Fall Classes: Practicing Faith in Our World

Every day, I read the news. I scan through six or eight news sites at my desk, wanting to stay informed personally but also wanting to understand what people are experiencing, seeing and hearing. There are so many issues out there, important issues that need to be talked about, but it also seems to have become increasingly difficult for people to do that in civil and patient ways. Events and emotions are supercharged. Conversations are angry and loud and people from all sides of these issues are tripping over each other to see who can be the most offended. Needless to say, it is becoming more and more difficult for people to simply talk to each other.

These are challenging issues for we people of faith. But it is precisely our faith that helps us find our way forward. Faith gives us a perspective and voice that is different from so much of what we see around us, and that’s a good thing. And St. John’s gives us a place for people who might think or feel differently to come together in safe and caring groups to talk about so many of the issues swirling around us.

This fall we will continue to build relationships with each other and learn through our journey groups. That is one way we are strengthened within these walls. In addition, this fall in our faith formation classes we will also look outside of these walls to the world around.

What should our faith say about its relationship with science and what is being done in genetics? How do we understand and build relationships with our Muslim neighbors? What is the role of women in the Bible and what does that say about our society today? As Christians, how should we approach the intersections of faith, civics and politics?

We’ll explore these questions together with the goal of not being distracted by the issues, caught up in the arguments and trapped into taking “sides.” Rather, we’ll talk about how being followers of Jesus informs and illuminates the way we look at the debates of our world.

If you haven’t tried a journey group or come to our faith formation classes, I would encourage you this fall to try them. This world desperately needs people of faith who are willing and capable to talk through these issues in healthy and affirming ways, and it’s through learning together that we grow in confidence to take our faith with us out into the world.

I look forward to sharing the journey with you this fall.

Grace and Peace,
The Reverend David Olson

Our first two guest speakers will be:

  • Dr. James C. Peterson, Schumann Professor and director of the Benne Center for Religion and Society at Roanoke College (September 9, 16, 23)
  • Dr. Saleem Ahmed, professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine (September 30, October 7, 14, 21, 28)
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