Inward and Outward Together: Join Us On the Journey
At First Pres, adults in all stages of life and faith find avenues for deepening relationship with God, self, and others through exploring Scripture and spiritual practices in authentic community. Small and larger groups meet throughout the week.
We invite you to join us in journeying inward and outward together this year through our Adult programming. You can find brief descriptions of our spring offerings below. More information about each opportunity is available on our calendar.
Pathways for Christian Living
This fall, the following principles from our First Pres mission statement frame the various experiences available for adults to begin or continue their pathway.
We are called by God
Transformed by grace
Strengthened in community
We Are…Navigating our journey together as a faith community
Why Church? (Panel Conversation, Sunday, September 11, 9-10 am, Westminster Gym)
As we journey into the new ministry year, join the pastors and moderator Dr. Michael Barram for an honest conversation about why we continue to gather to do this strange thing called Church together and how it’s more important now than ever.
Common Ground | Exploring Questions about Faith (Sundays, September 18 to October 9, 9-10 am, Geneva Hall, G207, Register by September 11)
Let’s be honest. We have a lot of questions. Many of us find our way to church—or back to it—because we’ve exhausted our own answers. Join us in creating Common Ground where those of us new or returning to church can ask, explore, wrestle with, and ponder those questions that brought us here to begin with. Each week we’ll share our wonderings and wanderings together, discovering, if not answers, fellow journeyers.
Newcomer Lunch Gathering (Sunday, October 16, 11:30 am –12:45 pm, Geneva Hall, Calvin Room, Register by October 12)
Whether you are a first-time visitor or have been attending for a while, we want to welcome you and get to know you over lunch. You’ll get to meet our pastors along with other new folks. You’ll hear about our vision and mission as a church, and how you can get involved. To register, click HERE.
Starting Point | Exploring Connections, Engagement, & Membership at First Pres (Sundays, October 23 to November 13, 9–10 am, Geneva Hall, G207, Register by October 16)
Whether you’re new to First Pres, curious about what animates us, want to get involved, or are ready to explore making this your home church, Starting Point is for you. Starting Point is a welcoming space for questions, conversation, and connecting deeply with others along the journey. Hear how our community is living out the unfolding story of God’s mission in our church, to our neighbors, and beyond. To register, click HERE.
Called by God: Listening to the voice of God speaking to us through the intersecting stories of scripture and our lives
SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS
Interpreting the Bible for Participation in the Mission of God (Sundays, September 18 to October 16, 9–10 am, Geneva Hall, G202)
Who is God, what does God care about, and what is God up to in the world? These questions point us toward the mission of God–into which we ourselves have been called as the body of Christ. This five-week introduction to missional interpretation of the Bible will explore the formative function of scripture for active and engaged participation in God’s own purposes. We will be encouraged, challenged, and equipped to read biblical texts with new eyes and ears as together we lean into fuller and more faithful participation in God’s mission.
Bible Deconstruction 101: An Atypical Approach to Understanding Scripture (Sundays, October 23 to November 20, 9–10 am, Geneva Hall, G202)
So often we are afraid to ask hard questions of the Bible. This five-week class is designed to engage the Bible on issues of race, gender, and sexuality. Participants will be challenged to examine their own assumptions about what a Bible passage might mean while being open to and curious about how others might understand the same passage in a radically different way.
Men’s Ministry Breakfast (Saturdays, September 17, October 15, and November 19, 7:30–9 am, Westminster Dining Hall)
Men of all ages are invited to gather together in an intentional space created for fellowship, friendship, and supporting one another in relationship, life, and faith. We will offer blessings to one another through reflection and prayer, great food and conversation, and facilitated dialogues. For more info or to RSVP, email Michael Farnola, [email protected].
Coffee & Conversation with Pastor Tom | Colossians (Tuesdays & Thursdays, September 15 to November 17, 8:30–9 am, Virtual via Zoom)
Enjoy a cup of coffee and conversation with Pastor Tom Elson and others as he guides us on a journey through the impactful letter for the church today found in Colossians. The letter to the Colossians, one of the shortest in the New Testament, is packed full of theology and ethics. Colossians continues to address ever new situations by its teaching concerning Christ and Christian living and by warning about false teaching. Listen to past sessions on our YouTube playlist here.
Women’s Bible Study | Daniel (Fridays, September 9 to December 9, 9:15–11 am – Virtual via Zoom)
All are welcome to join our diverse community dedicated to sharing our lives and studying God’s Word. This season we explore the book of Daniel together virtually via Zoom. Email Pat Phillips at [email protected] for more information and Zoom links.
Transformed by Grace: Creating space for practices and reflection that open us to the gracious transformation of the Spirit
Finding Belonging and Meaning by Exploring the Stages of Faith (Sundays, September 18 to October 16, 9–10 am, Geneva Hall, G208)
How do we develop as people of faith? Just as our human development moves through recognizable stages, so too does our spiritual development. Drawing from the influential book The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith, join us to understand how the stages of faith illuminate our own journey and enable us to better accompany others in theirs.
Making Space for God: Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines (Sundays, October 23 to November 13, 9–10 am, Geneva Hall, G208)
Our journey toward becoming like Jesus doesn’t just happen—it is an intentional commitment to allow the Spirit of God to mold and shape us. For centuries followers of Jesus have embraced spiritual practices that create space for God to transform us from the inside out. Join us in exploring a deeper understanding about these life-giving practices that encourage life-long engagement as part of God’s transforming work in our lives.
Group Spiritual Direction (Co-sponsored with New College Berkeley, September 2022 to May 2023, Two-hour monthly sessions, date/time TBD by the group, Virtual via Zoom initially)
In our faith journey, like all journeys, we encounter bumps and ruts, roundabouts and dead ends. God seems distant. Yet God is always near. Group spiritual direction helps us tend to our relationship with God through friendships, contemplative listening, and prayer. Groups of four directees meet monthly for nine months under the guidance of an experienced spiritual director. Fee: $540 (for 9 sessions); Partial scholarships are available through First Pres Berkeley by contacting [email protected].
Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius (Co-sponsored with New College Berkeley, Thursdays, September 15, 2022 to May 11, 2023, 9:30–11:30 am, Virtual via Zoom)
Developed by Ignatius of Loyola in the 16th century, the Spiritual Exercises offer a structure of experiences to daily living which elicit and encourage an ongoing relationship with God. Learn to pray with your imagination and how to enter into the stories of Jesus so they intersect with your own life. Join us for weekly group and monthly individual sessions of spiritual direction as well two optional retreats. Fee: $1,000. If you are interested in this program, please contact Susan Phillips at [email protected] to arrange a preliminary interview in August.
A Contemplative Advent Retreat (Co-sponsored with New College Berkeley, Saturday, December 3, 9:30–11:30 am, Virtual via Zoom)
Christians are called to be people of the Way (Acts 9:12). We follow, live with, and prepare the Way. Advent is an opportunity to reflect on this adventure into which God invites us. Carve out time in the press toward Christmas for a morning of prayer, reflection, and readying ourselves to continue our great pilgrimage with Christ. Fee: $25. For more information, contact Susan Phillips at [email protected].
Strengthened in Community: Coming together to reflect and share authentically from our journeys of life and faith.
Building Families of Faith (Sundays, September 18 to November 20, 9–10 am, Geneva Hall, Calvin Room)
Our community of parents with young children (birth–5th grade) gathers to explore, learn, and encourage one another on our shared journey, holding firm to our commitment to building families of faith. Guided by the community and special guest presenters, join us for conversation, questions, and fellowship.
Connect(her) God’s Story | Reading and Reflecting in Community (Sundays, September 18 to May 21, 11:45–12:45 pm, Geneva Hall, G206)
Connect(her) is a gathering space for women of all ages and circumstances to deepen our relationship with God and one another through conversation, sharing our own stories, and prayer. Our journey this year is to explore, in a compelling way, the story of God’s great love affair with humanity and the unfolding plan for our redemption, flourishing, and purpose. Our guide is The Story, a condensed version of the stories, poems, and teachings from the Bible that reads like a novel. Each week we will read a chapter aloud and reflect on how hearing God’s story helps us understand and shape our own story.
Koinonia (Sundays, September 18 to May 21, 11:45 am–12:45 pm, Geneva Hall, G213)
Koinonia is a group of adults at varying stages of life and faith. We meet every Sunday for conversation and study, engaging the deep questions of faith and looking beyond answers to a fuller understanding of how God’s wisdom shapes our lives. For more information, contact Paul Davis at [email protected].
Sunday Morning Study (Sundays, ongoing starting September 11, 11:45 am–1 pm, Geneva Hall, G214)
We explore one book of the Bible at a time, alternating Old and New Testaments, using questions that help us to more fully understand what God is saying to us and where God beckons us outward. For more information, contact Susan Stewart at [email protected].
Moms Together (1st and 3rd Friday or Saturday afternoons/evenings, September 16 to December 3, Locations vary and will be posted on church website and via emails from [email protected])
Moms Together is a caring and supportive community of mothers with children of all ages. Hosted by First Pres moms, we gather to share life’s joys and challenges in the context of faith in Jesus Christ.
Responding to God’s Call
God is always calling, inviting us to the inward journey of deepening relationship with Jesus and discovering our authentic selves, and beckoning us to the outward journey— to work with God and others as partners in God’s mission of creation, redemption, and restoration.
Beloved, Gifted, Called
We are uniquely created by God, in this particular time and place, with particular talents and temperaments, skills, experiences, and passions to partner with God in building a more just and loving world. This 6-week journey focuses on affirming our skills, naming our passions, discovering spiritual gifts, and identifying personality types. Next session dates still to be determined.