Adult Forum

Special COVID-19 Announcement

Due to the COVID-19, Bethel is canceling all onsite events until further notice. We are in the process of scheduling several of the planned Sunday Adult Forums to Wednesday evenings via the Zoom video conferencing service. Please check the Bethel Connection emails with information about how to connect to Zoom-based Adult Forum sessions.

Adult education at Bethel features a one-hour Sunday morning Adult Forum, a welcoming, inclusive gathering of people who want to learn about and discuss a wide range of topics.  Among our interests are Christian life and faith, including personal life and faith journeys and spiritual growth; contemporary social and ethical issues; Christian history and tradition; understanding the Bible; and non-Christian religions. Session leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and include members of Bethel and visiting scholars and experts.  Those attending and leading the Adult Forum at Bethel engage with one another through open, respectful, questioning conversation.

The Bethel community has a commitment to excellence in Christian education. Over the years, the Adult Forum has also provided the venue for examining our congregational worship life, critiquing and supporting many of Bethel’s areas of mission—care for creation, non-violence, and inter-faith dialogue—and for growing together in spirit, community, and faith.

Adult Education takes place in the Fellowship Hall from 8:45 – 9:45am on Sundays.

We welcome you to attend any or all of the Adult Forum sessions. You can move in and out of the discussions, depending on your interests.  Perhaps you would like to know more about a topic you have never explored, or maybe you are drawn to a conversation for which you have already formulated your own questions and thoughts.  Please come to listen, learn, and converse.  For information about upcoming Adult Forum sessions, please see below.

Adult Forum September 2020

The Adult Forum will be delivered via a Zoom Meeting on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm. 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 @ bethelstl.org to be added to the email list.

WEDNESDAY September 16, 2020, 7:00 – 8:00pm

“The New Face of Grief”

Dr. Margaret Wehrenberg

During the 2020 COVID 19 pandemic, rates of depression are skyrocketing. Often though, the depressed mood may actually be unrecognized grief. People are experiencing so many losses: time in community, such as church, but also events: graduations, prom,  celebrations for births and birthdays,  travel, and holidays. There are deeper losses, too, such as not being able to attend funeral gatherings for beloved family members and friends. Compared to being sick or dying, we may dismiss these losses as insignificant,  but they can still take a toll on our psychological well being.  Margaret (Peg) will discuss how we cope with unacknowledged grief to maintain our emotional balance in a topsy-turvy world.

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.

WEDNESDAY September 23, 2020, 7:00 – 8:00pm

“Blessing the Marriage of Fear and Hope in a Time of Crises”

Brenda Light Bredemeier & David Light Shields

None of us are immune to fear. Today our fears are augmented by crises like the coronavirus pandemic, environmental disaster, and systems of violence based on race and poverty. These realities have been revealed in our personal lives and on a global scale, and they intersect in ways that seem to fuel their strength and our fear. While fear can be destructive, it can also be a source of insight and wisdom about what is and what could be; it can inspire creativity and uncover resilience. We find these hidden treasures when we marry fear to hope. In this session, we will reflect on what we have learned from these crises about ourselves, our church, and our community, and will share ideas, resources, and strategies that have helped us and could possibly generate constructive actions and essential changes.

Brenda Light Bredemeier & David Light Shields, Bethel members, college and university professors, researchers, authors of over 100 publications, including 8 books, frequently focusing on character development and citizenship education.

WEDNESDAY September 30, 2020, 7:00 – 8:00pm

“Shared Congregational Issues in a Time of COVID-19”

The Rev. Dale Kuhn

This session will address the long-term impact of COVID–19 on congregational life as the church yearns for “New Life” post pandemic. Dale will discuss with us his learnings about what church life might look like once we are free to gather together again. His thoughts come from consultations with many local pastors and professional church workers as well as from expert opinions from church consultants from across the US. Congregations of all denominations have been going through significant changes in membership, worship attendance and infrastructures and programs that used to work, but no longer seem viable.  This pandemic seems to be speeding the transitions that are already taking place.

The Rev. Dale Kuhn, MA, MDiv, STM, LCSW, AAPC Diplomate. Dale is currently Clergy & Congregational Care Program Coordinator at Care & Counseling, where he has served over 40 years with that organization and retired recently as its Executive Director.

Adult Forum October 2020

The Adult Forum will be delivered via a Zoom Meeting on Wednesday evenings at 7 pm. 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 @ bethelstl.org to be added to the email list.

WEDNESDAY October 7, 2020, 7:00 – 8:00pm

“Holy Fire”: Documentary Film about Religion & Politics

Sam Roth, MA

Film Synopsis:

George Scott, a military veteran and Lutheran pastor in rural central Pennsylvania, takes a leave of absence from his church to run a competitive race for U.S. Congress in 2018, energizing the Democratic base while creating an uncertain future for his congregation. From a controversial policy ad to a sudden spike in national attention, Holy Fire roots us firmly at the center of the campaign drama as the outcomes of George’s decision manifest on Election Day.

Holy Fire depicts a religious leader navigating a complex political decision while observing the effect of the decision on personal relationships. In an age of pervasive communication and political polarization, it’s easy to pass judgment, make assumptions, and assign labels when considering political options. I hope that this film encourages people to analyze the motivations, actions, and character of representatives and others in positions of authority.

Link to the documentary film:

Password: bagelstaircase2459

Sam Roth is a recent MA graduate of the Jonathan B. Murray Center for Documentary Journalism at the University of Missouri. He is a programming assistant for the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival and has screened submissions for the True/False Film Fest and DOC NYC. His directorial debut, Holy Fire, premiered at the Stronger Than Fiction Festival in Columbia, MO, winning the Jury award for Best Director and the Audience Choice award. The film had its NYC premiere at the Museum of the Moving Image’s First Look Film Festival in March 2020, and will have it’s West Coast premiere at AmDocs, an Academy-Award qualifying festival, in September 2020 (if safe to do so).

WEDNESDAY, October 14, 2020, 7:00 -8:00 pm

“The Best Choice: A New Way to Evaluate Political Candidates …”

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

I decided to write another book when I realized that I needed a new way to evaluate candidates for political office. I’ve learned that focusing on the ‘issues’ the candidate supported was necessary…but not enough! A wise voter needs to dig deeper. Our elected officials are regularly called upon to address the unforeseen people, passions, principles and even pandemics that couldn’t be known before election. How well are our elected officials, all the way from the President of our fair country, to my local town dog catcher (a very important position), prepared to handle this conveyer belt of unknowns? I reasoned that I needed a broader view to properly evaluate candidates, one that could look deeper into the person of the candidate rather than simply the “canned” stump speech the candidate spread around like ice cream on a hot August afternoon. I needed to know about the character, the leadership skills, and the personality of the candidate. I also wanted a clearer insight into the candidate’s devotion to civic virtue. That’s what my new book—and presentation!—are about.

Dr. Richard Johnson, Professional Counselor 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.

WEDNESDAY, October 21, 2020, 7:00 -8:00 pm

“Shared Conversation About Our Current Forum Issues and More”

Open Forum Discussion Guided by Adult Education Team

The first five presentations of our Fall Zoom Adult Forum Series have addressed major timely crisis-related issues that have generated great interest and challenged us to think more broadly about unrecognized grief, fear that can give way to hope, multiple effects on our church community, political implications of being faithful, how to evaluate political candidates, and other issues that have emerged during our discussions.  As we continue to be impacted by these issues and more, we are pausing this week to reflect together on the implications of what we have been discussing.

WEDNESDAY, October 28, 2020, 7:00 -8:00 pm

“Navigating the Waters & Guiding Bethel”

The Rev. Dr. William L. Yancey, Bethel Pastor

Earlier this Fall we spoke of the dramatic changes in church structure and membership, already at work in our institutions, but accelerated by the pandemic.  We might also ask how changes in our theological understanding will determine and shape the nature and community of the church.  Can we move away from the language and theology of fear which inhibits relationship with Christ?  Can we experience the Christ as one sent to give life, not to die?  Can we expand our trinitarian understanding to become more deeply related to creation, more committed to following the non-violent Christ, more open to the “other” that religious boundaries no longer divide us.  These questions and the answers to them have inspired my teaching, preaching, and leadership for 30 years, and, I think, give some view to the future.

Previous Adult Forum Topics….

Mary WorksAdult Forum