Adult Education

Toothmarks on the Lectionary

Every Sunday, 9:15-10:15 a.m. in Room A.  Morning participants will read the Bible texts for the 10:30 a.m. worship service that day. Classes include pastoral participation and background material to help prepare more fully for worship and listening to the sermon.

Sunday Mornings - 9:15 a.m. - Chapel - Adult Education

September 22, 29, & October 6
Book of Isaiah in Interpretation
Dr. Rob Kugler

At sixty-six chapters and the product of at least three different thinkers and their followers working over two centuries, the Book of Isaiah has  deeply influenced Jews and Christians for two millennia as they do theology for their faith communities. As a consequence, it also boasts a rich history of interpretation, from the changes to its meaning wrought by a Greek translator in the second century BCE to its substantial interpretive footprint in the Dead Sea Scrolls to its robust appearance in quotes and allusions in the New Testament and beyond. 

In three class sessions, we will learn about the origin and growth of the Book of Isaiah and its translation into Greek (session one), its interpretations in the Dead Sea Scrolls (session 2), and its use in the New Testament, especially in the Gospels and Paul’s letters (session 3). We will also consider what we can learn from these ancient interpreters for our own reading of the Book of Isaiah today. 

October 13
Appropriating the Bible in a Globalized World
Dr. Carol Dempsey, OP

The twenty-first century invites us to read the Bible in one hand and the global newspapers in the other hand. The Bible affects culture, and culture and our social location affects how we hear and interpret the Biblical text today. We can no longer read the text in a “privatized, personalized, and sentimentalized way.” 

This class deals with how the Bible intersects with our contemporary globalized world. We will learn how to read the text “against the grain” and to read it from the place of the margins. Topics of discussion: racism, patriarchy, hierarchy, kyriarchy, gender discrimination, heteronormatism, ableism, classism, the God-language.  We will explore how the Scriptures reinforce violent and exclusive attitudes (conscious and unconscious) that cause rifts in believing communities and promote a religious fundamentalism. The class pushes us to make the needed deep systemic and attitudinal changes while discovering anew the transformative Divine and Holy Energy at the heart of all life. 

October 20 & 27
Rwanda Genocide
Alex Rwantabuga

This is the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsi.  Organized by the Hutu political elite, an estimated one-half to one million Tutsi, as well as moderate Hutus, were killed by their Hutu countrymen. Members of the Pacific Northwest Rwandan Association will talk about the events leading to the genocide, what happened during the genocide, the failure of the international community to act, its aftermath for Rwanda and the region, and the continuing efforts toward healing and reconciliation. With tensions between ethnic groups on the rise in all parts of the world, this discussion is important at many levels. 

November 3, 10, & 17
The Bible in America
Dr. Stephen Patterson

The Bible is the all-time best-selling book in history.  The New York Times doesn’t bother listing it, because it would always be #1. Americans love their Bibles, but they don’t know much about them.  9 of 10 Americans think that the Bible is the Word of God, but only 1 in 10 can name the first book of the Bible or identify its four Gospels. In this series, Dr. Patterson will explore the peculiar relationship between Americans and the Bible.  How has it shaped our history, our politics, and our religion?  Will it shape our future too, or has the Bible had its day?

In the first week, Dr. Patterson will explore the role the Bible plays in America today, drawing on research on religion in America ongoing at the Pew Foundation. Who buys Bibles, and why?  How do they use them? Devotion—guidance—weaponry? What will the digital age do to the Bible?

In the second week, Dr. Patterson will speak about the special role the Bible has played in the African American community, from slavery to emancipation to civil rights. How have communities of color experienced the Bible differently from the WASPs across town?

Finally, in the third week, Dr. Patterson will turn to how liberal Protestants have learned to read the Bible critically.  We don’t take it literally—or do we?  Is it the “Word of God” to us, and, if so, how?  Is the Bible something we have to make peace with, or can we actually use it?

November 24
Telling Stories of Comfort and Joy
Caroline Kurtz and Jane Kurtz

Caroline and Jane Kurtz learned to read in Maji, Ethiopia, where their parents worked for the Presbyterian Church. Now that they are both authors of their own published books, they have been exploring the power of literacy to bring hope and justice to Ethiopian communities. They will share some of the many things they’ve learned over the past two years and explain how Westminster artists helped launch Ready Set Go Books, an initiative that last year led to a printing (in Ethiopia) of 100,000 copies of 22 titles and a new Maji project for family literacy.  

December 1
Poetry for Advent
The Rev. Beth Neel and Mary Ann Wish

Beth and Mary Ann will read and discuss poems reflecting the Advent season. The selections might be new to you or old favorites worth revisiting. They will share biographical information about the selected poets and provide copies of the poems for you to enjoy and ponder in the coming December days. 

Bible Study

Join us for a monthly conversation about the Bible on the first Thursday of each month at 2 p.m. in the Gallery. We will read a selected text each month and talk about the questions we have about the text, what the text says about God, and how the text might inform our living. Bring your Bible if you have a favorite; we'll supply Bibles for those who don't bring one. Bible study doesn't meet during the summer.

 "Exploring Membership" Classes

Whether or not you're ready to become a Westminster member, in our “Exploring Membership” classes you are invited to learn what it means to be Presbyterian and consider opportunities for spiritual growth and meaningful mission. These classes are generally offered about three times per year, either on Saturdays or Sundays. Childcare is available on request. There is no charge to attend, but advance registration is requested so we can adequately prepare. For more information, please contact the Reverend Laurie Lynn Newman at lnewman@westprespdx.org or 503-287-1289 x 115. 

Church Library

Westminster Presbyterian Church has a library with a wide variety of books available for checkout. You don’t need to be a church member to use the library. 

The library is located on the ground floor of the church near the 16th Street entrance. You are welcome to use the card catalog to find books or just browse through the bookcases and table displays. 

At this time, our librarian position is vacant. If you are interested in serving as our church librarian, please contact the Reverend Gregg Neel at gneel@westprespdx.org.

We are still allowing self-check-out of books at this time. Simply pull out the card in the back of the book, put your name on it, list your phone number, and write the date you’re signing out the book. Leave the card on the card-catalog case. There are no due-date requirements; please just bring back your book sooner rather than later if it’s a new publication. We also have a children’s book cart for which no checkout is required, though we do ask that you bring the books back once you’re done. 

The library is accessible on Sundays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. During the weekdays, please visit the church office to have a staff person open the library for you. 

If you have any question, please contact the church office during weekdays at 503-287-1289.


Additional Opportunities

We have more educational activities offered in small-group settings, including a variety of book groups. Please check out our Community Life page for more information.