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November 2018


Lifelong Learning at VTS has been working to expand our offerings to reach a broader cross-section of lay and clergy leaders, including curating and developing resources for non-English speakers. We are excited to share our progress in developing resources for the Latino/Hispanic community. This fall, our Lifelong Learning team has generated:

We are especially excited to be hosting the Episcopal Church's Latino Ministry Competency course at VTS from January 20-27, 2019. This innovative eight-day intensive curriculum is designed for diocesan staff, clergy, lay leaders, and seminarians to learn cultural competency for Latino/Hispanic ministry. This popular program, offered by the Episcopal Church's Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministries, is taught by seminary faculty, lay church leaders, and clergy with extensive experience in Latino/Hispanic and intercultural ministry.

The registration deadline is December 21, 2018. Click here to learn more and to register(Note: Partial scholarships are available for seminarians and lay leaders. Please email for additional information. The deadline for scholarship applications is December 14.)

For Lifelong Learners interested in auditing masters-level courses this spring, Auditor applications are due by January 15, 2019. Courses include "Race and the African-American Experience", "The Mission of God", "Introduction to the Practice of Spiritual Direction", "Faith in the Triune God", and "Civil War Memorials". Click here to learn more and to register.

We are putting the final touches on our schedule of offerings for lay and clergy leaders for 2019. Our Spring Evening Community Classes will follow the Seminary's quarter-class schedule, meeting for about 6 sessions per quarter. Topics include: "The Psalms - Interpreting Ancient Texts in Today's Contexts," "Writing as a Spiritual Practice," "To be Holy Whole: A Lenten Journey into New Life," and "Reclaiming the Jewishness of Jesus." The deadline for registering for these classes is January 22, 2019.

We are also introducing new monthly offerings, including a series of preaching workshops on weekday mornings, Saturday morning retreats on Spiritual Practices, and a Monday evening Faith in the Field lecture series.

Look for registration links and information on dates and times in our December newsletter and on our website. As always, please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions at We look forward to seeing you on campus!!

Diane M. Wright, Senior Associate for Lifelong Learning
and Director of Continuing Education


Art and Theology —
Reflecting on August Wilson's Gem of the Ocean

Preview session: Thursday, November 29, 7 - 8:30 p.m.
Debrief session: Thursday, January 10, 7 -8:30 p.m.
$30 for both sessions, Click here to register

Gem of the Ocean is the first of a cycle of ten plays by August Wilson, one for each decade of 20th century Black America. Set in Pittsburgh's Hill district in 1904, the play unfolds in the aftermath of a tragedy at the local mill that threatens the uneasy calm holding this African-American community together. 

Scholar and theater critic Riley Temple (VTS '14) will provide a theological framework for discussing the play over the course of two evening sessions. The debrief session will include conversation with the director. Note: participants must buy their own tickets to the performance. Gem of the Ocean is showing at Round House Theater from November 28 to December 23, 2018. 

Redeeming Dementia - Author Talk

Wednesday, December 5, 2018
7 - 8:30 p.m.
Free, but RSVP required; click here to register

Dorothy Linthicum and Janice Hicks (VTS '18) will discuss their new book, Redeeming Dementia. The book approaches this difficult topic through the lens of science, theology, and spirituality, interwoven with personal stories about their own experiences with dementia as caregivers for their parents. Their collaborative journey of study and reflection led them to new discoveries about the intricacies of the brain, and introduced them to ideas from theologians such as David Kelsey and John Swinton. The authors will share their insights and describe how the redeeming power of a loving God led them to a place of hope and trust.


Students Share their Discoveries

Have you ever wondered what Eve told her daughters about the Garden of Eden? (And, yes, there were daughters.) Or what Lot's wife felt as her husband ran around Sodom trying to save their children? Have you ever connected Martha and Mary's ways of welcoming Jesus with your own life?  The fall course "That's What She Said...: Biblical Characters in Culture and Art" explored connections like this.

Each week, a working artist led the class through a Biblical narrative using a particular artistic medium: literature (the Rev. Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams), visual art (Margaret Adams Parker), theater (Lisa Cole Smith), poetry (Kathleen Henderson Staudt), and music (the Rev. Dr. William Bradley Roberts and Jay Smith). The class considered how the stories, particularly women's stories, are affected by human interpretation. Here are some things participants learned:
  • Pay attention to what the text says, versus what we "have always heard" about a story — for example the eating of the fruit in the garden of Eden.
  • Recognize that every artist is a unique and contextual interpreter, like how images of Mary, Jesus' mother reflect the culture in which they were painted.
  • Feel how a story changes with group participation, sound effects, and movement.
  • Try moving into the story by writing yourself as a witness or character. How did Hagar feel in the desert with her son — and no water?
  • Consider interpretations that engage multiple senses - Do we agree with them? How might we choose differently?
  • Recognize that every question we ask of a text leads to more questions!
Stories speak differently according to time and circumstance. Finding ways to see, hear, and embody biblical stories makes each encounter a new experience, and we grow with every new interpretation we receive.
— Reflection by Chrissie Crosby (VTS '14), Class Coordinator

From Drama to Empowerment — A Family Systems Approach to Community Interactions

Monday, November 26, 2018
7:30 - 9:30 p.m.
$30; Click here to register

Wherever groups gather, there is the potential for drama. Our family, workplace, and worship communities can become arenas for acting out unresolved issues. However, we can choose empowerment over drama! Consistently engaging others from a stance of empowerment can facilitate communication, avoid unnecessary conflict, and increase effective functioning in the communities in which we live, work, and worship. In this workshop you will:

  • Reflect on how the three "drama roles" can compromise communication and effectiveness
  • Consider the benefits of consistently adopting the three "empowerment roles"
  • Engage in activities aimed at expanding your "empowerment toolkit"

Exploring the Music of Advent — "There is a  Longing in Our Hearts"

Wednesday, November 28, 2018
7:30 - 9 p.m.
$20; Click here to register

In our culture, the season of Advent can get lost, sometimes reduced to a fevered wait for the Baby Jesus. This class, led by Ellen Johnston, Director of Music, Liturgy, and the Arts at VTS, will explore and sing the music of a season that teaches us about dread and awe, judgment and mercy, as well as expectation and hope. 

Embodied Preaching in Advent — Making A Way in our Hearts

Saturday, December 1, 2018 
10 a.m. - 12 p.m. 
$20; Click here to register

Looking for a fresh approach to preaching in Advent? The Rev. Dr. Ruthanna Hooke, Professor of Homiletics, is leading a set of workshops on Embodied Preaching. Engage the Scriptures with your whole being: body, voice, mind, and spirit. Reflect with other preachers on the distinct gifts—and challenges—of preaching the beloved, yet prophetic, texts of Advent in a new way; find fresh approaches to the text both for yourself and for your listeners.

Lady Misrule: A Christmas Noir 
VTS presents the world premiere!

Friday, November 30 and
Saturday, December 1, 2018
reception at 6:45 pm, performance at 7:30 p.m.
Free; Click here to register

Lady Misrule is a dark tale from the jolliest of places. Set mostly in the North Pole, Paul Sapp's noir-ish mystery upends Christmas tropes and traditions as he explores issues of belief, faith, and the dirty work of doing good deeds. There will be a talk-back with the actors and director following Saturday night's performance. 

Listening to God In Our Lives — A Weekend Retreat

Friday, January 11, 6 - 9:30 p.m.
and Saturday, January 12, 9:30-3:30 p.m. 
$95 (Early Bird $85, through December 21)
Click here to register

"Should I choose this path rather than that one?" "What is the meaning of the experience I am having?" "How can I follow Christ more faithfully?" "What would that even mean?" Start your new year by taking time to sit with questions like these, listening for God's direction for your life through quiet prayer, guided meditation, and talking with others who are on the same journey. Kathy Staudt, Adjunct Professor in Theological Studies, leads this popular annual retreat. 


Welcoming the Visitor: Tips for the Holidays

Wednesday, December 12, 2018
3 p.m. EST

free, but registration requested; click here to register

The looming holiday season is before us. How do you welcome the visitor and invite them in? We'll go over the difference between being welcoming and being inviting - and how church leaders can coach their faith communities to being open and understanding as visitors enter through our doors. We'll also go beyond the initial visiting experience, to discuss on how to keep members involved and connected.

Coming Up:
How to Be Church Beyond Our Buildings - Wednesday, January 16


"Us Against Them: Ministry in an Age of Polarization"

A One-Day Bowen (Family Systems) Theory Conference for Faith Leaders
Thursday, January 17, 2019
9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Founders Hall, George Mason University Arlington Campus
$75; student discounts and CEU credits available
Click here to register

Author, pastor, and pastoral counselor Ronald W. Richardson brings his experience with Bowen theory to the challenge of polarization. The conference will look at how a leader's work on differentiation of self can help a group avoid polarization, and when it does occur, help to manage it. Staying thoughtful, clear, and connected, leaders can embody a principled call to ministry with others in a polarized environment.

"By enlarging the picture of what is involved when these heated debates arise, we can discover new avenues for approaching them."  - Ronald W. Richardson, Polarization and the Healthier Church

Lifelong Learning at VTS Learning  provides continuing education and professional development opportunities for clergy and laypeople, in person and on-line, leveraging the faculty and resources of Virginia Theological Seminary.

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