Adult Classes & Educational Opportunities


Middle Hour
Support Groups & Classes

There are many opportunities for adult education and growth at First Pres. Listed below are current classes and events; for more information, please contact Janet Sanders, Assistant Director for Christian Formation, at (510) 848-6252 ext. 267 or

Berkeley Palmer Lectureship: "Choosing a Race: Overcoming Our Racial Antagonism"

Date & Time: Saturday, March 16, 7–9:30 pm
Location: Sanctuary and Calvin Room
Student Seminar: 2 pm at GTU Library, 2400 Ridge Rd., Berkeley, CA

Dr. Willie Jennings, Associate Professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale University Divinity School, challenges Christians to understand that “the racial problems of the western world emerged from Christian beginnings.” He will explore the responsibility and opportunity to address racial antagonism through a life of faith.
Dr. Jennings was born and raised in Grand Rapids, MI. He received a BA in Religion and Theological Studies from Calvin College, an MDiv from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA, and a PhD from Duke University.

Dr. Jennings, a systematic theologian, teaches in the areas of theology, black church and Africana studies, as well as post-colonial and race theory. Dr. Jennings is the author of The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race, published by Yale University Press. One of the most important books in theology of the last 25 years, it is a standard text in colleges, seminaries, and universities. Dr. Jennings is also the recipient of the 2015 Grawemeyer Award in Religion for his groundbreaking work on race and Christianity. Dr. Jennings' recent commentary on the Book of Acts has won the Reference Book of the Year Award from the Academy of Parish Clergy.

A frequent guest lecturer, Dr. Jennings is also a consultant for the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and for the Association of Theological Schools.

He served with his wife, the Reverend Joanne L. Browne Jennings, as associate ministers at the Mount Level Baptist Church in Durham, NC, as well as interim pastors for several Presbyterian and Baptist churches in North Carolina. They are the parents of two wonderful daughters, Njeri and Safiya Jennings.

Learn more about Dr. Jennings
Support for the lectureship, named in honor of Pastor Emeritus, Earl F. Palmer, may be donated through New College Berkeley.

Learn more about the lectureship.

A Contemplative Lenten Retreat


Dates: Saturday, April 6 |9 am–1 pm | Rooms G208 and G209, Geneva Hall
Facilitator: Susan Phillips, PhD
Fee: $35 per person (covers materials, refreshments provided)
Register: by April 1 here

Stop and pay attention to God’s great love and truth, as expressed through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Join us for a morning of prayer, reflection, and readying ourselves to continue our great pilgrimage with Christ. This event is co-sponsored by New College Berkeley and First Pres.


Interpreting Scripture in Community: Considering Biblical Texts Concerning Homosexuality

Dates & Times: Wednesdays, April 24–June 5, 7–9 pm
Location: Room G202, Geneva Hall
Registration: Click here to register.

In response to many in our community, Session is sponsoring a study of Old and New Testament texts used in discussions of homosexuality. Following in the tradition established with our initial Interpreting Scripture in Community experience in 2012, we come together again to revisit and apply practices that guide us to read the Bible well.

During this seven-week course, participants will engage the various methods appropriate to studying these texts; gain a deeper understanding of how the church might live in light of them; and ultimately consider the call to a life together in Christ with diverging and possibly conflictive interpretations.

Interpreting Scripture in Community grants our community a fresh opportunity to learn, lean in, and listen to God’s word together. Each week includes a presentation, panel discussion, and small group conversation.

Rev. Dr. Tom Elson
Rev. Mark Stryker
Michelle Vecchio-Lyzenga, MDiv
Michael Barram, PhD, St. Marys College of California
Chris Corwin, PhD, New College Berkeley
Rev. Dr. Carol Antablin Miles, Theological Educator and Designated Pastor, Chinese Presbyterian Church, Oakland

Course goals: To help participants gain the following:
• an awareness of the historical, literary, and theological contexts of these texts;
• an understanding of the content and meaning of these texts;
• skill and familiarity with the tools of interpretation of these texts.

Date Topic
April 24
Introduction and Approach
May 1
Genesis 1–2
May 8
Genesis 19, Judges 19, and Ezekiel 18
May 15      
Leviticus 18 and 20
May 22
Romans 1
May 29
1 Corinthians 6 and Timothy 1
June 5
Summary and Implications