Earl Lectures 2010 - Workshops

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Spiritual but not ReligiousA rich selection of workshops featuring notable leaders in theology, ministry, and education are offered during the Earl Lectures & Leadership Conference.  Workshops are appropriate for the general public, those in all walks of ministry and social change, and clergy seeking continuing education units.

Workshops are open to all registrants to the full Lectures & Leadership Conference.  They are offered on Tuesday, 1:15-2:45pm, and Wednesday, 11:00am-12:30pm. Select your workshops while registering for the conference.

Tuesday, 1:15 - 2:45pm


A.  Outside the Bounds: Exploring the Diversity of Spiritual Identities
Marquita Chamblee and Joellynn Monahan

This workshop presents the Faith Styles model of spiritual development and identity as a framework for deeper understanding of those who identify as “spiritual-but-not-religious.”  As with the Enneagram or Myers-Briggs, Faith Styles honors the variety of human experience and also takes into account a person’s religious and spiritual history and communities.

So, who are these spiritual eclectics, ethical humanists, and religious agnostics?  And how does a person’s race and ethnicity inform their spiritual path?  Together we’ll be in conversation as clergy, lay leaders, and spiritual-but-not-religious people as we honor the particular experiences of those outside the bounds of traditional religious communities.

Marquita Chamblee currently serves as the Dismantling Racism Program Director for Pacific School of Religion. After working for over 25 years in various roles to enhance the diversity of people and programs in large state universities, this is her first experience working at a seminary. Marquita is also certified to administer and interpret the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)—an instrument that provides people with a profile of various personality traits, and has studied other learning style assessments. She enjoys learning and sharing tools to help people
understand themselves and others better.

Joellynn Monahan is deeply engaged in ministries of discernment and spiritual formation.  A spiritual director with a private practice in Oakland, CA, she accompanies clergy, seminarians, and lay people on their spiritual paths.  Her particular passions include young adult faith development, clergy under 40, and “spiritual, but not religious” people.  She currently also serves as Associate Director of Admissions at Pacific School of Religion and Pastoral Associate at New Spirit Community Church, both in Berkeley, CA.  Her ministries reflect over 20 years commitment to education and activism around social justice issues including anti-racism, gender equity, LGBT advocacy, sexual minority communities, disability rights, and environmental and food justice.

B.  Reconnecting with Ourselves & the Earth in This Time of the Big Shift – Practices from Ancient Cultures & Contemporary Complexity Science

Lawrence Ellis

Much of the violence in the world today, towards each other and the planet, stems from separation: our inability to perceive, embody and honor the deep interconnectedness of life. Interconnectedness is fundamental to the worldview of many ancient cultures, and of contemporary complexity science. It is also quintessential in a time of big shifts, of increasingly interdependent ecological, economic, social and other systems. In our session we’ll: examine similarities between concepts of Buddhist “emptiness”, Indigenous “relatedness” and complex adaptive systems; discuss implications & applications, from individual to global; explore practices for embodying interconnectedness; and chart Next Steps.

Lawrence Ellis is a spiritual activist & complexity-science organizational consultant (one who applies insights from the study of complex systems in nature, society and science to human organizations). His formal training in both fields began at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. His life works focuses on applying concepts of & practices for embodying the interconnectedness of life – drawn from contemporary complexity-science, and select ancient wisdom traditions (especially Buddhism, and his ancestral African and Native American traditions) – to today’s foremost crises. He has a notable track record in engaged spiritual, progressive corporate, and social change settings. A Buddhist teacher, he studied for years around Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, and is mentored by both Jack Kornfield and Joanna Macy. His websites are at www.LawrenceEllis.org and www.PathsToChange.net.

C.  A Conversation with Key Note Speaker Matthew Fox
Matthew Fox

Matthew Fox has worked to reawaken the West to its own mystical tradition, from medieval Christian mystics to contemporary scientists who are also mystics.  He is founder and president emeritus of Wisdom University (formerly University of Creation Spirituality) in Oakland, CA.  He has led a renewal of liturgical forms with “The Cosmic Mass” that mixes dance, techno and live music, dj, vj, rap and contemporary art forms with the western liturgical tradition.  Fox received his doctorate (summa cum laude) in the History and Theology of Spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris, was a member of the Dominican Order for 34 years, and is an ordained Episcopal priest.  He is author of many books, including Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet (2002) and Original Blessing (1983).

D.  Liturgy in a Post-Religious Culture
Paul Fromberg

How can people work together to create ritual that marks life’s transitions, losses and celebrations? Welcoming the stranger, expressing affection, sharing leadership and popularizing beauty are all actions that lead to generative liturgy. We will explore and create liturgy that join people’s lives and experience to the life of God.

Paul Fromberg is the rector of St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco.  Paul is a member of Episcopal Church in the Visual Arts and is a council member of Associated Parishes for Liturgy and Mission. He has taught at Virginia Theological Seminary and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. 

E.  Seeking the Divine: The Intersection of Art and Buddhism
Shahara Godfrey

This workshop will explore seeking the Divine through the intersection of Art and Buddhism. The integration of the Buddhist teachings from an African American woman perspective that includes the lens as a teacher from the LGQBT (alphabet) sangha at the East Bay Meditation Center (EBMC) will be explored. 

Shahara Godfrey has followed the teachings of the Buddha for over 15 years with her primary practices in Compassion and Social Activism. She has completed both the Community Dharma Leadership Program and the Path to Engagement programs at Spirit Rock. Shahara received her Ph.D. in Humanities with a focus on Transformative Learning and Change from the California Institute of Integral Studies. As a self-taught mixed-media artist, she also has exhibited in the bay area, Oregon, Washington, Atlanta and Los Angeles.

F.  Theology, Education, and Community: Changing Seminary from the Inside Out
Laurie Isenberg

Explore the current state of seminary education, with a particular eye on non-traditional approaches, online learning, and new audiences.  Where is PSR among these trends, and where could it be?  Join in the discussion and help shape the future of PSR.

Laurie Isenberg is Director of Community and Continuing Education at the Pacific School of Religion.  She has worked in various capacities with three of the GTU seminaries, including chairing the GTU Online and Distance Education Task Force.  Her work at the GTU follows seventeen year career as a leader and technical innovator in academic libraries.  She has a Master's degree in Information and Library Science from University of Michigan and a MA in humanities from Dominican University of California.

G.  Standing in the Shadow of God: The Sacred Path of the Artist
Sara Nesson

Artists often have a unique spiritual path in which their creativity serves as a vehicle for encountering the Divine. Drawing on ancient Jewish teachings and stories, this workshop will illuminate the powerful nexus between creative and spiritual practice.  Joining in soul-nurturing music, movement and storytelling, we’ll claim for ourselves how we can be “spiritual” or “religious,” with an imagination!

Sara Nesson has been leading Jewish and interfaith ritual for over a decade, renewing religious practice through music, movement and storytelling.  She is both a maggid (traditional Jewish storyteller) and service leader, and has presented at synagogues, churches, high schools, universities and seminaries.  Sara also directs the Marin/San Francisco Jewish Community Teen Foundation, an award-winning program that guides high school students in all aspects of running their own philanthropic foundation. She holds an MA in Jewish Studies and a Certificate in Sacred Dance from the Graduate Theological Union.

H.  Lord Save Us from Your Followers: Film Viewing and Discussion
J. Ryan Parker

Lord, Save Us From Your Followers is a fast-paced, highly engaging documentary that explores the collision of faith and culture in America.  PSR has rights to show a special sneak preview, followed by a moderated discussion.

If you were to meet ten average Americans on the street, nine of them would say they believe in God. So why is the Gospel of Love dividing America?  Dan Merchant put on his bumper-sticker-clad jumpsuit and decided to find out why the Gospel of Love is dividing America. After talking with scores of men and women on streets all across the nation, and also interviewing many well-known active participants in today’s “Culture Wars,” Dan realized that the public discussion of faith doesn’t have to be contentious.  More information at http://lordsaveusthemovie.com/.

J. Ryan Parker is pursuing a PhD in Religion and the Arts, with a focus on film and religion, at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA. His research interests include the history of American cinema with particular attention to religious films, contemporary religious cinema after The Passion of the Christ, the influence of Protestantism on Hollywood, and the affinities between the landscape paintings of Caspar David Friedrich and the westerns of John Ford. He is the creator and editor of, and main contributor to, Pop Theology, www.poptheology.com, a website that explores the intersections of religion and popular culture. He received his M.Div from Wake Forest University Divinity School and B.A. from Mississippi College.

I.  Faith Organizing and Spiritual Activism
Roland Stringfellow

The burn out that comes from engaging heart and soul in the work of activism with and among faith communities can take a toll upon one’s spirit.  This workshop will help congregational leaders and spiritual activists learn impactful ways to bring social justice issues together with ministry outreach. Participants will explore ways of reconnecting their purpose and passion for their work and have multiple opportunities to interact with their colleagues in order to refine their skill as faith organizers and spiritual activists and be exposed to unique ways of impacting their community and world.
Roland Stringfellow earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education and a Master of Science degree in counseling from Indiana University. He later earned a Master of Arts degree in ministry from Grace Theological Seminary and in 1990 became a licensed minister in the Baptist Church. In 2005, Roland was ordained with the Metropolitan Community Church and in 2006 earned his MDiv from PSR with a certificate in religion and sexuality. He has worked as a pastor in Indiana and California. Roland also worked in the field of education in a variety of capacities – teacher, guidance counselor, college advisor, and vice-principal. Currently, Stringfellow is continuing his work in creating dialogues on the topic of LGBT equality with church congregations and in religious institutions in his role as the coordinator of the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations in the Bay Area with PSR's Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Sexuality.

J.  What Is that Knocking? Listening for Call with the “Spiritual but not Religious”
Nichola Torbett

The Spirit of Life longs to make contact with every person and uses countless strategies: dreams, conversations, song lyrics, physical symptoms, etc. to do so. At Seminary of the Street, we have found that our eight-week class, Finding Your Calling in Community, is a powerful mechanism for helping spiritual seekers discern the call of Spirit on their lives and begin to move toward more aliveness and connection. In this workshop, well share ways that other churches, organizations, or individuals might develop similar offerings.
Nichola Torbett is the founding director of Seminary of the Street, a training academy for the spiritual formation of love warriors working toward the transformation of their communities. Nichola has degrees from the University of Toledo and Indiana University at Bloomington. She has read widely in cultural studies, theology, and psychology, but has been most radically shaped by engagement with people who were willing to be real with her across lines of difference, including the many students at Seminary of the Street.

Wednesday, 11:00am - 12:30pm

A.  Raja Yoga
Indira Allegra

Raja Yoga is known as the "Royal Path". Here, we focus on the psychological and spiritual implications of practicing the asanas or postures. By partnering breath with movement, we will develop the patience, focus and equanimity necessary to experience states of mindfulness throughout the day.

Raja Yoga is appropriate for all levels of experience and for those with disabilities and injuries as variations can be provided from the basic form. Those with no prior yoga experience or movement background are encouraged to share their goals and questions with the instructor briefly before class. With respect for each person’s boundaries, only verbal adjustments are used in class. Participants with a current yoga practice should bring their own supplies.  A limited number of mats, blocks, straps and blankets will be provided for those who need them.

Indira Allegra is trained in Raja Yoga, a unique philosophy that centralizes the cultivation of mindfulness through the practice of asanas, pranayma and meditative introspection. A regular practice increases the ability to act rather than react, recognizing that all people are greater than their individual struggles and inextricably connected to all things. She believes yoga is a gift to people of all cultural and class backgrounds, sexual orientations, histories, genders, sizes and abilities. Her two-year teaching certification is from the Niroga Institute, in Berkeley, CA. Allegra currently teaches classes at San Francisco Women Against Rape. 

B.  Going Inside on the Inside:  Personal Stories of How We Stopped Running from Our Own Demons and Began Chasing and Embracing the Divine Within
Carl M. Irons and Rose Elizondo

In this workshop we will hear stories of spiritual transformation by previously incarcerated individuals who found freedom through mediation, centering prayer, and contemplation while behind bars.  A prison volunteer will share her story of the blessings of accompanying those who are on a spiritual journey while incarcerated.

Carl Irons served nearly 25 years in prison for murder. Over the course of years he slowly begin to take stock of who he was, how he reached that point, and how to return to someone more nearly the person he wished to be.He began formal study of Buddhism in the Soto Zen Tradition in 1999.  He paroled in June of this year and is working as a contract paralegal.

Rose Elizondo is blessed to be a prison volunteer.  She is an outside member of the Restorative Justice Interfaith Roundtable in San Quentin Prison, and participates in a centering prayer group there.  She is a mediator for victim offender reconciliation.

C.  Living the Values
Ian Lawton

C3 or Christ Community Church is in a conservative Bible belt. It was formerly the second largest Reformed Church in America. Over the last decade it has evolved and now is home for people of all faiths and no faith. Community is formed around common spiritual values rather than conformity to religious beliefs. This workshop will outline the ways C3 has organized around spiritual but not religious values. It will explore practical examples of community development in a non denominational setting.

Ian Lawton is co-founder of SBNR.org (Spiritual But Not Religious) and Executive Minister of Christ Community Church in Spring Lake, Michigan.  He is an ordained Anglican priest, a sociologist and author, and has worked extensively with the disenfranchised and those outside of organized religion.  He has worked in his native Australia, and New Zealand, and came to the United States at the invitation of Bishop John Shelby Spong. 

D.  Animism: The Roots of Religion, the Future of Spirituality
Amy Martin

Animism -- the concept that all existence can be framed in terms of energetic vibration -- is the oldest way humans viewed the divine. It is also the underlying concept of the spiritual-not-religious movement. Rooted in indigenous and pre-literate philosophical thought, animism also correlates to the modern laws of physics.

Modern animism to be examined includes transcendentalism, mysticism, oneness philosophy and spiritual aspects drawn from scientific laws. Ancient animistic paths will include Bon, Taoism and Shintoism from Asia; aboriginal thought from Australia; and Native American and moundbuilder cultures from North America.

Small breakout groups will examine the least known ancient animists -- the 3500 BCE to 1400 CE earthwork monument-building cultures of the United States -- and develop ways that their traditions of group construction, mass shamanic gatherings, pilgrimage, and adherence to a natural seasonal and celestial calendar could be transformed for use in
modern society.

Amy Martin is the creator of the acclaimed Winter SolstiCelebration, which attracts over 1000 people from spiritual-not-religious and other faiths, even though held in the Bible Belt city of Dallas. Now in its 18th year, it has grown into the second largest Winter Solstice observance in the U.S. It is presented by Earth Rhythms, (www.EarthRhythms.org) for which she serves as executive director. Regarded in North Texas as the "Moonlady" (www.moonlady.com), her 3000+ member listserve Moonlady News facilitates communications for the alternative spirituality community in the area. She writes weekly from the spiritual-not-religious and Taoist perspective for Texas Faith blog at the Dallas Morning News daily newspaper, and sits on several interfaith panels.

E.  Womanist Interpretations of Spirituality vs. Religiosity
CL Nash

This workshop will introduce students to African American spirituality and religiosity using two key thinkers: Zora Neale Hurston and Linda Brent (aka, Harriet Jacobs). The workshop is designed to explore previously overlooked approaches to spirituality and religiosity by bringing these two women into conversation with current African American ethicists and theologians. By the end of the lecture, students will have engaged in conversation about differences between the spiritual and religious journeys of the historic African American women, while also gaining insight into the way their perspectives may have influenced womanist thought today.

CL Nash is a Ph.D. candidate of Systematic Theology at Edinburgh University with anticipated defense of her work in the spring of 2010. Her work is grounded in 19th Century history where she uses postmodern theory to help deconstruct the normative standards of gender and race. Prof. Nash has taught in Edinburgh, Scotland and Nairobi, Kenya. She begins lecturing at the Graduate Theological Union’s consortium by offering a course at the Pacific School of Religion (PSR) and the American Baptist Seminary of the West (ABSW) in spring 2010. Prof. Nash is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Church and has also served with the United Reformed Church in Edinburgh, Scotland. 

F.  The Ring of Fire:  Interfaith Dialogue with No Holds Barred
Penny Nixon and Jhos Singer
Reverend Penny Nixon has created a forum for powerful and in depth interfaith dialogue for her congregation, Congregational Church of San Mateo.  By inviting clerics from other faith traditions and spiritual paths to take up spiritual residencies of 3-6 months, her congregation has the opportunity to learn and share religious experiences, practices and values.  The Maggid (Jewish preacher) Jhos Singer held the first of these residencies in the fall of 2009.   What resulted was an outpouring of curiosity, amazement and deep healing.  This workshop is a dialogue between Jhos and Penny about how interfaith dialogue can spark interest, insight and, if you work it right, Divine love.  Jhos and Penny will invite questions from the workshop participants.

G.  Progressive Christian Spirituality: A Paradigm Shift
Fred Plumer

For far too long liberal and progressive Christians have approached their Christian faith from a cognitive perspective and in the process have missed the profound spiritual opportunity for transformation that Christianity offers us when we view it as a path rather than a belief system, as a set of teachings rather than commandments. Searching Christians have been given a way through practice and commitment to develop a unique awareness of the Divine Presence that is always around us and to experience of the absolute and undeniable Oneness of all life. Rev. Plumer will walk us through an example of the way to teach this path in churches, small groups and to other seekers who may believe that they are spiritual but not religious.

Fred Plumer earned his M.Div. degree at the Pacific School of Religion while doing work in an inner city community center. In 1984, Rev. Plumer was called to the Irvine United Congregational Church in Irvine, California to lead a UCC new start church. The church became known throughout the denomination as one of the more exciting and progressive mid-size congregations in the nation. In September of 2004 Rev. Plumer retired from the Irvine church so he could devote more time to writing and his passion - reclaiming the message of Jesus. In January of 2006 after Jim Adams, founder of TCPC retired as President, Fred was elected as the new President.

H.  Crossing the Bridge of Dogma: Uncovering a New Motivation for Practice
Brian Schachter-Brooks

This workshop focuses on the way that religion and spirituality function in both the "religious" and "secular" or "progressive" aspects of Jewish culture. The fact that Jewish spiritual practice has been embedded in religion has presented a challenge to the project of promoting spirituality in non-religious contexts. We have to examine the ways in which we unconsciously identify spiritual practice with the religious ideology and dogma that we reject, thereby throwing out the baby with the bath water. This line of examination could be significant for other traditions in America as well, and participants should come away from this presentation with thinking-tools to approach their own religious heritage in a new way.

Participants will learn to differentiate between spiritual practice and the ideology associated with spiritual practice by exploring the root of practice as a shift in consciousness. We will do this through some participatory meditation exercises.

Martin Buber asked, "Can there be a religion of Presence? Not of remembrance or of hope, but of Presence.” Brian dedicates himself to answering this question with his life; imperfect and wavering though his answer may be. Brian lives in North Oakland with wife Lisa and son Eidan. He is certified as a Jewish meditation teacher through Chochmat HaLev and holds a Bachelor of Music Composition from The Eastman School of Music. He has written, taught and performed Jewish spirituality for twenty years; perhaps one day it will be said that he lived It.

I.  Conversation with Panelist Mark Shibley
Mark Shibley

"Mark Shibley is Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies at Southern Oregon University.  He is the author of two award winning books, Resurgent Evangelicalism in the United States: Mapping Cultural Change Since 1970 (1996) and Building Community: Social Science in Action (1997) and many articles on evangelical Protestantism, the Christian Right, religious environmentalism, and environmental justice.

Since joining the SOU faculty in 1998, Mark has involved his students in collaborative community-based research on issues ranging from environmental health to forest management in southern Oregon.  Mark’s recent scholarship on the secular but spiritual was published in Religion and Public Life in the Pacific Northwest: The None Zone (Killen and Silk 2004) and Cascadia: The Elusive Utopia: Exploring the Spirit of the Pacific Northwest (Todd 2008)."

J.  Serving the Spiritual but Not Religious: Brainstorming and Conversation
Melissa M. Wilcox

“I’m spiritual but not religious” is often a claim to religious individualism: the practice of creating one’s religion (or spirituality) for oneself, rather than relying on the tenets of a single, established religion. To many, this claim also implies a separation from religious institutions. However, survey data show that over one-third of those who are spiritual but not religious attend religious services at least several times a year. How can religious leaders serve this population? This workshop will involve brainstorming and discussion of possible answers to this key question, as well as opportunities for discussion with Prof. Wilcox following her lecture.

Melissa Wilcox is assistant professor of religion at Whitman University in Walla Walla, WA and director of the gender studies program there. A sociologist of religion and gender/queer studies, she is interested in cultural power of religious and quasi-religious narrative, especially as it affects oppression and empowers resistance.  More about Melissa Wilcox


Contact the Earl Lectures office with questions about the Leadership Conference Workshops.

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