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Is There No Balm in Gilead? Searching for Hope and Healing Amidst Exile 

Sundays in June at 10:15–11:15 am

“Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has the health of my poor people
not been restored?” –Jeremiah 8:22

Exile is painful. It displaces us, turning life upside down. It disrupts us, shaking our world apart. It tears at our social and spiritual fabric, leaving us stunned, isolated, perhaps hopeless. These words of upheaval are a resonant voice for our pandemic experience as well.

Now more than ever we hear our own cries in those of the prophet Jeremiah: Is there no balm for exiled people?  

How then do God’s people make sense of and respond to the pain and dislocation of exile? How do we tend to radically disrupted relationships with God, ourselves, and others? God’s people–past and present– search for hope and healing amidst exile. 

The 5 Summer Institute offerings provide opportunities to venture inward and outward together through the  practices of dwelling in Scripture, prayer, art, lament, and resilience. 



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Registration Info

Register for all opportunities by June 4. To participate (all offerings via Zoom), follow these steps:

  1. Select one of the 5 offerings. 
  2. Complete the online registration (below). Each class has its own registration. Your registration is for all 4 weeks.
  3. To switch into a different offering, submit a new registration by Thursday preceding the Sunday class. 
  4. Check your email for confirmation of your registration.
  5. You’ll receive the Zoom meeting link each Friday for the Sunday gathering. To join by phone, a dial-in number and meeting ID will be provided. 
  6. Note: Sessions from two Summer Institute offerings are being recorded and available from the Summer Institute webpage to view after each session.

Questions? Contact Janet Sanders, Director for Christian Formation at janets@fpcberkeley.org.
Registration questions? Contact Sue Yajko at suey@fpcberkeley.org.


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Breathing Hope: Conversations with Christian Creatives, Meaning Making in Disorienting Times

Register here by Thursday, June 4.


Christian creatives from our community share their art and process and how their faith intersects both. Our guest artists will also pass along creative prompts that participant
s can engage afterwards, even those of us who think creative expression is a stretch, to give voice to what our hearts long to say. 

Facilitators: Ed & Carol Aust 

June 7 | Ed & Carol Aust
June 14 | Ralph Anderson, photographer
June 21| Brian & Janet Conery, multimedia artists
June 28 | Zoe Mullery & Guests, writing teacher at San Quentin

These sessions will not be recorded.


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Prayer: Journey to our Heart’s True Home

Register here by Thursday, June 4.

We spend most of our days in a far country–one of hurry and noise, climb and push, fear and intimidation. But that country is not our home. Through the rhythms of prayer, we meet or, more accurately, are met by God amidst our individual and collective exile. And we’re invited home. Home to intimacy and acceptance, home to peace and joy, home to fellowship and compassion. 

Join us in exploring our heart’s journey home through prayer. Each week we will practice a different movement of prayer that invites us home–to where we belong, to that for which we were created.

Facilitators: Jill Boyce, Elder;  Janet Sanders, Director for Christian Formation; Michelle Vecchio-Lyzenga, Minister for Christian Formation

June 7 | Orientation to the Journey of Prayer
June 14 | Moving Inward: Cry – God, where are you?
June 21 | Moving Upward: Gratitude – God, how great is your love for me!
June 28 | Moving Outward  Compassion – God, what am I to do?  

These sessions will not be recorded.


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Lament: A Kingdom Vision for Our Post-Pandemic World 

Register here by Thursday, June 4.

At the Temple gate, the prophet Jeremiah lamented “Is there no balm in Gilead?” grieving the evil he saw in his community. Jeremiah and the Psalms teach us how we, as God’s people, are called to lament injustice. Together we will focus on justice issues highlighted by our current global pandemic. What area of injustice weighs heavy on your heart? How do we call on God to enact kingdom justice? By sharing our prayers for justice, we will formulate a kingdom vision for our post-pandemic world, crying out to God and choosing to trust in the midst of brokenness.

 Facilitators: Rev. Tom Elson, Pastor for Mission Outreach, and Mae Chan, Elder 

June 7 | Biblical Context for Lament: Jeremiah and Psalms of Lament
June 14 | Our Laments: Grieving Areas of Injustice
June 21 | Call on God for Justice: Exploring God’s Just Ways for Society
June 28 | Our Vision for Justice: Cultivating Hope for a Gospel-Inspired World

These sessions will be recorded.


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Strategies to Build Resilience in a Time of Exile 

Register here by Thursday, June 4. Limited to 30 participants.

There are many ways to build resilience, grow our hardiness, and improve our grit during challenging times like these. This class will explore four practices that can help strengthen us to withstand the slings and arrows of life. 

Facilitators: Kristen Gustavson, LCSW, PhD; Anna Loscutoff, LCSW; Jacqueline Ong Mowat, LCSW 

June 7 |  Cultivating Gratitude – with Kristen Gustavson, LCSW, PhD
June 14 |  Finding Rest – with Jacqueline Ong, LCSW
June 21 | Understanding Self-Compassion – with Anna Loscutoff, LCSW
June 28 | Reinvigorating Play – joint facilitation 

These sessions will be recorded.


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Open Door Community Group: Exploring the Book of Jeremiah 

Register for the Open Door Community Group to join and receive the weekly email with the Zoom link.

Following Sunday worship, the Open Door Community Group gathers for conversation on the texts and themes from the book of Jeremiah. Sunday’s weekly message in worship, along with the corresponding Questions for Reflection (Available June 5), guide our journey. Jeremiah, the prophet, speaks honest and hard words to his people living in exile, yet reminds them that God is present in desolate times. In listening to Jeremiah’s attempts to make sense of the events of his day, we find interpretive resources for thinking about and responding to the challenges of our time.

Whether joining Open Door as part of the Summer Institute, or for the entire 8-week Jeremiah sermon series, or dropping in as you are able, we want to connect with you in conversation and prayer.

Facilitators: Caroline Chen, Aaron and Lauren Grbich

 These sessions will not be recorded.
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