospel, Jesus proclaims, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” Despite the clarity of this statement, human beings have long struggled to discern what is true. This, in fact, was one of the central issues of the Reformation. The Reformation not only challenged historical truths that were once taken for granted; it also raised fundamental doubts about the source of those truths. Indeed, much of the Reformation was about asking one question: Who (or what) is the ultimate arbiter of truth? Join William Madges, professor of theology at Saint Joseph’s University, as he examines the development of this question and considers how it might resonate in our world today.
 

November 5
The Problem with Grace

Since the Church was, in many ways, the nexus of power in 16th century Europe, the Reformation was unquestionably a political movement. As a result, both reformers and defenders of the Roman Catholic Church used theological terms to describe political realities. Given the cultural shifts of the past 500 years, we might be tempted to think that theological language is no longer relevant in the public square. In The Problem with Grace, however, Vincent Lloyd explores the continued political relevance of theological concepts like love, faith, liturgy, and revelation. Join Dr. Lloyd, Associate Professor of Theology at Villanova University, as he considers how a deep understanding of political theological vocabulary can shape our view of the world.

 

November 12
The Real Story of the English Reformation

While the study of history is often about identifying seminal events, this approach often leads us to fundamentally misunderstand historical realities. This is particularly true of the English Reformation. The popular narrative is that the founding of the Anglican Church resulted from a conflict between Henry VIII and the Pope, but the truth is far more complicated. In fact, many of the dynamics that emerged during the English Reformation continue to influence the both the Church of England and its descendants, including the Episcopal Church. Join Dr. Margo Todd, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, as she examines the turbulent and fascinating story of the Reformation in England and Scotland.

Watch this sessioin on YouTube.

 

November 19
Luther the Augustinian

By 16th-century standards, Martin Luther was an iconoclast who was unafraid to challenge the status quo. At the same time, Luther was deeply formed by his membership in a religious community. Founded in the 13th century, Luther’s community, the Order of Saint Augustine, had a particular understanding of the Church’s role, one that would have shaped Luther’s worldview. Join Fr. Allan Fitzgerald, Augustinian friar and Director of the Augustinian Institute at Villanova University, as he shares the unique Augustinian vision and considers how it might have influenced Martin Luther’s worldview.

 

November 26
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.

Men's Brown Bag Bible Study

Thursdays
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!