Previous Adult Forum Topics

Adult Forum October 2017


October 8 – “Music and Church Renewal: a Conversation with Dr. Stephen Mager” – You are invited to submit questions or discussion topics to Valerie Yancey in person or by sending an e-mail to


October 15 – “Renewing the Church: Facing the Crisis of Identity” – Dr. Michael Hoy and Pr. Yancey will propose that just as Luther struggled with doubt and fear, so we also contend with doubts and fears about meaning and identity. They will show that the message of the Gospel can  inspire us and set us free in the midst of this crisis and will invite responses and discussion.

October 22 –“Reforming Questions, Radical Hearts”  Pr. Rebecca Boardman, Lutheran Campus Ministry, will lead a discussion on how young adults create community, experience faith, and seek meaning beyond Church.


October 29 – “Other Reformations” – Dr. Adam Ployd, Eden Theological Seminary, will examine the wide range of reform movements in the Church and how they shaped our current Western Christian world.



Adult Forum September 2017
September 10

“Faith and Life: Taking Leaps and Jumps Not Knowing the Landing Place”

Pastor Mary Etta Skinner, Bethel member



September 17 and 24
“The Basics of Islamic Faith and Practice”
Imam Eldin Susa, St. Louis Islamic Center
Adult Forum April and May 2017

April 9

Professor Ben Sanders from Eden Seminary is continuing his presentation from last October on Black Liberation Theology.

April 23, 30 & May 14

“Stories from Genesis: Children and Family Values”

Presented by Dr. Laurel Koepf Taylor (Eden Seminary)

Based on research and stories from Genesis, Dr. Laurel Koepf Taylor will lead conversations about biblical family structures, the importance of children in the world of the Bible, and biblical family values for today.

May 21

Everyone is invited to gather to review the Adult Forum sessions held this past year and to discuss ideas for next year.


Adult Forum March 2017

March 12 – “Immigrants, Eden Seminary, and the United Church of Christ”

Scott Holl, Archivist at Eden Theological Seminary, will trace Eden’s history beginning with 19th German immigrants in Missouri whose background included a blend of both Lutheran and Reformed traditions.  The presentation will also provide an understanding of the makeup and character of the current United Church of Christ, one of the ecumenical partners of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Pr. Yancey will lead the Adult Forum sessions on March 19 and 26 on “Rethinking Doctrine:  What I Have Learned after 30 Years of Preaching.”


Adult Forum February 2017

February 12:

“The Faith of Islam”—Dr. Sabina Fatima, Southern Illinois University will address general questions about Islam, about being Muslim in our city and nation at this time, and about women in Islam.

February 19 & 26:

“Sacrifice and Atonement in the Bible and Beyond”—Dr. Clint McCann, Eden Theological Seminary

Together we will examine some of the relevant biblical and historical material related to understanding the death of Jesus and will also reflect on the possibilities of rethinking atonement in our time and place.

Adult Forum January 2017

Christianity, Spirituality, and Belief: Challenges and Responses

January 8: Listening and Responding to “The Nones,” the “Dones” and Others
screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-10-28-07-amEden Seminary professor Mai-Anh Le Tran will lead a discussion on understanding and responding to a growing number of persons who are identified as the “nones” in religious polls as well as others who are called the “dones,” those who say they have multiple religious affiliations, and those who say they are “spiritual but not religious.”

January 15: Religious Identity in the “Next Christendom”
screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-10-28-16-amThe continuously changing cultural and religious landscape of the United States is a reminder that “religion” has always been pluralistic, polarized, and racialized. In this conversation, Dr. Mai-Anh Le Tran will help us discover what it means to negotiate religious identity and belonging within these winds of change and to reckon with the increasing global nature and non-Western centers of Christianity.


January 22: Contesting Religious Belief
screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-10-28-34-amDr. Matt Schunke from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville will lead us in addressing these questions: What does it mean to say we live in a secular age and how do we negotiate living in a time in which religious belief is contested?   How has the secular age led to movements such as the New Atheists?


January 29: Listening and Responding to the Claims of Atheists
screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-10-28-42-amDr. Matt Schunke from SIUE will address more questions: What is new about the New Atheists in comparison to classical atheism? What is the value of looking at various critiques of religion? Can it help strengthen and deepen belief?

Adult Forum November & December 2016

November 13: Open Forum” – Bethel members and guests

Here is an opportunity for informal conversation on topics of your choice when we get together at Bethel this morning. If time permits, we will also gather oral history about some of Bethel’s artwork in anticipation of a 4-week series on Christian art starting on November 20.

Art, Beauty, and Creativity in Christian Traditions
A 4-week Series

November 20: Artwork at Bethel” – Valerie Yancey (Bethel member)

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-6-04-59-pmThe presentation will focus on some of Bethel’s paintings, icons, sculpture, chancel items, windows, vestments, and other works of art. Learn about the artists and our history of acquisition of commissioned and gifted art pieces.  Come and enjoy learning about our treasures, ask questions, and provide any insights or history you may have about the artwork.

November 27: Moravian Advent and Christmas Customs” – Pr. Roy Ledbetter (Bethel member)

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-6-06-17-pmTopics will include background on who the Moravians are; the meaning of Advent in Moravian communities; and unique Moravian Advent and Christmas customs, such as the Moravian Star, the Putz, the Illumination, and the Christmas Eve Lovefeast and Candlelight Vigil.  We will also learn a simple, beloved Moravian seasonal hymn.

December 11: A Ministry of Sacred Art” – Sr. Glynis McManamon, Sisters of the Good Shepherd, North St. Louis County

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-6-07-03-pmSister Glynis is the founder of the Shepherding Images Studio & Good Shepherd Gallery in Ferguson where she is engaged in a ministry that reveals her special interest in both using and adapting the Byzantine (Eastern) style of Christian images (iconography) and in the creation of sacred art featuring women and diverse ethnic groups. She will talk about her ministry and will display examples of her work, including a piece that depicts women named in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1, a fitting part of the Advent/Christmas season. Other sisters of the convent have been invited to join us this morning, too.

December 18: Windows into Heaven” – Mark Schaefering, Saint Theodora Icons Studio of St. Louis

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-6-07-11-pmMark will discuss iconography in the Orthodox (Eastern Church) tradition, including the history of icons, the theology behind the use and veneration of icons, their place in Orthodox worship, the production of icons, and contemporary interest in icons by other faiths. We will also ask him to share his knowledge of the history and style of the icon commissioned for Bethel’s 90th anniversary and based on the story of Jacob’s dream recorded in Genesis 28:10-22.


Adult Forum October 2016

bensaundersedenOctober 16
Eden Seminary Professor Ben Sanders
“Understanding Black Liberation Theology”

Ben Sanders III, Assistant Professor of Theology and Ethics at Eden Theological Seminary, submitted the following description of his two-week Bethel Adult Forum course and an invitation to join him in dialog:
“Black Liberation Theology emerged in the late 1960s in the context of the Black Power Movement. Because of its tone and its unapologetic assertion that God sides with oppressed blacks in the context of American racism, many critics have labeled black theology as either anti-Christian or as an example of reverse racism. However, these criticisms often emerge from poor understandings of black theology’s central tenets. On October 9th and October 16th, Professor Ben Sanders of Eden Theological Seminary will lead us in discussions that will (1) clarify the theological arguments of black theology and (2) identify challenges that black theology poses to the American Christian Church. Please join us for what we pray will be rich and edifying dialog.”

luther_wittenberg_1517_michaelhoyOctober 23 and 30
Dr. Michael Hoy
“The Reformation and Politics” – What does the theology of the Reformation (now celebrating 500 years!) contribute to political thinking?  This brief two-week course will be an occasion for reflecting on our role not only toward the upcoming American election but also for the care and redemption of our world.

Adult Forum September 2016

paultweetenimageSeptember 11
Pr. Paul Tweeten
“Faith and Life” – Personal reflections on faith formation, vocation and theological perspectives

Retired ELCA Pastor
St. Olaf College 1965
Harvard Divinity School 1968
Andover Newton Theological Seminary 1970
Luther Theological Seminary 1974

Congregations Served
Salem Lutheran Church, Lake Mills, IA – ordained (1974-75)
[Vienna Austria 1975-76] Mabel, Minnesotta (1976-85)
Bethel Lutheran Green Bay Wisconsin (1985-98)
St. Mark Ev. Lutheran, Davenport, IA (1988-2007)

September 18
Matt Bearpopeandelcabishop
“50/500” – A review of five decades of Lutheran-Roman Catholic dialogs and agreements plus Lutheran and Roman Catholic plans to observe the 500th anniversary of the Reformation

Pope Francis and ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton greet each other.

humaintyforchilfrenSeptember 25
Claire Flesch and Dan Harms
“Humanity for Children” – A report on a recent missionary trip to Rwanda and Tanzania

Adult Forum May 2016

UnknownMay 8: Mindfulness and Health I:
Valerie Yancey, nurse educator, will describe the “mindfulness movement” in health care.  Join in on the conversation about how mindfulness is related to health and well being.

May 15–Mindfulness and Faith II:
Building on the mindfullness basics and research discussed on May 8, the adult forum group will extend the conversation to matters of life and faith.

We will also have our annual Adult Forum breakfast to mark the end of the adult education season.

Bethel Adult Forum May 2014

May 4- Center Service   NO ADULT FORUM
May 11-Wrap up Adult Forum Breakfast.  For program,  Instead of our regular forum planning session, we will have the opportunity to view a film “Bag It.”  We had scheduled the viewing earlier in the year for an evening educational event but we were snowed out.  The film helps us learn more about how we can be green advocates in a very simple way.


Valerie Yancey
Deacon, Adult Education

 Bethel Adult Forum  April 2014

April 13-Palm Sunday NO ADULT FORUM
April 20-Easter Sunday NO ADULT FORUM
April 27- Dr. Barbara Leighton will share her experiences from her 2014 medical mission trip to Ghana.  Join us to hear remarkable, sobering, and hopeful stories (and pictures) of medical practice and education advocacy in Ghana.


Bethel Adult Forum March 2014


How often have we heard that we have an “aging” church, communities, and country? Have you noticed that increasingly more TV commercials and magazine ads are geared to people over the age of 65? The March Bethel Adult Forum features topics related to aging. Maybe the topics are interesting to you because you are “getting up there” yourself, or you want to understand how to help better and companion an elderly grandparent, parent, or friend. This series is for YOU!   Please feel welcomed to attend adult forum, especially if this is your first time, for great speakers, great topics, and great conversation (and coffee, too).

March 9: Rev. Walt Schoedel, Director of LSS Church Relations, will begin our series on Engaging the Aging, with his vision and call for church ministry to aging populations. The title of his presentation, “Engaging the Aging or Hey God, what about these extra years?” sets the theme for the remaining discussions in March. We will be “doing” aging ministry by bring these health and faith discussions to our adult forum discussion. The following presentations are offered to us by University of Missouri-St. Louis Gerontology Program faculty members who have nationally recognized expertise in aging issues.

March 16: Dr Tom Meuser: Driving & Aging: Timing the Driving to Non-Driving Mobility Transition. Driving is important for personal mobility in advancing age, yet not something we can all do safely past age 70. This presentation will review what’s known about aging and driving, and provide suggestions for staying behind the wheel safely when appropriate and retiring with grace when not. Video clips will highlight different teaching points

March 23: Dr Hedva Levy – Knowing & Managing Medications for Successful Aging As we age, our bodies and metabolic patterns necessarily change. At the same time, we often need more medication to manage health conditions. It becomes increasingly important that we understand the unintended effects of medications in an elderly population to avoid medication related health problems.

March 30: Dr. Suzanne Doyle– Learning & Growing at the End of Life. Elders and their family members and caregivers face challenging issues when approaching the end of life:  recognizing predictable changes in aging bodies, differentiating normal aging from pathology, making decisions about medical care that may be lifesaving or merely death-prolonging, and developing ways to make the richest use of remaining time.

Please join us for meaningful conversations about these topics and more!


Bethel Adult Forum February 2014

Join Dr. Clint McCann,  Evangelical Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Eden Seminary, for two more sessions on Old Testament Biblical interpretation.  Dr. McCann introduces this series:  As the Bible itself recognizes, violence in self and society is not a new problem, but it seems particularly acute, pervasive, and threatening in our time.  In these sessions, we shall engage in a basic question:  In confronting violence in the world is the Bible a help or a hindrance?

February 16:  Violence and Vengeance in the Psalms (Psalms 109, 137, 139)
February 23: Jesus and Non-violence


Bethel Adult Forum January 2014

January 12- Faith and Life- Sherman Lee

Sherman will share his faith journey which includes: a childhood trying to fit in as an unchurched Chinese-American in a WASP society; a deep appreciation for pop culture which surprisingly helped bring him to church; his eventual baptism as a grad student by Pastor Bill at Bethel in 1985; and subsequent years of lay ministry with youth, music, and the Crossings Community.

January 19 and January 26   ELCA Social Statements Discussion with Vicar Tina

On August 17, 2013, the ELCA National Assembly approved the social statement, “The Church and Criminal Justice: Hearing the Cries”.  On Sundays January 19 and 26, Vicar Tina leads us in a discussion on why the church is called to talk together about tough social issues.  After exploring the ELCA process of discernment for Social Statements and Social Messages, we will take a deep look at portions of the Criminal Justice Statement.  If you are interested in looking at the entire statement, please download a copy from the ELCA webpage or contact Vicar Tina to have a copy printed for you.

Bethel Adult Forum December 2013

December 1
Center Service. No Adult Forum. Join us in creating advent wreaths as we also stand with others across the globe in remembering World AIDS day.

December 8
ADVENT SING and brunch!   Stephen Mager will join us at the piano as we Prepare the Way in song! We will provide the music books and take “requests” to sing your favorite advent hymns. The fellowship hall will be filled with advent activities: The Fair Trade Bazaar, our music, and an advent brunch.   Please join us!

December 15
Jesus: The Way of Peace and Non-violence. A central meaning of the cross of Christ is that violence has forever lost all justification. As the community of Christ, we are called to encounter the non-violence of Jesus and to work for the restoration of life for those for whom life is threatened and diminished by violence. Join Pastor Bill for the last of our presentations on thinking through the social, theological, and scriptural concepts of violence and non-violence.

December 22
Open Forum on Violence and Non-violence.  Realizing that in offering over the last 6 weeks many provocative topics around violence and non-violence, we will use this hour for a group discussion, providing people with an opportunity to voice their questions, opinions, and insights.

Mary WorksPrevious Adult Forum Topics