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Come explore opportunities to travel more deeply inward and fully outward with others.
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Inward and Outward Together—Join Us On the Journey

Pathways Fall 2020 Communities & Classes online brochure

The landscape of our life has changed. Words long forgotten (pandemic), or ignored (racial injustice), or new (Zoom), now frame our collective experience. God, however, still lovingly holds and directs our journey. Beauty and purpose emerge even in the wilderness.

As people on a journey following Jesus inward and outward together, we are becoming people of compassion and mercy through a deepening intimacy with Jesus. Our journey inward beckons us to the journey outward, to serve others tangibly and radically, as agents of renewal participating in God’s mission in the world—an enduring mission of hope and abundant life.

Whether you are just beginning the journey with God or seeking new vistas to enliven the well-worn paths of your travels, there is a next step for you along the pathway.

For more information about our communities and classes for adults, contact Michelle Vecchio-Lyzenga, Minister for Christian Formation at michellev@fpcberkeley.org or Janet Sanders, Director for Christian Formation at janets@fpcberkeley.org.
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Your Journey Begins Here

Starting Point | Fall 2020


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Register for Upcoming Opportunities

Group Spiritual Direction

Where is Wisdom found? Lessons from Proverbs and Ecclesiastes

Finding God in All Things: A Morning Retreat


Community Groups

Fall groups forming now

Young Adults

Women & Men


Featured Resources

Coffee and Conversation with Pastor Tom

Summer Institute Resources

The Color of Compromise

Stages of Faith


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Navigating the Journey of Faith


Radical Grace | Spiritual Formation in Troubled Times

Dates: Wednesdays, September 23, 30
Time and Location:
7–8 PM via via Zoom
Instructor: Kate Rankin, PhD

Click here to register by September 21

Twists and turns, bumps and potholes are to be expected along life’s journey. Our current experience of life can distress, disrupt, and disorient us. In these troubled times, it is good to be reminded that God is at work, drawing us closer and shaping us. 

This two-part series provides a deeper understanding of our spiritual formation in troubled times and how we can extend radical grace and empathy toward self and others along the way. 


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Communities Exploring Scripture…

Finding our place in the story of God

Where Is Wisdom Found?
Lessons From Proverbs and Ecclesiastes

Dates: Thursdays, October 8–November 12
Time and Location:
7–8:30 pm via Zoom
Instructor: Rev. Dr. Carol Miles

Register by October 1 

Proverbs call to us from billboards, t-shirts and coffee mugs—Keep calm and carry on, Be the change you wish to see in the world. Sometimes they express traditional cultural values and societal norms— Practice makes perfect or Everything in moderation— and sometimes they challenge the status quo —If at first you don’t succeed, time to redefine success. The Bible is full of proverbs that reflect the values of the Kingdom of God. How do they hold up in the light of contemporary wisdom? 

Rev. Dr. Carol Antablin Miles leads us as we explore Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, keeping an eye out for wisdom on relationships, success, and economic inequality.


Coffee & Conversation: A Morning Devotion with Pastor Tom Elson

Dates: Tuesdays and Thursdays July 7-September 17
Time and Location: 8:30–9 am via Zoom
Register for Coffee & Conversation

Start your mornings with Pastor Tom over a cup of coffee as he guides us on a journey through the First Letter of Peter. The recipients of this letter found themselves in the confusing and painful position of living in the Roman Empire while simultaneously living as faithful members of the church.

July 7 Recording | 1 Peter 1:1–2
July 9 Recording | 1 Peter 1:3–5 NRSV
July 14 Recording | 1 Peter 1:6–9
July 16 Recording | 1 Peter 1:10–12
July 21 Recording | 1 Peter 1:13–16
July 23 Recording | 1 Peter 1:17–25
July 28 Recording | 1 Peter 2:1–6
July 30 Recording | 1 Peter 2:7–10
August 4 Recording | 1 Peter 1:3–11
August 6 Recording | 1 Peter 2:11–12
August 13 Recording | 1 Peter 2:18–25
August 18 Recording | 1 Peter 3:1–7
August 20 Recording | 1 Peter 3:8–12
August 25 Recording | 1 Peter 3:13–22
August 27 Recording | 1 Peter 4:1–6
September 3 Recording | 1 Peter 4:12–19
September 8 Recording | 1 Peter 5:1–5
September 10 Recording | 1 Peter 5:6–11


Open Door Community Group

Sundays
11:15 am–12:30 pm via Zoom

To receive our weekly email with Zoom access, visit the Open Door Community Group.

Following the Sunday worship service, join the Open Door Community Group for a time of connection, prayer, and conversation using the weekly Questions for Reflection based on the Sunday message. Drop-ins are always welcome.

For more information about Community Groups, visit our Community Group page.


Emmaus Communities 

Practices to Live By | Alternative Liturgies for God’s People

Sundays, September 13–May 23
11:15–12:30 am via Zoom

If you’re new to First Pres or looking for new ways to engage with others and Scripture, come and experience one of our four Sunday morning Emmaus Communities (ECs). These communities (20-60 people) are a great place to connect with adults in all stages of life and faith.


Connect(her)

The Dream of You

Sundays, September 13–May 23
11:30 am—12:30 am via Zoom

Learn more about our current series

To receive our weekly email with Zoom access, email suey@fpcberkeley.org

Connect(her) is a gathering space for women of all ages and circumstances to deepen our relationship with Christ and one another through small group conversation and prayer.


Sunday Morning Study

Sundays, ongoing
11:30 am–12:30 pm via Zoom 

To receive an email with Zoom access, email Susan at sleroymstewart@aol.com

Our community explores one book of the Bible at a time, alternating between Old and New Testaments, using questions that help us to more fully understand what God is saying to us and where God beckons us outward.


Women’s Bible Study

Race To Glory | The Letter To The Hebrews

Fridays, September 11–May 21
9:30–11 am via Zoom

Learn more about our current series

To receive an email with Zoom access, email Pat at patrpcv@pacbell.net

All are welcome to join our diverse community dedicated to sharing our lives and studying God’s Word. This season we explore the Letter to the Hebrews, seeking wisdom to confront life’s frustrations and disappointments with courage and confidence. 

Men’s Bible Study Fellowship (BSF)

Beginnings | A Study of Genesis

Thursdays, September 17–May 13
6:55–8:30 PM via Zoom

Learn more about our current series and register

Men of all ages are invited to be a part of this community that pursues God—seeking God’s wisdom for today’s challenges through the story of God’s people. This group meets for a large group lecture and small group discussions.


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Psalms | Prayers of the Heart | 12 studies by Eugene Peterson

It has been said that everything one can feel or experience in relation to God is found in the Psalms, the prayers of the heart. This inductive study guides an exploration of 12 different Psalms touching the interior dimensions of our lives and bringing them to expression before God.

Preview the titles and texts.

To request a pdf of the 12-session study for your personal use or for your community group, please contact Sue Yajko at suey@fpcberkeley.org.
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Communities Engaging Spiritual Practices…

Creating space to dwell in God’s loving presence.


Group Spiritual Direction

For the First Pres community in partnership with New College Berkeley
Dates: September 2020–May 2021
Time and Location: monthly two-hour sessions via Zoom, day & time to be determined with group members and spiritual directors
Fee: $540 for nine sessions, which includes a $60 non-refundable deposit due at registration. Partial scholarships are available. Please contact Janet Sanders janets@fpcberkeley.org for more information.

Register by September 15

In our faith journey, like all journeys, we encounter bumps and ruts, roundabouts and dead ends. God seems distant or not to be found. Yet God is always near. Group spiritual direction, a communal practice of spoken and silent prayer, helps us tend to our relationship with God through spiritual friendships, contemplative listening, and prayer.

Groups of four or five individuals meet monthly under the guidance of an experienced spiritual director. For more information, please contact Janet Sanders at janets@fpcberkeley.org.

*Spiritual direction groups for undergraduate, graduate students, and seminary students are available through New College Berkeley at no charge. Please inquire at info@newcollegeberkeley.org.


Finding God In All Things: A Morning Retreat

Date: Saturday, October 10
Time and Location:
9:30–11:30 am via Zoom
Instructor: Susan Phillips, PhD

Register by October 1

Join us for a morning spent noticing God in our lives. In this time of pandemic and change in our community, our senses may be overwhelmed, limiting our awareness of how God has been present to us throughout the day. Scripture invites us to “let the Word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” (Col. 3:16). How do we read that Word with us and in us, especially now? For centuries Christians have done so through a spiritual practice called the Prayer of Examen. We’ll explore and practice this simple prayer in community, trusting that we will, indeed, notice God who accepts us, loves us, and is with us.
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Communities Serving Others…

Responding to God’s call, participating in God’s mission

Serve with Local Mission Partners

One primary way to live missionally is to serve alongside our First Pres local mission partners who extend God’s grace and mercy to those in need in our East Bay communities. Various needs and ways to support our Mission partners as they safely serve others are updated frequently. Learn more here!


First Pres Prayer Teams via Zoom

Mondays, 10–11 AM
Wednesdays, 10:30–11:30 AM
Thursdays, 4–5 PM

To receive an email with Zoom access: Prayer Group Directory

Serving others through intercessory prayer is a grace God extends to each of us— a personalized invitation to be intimately involved in laboring for the well-being of others. Prayer teams bring the needs and concerns of our community, our church, our nation, and the world before the Lord each week. Join us regularly or drop-in when you can.

Join a shelter in place prayer team: Three prayer teams are bringing the needs and concerns of our community, our church, our nation, and the world before the Lord each week. To join us regularly or to drop-in, visit our Prayer Group Directory.

Pray throughout your day for our church, and for our local, national, and global community

  • Requests for prayer from our First Pres community are listed here.
  • 20 Prayers to Pray During This Pandemic, by Jen Pollock Michel, reminds us of those individuals and segments of our communities impacted by and on the front lines of the pandemic.

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Understanding and Engaging Spiritual Practices

Explore the spiritual practices of Examen, Silent Meditation, Lectio Divina, Spiritual Reading, Journaling, and Personal Bible Study, intentionally creating space to dwell in God’s loving presence. Download the Spiritual Practices PDF. 


Devotional: First Pres Community Reflections on Scripture

Follow our devotionals on Instagram written by members of the First Pres community. You’re invited to share your own reflections on Scripture with our community.


Pray As You Go is a daily 10 minute prayer session to help you pray whenever you find time, providing a framework for your own prayer. Each prayer time combines music, Scripture, and some questions for reflection to help you to become more aware of God’s presence in your life, listen to and reflect on God’s word, and grow in your relationship with God. Visit Pray as You Go.
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Families Journeying Together…

Providing encouragement and care for Christian families

Moms Together

Dates: Fridays, SeptemberNovember 20
Time and Location:
10–11 am via Zoom 

To receive an email with Zoom access, email Erica at esmaier@gmail.com.

Moms Together is a caring and supportive community of mothers with children of all ages. Hosted by First Pres moms, we gather to share life’s joys and challenges in the context of faith in Jesus Christ. 


Building Families of Faith

Dates: October–November
Time and Location: dates and times to be announced to meet via Zoom

To join our community email list, email Justin at justinjroth@gmail.com.

Our homes are the primary place we live out our lives as followers of Jesus. And families are a crucial incubator of love for God. Now even the best of our intentions to nurture the faith of our children, as well as our own, are stressed and stretched. More than ever we need each other for support, encouragement, and hope! 

Our community of parents of young children (birth–5th grade) gathers to explore, learn, and encourage one another on our shared journey, holding firm to our commitment to building families of faith.

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Coffee & Conversation: A Morning Devotion with Pastor Tom Elson | John 17: Jesus’ Prayer
Pastor Tom guides us on a journey through the prayer of Jesus from the Gospel of John 17:1-26. Christ’s prayer speaks to us today in our uncertainty as clearly as it did to the disciples in the face of Jesus’ death and departure. Over these 10 sessions we will dwell with the words of Jesus as he prays-for himself, for his disciples and for us!

Missed a session? Listen to the recording below: 

April 30 | John 17:2-5
May 5 | John 17:6-8
May 7 | John 17:9-11
May 12 | John 17:12-13
May 19 | John 17:17-19
May 21 | John 17:20-23
May 26 | John 17:24-26

Understanding Stress Workshop–May 2020

Kristen Gustavson, LCSW, PhD

Part 1: Presentation slides and Squeeze Out Stress exercise

Part 2: Building Resilience

Coping with stress can be a challenge for any of us under “normal” circumstances. Shelter-in-Place and the Covid-19 pandemic, however, have unleashed stressors that take us into uncharted territory. In the Understanding Stress series, Dr. Kristen Gustavson discusses how stress works and guides us in looking at ways to build resillience into our daily rhythms.

Kristen is a faculty member in the Department of Social Work at CSU East Bay and an expert in community mental health. Dr. Gustavson is the former Executive and Clinical Director of Berkeley Christian Counselors. She and her family are members of our First Pres community.


 

Exploring the Stages of Faith–January 2020

The Journey Inward, Journey Outward

Kate Rankin, PhD

Part 1: Introduction, Stages 1-2

Part 2: Stages 3-6

Just as our human development follows fairly predictable stages and seasons, a similar dynamic is at work in our spiritual journey. Dr. Kate Rankin guides us to explore these seasons of spiritual development using the influential work of Janet Hagberg and Robert Guelich in their book, The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith. Greater awareness of these Stages of Faith can illuminate our own journey and enable us to better appreciate and support others on their path. Kate is Professor and Psychologist at UCSF Department of Neurology. She and her family are members of our First Pres community.
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