2013 Earl Lectures Workshops

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New Workshop Tracks: Mental Health Professionals & Social Workers • Parents

Keynote Lectures

Stephanie Coontz

For Better AND Worse: The Revolution in Personal Life and Intimate Relationships

The changes in family forms, behaviors, and values across the industrial world over the past 50 years are more dramatic than have occurred before except in short-term periods of extreme disruption – wars, revolutions, and natural disasters. And unlike the changes produced in times of war and revolution, most of these changes, especially those involving marriage, family forms, and intergenerational relationships, are irreversible. Coontz will review new research on the complex and often contradictory nature of these changes and the sometimes surprising trade-offs that have accompanied them.

Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre

Focus on the Undocumented Family

To focus on the family is to exclude immigrant families which are forced to live in the shadows of the normalized and legitimized families of the dominant culture. Seldom do we ask why "they" come. Why will some leave their loved ones behind to travel on death-causing trails to come here? And once here, how do they survive in an atmosphere designed to deny their humanity? This presentation will 1) explore the forces that cause Latin American immigration and its impact on the family; 2) explore the trails that are taken and the human cost of crossing borders; and 3) ask what it means to be a family once here. In short, the presentation will focus on the undocumented Latino family.

Watch keynote video here!

Dr. Margaret A. Farley

Family Matters: Justice and Hope

Both “marriage” and “family” have undergone paradigm shifts in the late 20th and early 21st century. This is true cross-culturally though I will focus primarily on developments in Western cultures. Insofar as marriage and family are “social institutions,” their new fragility generates not so much reverence and awe, or expectations of “order” and “safety,” than perhaps confusion, uncertainty, fear, and even cynicism–along with often naiive new expectations. At the same time, human yearning for intimacy, stability, intergenerational strength, and open circles of relationship, grows. Among the many perspectives needed to understand and assess the value and fruitfulness of new forms of marriage and family, ethical and moral explorations may contribute to needed clarity and development. Just as human relationships generally ought to be shaped by concerns for justice, so interpersonal and institutional elements in marriage and family can be understood, tested, and shaped by insight into their justice and truth.

Watch keynote video here!


Wendy Atkins-Pattenson & Rev. Rachel Bauman

Parenting From Our Authentic Selves

In this session participants will be introduced to a workshop series designed for parents of teenagers within a community of faith. Grounded in the work of Parker Palmer and based in story-telling and practices which cultivate awareness, connection and compassion, this workshop encourages participants to explore parenting as a calling rather than a set of problems to be solved. Throughout the series parents gain a greater understanding of how faith can be a resource for parenting and parenting can be a vehicle for spiritual development. Within the workshop we will take participants through a “mini-session” of the full workshop as well as share our materials, discuss what we have learned through facilitating this workshop at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, and how this model could be adapted to other faith settings and with other constituencies.

Lizann Bassham

Creating Ritual for the Life Cycles of Families

Come explore how to create rituals of celebration and letting go throughout the life cycles of families. We'll think about and experience rituals celebrating the many ways adults covenant to become family. We'll imagine the ritual possibilities as some families widen to include children and youth. We'll discover possibilities for coming of age rituals, and for rituals for adults around role and stage of life changes (including all the role changes for family members when someone makes a new public identification of gender).  We'll envision the ways we can honor letting go of relationships, individuals, and even of life into death. This workshop will be a dance between talking and brainstorming possibilities, and actually doing some rituals.

Dr. Jon Berquist

From Kinship to the Family of God: Families in Biblical Imagination

For decades, the Religious Right has proclaimed “Biblical family values” – which look suspiciously similar to Victorian-era norms for upper class elites. But the reality of the biblical world points in a very different direction. This workshop will visit a number of biblical passages to understand the true radical and progressive nature of the Bible’s images of family life. We’ll think together about the range of sex and family from polygamy to celibacy, examine customs that endanger and protect women, explore the creation of alternative communities and family structures, and witness how religion extends human community far beyond biology to form the family of God.

Jorge Blandon

The Family Independence Initiative

The Family Independence Initiative (FII) is a national organization innovating a family-led approach to economic and social mobility. Since 2001 FII has demonstrated that investing in people’s strengths and initiative delivers more powerful, sustainable, and cost effective outcomes for low-income families. Our strength-based approach, as radical and as old as our democracy, is inspired by the historical successes of poor communities in the U.S.

Rev. Adam Blons

Workshop 1: Practical Spiritual Practices in Family Life

Modern family life is complex and often parents receive very little support. Rarely do parents feel there is time for spirituality yet parents want to feel more spiritually grounded and want their children to begin exploring the spiritual dimensions of life. This workshop will explore the practical spirituality of family life--the ways parents can reframe everyday tasks to become openings for the Spirit to enliven their families. Participants will discuss the realities of family life and share ideas for practical spiritual practices including: Prayer, Mindful Eating, Sacred Storytime, and Kyrotic Play.

Workshop 2: Bearing Witness to Christian Family Values

With an estimated audience of 300 million people, Focus on the Family (founded by Dr. James Dobson) has successfully dominated the conversation about Christian family values over the last 30 years. Same-sex marriage and abortion issues have brought many progressive Christians into the conversation, but there are so many more aspects of family life to which progressive Christians must speak including: parenting styles, work and family issues, power and equality in partnerships and families, family spiritual formation and elder care, for example.  During this year's Earl Lectures, there will be opportunities for all participants to begin to define the landscape of (Progressive) Christian Family Values with an eye towards ministry and activism. There will be a dedicated Facebook Page set up where participants can post reflections and connect during and after Earl Lectures, a workshop dedicated to discernment and the beginning of a statement of (Progressive) Christian Family Values, and other ways to share stories and information that might help in this process.  

It is hoped that this process will encourage continued focus on families beyond Earl Lectures including:

  • Stimulate speaking topics and scholarship
  • Inspire mission, service, and activism to address injustices that families face
  • Encourage new forms of family ministry programming in local churches and communities
  • Build a network of Progressive Christian family ministry practitioners and organizations
  • Broaden dialogue between Christians and people of other faiths around family issues

Dr. Robert Brooks

Building Family among Senior Populations

As Baby Boomers face their own issues with aging, caring for the needs of their parents bring its own unique challenge. What are the ways congregations are able to provide care and community for these “pillars” of the church? While heterosexual contemporaries may have children or other family units to provide support in later years, what happens to the LGBT individuals who have been estranged from their family? Hear the stories of hope and challenge from members of the senior community and those who provide services for them. Learn how congregations can provide support systems for this generation - moderated by scholar and counselor Robert S. Brooks, PhD of CLGS’ Coalition of Welcoming Congregations.

Michelle Myles Chambers, & Rev. Michael Yoshii

A Unique Partnership with Philanthropy- The FAITHS Program:
Building Community Leadership, Organizational Capacity and Collaboration

Since 1993, The San Francisco Foundation has built and maintained an unparalleled philanthropic partnership with hundreds of congregations, ecumenical and interfaith organizations, and faith-based agencies from diverse traditions throughout the Bay Area.  The FAITHS Program supports faith-based organizations that promote health, economic and educational equity; build bridges of understanding and collaboration across communities; and/or, engage in organizing and policy work to promote social, racial and economic justice.  Come to this workshop to hear from FAITHS Program staff and leaders about current grantmaking, civic engagement, policy, and capacity building opportunities.

Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark

Attending to Families’ Spiritual Needs: A Roundtable Discussion

Wherever spiritual caregivers are serving – whether a congregational setting, a healthcare environment, the military, law enforcement, emergency and disaster response, industry, or other areas – we inevitably encounter families in great need.  This workshop will provide an opportunity to explore how we might better offer spiritual care to families by discussing and strategizing about situations brought by participants from their own ministries.  Principles of family systems theory and spiritual care will be introduced as the dialogue unfolds.  The group members will pledge themselves to confidentiality in order to facilitate frank, in-depth conversation, and the workshop will not be recorded.

Stephanie Coontz

Working with the Media

This workshop will offer tips on how to reach out to the media, how to handle press queries and interviews, write op eds, and prepare for radio and tv appearances.

Rev. Dr. Miguel A. De La Torre

The Immigration Debate in Light of the Recent Election

With the re-election of Obama, immigration reform has again become a thorny issue which the government is vowing to tackle; nevertheless, pitfalls remains. The workshop will 1) explore the present political climate, 2) discuss why any immigration reform agreed upon will far short of justice, 3) review how people of faith can position themselves to be proactive, and 4) develop an indigenous Hispanic ethical paradigm that can be employed to bring about a more just response to the status quo.  

Rev. Dr. Toni Dunbar

Livin’ for the City: Urban Families and Theodicy

Livin’ for the City observes ways that urban families create, inform, and practice theodicy. Whether in biological families or families of choice, urban—particularly inner-city—families negotiate the presence of God along continuums between Divine love and spiritual judgment, soul salvation and “wages of sin,” personal agency and social repression, individual and political/communal responsibility, and when bullets fly, literal life and death. Participants will leave with codes to adopt or reframe conversations about social and theological evils in the inner-city in ways that enhance liberation, healing, restoration, and/or prosperity.

Karen Erlichman, LCSW

Moving toward Wholeness:  Resources for Therapists Working with Clergy and their Families

Clergy members and their partners, spouses and family members walk a unique path of service that impact their well being, ability to manage stress, and relationships with others. Issues of concern include burnout, vicarious traumatization, risk for mood disorders, addiction and narcissistic challenges. Often addictions, eating disorders and other clinical concerns are particularly hidden due to the public nature of their role as clergy. In this workshop we will explore these clinical issues, and discuss the resources, skills and supports available to therapists who work with clergy and their families. We will also discuss the unique challenges that face LGBTQ clergy and clergy of color.

Rev. Barbara Essex

Sister Act: Leah and Rachel

Relationships between sisters can be very good or very bad. With Leah and Rachel, we get both. Through creative Bible study techniques, see how these sisters overcome their rivalry, work to hold their families together, and leave us with important lessons about family.

Doretha Williams-Flournoy& Bonnie Radden

Healing From the Inside Out: Learning From Lived Experience

This workshop will focus on the role of people with "lived experience" with mental health challenges, their family and friends in providing support to people at risk of mental illness within the church. The traditional church is designed to rely on pastors and lay ministers to manage the needs of the congregation. This workshop will explore a model of care that empowers the congregation to care for itself. It also supports efforts to reduce stigma related to mental illness and speaks to the needs of families, individuals in the pews, and clergy for a supportive environment that promotes wellness and recovery.

Dr. Isa Gucciardi

Ho'oponopono: Ancient Mediation Techniques for the Modern Therapeutic Environment

Ho'oponopono is a Hawaiian word which means "making right" or "the coming to peace." It has been an important part of the healing and problem solving practices in Hawaii since the Huna tradition arrived in the Hawaiian Islands some 1200 years ago. It is a mediation process where members of a family or community are brought together "in the very spirit of truth" to resolve underlying issues that contribute to problems, imbalance or lack of harmony. Depth Hypnosis, a spiritual counseling model developed by Dr. Gucciardi, adapts this ancient method of mediation into its counseling model. In this workshop, Dr. Gucciardi will highlight the principles of forgiveness, self-reflection and the participation of spirit that characterize this approach to family and relationship counseling.

Rev. Gina Rose Halpern

End of Life Spiritual Care for Families and Self Care for Caregivers

As if death were not enough, the most heartbreaking and painful end of life issues often revolve around complex and unresolved family dynamics. End of life can evoke historic family dramas, issues of culture and faith, unclear patient wishes for treatment, and conflicting roles as family members become caregivers and mourners. Anger, love, grief and forgiveness all play emotional roles in the process of loss. We will explore the role of spiritual care at the end of life for families in the clinical setting as well as the congregation. This workshop will provide an open place for our hearts to reflect on the nature of loss, and grief, and provide tools to help support self care, as we navigate this tender yet intense landscape that all of us must traverse at some point in our lives.

Sifa Hingano

Polynesian Dance

In this workshop, participants will gain historical insights into the role of Polynesian dance in building extended family and community connections, and experience a contemporary congregation’s use of this traditional art in worship and intergenerational outreach ministry. 

Robert Hopcke, MFT

The Still Small Voice: Spiritual Direction for Clergy Families

Individual spiritual direction can be an invaluable and even at times necessary resource for clergy and their families.  After distinguishing between pastoral counseling, psychotherapy and spiritual direction, in this workshop, Rob Hopcke will be addressing the specific qualities that spiritual direction needs to address when one is providing guidance and spiritual companionship to members of the clergy or their families:  grounding oneself in contemplative practice as a balance to an active ministry; helping to find one’s spiritual center in the midst of parish conflict or social pressures; ongoing discernment of call or vocation, large and small; making liturgy one’s own worship practice; and sustaining spiritual vibrancy for the long term.

Jay Johnson, CLGS

Beyond the Binary: Polyamory and Spirituality (Mudd 100)

Polyamory is the experience of multiple and simultaneous consensual loving relationships and is a recognized pattern of building family and community. This panel session will allow attendees to explore the assumption that monogamy is the sole and ideal pattern for Christian or faith-full relationships. Panelists include David Hall, Shannon Gores, and Francesca Guido. Moderated by Dr. Jay Johnson of CLGS.

Kristi Laughlin

Immigrant Families: Faith models for Solidarity and Support

This workshop will share the realities facing immigrant families in communities across the United States, especially those who are undocumented. Personal stories will be shared by families impacted by deportation, workplace raids and everyday fear and discrimination faced by immigrants. Faith models will be shared of work done here in the Bay Area by people of faith to accompany families impacted by deportation, mass firings, and show solidarity and support.

Rev. Cheri Lovell, United Church Funds

Thinking Financially Across Generations

Financial realities and choices impact every member of a family- decisions parents make today influence the way their children will handle money many years from now. This workshop highlights essential knowledge and skills families need to develop and share to build healthier financial lives and futures.

Rev. Carol Luther

From Mistaken Literalism to Spiritual Transformation

Few phenomena in today's world are more misunderstood than religion. Is it about God? Humanity? Ethics? Truth? Community? History? Service? Nature? In fact it is about all of the above, all at once. Healthy religion is the glue that holds societies together. Unfortunately, we live in unhealthy times. In a world of warring factions and raging ideologies, religion all too easily becomes more problem than solution. But the healthy vision of God, humanity and world ever beckons, and one of the most exciting places to encounter it is at school. In this workshop, you will learn how one school blends religion and science, ethics, character and service. Join a conversation at which all traditions have a voice. Be prepared to discover new things about yourself. Takeaways guaranteed.

Dr. Annette Mahoney

Spirituality and Family Life: What Do Social Scientists Really Know and Not Know?

“Soul mate.” "A match made in heaven.” “Sacred vows.” “The miracle of birth.” “A family that prays together stays together.” These familiar phrases reflect deep historical ties between faith and family life. Yet social scientists have been far more curious about the “spirituality of me,” rather than the “spirituality of us.” For example, most scientific research on religion and spirituality has focused on ways that faith can help or harm individuals, not intimate relationships. In this presentation, I will first review what scientists can safely conclude about faith and family relationships from the relatively scarce empirical research on this topic. I will also highlight what scientists don’t know. I will then discuss ways that scientists are beginning to take a closer look at specific spiritual beliefs that can either help or harm family relationships. To illustrate helpful spiritual beliefs, I will discuss scientific evidence that viewing one’s sexual relationship with a spouse or loving partner as sacred improves the couple’s sexual and relationship functioning. To illustrate harmful spiritual beliefs, I will present evidence that viewing a divorce as a sacred loss and violation undermines family members’ post-divorce adjustment.

Dr. Annette Mahoney

Shattered Sacred Vows: Recognizing and Helping when Divorce is a Spiritual Trauma

"My family was very religious growing up and when the divorce happened, I lost that religious framework in my life. I saw my family as a sacred entity and then it was shattered." "I am so sorry I hurt her the way I did. I know that God was not and is not looking out for me." These quotes show that divorce can be experienced as a spiritual trauma. In this workshop, I will present scientific findings that adults and their children often interpret divorce as a sacred loss and desecration, and how such beliefs tend to intensify their distress. I will also discuss ways that spirituality can be a unique source of strength in coping with a divorce, or intensify family members’ psychological pain and conflict with each other. I also offer practical guidelines to help participants engage in sensitive, yet direct, spiritual dialogues with family members about divorce. My basic premise is that religious communities have a unique opportunity to reach out to families who experience divorce as a spiritual trauma, and will better serve those who have divorced by directly addressing, not overlooking, the spiritual dimensions of this family transition.

Dr. Marcia McFee

Sensory-Rich and Interactive Elements for Intergenerational Worship

All worship is meant to be "M-M-Good" (meaningful and memorable), offering participants connections between life and faith and being provocative enough to live beyond the time and space of the worship event. Sensory-rich and interactive elements in worship are not just about making it more "interesting," but rather offer multiple ways for the message to be experienced and comprehended by all generations and all learning styles. This workshop will be an experiential exploration of this essential understanding. For more information visit McFee's website worshipdesignstudio.com.

Kathi McShane

The 8th Day Project: A Vision for Theological Education at PSR

The 8th Day Project is Pacific School of Religion’s comprehensive effort to re-think theological education for a new day and a new world.  Throughout 2012, a Commission on Strategic Direction, composed of trustees, faculty, staff, alumni/ae and students, has led the entire community toward a new vision for educating and equipping leaders and changemakers who are compelled by their faith to bring God’s promises of well-being and justice for all the earth into being. At this session, learn more about the new vision for PSR. This is your chance to ask questions, offer feedback, and be part of PSR’s future. See excerpts of the vision at www.psr.edu/futureofpsr

Eleanor Scott Meyers

Alternative Families: Retirement as Intentional Community
Eleanor Scott Meyers, a retired theological educator, has lived for seven years at Pilgrim Place—a retirement community in Claremont, CA.  Using her personal experience at Pilgrim Place and her training as a sociologist, Eleanor will explore with workshop participants the value of an intentional, faith-based, intergenerational community of elders as a model of an ‘alternative’ family.

Pilgrim Place Retirement Community Information
Learn more about the Pilgrim Place retirement community

Rev. Jim Mitulski

Inclusive Wedding Ceremonies

"Does your church do gay weddings?" has perhaps been the most frequent inquiry received at MCC churches since 1968 when the movement began. "With pleasure!" we proudly replied. "Are they legal?" often followed, to which we replied, "Not Yet!" "Are they illegal?" "In some places, yes, which is why we call them Holy Unions, to avoid prosecution." "We don't care if it's illegal- we just want to get married...in church." When the minister made the pronouncement, "What God has joined together, let no one- no state, no church, no person put asunder what is precious and holy and honorable in God's sight," people applauded loudly, cheered, and cried at this point, never dreaming that non-gay churches would ever perform such ceremonies, and never expecting them to be legal.  Now that we see a shift in both denominational practice and legal status, it's time to to ask whether the ceremonies we use need revision, for both same sex and mixed-sex couples seeking a church blessing. In this workshop we will look specifically at the traditional marriage ceremony from the Book of Common Prayer used by many Protestant clergy for mixed-sex couples, as well the newly approved Relationship Blessing materials just approved by the Episcopal Church for same sex couples, examining their liturgical, theological and practical implications. Is it time for a new marriage rite for a new day? What would it look like?

Gillian Murphy-Stephans & Rev. Sally MacNichol

Lot's Daughters Speak: What Churches and Faith Communities Can Do to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse

Here is what we know: in your church and community, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually molested before the age of 18. 80%–90% of the time, the child knows and trusts the abuser and over half the incidents of child sexual abuse occur in the family. How do we respond? How do we stop it? It is one of the deepest, most heartbreaking, complicated and emotionally volatile social and personal issues we can be faced with in our families, faith communities and ministries.  It is easy to get overwhelmed by this daunting reality especially when we feel we don’t have the understanding, tools or language to address it. Drawing on the work of faith leaders who spent a year hosting conversations with groups of parishioners, young people, faith leaders, seminarians and others to talk openly about people’s experiences with child sexual abuse and what we can do together to prevent it, this workshop will offer practical suggestions and guidelines about how churches can prevent child sexual abuse, help survivors and create healthy faith communities.

Zachary Norris, Esq.

Justice for Families: Families Unlocking Futures: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice

Justice for Families (J4F) recently completed a national family-driven research study examining the experiences of more than 1,000 families of juvenile justice system-involved youth nationally. The report, Families Unlocking Futures: Solutions to the Crisis in Juvenile Justice, dispels the myth that the families of youth involved in the criminal justice system are to blame for their involvement. It demonstrates that these families are working hard to support their loved ones’ success despite the barriers placed in front of them by juvenile justice systems. J4F will present findings and discuss how we can build a solution-oriented movement for safety and prosperity in all communities.

Rev. Penny Phillips

Moral Injury, Military Culture, and Working with Vets and Their Families

This presentation will focus on US Veterans and the various military cultures of which they are a part. Discussion will include how faith communities can be welcoming and supportive of Veterans and their families while they are deployed as well as when they return home.  The important issue of moral injury will be shared.  Suggestions for local faith communities will be included.

Dr. Caitlin Ryan

The Family Acceptance Project: Integrating Research, Compassion & Faith to Strengthen and Help Diverse Families Support their LGBT Children

Compelling research from the Family Acceptance Project shows that families play a critical role in decreasing risk for suicide, substance abuse and HIV and promoting self-esteem, health and well-being for their LGBT children. This research has linked family rejection – including religiously-based rejection – with high levels of suicide, depression, drug use, and sexual health risks, HIV and STDs. Over the past decade, the Family Acceptance Project (F.A.P.) has been pioneering the first evidence-based family intervention model to help religiously diverse families decrease their LGBT children’s risk and promote well-being -- in the context of family, culture and faith. Dr. Ryan will discuss F.A.P.’s key research findings, approaches to empowering ethnically and religiously diverse families to support their LGBT children, and resources, tools and strategies for family education and support.

Dr. Bernard Schlager

Queer Families in History

There have been many models of alternative families throughout history and this workshop will consider several examples of family structures that lay outside the norm.  Particular attention will be paid to non-traditional family structures in Western Christian history.

Laura S. Scott

Two is Enough: Embracing the Childless Family

One in five women will remain childless by choice or by circumstance in the USA and Canada, yet there remains a tendency to presume eventual parenthood for all and exclude, or to make assumptions or judgments about the beliefs, decision-making, and lifestyles of those who are navigating a life without biological children. Laura S. Scott invites those who have a stake in the inclusion of childless partners and singles to learn more about the motives and decision-making of the voluntarily childless, and to examine the assumptions, perceptions, and the myths that can block us from a full understanding of, and respectful engagement and fellowship with, this emerging demographic.

Rev. Roland Stringfellow

Working with Families of Color on LGBT Acceptance

Attendees will gain practical information on how to begin the conversation on helping congregations of color become more inclusive of their LGBTQ family and church members by engaging them in theologically sound curriculums that are have cultural resonance for African-American, Latino/a and Asian Pacific Island Christians. This panel discussion includes the theologians who conduct this work in their various communities.

Rev. Lauren Van Ham

Working with Multi-Faith Families

Many resources exist to support families where two established faith traditions are being woven together (i.e. one parent is Catholic, the other Jewish); but what are we offering for the multi-faith family(those who identify as interfaith, or those who practice a co-mingling of traditions)? What might prove helpful for the, “spiritual-but-not-religious” family? How does the multi-faith family resolve conflict? Make decisions? Establish traditions, celebrate rituals, or make meaning in difficult times?  In this workshop, we will call upon the wisdom of the seasons, the teachings of myriad religions, as well as the rich rites-of-passage practiced in various cultures to explore spiritual well-being and meaning-making for multi-faith families.