Adult Classes

Adult Ed webAt Central, we believe that Christian education is a lifelong journey. In addition to gathering for worship, adults are encouraged to participate in classes on Sunday mornings.



Classes are offered every Sunday at 9:45 a.m. with a variety of topics from Bible study, to current issues, to theological questions. Ongoing adult classes with rotating leadership provide learning and fellowship opportunities. 

Special studies are also offered throughout the year.  Each January Central's adult classes meet together for Winter Studies and during the summer months for Summer Series to focus on a specific topic.

Both Fall Terms | September 20 - December 13

What do we mean when we say “God”?
Explore the question of how God can be spoken  of truthfully or at least with fewer  illusions clouding the discussion.

Leader: John Huss
Text:  God Without Being By: Jean Luc-Marion

In his last year teaching, Convener John Huss seeks to take advantage of his philosophical, theological, and historical training in what to him, was a 20th Century “Golden Age” for ecumenical learning. He hopes to ignite one last set of fireworks.

The class will seek to examine questions of an authentically and precisely “theological” nature through the work of an avant-garde Catholic French philosopher/theologian who seeks to approach his subject —Who, or what is God?—in light of the thought of Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Derrida, while appropriating and seeking to surpass the thought of Aquinas, reclaiming a sense of the primacy of theology over philosophy.

Convener: John Huss
Location:  Issues in Theology, OAC Conference Room, G4, Ground Floor, Oglesby Building

First Fall Term | September 20 - October 25

The Accidental Theologian: Selected Films by Clint Eastwood   |   September 20 - November 1
Profound issues of good and evil, life and death make the silver screen a palate for theological reflection

Leader: Gary Rowe

Rowe is a Peabody award-winning media producer with thousands of hours of radio and television productions throughout his career. He has taught media courses in three colleges and universities and at McAfee School of Theology.

This class is comprised of six sessions that will examine these films, in this order: Unforgiven, Gran Torino, Million Dollar Baby, American Sniper Letters from Iwo Jima, and Hereafter.  All titles are available on Netflix, as DVDs and for $2.99 as rentals through Amazon. See how an insightful filmmaker is doing in theology. Hosted viewing parties are encouraged.

Convener: Jean Ellen
Location: Keystone Class, Taylor Conference Room

Creation, the Garden, and Desire: A Study of Genesis 1-3   |   September 20 - October 4
Explore anew the stories of the creation and the unraveling of life in the Garden.   

Leader: Christine Yoder, Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

Explore anew the ancient stories about the creation and the unraveling of life in the Garden. We will pay particular attention to Israel's descriptions of God, humanity, and creation in the ancient Near Eastern context, life in the Garden of Eden, and the role of desire and its consequences.

The Book of Jonah: Lessons for our Fractured World   |  October 11 - 25
Jonah shows us what bigotry and hatred of foreigners and enemies looks like to God.     

Leader: Robert Catterall, Central member and Bible study enthusiast.

The book of Jonah uses the character of an outrageous excuse of a prophet to show the leaders and people of Judah just how foolish they looked with their insistence on isolationism and the exclusion of "the other." It asks the question, "If God loves the outsider, shouldn't we?"

Convener: Robert Catterall
Location:  Logos Class, The Greene Room

Images of the Church in the New Testament   |   September 20 - 27

Leader:  The Rev. Beth Johnson; Beth teaches New Testament at Columbia Seminary and has worshipped at Central since 1998.

We will look at various images of the church in the New Testament--family, body, assembly, flock, and so on--and ask how they inform our own sense of the church and its life and mission.

“Peace with Justice”   |   Sundays in October
Review of the Israel / Palestine struggle

Leader(s): Delegates of the May 2015 Interfaith Peace Builders, Israel/Palestine

Central delegates of the May 2015 Interfaith Peace Builders trip to Israel-Palestine will share information, experiences and ways to learn more about the conflict, in addition to specific ways to help do something about it. Some are simple while others are more difficult. The complex history and politics of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict can begin to be understood by building a framework based on both reliable data and thoughtful, personal assessment. This is a one (1) month course that has been broken up into four topics and which are as follows (In chronological order): Land and History, Zionists, Occupation, and Non-violent Resistance.

Convener: Ed Carwile
Location:  Sojourners Class, The Brotherhood Room

“Animate Faith” Series
Imaginative exploration of Christianity’s big questions introduced by contemporary theologians

Leader: Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Davis, Central Member

“Animate Faith” is a collection of innovative, artistic videos combining live action with animation to provoke meaningful conversation about Christian topics such as Jesus, the Church, the Cross, and the Bible. Each class will be a short video followed by a time of private reflection and then sharing ideas. As we explore how we answer some of Christianity’s big questions, we will consider how to share our faith with children and other adults in our lives.

Convener: Mary Elizabeth (M.E.) Davis
Location: Faith & Family Class, The Parlor

Second Fall Term November 1 - December 13

No Sunday School Classes on November 22; all are encouraged to attend the Advent Event (watch for details soon).

Sabbath as resistance: Saying NO to the CULTURE OF NOW

Leader:  Gary Charles

Based on a new book of the same title by Old Testament scholar and theologian, Walter Brueggemann, this course will attempt to reclaim the Fourth Commandment from centuries of privatized and pietistic interpretations. We will set such traditional ways to understand “sabbath” against the idea of “sabbath”  as economic and political resistance, especially in our restless culture in which “our motors are set to run at brick-making speed”. Drawing on Old Testament prophetic voices, Brueggemann argues that work stoppage on the “sabbath” is not as much an act of personal piety as it is an act of economic resistance to the pressures to produce and to consume. Expanding the concept of “sabbath as resistance,” Brueggemann notes that “people who keep Sabbath live all seven days differently”.

Come enjoy the musings of a modern prophet and reclaim  “sabbath” as resistance!

Location:  The Parlor

The Book of James: Is our Faith real? Do we walk the talk?
Hear what James has to say about works of mercy and love – and true faith.

Leader:  Robert Catterall, Central member and Bible enthusiast

The author of the Book of James is not in disagreement with Paul – salvation is found solely through Christ; however, James is opposed to a popular distortion and sloganeering of Paul's words. At the heart of this short letter is a conviction that love of one’s neighbor fulfills the Law.

"And he was called Jesus" - The birth narratives in the Gospel of Luke
As we approach Christmas, we will focus on the narratives of Jesus’ birth in Luke

Leader:  Raj Nadella, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Director of MATS Program, Columbia Theological Seminary.

This three-week series will look at Luke's stories about Jesus' birth and infancy within their Jewish and Greco-Roman contexts. We’ll explore the significance of those traditions for Luke's audience – ancient and contemporary – by examining the ways in  which the Lukan accounts were juxtaposed with similar stories in those two contexts.

Convener:  Robert Catterall
Location:  Logos Class, The Greene Room

Theologies of Disability: Fresh Perspectives and Practical Implications   |   November 1 - 15

Leader:  Jamie Butcher

Join us to explore theologies of disability. We will hear fresh perspectives from noted scholars and consider practical implications for ministry. Learn from the insights of Jean Vanier, Nancy Eisland, Eric Carter, Stanley Hauweras, and Henri Nouwen who bring fresh perspectives on life in community, creation in the “image of God,” and Christian discipleship. Share your own stories of limitation or grief, as we consider practical implications for hospitality.

Christians and Jews: A Theological Perspective for Today's Church    |  November 29 – December 13

Leader:  George Brown. George is a long-time Central member, recently retired as President of the Friendship Force, who is married to a Jewish woman, and who has raised two Jewish children. He is not a theologian but will rely on the PCUSA study paper for this course.

Christians share a common heritage with our Jewish neighbors. We speak casually about Judeo-Christian values and pride ourselves in tolerance and acceptance of the other faith. But do we have a theological understanding of the relationship between Christians and Jews? This course will trace the troubled relationship between the two faiths and offer some positive answers that are grounded in contemporary theology.

Convener:  Ed Carwile
Location:  The Sojourner Class, Brotherhood Room