Previous Adult Forum Topics

Adult Forum May 2020

The Adult Forum will be delivered via a Zoom Meeting. Information on how to connect to the Zoom meeting will be shared via a Bethel Connection email. If you are not receiving the Bethel Connection emails, please contact the church office office @ to be added to the email list, or you can contact the Virtual Usher 30 minutes before the program begins to receive the information by emailing support @

WEDNESDAY, May 6, 2020, 7:00-8:00pm

BIG Learnings: Children, Youth, & Family Extravaganza 2020”    

Deb Grupe, Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry at Bethel; and Sherman Lee, longtime youth leader and advocate at Bethel and currently Chair of the Communications Team at Bethel

Deb and Sherman will share important learnings for Bethel from presentations, workshops, and informal networking at the ELCA Children, Youth and Family Ministry Conference – Extravaganza 2020 – that happened January 31 to February 3, 2020 in Anaheim, California.  Right after the Extravaganza ended,  Deb told Sherman: “the Extravaganza was one of those experiences where one feels they are trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant/fire hose…at this point, I’m still waiting for someone to shut it off so I can enjoy the drink of water and figure out what’s in it!”  The Extravaganza is the annual gathering of children, youth, and family ministry leaders from across the ELCA and is a place for inspiring speakers, special worship, learning from colleagues, sharing insights, and being stretched in new understandings and growth to be strengthened for ministry back home.

WEDNESDAY May 13, 2020, 7:00 – 8:00pm

“Anxiety in the Age of Pandemics: Hope and Help to Relieve Anxiety and Flourish in Uncertain Times”    

Facilitator: Dr. Margaret Wehrenberg

Even those of us who normally keep anxiety well in control are finding it challenging to do so in this time of pandemic and uncertainty.  We miss our normal outlets for work and social life, or may be stressed by working from home with children to manage.  We may fear for our health or that of our loved ones.  We may have lost loved ones recently and are separated from the friends and family we depend on for emotional support. Join us to discuss ways to reduce the emotional burden of anxiety and perhaps even flourish in this difficult time. Dr. Wehrenberg will offer her ideas and also take your questions during this session.

Dr. Margaret Wehrenberg is a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of anxiety. She is an international speaker and author of 8 books on anxiety and depression.  Margaret is a friend of Bethel and has presented at our Adult Forums in the past.

Adult Forum April 2020

WEDNESDAY April 22, 2020, 7:00 – 8:00pm

“Smiling Through the Pandemic”

Facilitator: Dr. Richard Johnson
Reflections: Adult Forum Board Members

The Adult Forum will be delivered via a Zoom Meeting. Information on how to connect to the Zoom meeting will be shared via a Bethel Connection email. If you are not receiving the Bethel Connection emails, please contact the church office office @

A simple smile has energizing power far beyond what we might imagine. 1) Smiling, 2) our reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 3) positive psychology, may seem like strange bedfellows indeed, yet when we look closer we find some surprising connections. Of all the tools in positive psychology’s toolbox, smiling is perhaps the easiest to perform, the quickest acting, and the most effective in fostering an updraft for our overall mood, and also an aid helping us refocus/realign/reset our spiritual compass. We’ll first take a short look at some research showing the positive power of smiling, we’ll then turn our attention to some inner life reflections that may expand our spiritual vision. This is a recipe to help us persevere, and even grow through this most unsettling time.

Adult Forum March 2020

March 8, 2020

“A Closer Look at J.S. Bach’s  St. John Passion

Dr. A. Dennis Sparger, who is celebrating his 34th year as Music Director and Conductor of the Bach Society Chorus and Orchestra, also founded and was conductor of the Masterworks Chorale in Belleville, Illinois, 1974-2007, and the Masterworks Children’s Chorus, 1985-1990.  Among his many other accomplishments, from 1999 to 2010 Dr. Sparger was associate producer and writer of JOY!, a weekly program of sacred choral music heard on CLASSIC 99.

Dr. Sparger will lead us in an overview of J.S. Bach’s masterful work of the St. John Passion, a dynamic telling of Christ’s journey to the cross that reaches into the soul and is sure to evoke a deep sense of spirituality.  This work will be performed by the Bach Society Chorus and Orchestra on Sunday, March 22, 2020 at 3:00 pm at Webster Groves Presbyterian Church.  Additional participants in the performance of the St. John Passion will include six Baroque soloists drawn from across the country.  Linda Lee has more information about this wonderful concert opportunity.

March 15, 2020

“Business Ethics in a Time of Political Turmoil”

Timothy Schoenecker, Dean of the SIUE School of Business and member of Our Lord’s Lutheran Church, Maryville; and Keith Womer, retired Dean of the UMSL College of Business Administration and member of Bethel.

Historically and also in our day, “business ethics” sometimes seems like an oxymoron.  From the Robber Barons and the Captains of Industry at the end of the 19th century who were challenged by Theodore Roosevelt to the multi-national corporations in our day who monopolize some of our industries and dominate business practice, often fuzzing the distinction between what is legal and what is ethical and all-too-often pay little or no taxes, we are seeing that this ethical disengagement of the business realm has a parallel set of ethical and legal concerns in today’s political realm.  What are “business ethics” and “political ethics” at their best?  How can the message of Jesus and our Christian faith inform our purchasing habits as well as our political decisions and advocacy?

March 22, 2020

“Fiftieth Anniversary of Ordaining Women in American Lutheranism”

Pr. Kendra Nolde, Director for Evangelical Mission for the Central States Synod and recently retired Pastor of Gethsemane, St. Louis.

In the middle of Women’s History Month, Pastor Kendra will introduce us to the 50th Anniversary Year of Women’s Ordination in the ELCA’s predecessor bodies, talk about the mission of the church being enhanced by women’s ordination and women bishops, share information and stories from other ELCA Women related efforts (Thursdays in Black, International Women’s Leadership Fund, and more), as well as look ahead to possible 50th Anniversary celebrations that may be in the works close to the November 22, 2020 official celebration.  In 2020 also, the ELCA is celebrating 50-40-10 Anniversaries:  the 50th Anniversary of the Ordination of Women; the 40th Anniversary of the first ordained African-American Woman; and the 10th Anniversary of the opening of the roster to persons in same-sex relationships.

March 29, 2020

“Fifth Sunday of Service”

Deb Grupe, Director of Children, Youth, and Family Ministry at Bethel

At our next Service Sunday event on March 29, Deb Grupe will lead some exercises and conversation, and we will work together to assemble 100 care kits for God’s Helping Hand, a ministry coordinated by Janis Hutchinson and supported by several ELCA churches for the North St. Louis City. Come serve and learn with friends of many ages (and pick up a Thrivent t-shirt)! Deb will also give us a preview of our all-ages VBS for 2020: “Who Is My Neighbor?”  ALL ages are welcome!

Adult Forum February 2020

8:30 am, Refreshments, Fellowship Hall
8:45 am, Presentation, Fellowship Hall

February 9

“Relevance of Ancient Creeds & Councils for Today” 

The Rev. Dr. Adam Ployd, Assistant Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Eden Seminary in Webster Groves.  Dr. Ployd approaches the study of history not simply as facts about the past, but as a resource for our current and future ministries and as a way to broaden our theological imaginations.

Dr. Ployd will lead us in exploring why the Creeds were written, the role played by Church Councils in crafting them, how they shaped/misshaped subsequent theology, and in what way do they continue to be valid for the faithful in our day.  The ELCA is a “creedal church”  subscribing to the “Three Ecumenical Creeds”: Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian.  For many ELCA Lutherans, such adherence is not without at least some discomfort. 

February 16

“The Intersection of Race and Gender through the Lens of the 15th and 19th Amendments”

Tullia B. Hamilton, Nonprofit Consultant, Bethel Member

The theme for this year’s Black History observances is Voting Rights.  2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote.  It also marks the 150th anniversary of the passage of the 15th Amendment which gave Black men the right to vote. This session will examine how “the vote” created divergence between these two movements that had been historically linked. Turning to the present, the session will look at whether that divergence still exists and whether it matters. 

February 23

“Grace, Faith and Your Personality: Part 2”

Dr. Richard Johnson, Counseling Psychologist and Founder of both the Spiritual Strengths Institute and Lifelong Adult Ministry.  

Dr. Johnson has written over 40 books and numerous articles all focusing on God’s expansive Grace.  He is nationally recognized for his pioneering work in Healing and Medical Behavioral Sciences and has led workshops and institutes around the country.  We are thrilled to have Richard and spouse Sandra as a part of the Bethel community.

Building on his well-received presentation of December 8, 2019, Dr. Johnson will continue to address our personality that is constantly at work, how God’s grace and our personal faith formation continue to intersect with our personality, and the Spiritual Strengths Profile that many took that day.  You need not have attended the first presentation to benefit from this one!

Adult Forum January 2020

8:30 am, Refreshments, Fellowship Hall
8:45 am, Presentation, Fellowship Hall

January 12

“Challenges Facing Congregations Today” 

The Rev. Dale Kuhn, MA, Mdiv, STM, LCSW, AAPC Diplomat, Clergy & Congregational Care Program Coordinator at Care & Counseling

Congregations in the ELCA and every other US denomination face common challenges that include declining worship attendance; aging buildings; theological concerns; competition with school, sports, recreational, travel, and social schedules; and much more.  Dale brings decades of expertise and experience in consulting with congregations of many church bodies and offers insights from a variety of counseling approaches.  Dale also shares Bethel’s heritage with Christ Seminary—Seminex that included facilitating Field Education for seminarians.

January 19

“The ELCA and Ecumenism as a Founding Principle” 

The Rev. Karen Scherer, retired ELCA Pastor, frequent planner and participant in ecumenical programs in the St. Louis Area

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, every January 18-25, is a decades-old celebration of what Christians share in common.  The observance is also an invitation to continuing conversation toward better understanding about where we agree or differ in our theology and practice as well as how Christians across denominations can participate in Christ-like works of mercy together.  Pastor Karen will lead us in reviewing the principle of ecumenism in the ELCA’s founding documents, note the 1991 “Declaration of Ecumenical Commitment” passed at the ELCA Churchwide Assembly, distinguish between full-communion partners and dialogue partners, and invite participation in the local celebration of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at St. Monica Catholic Church, 12140 Olive Blvd., Creve Coeur on the evening of January 26, 2020.

January 26

“Bethel’s Mission as the Foundation for the 2020 Capital Campaign”

Steve Poplawski, Bethel member and congregational leader for fifteen years  and, current Chair of Bethel’s Board of Stewardship.

Bethel is a vibrant congregation with a rich heritage, conscientious members, and a dedicated Pastor.  At the dawn of this new decade, it is a propitious time to affirm together what it will take to achieve our mission as God’s people in our unique setting.  As we seek to be faithful stewards of that mission we share together, it is helpful to begin with a shared understanding of Bethel’s strengths and opportunities as well as our challenges.  We have rich resources in people, facilities, location, and leadership as a foundation upon which to build.  Yet our ability to sustain and build this congregation upon that foundation is subject to ongoing challenges as we enter the third decade of the 21st century.  By together making an honest yet hopeful assessment of the resources we need to be even better stewards of the Good News of Jesus Christ in this place, we hope to not only strengthen our foundation but to prayerfully create a clear blue print for how we proceed as congregation to sustain who Bethel is and what we want Bethel to be.

Adult Forum December 2019
December 8
“Grace, Faith and Your Personality”
Dr. Richard Johnson, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of both the Spiritual Strengths Institute and Lifelong Adult Ministry.  Dr. Johnson has written over 40 books and numerous articles all focusing on God’s expansive Grace.  He is nationally recognized for his pioneering work in Healing and Medical Behavioral Sciences and has led workshops and institutes around the country. We are thrilled to have Richard and spouse Sandra as a part of the Bethel community.

Our personality is constantly at work, yet we are generally quite unaware of its operation, or even its function.  Even more elusive is how God’s grace and our personal faith formation intersects with our personality.  We’ll explore these concepts together in this short presentation and discussion.

December 15
“The Right of Conscientious Objection When Providing Health Care”
Kevin Powell, Bethel Member, MD, PhD, FAAP, is a pediatric hospitalist and clinical ethics consultant who last summer co-edited a journal issue on the role of conscience in medicine.

Dr. Powell will address conscientious objection among health care providers in controversial procedures such as abortion, physician assisted suicide, and euthanasia. He will review the current status of laws and rulings and lead a discussion on whether physicians must provide whatever legally-allowed care a consumer/patient desires (a 2019 Ontario ruling) or if the US emphasis on religious liberty requires a system in which minority viewpoints are accommodated. Coexistence will require a fair system for adjudicating complaints of discrimination against women and the LGBT community. 

December 22
“Singing Advent & Christmas Carols”
Members of the Bethel Community

The Fourth Sunday in Advent, December 22, is not quite Christmas, yet the Gospel Reading for the Day is Matthew 1:18-25, the Evangelist’s unique and extremely brief Birth Narrative that follows the Angel’s message to Joseph in a dream.  Indeed, one suggested Sending Hymn for Advent 4 is ELW #267, “Joy to the World”—placed in the Advent section of our Hymnal!  Join other Bethel members and guests for this very special opportunity to sing favorite and even new Advent and Christmas Carols that highlight this holy season.

Adult Forum November 2019
November 10, 2019

A ‘New’ New Testament

Hal Taussig, Pastor, retired Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary in New York

Regarding his book of the same name, “A New New Testament,” noted colleagues say: “Important both historically and theologically. Readers will not be able to see the New Testament in the same way again.” – Marcus Borg; “A New New Testament does what some of us never dreamed possible: it opens the treasure chest of early Christian writing, restoring a carefully select few of them to their rightful place in the broad conversation about who Jesus was, what he did and taught, and what all of that has to do with us now.” – Barbara Brown Taylor
November 17, 2019

Pope Francis & the Banning of Nuclear Weapons

Tobias Winright, Associate Professor of Health Care Ethics & Theological Ethics at Saint Louis University, Visiting Research Fellow (Fall 2019) at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame

Pope Francis has called for nuclear disarmament and has more recently said that even the possession of nuclear weapons is immoral. Prof. Winright will tell us more about Pope Francis’ statements and will explore Christian ethical perspectives on nuclear weapons in both national and global contexts.
November 24, 2019

Addressing Local Food Scarcity through Good Ground Pantry

Wayne Flesch, Bethel Coordinator for the “Good Ground” emergency food pantry at Second Presbyterian Church

Bethel Mission Board Chair Wayne Flesch will lead a team of Good Ground Pantry volunteers who will tell us about their critically important ministry to help address local food scarcity.  Bethel member Carroll Dick will also share information about food pantry ministry in the St. Louis area. 
Adult Forum October 2019
October 13: “Ministry Partner: Lutheran Family &  Children’s Services”
David Eberle, Church and Community Relations Manager at the Lutheran Family & Children’s Services (LFCS)

David Eberle will share the wide-ranging impact LFCS makes for children and families across Missouri and will tell us more about Bethel’s ministry and partnership with this church-related organization that provides services such as adoption, foster care, behavioral health, disaster relief and more. 

October 20 “Funeral Planning – What is Involved?”

Pastor Bill Yancey, Dr. Stephen Mager and the Bethel Choir will share their experiences about what goes into planning a funeral service.

October 27 “The State of Lutheran Campus Ministry”
Pastor Peter Muschinske, LCM Interim Pastor & Commander, US Navy Reserve Chaplain, ELCA
Pastor Muschinske brings to Lutheran Campus Ministry a wide range of ministry experience from parish ministry and active military chaplaincy to reserve chaplaincy and recruiting chaplains of all faiths for the Navy-Marine Chaplain Corps.  Freshly on the scene as Interim LCM Campus Pastor, he will share with us what he is experiencing in this “new” area of ministry and how he is accompanying students during this academically and financially pressured time in their lives.  Since Bethel has been a Covenant Congregation with LCM for three decades, both he and Forum attendees will enjoy hearing more about this special relationship.
Adult Forum September 2019
September 8
“Liturgical Dance” featuring insights by Laura Roth

Bethel member Laura Roth will share her experiences with liturgical dance and her creative process behind them.  The presentation will also include group discussion on the potential uses of dance in worship and a video clip and other images related to liturgical dance.

September 15
Welcome Bishop Candea!

Pr. Susan Candea, who will take office as bishop of the Central States Synod on September 1, will lead a discussion on Synod priorities and will field questions about the work and life of the Synod and the ELCA.  She will also be the guest preacher at the 10 am service.
September 22
“Migrant Children Seeking Asylum”
Brenda Bredemeier & Kathy Petersen

Both speakers are faculty at UMSL and will share their experiences as witnesses to the plight of migrant children in Homestead, Florida.
September 29
“Intergenerational Service Sunday”
Deborah Grupe, Director of Child, Youth & Family Ministries at Bethel

During the education hour for this first “Fifth Sunday of Service, Deb will introduce herself in her new position at Bethel and tell us about the emerging priorities of her ministry. Then participants of all ages will work together on some small care packages for our college students.
Adult Forum May 2019
May 12
“Faith and Life: Personal Reflections”
Pr. Roy Ledbetter, Bethel Member

May 12
“Faith and Life: Personal Reflections”
Pr. Roy Ledbetter, Bethel Member

May 19
“A New Constitution for Bethel”
In preparation for a vote by the congregation on June 2, Steve Poplawski and Allen Mueller will give a background of the proposed constitution and bylaws, explain how they differ from our current documents, and answer questions.Breakfast will be provided by the Board of Adult Education at 8:30 on May 19. The presentation will be repeated on Sunday, May 26 after church.

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