Grace Episcopal Church
Thursday, August 24, 2017
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Grace Church Adult Formation


“The Varieties of Religious Experience”

Adult Forum Schedule

Fall and Winter, 2015-16

9 a.m. Sundays in the Guild Room


Sept. 20

“A Dialog Between a Christian and a Convert to Islam” Principles of Islam, with one man’s journey from Christianity to Islam. Bill Droel is a former instructor at Loyola University Chicago and campus minister at Moraine Valley Community College. Michael Morsches is a dean at MVCC and recently developed an English curriculum for a refugee camp in the Congo.

Sept. 27


Droel and Morsches continue their dialog on Islam and Christianity, surveying agreements and disagreements and addressing questions.

Oct. 4


*Perspectives   on marriage

“New Understandings of Marriage in Church and Society,” with The Rev. Dr. Sam Portaro. Portaro is retired chaplain at the University of Chicago and has served as a leading voice for inclusion and reform in the Episcopal Church. He is a vocational counselor and spiritual director in the Episcopal Church’s clergy-wellness program, CREDO and author of eight books, including Conflict and a Christian Life.

Oct. 11

“The Role of Spirituality in Important Decisions,” with the Rev. Dr. Robert Wyatt. St. Ignatius Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises center on how one makes sound and unsound decisions, including the ultimate decision to follow Christ. Wyatt, Grace’s associate priest, holds a certificate in spirituality from Loyola University Chicago and a doctorate in early-modern literature from Northwestern University.

Oct. 18

Steward Sunday. With Vestry member Alex Howson explaining the parish’s new priorities for expanding our Circle of Grace – and our need to fund them.

Oct. 25

“Narnia Sunday,” with the Rev. Heidi Havercamp. A special day with costumes and entertainment to celebrate C. S. Lewis’ famous children’s (and adult’s) fantasy series. Havercamp, vicar of St. Benedict’s, Bolingbook, will preach and present on her new book, Advent in Narnia (Westminster John Knox Press).

Nov. 1

"Where There's a Will, There's a Way: Planned Giving and the Grace Legacy Society," with Susan Owens. At Grace, we believe the act of giving endows the giver,” she writes.  Therefore, we have formed The Grace Legacy Society to recognize those who have remembered the church in their estate plans, but more so, to enable members to witness the value of Grace Church in their lives and to secure its.” Owens came to grace in 1963, was married here, her three children were raised here. And she’s done about everything there is to do at Grace.

Nov. 8

“The State of Grace,” with the Very Rev. C. Christian Pierce. A report by the rector on his vision of the parish’s strengths and challenges. Pierce is a former Army and CIA chaplain, a spiritual director, and a ministry developer.

Nov. 15

“Feminine Images of God in the Bible and Christian Literature,” with Vicki Garvey. Though God has no gender, male images and titles for the deity predominate. But the female images are surprisingly rich. Garvey, associate for lifelong formation for the Diocese of Chicago, was an instructor in Hebrew and Old Testament at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary and a religious of the Sisters of Mercy.

Nov. 22

A review of the Chicago Diocesan Convention with lay delegates Roger Herring and Dirk Gnodde.

Nov. 29

“The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: Why the Celebration of Her 1531 Appearance Near Mexico City is so Important for Hispanics,” with the Rev. Luis Andrade, rector, and parishioners of St. Helena’s/Sta. Elena, Burr Ridge, together with presentations by dancers celebrating this rich holiday.

Dec. 6

“Creating a 2015 Hinsdale Christmas in Advent,” with Sr. Carol Crepeau. Advent provides the opportunity to create a coming Christmas that will be gracious, beautiful, grateful and whole. Why not gather as a faith community to reflect together on the coming Christmas celebration in the light of "becoming our best selves? A bit of the Gospel of Matthew and some contemporary insights will serve as the foundation of our time together. Sr. Carol is a member of the Congregation of St. Joseph in La Grange Park, IL (which includes Bethlehem Woods and Nazareth Academy). 

Dec. 13

“Jesus, the Humility of God,” (Franciscan). Experience the depth of God’s humility in Jesus through the Franciscan theological tradition. Hutmacher is artistic director of Chiesa Nuova, a Franciscan ministry for the performing arts in Chicago. His ministry includes composing, performing, and serving as preacher and priest. After three years of research in Assisi, Italy, he published a 300-page hymnal of Franciscan song. Currently he is an assistant at Ascension Catholic Church in Oak Park.

Dec. 20

“The Mary of Advent,” with Fr. Bob Hutmacher, OFM, cont. Through Scripture, works of art, and theology, experience this chosen woman in a new way in the fertile season of Advent.

Dec. 27

No class.


Jan 10

Diocesan Formation Director Vicki Garvey, “Beginning with Baptism: the Inclusivity at the Heart of Christian Initiation.” Every time we witness a Baptism, we hear the baptized or their sponsors make a series of vows on behalf of the about-to-be-baptized.  Indeed, something similar was vowed by or for us.  Who knew that one of the implications would be inclusivity, not only in spoken language, but in word and deed as well?  Oh, that pesky baptismal covenant.  We’ll explore why inclusivity is near the heart of who we are as sons and daughters of the Living God and not simply a new-fangled “PC” fad. And we’ll examine why inclusive language (which after all creates and shapes worlds) is so crucial, especially perhaps in the practice of liturgy.


Jan 17

The Rev. Dr. Robert O. Wyatt, “The Year of Luke: Understanding the Gospel Behind our Lectionary Readings,” Part 1. What are the principal themes behind Luke’s Gospel? Where did Luke’s particular nativity narrative and other special stories come from? How does Luke differ in detail and emphasis from Matthew and Mark? Why do we love Luke’s vivid, human stories so much? Who was “Luke” and for whom was s/he writing for.

Jan 24

The Rev. Dr. Robert O. Wyatt, The Year of Luke: Understanding the Gospel Behind our Lectionary Readings, Part 2. How to discuss Luke as a family.

Jan 31

Treasurer Frank Sibr, The 2015 Budget Annual Meeting Review.

Feb 7

The Rev. Dr. John Dally, "You and Whose Army?  The Violent Formation of the Historic Creeds." Although we like to imagine that our creeds emerged out of faith and deliberation, the opposite was often true. Competing imperial factions, changes in emperors, threats from unorthodox but Christian Goths, Vandals, and Lombards – all contributed to the violence behind which creed and which “orthodoxy” ultimately won out. Dally is a professor at Bexley Seabury Seminary and a playwright.

Feb 14

The Rev. Dr. Robert O. Wyatt, “The Biblical God: Genesis.” Although many Christians like to distinguish the Old Testament God of vengeance from the New Testament God of mercy, the Church has historically taught that the God of the OT is one with the God of the NT. Certainly one strand of the OT depicts a fierce and vengeful tribal deity; other strands present a loving and forgiving God and a God of restorative social justice. It’s not much of a stretch to say that God grows up in the Old Testament narrative. In this one of several occasional sessions, we start with the versions of God presented in Genesis, focusing on chapters 1-11.

Feb 21

Photographer Jonathan Lee will discuss his passion for railroads and introduce an exhibit of his wonderful pictures of trains and railyards around Chicago and across the U.S. He is the son of Bishop Jeffrey Lee and Lisa Lee. This is his first solitary exhibit. He is a graduate of Columbia college. (Fr. Bob and Terri now own six of his wonderful photographs; his entire portfolio is available for purchase.)

Feb 28

“Why the Old Testament God you may hate is a world favorite,” with the Rev. Dr. Bob Wyatt. Despite what many think, the dominant image of God in the Old Testament is  loving, compassionate, long-suffering, and forgiving. That God is, after all, the God of Jesus Christ. But one strand of God is jealous, just, and vengeful, punishing nations and individuals for their sins. That version of God is preferred by certain Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Where did this God come from and what are this God’s redeeming characteristics, if any?

Mar 6

“What Chicago’s “new” Episcopal seminary has to offer you,” with the Rev. Suzann Holding, Director of Lifelong Theological Education at Bexley Seabury Seminary. When Seabury closed its master’s programs to concentrate on the doctorate of ministry and lifelong education for clergy and laity, Chicago was left without a full-service Episcopal Seminary. Seabury has now confederated with Bexley Hall Divinity School and is moving the Bexley master’s programs to Chicago, providing both training for ordination and advanced academic studies. Many of their programs will be of interest to a variety of parishioners. Holding had been Canon to the Ordinary in San Diego and Rector of Our Savior, Elmhurst.

Mar 13

Holy Family School Special Sunday, with the Rev. Leslie Hunter, Chaplain. Pastor Hunter will preach at both services and talk about the wonders of Holy Family School, the joint Episcopal-Lutheran school in the Homan Square neighborhood. The former St. Gregory’s School is now a part of the ministry, which give inner-city children a superlative education.

Mar 20

“Deeper into Resurrection,” with the Rev. Dr. Bob Wyatt. Resurrection at the end of time is the dominant vision of the eternal life in the New Testament. But popular theology is dominated by visions of individual souls ascending into heavenly bliss at death (a view based more on Plato than Scripture). Are the two versions of eternal life even compatible? Is there an “intermediate state” such a Purgatory between death and bliss? Why is resurrection a more powerful image than immortality of the soul? Why has resurrection become so alien to us? More questions than anwers, perhaps, in this adult forum session.

Apr 3 

 “The Sin of Racism and God’s Hope for Humanity” with the Rev. Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows. Baskerville-Burrows will lead a conversation about racism, as we consider our baptismal covenant, hear what the Diocese of Chicago and the Episcopal Church is doing to dismantle systemic racism and pursue racial reconciliation, and reflect on what this means for our own personal lives and spiritual journeys.  Youth are welcome to attend. She is the director of networking for the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago with oversight of communications, resource development, and community engagement.  Before coming to Chicago, she was rector of Grace Church, Syracuse, NY, and Episcopal chaplain at Syracuse University.  

Apr 10

“Swedenborg and Heaven,” with David Gordon. Ever wonder if there was such a thing as a real life Dante, someone who had actually travelled to heaven and hell and could tell you what it was really like? Emanuel Swedenborg, the 18th century Swedish mystic, was allegedly given by God the power to see into the otherworld and able to converse with the spirits there. Swedenborg is unlike many other mystics in that his visions were not just brief momentary ecstatic glimpses of God but remained part of his everyday conscious abilities for many years. Is there any way to prove that Swedenborg was a credible seer? If you don’t think that Swedenborg was either crazy or hallucinating (as some did), then Swedenborg provides credible answers to many of our most persistent and intractable questions: Does Purgatory really exist? Who goes to Heaven, who to Hell? Is Satan real? Is one justified by faith or good works? Is Jesus really the Son of God and the Jews and Mohammed wrong? In what way is God Trinitarian? Does marriage continue in heaven? Do humans have free will, or does God predestine our lives? Were Adam and Eve real people, and did the Fall really happen? Come and hear Swedenborg’s answers to some of theologian’s biggest debates. Some of them might shock you! Dave Gordon is working on a doctorate in theology at Marquette University.

Apr 17

“Downton Abbey: Masterpiece Theatre, Masterly Parable,” with the Rev. Dr. Sam Portaro. It was a smash hit series for PBS and hooked many a viewer for weeks on end. But beyond entertainment, what did the characters and their stories have to teach us? Portaro is retired chaplain at the University of Chicago and a nationally respected. speaker and retreat leader.

Apr 24

Religion & Politics in the Election Year,” with the Rev. Dr. Sam Portaro. Religion and politics are taboos, each worthy of discussion, especially in an election year. In this post-Easter, pre-Pentecost season, what does the history of our faith community and the stories we’ve traced liturgically have to say to and about us today? Portaro is retired chaplain at the University of Chicago and a nationally respected. speaker and retreat leader.

May 1

“Homosexuality and Scripture” with Dr. Amy-Jill Levine. Churches in the past faced schisms over theological questions: views of the Trinity, of the Eucharist, of Baptism. Today they break apart because of sexuality. What does the Bible permit and forbid? Why does it allow certain actions and not others? How should people of good will, and good faith, respond to these injunctions? Dr. Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. Her most recent book is is Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi (HarperOne).

May 8

Mother's Day -- No Class

May 15

Pentecost -- TBA

May 22

“The Changing Role of Chicago’s Episcopal Charities,” with Michael Cleavenger. Learn how Episcopal Charities, which now primarily funds established Charities such as Holy Family School and Lawrence Hall, is positioning itself in a new era. Cleavenger is director of development for Episcopal Charities and Community Services. A lifelong Episcopalian, he has facilitated capital campaigns at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Merit Music, The Chicago History Museum, Victory Gardens Theater (Biography project), La Rabida Children’s Hospital, and The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.