Sacred Conversations about Life
Hosted by St. Paul’s Episcopal Church
on Sundays, 9:30-10:20 a.m.
at The Grand, next door to the Church
September 15, 2019 Top Ten Church Buildings in the World Join Mark Stanley for a slide show of the greatest houses of worship from around the globe. From Canterbury Cathedral in England to Sagrada Familia in Spain, these structures can inspire our faith.
September 22, 2019 Seven American Idols (or Cults) While it is misleading to claim that America is a Christian nation, it is arguable that a majority of American citizens and residents are Christian. Where Christianity calls us to worship only God, we Americans often turn our adoration towards other objects, creating, in effect, cults for those objects. This forum will discuss critically seven of those objects: quantification, efficiency, science, literalism, democracy, individualism, and black & white thinking (jumping from one extreme to the other). Led by The Rev. Dr. Chris Dreisbach.
September 29, 2019 Either the Church Evolves or Becomes Extinct: imagining our future Statistics show that almost all religious organizations are shrinking at an alarming rate. So what are we to do about it? In the Episcopal Church, we love our cherished traditions while also valuing reformation and new life. Let’s brainstorm about what from the tradition we want to take with us, what we are willing to leave behind, and what we are hoping for in years to come. Join The Rev. Mary Luck Stanley for a conversation about imagining God’s dream for the future of the Episcopal Church.
October 6, 2019 What Excites You About Old St. Paul’s?
At Old St. Paul’s, we ask “what makes your heart sing?,” but what does that really mean in the context of our Christian community? Please join vestry members Terrence Buckley and Tilly Gurman to brainstorm about God’s dream for the life of our church and the importance of our roles in that community. We encourage you to come (and bring a friend) to join us for this lively discussion!
October 13, 2019 Fact or Fiction at Old St. Paul’s Did Edgar Allan Poe serve on the Old St. Paul’s vestry? Was the Desiderata “discovered” in 1692 in our church? Did a rector of Old Saint Paul’s lose an election to be a bishop because a bat flew in his face? Join The Rev. Mark Stanley to sort out some true and some false history in the life of our parish.
October 20 Christian Cliches that Do Not Hold Up Under Scrutiny How many times have you heard a wellmeaning person say things like, “God helps those who help themselves,” “When God closes a door, he opens a window,” or “God will never give you more than you can handle?” Join The Rev. Mary Luck Stanley to examine the meanings behind the most common Christian cliches. And join in a conversation about whether or not these sayings hold up when compared with solid Christian theology.
October 27, 2019 Creeds: Meanings and Alternatives The Nicene Creed has been a standard of faith since 325 AD. Yet its original historical context and ancient Greek vocabulary can make parts of this creed seem not as relevant for Christians today. Some Episcopal churches are experimenting with different creeds – some ancient and some modern. Join Mark Stanley to explore the concept of creeds as our congregation prepares to try some other creeds for a trial period.
November 3, 2019 Belief Check: what in the Christian narrative, if false, would be a deal breaker for you? Much of Christian teaching rests on claims that we are asked to accept on faith; The Fall in the Garden of Eden, The Great Flood, Moses and the parting of the Red Sea, Jesus’s virgin birth in a manger, Jesus’s miracles, Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection, the Second Comong. If any of these turned out to be false, what would that do to your faith. Join The Rev. Dr. Chris Dreisbach to compare notes, asking which of these claims (and others) matters most to our faith, and which don’t matter at all. Then let’s ask what difference such a conversation makes to our faith journey as a community.
November 10, 2019 The Basics of the Four Gospels. Join Mark Stanley to examine the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John so that you can better understand and engage them. How were they written? Why do they have differences? What is their main message about Jesus? What do they have to say to us today?
November 17, 2019 Building Trust through Better Communication. Whether you want to have more effective communication with your loved ones, or you hope to have more fulfilling conversations with colleagues and friends, you can develop key skills that will help you influence the sense of trust in any group. In meetings, gatherings, and parties, you can be a positive influencer in conversations by exercising certain skills, thereby helping people to feel listened to, respected, and better understood. Join The Rev. Mary Luck Stanley to see what loving your neighbor as yourself looks like!
November 24 Greening of the Church: On this date there is NO EDUCATION HOUR so that all ages can stay after the 10:30 service for the Greening of the Church, which will include decorating the church and crafts for children. There will not be Youth Group, Sunday School, or The Forum on this date. But there will still be Children’s Worship and Nursery Care.
December 1 Unto Us a Child is Born: Isaiah in Advent and Christmas. The Prophet Isaiah is continually read during this Advent and Christmas season. Join The Rev. Mark Stanley to explore his message of hope and expectation. We will also examine what Isaiah originally meant when he prophesied about a coming child who would be God with us.
December 8: The Virtues Project: empowering people to live more meaningful lives The Virtues Project is a global grassroots initiative promoting kindness, social justice, and integrity. OSP member, Courtney Zellmer, is on the Board of Young Audiences Arts for Learning, a nonprofit organization that brings artists and educators together to teach traditional subjects through creative means. Courtney has invited Mama Rashida to present at The Forum since she is a rostered artist who works with churches, communities, and schools in Baltimore, teaching The Virtues Project. Join us to reflect on the virtuous life, enjoy some dramatic play, and learn more about how local artists are working with youth in Baltimore.
December 15: Our Evolving Ministries. The Rev. Mary Luck Stanley’s transition to Co-Rector of our parish is an opportunity for all of us to think about our evolving ministries. Join Mary and Mark to hear about their ongoing insights into how God is calling them to serve this parish. We’ll also talk about ways to be inspired and discern what God might want each of us to do.
Now that it’s 2020, many people will be thinking about making New Year’s Resolutions. Please join me this Sunday, January 5th, at The Forum (9:30-10:20 a.m.) when we will reflect together on our baptismal promises so that we can get ideas about ways that we want to lead more meaningful and faithful lives. I hope this will help you to discover some new habits of the heart that will be transformative in your life. Join us and get inspired to make a fresh start for 2020.—The Rev. Mary Luck Stanley