Past Studies

Studies we have offered in the past:

Healing the Heart of Democracy
We will read and discuss Parker Palmer’s book, Healing the Heart of Democracy.  This study is aimed at helping us frame and focus our conversations with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues and fellow church members in the uncertain days ahead.

Spiritual Awakening: Diana Butler Bass
Diana Butler Bass, renowned Christian scholar and educator, offers us a picture of what Christianity might look like “beyond the church.” She is our Lenten speaker in March 2017! Join this introduction to Diana’s work.

Tuesday Brown Bag Study of John  (Drop-in)
Join us as we study the Gospel of John over the lunch hour! All that is needed is a Bible and a desire to discuss the Scripture. Eleven week study.

Faith Journeys  (Drop-in)
We’re all on a faith journey—how and where is your faith journey going? Stop by and learn how others are faring in their travels. No preparation necessary. Conversation hosted by Bob Spaly and friends.

Sermon Rap with Pastor Doug: “Church & State” Series
Pastor Doug will offer a series of discussions during the fall concerning his Sept./Oct. 2016 sermon series on “Church and State”, which is about the election season.

Wesley Revival
Bob Spaly and Paul Herndon explored John Wesley’s life and times with the Adam Hamilton curriculum, Revival.  Hamilton takes you on a six-week journey through England, tracing Wesley’s life, message and faith and showing how Wesley continues to speak to twenty-first century Christians, calling for a revival of our hearts and souls to change the world.

Everyday Justice: The Global Impact of Our Daily Choices
Julie Clawson gives us concrete examples of everyday life style choices that can make a huge difference for justice in the world.

A Weekend with Dr. Norman Wirzba  (March 12-13, 2016)
Dr. Wirzba is a Professor at Duke Divinity School and author of several books, including Food & Faith: A Theology of Eating – subject of our FUMC-Ann Arbor Lenten book study. Dr. Norman Wirzba pursues research and teaching interests at the intersections of theology, philosophy, ecology, and agrarian and environmental studies. His work focuses on understanding and promoting practices that can equip both rural and urban church communities to be more faithful and responsible members of creation. Current research is centered on a recovery of the doctrine of creation and a restatement of humanity in terms of its creaturely life. Dr. Wirzba’s new book, Way of Love: Recovering the Heart of Christianity, has just been published by HarperOne. Saturday Workshop: “The Spiritual Exercise of Eating – Dr. Norman Wirzba had us consider the authentic and conscientious practice of eating as it relates to creation. The workshop included presentations: (1) Tending our Church Garden for Food Gatherers — Laurie Brannan (2) Clean Water in SE Michigan — Sabrina Gross (3)Cornman Farms: farm to table eating at Zingermans — Kelly Young. Sunday Henry M. Loud Lecture downtown “Nature or Creation: What Difference Does it Make?”

Food & Faith: A Theology of Eating
Written by Dr. Norman Wirzba, our spring 2016 adult education speaker, this book looks at eating as a spiritual exercise, and at food as a part of creation that teaches us about life, death, gratitude and celebration. Led by Rev. Paterson.

One-day Workshop — Exploring Prayer
“Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul.” Dorothy Day
Join us as we explore different ways of praying this Lent with prayer stations, meditative practice, and movement. Led by Dee Chapell and Amy Kennedy.

Film — A Place at the Table
This film, aired in 2012, examines the epidemic of hunger in our country, and strategies for helping those who go without food.

Take This Bread
Read about and discuss Sarah Miles’ story about starting a system of food pantries in San Francisco as well as telling of her own faith journey – “a story of finding sustenance and passing it on.”

Proof of Heaven
Bob Spaly leads this study of Eben Alexander’s book, Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.  Dr. Alexander, who suffers a seizure and seven-day coma due to E.coli complications, goes on a journey while he is unconscious and returns to assert that God and the soul are real, and death is not the end of our existence.

Following Jesus: Beyond Traditional Christianity Book Study
Are there Christian beliefs that make it uncomfortable to be Christian? This is a study group on Following Jesus: Beyond Traditional Christianity, a book that examines traditional Christian concepts such as heaven and hell, grace and salvation, and prayer as they could be interpreted today. The author is Rev. Dr. Richard Cheatham, who was the founding pastor of the Glacier Way United Methodist Church, which is now FUMC Green Wood. With his deep knowledge of scripture and theology and his rich experiences of preaching and leading the church, Dick Cheatham tells us what he believes, buts lets the readers decide what rings true to them.

Covenant Bible Study — Covenant Bible study is an in-depth group Bible Study which focuses on our relationships to God, each other, and the world. We will have assigned readings during the week, a video presentation in class, and time for discussion as a group. This is an opportunity to explore how scripture meets your every day experience both in church and outside the church’s walls. Covenant Bible study is divided into three 8-week sessions. Pastor Nancy and Jim Higdon will facilitate the first session, “Creating.”

Animate Practices — Join Adult Ed as we look at two practices of our Christian faith, sharing food and being in community. We will be using the Animate curriculum used earlier this year by Jim Higdon in his Old Testament class for adults.

Why on Earth am I here? Basic Christian Concepts
A discussion group that explores basic Christian concepts about living a faithful and mindful life. The group meets for 5 sessions. No reading outside of the group needed, but titles may be recommended. — Led by Bob Spaly.

Westar Institute Jesus on the Road Seminars: First Century Jesus Movements – The Westar Institute, founded by Robert W. Funk in 1985, is a member-supported nonprofit educational institute and home of the Jesus Seminar, which was organized in 1985 to discover and report a scholarly consensus on the historical authenticity of the sayings and deeds attributed to Jesus in the gospels. The Jesus Seminar on the Road (JSOR) program of the Westar Institute brings scholars of the Jesus Seminar into conversation with interested people across North America and around the world. Designed to address significant issues in current biblical and theological research and scholarship, they are led by Westar Fellows. These programs are open to the general public and designed for non-specialists who may or may not be familiar with the Jesus Seminar and other scholarly projects. First United Methodist Church of Ann Arbor, Chelsea United Methodist, First Baptist of Ann Arbor, First Congregational, and Bethlehem United Church of Christ hosted a JSOR event at FUMC in Ann Arbor on April 17 and 18, 2015. Topic: 1st Century Jesus Movements – The myth of Christian origins maintains that early Christians formed a unified, loving community. But looking far back into the mists of emerging Christianity, we see conflict and controversy. The presenters will examine the plurality and diversity in early Christian belief, and ask why Christianity grew, why it succeeded, and how it became unified. Presenters were Bernard Brandon Scott, Darbeth Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Phillips Theological Seminary, Tulsa OK; and Joanna Dewey, Harvey H. Guthrie, Jr. Professor Emerita of Biblical Studies, Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MA

Learning to Walk in the Dark – In Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, we experience darkness in starry skies, unlit caves, blind companions, and dark emotions. We also reread scripture to realize how often God shows up at night. This Lent, let’s allow ourselves to find God not just in light, but also in darkness. Amy Kennedy led a small group discussion and made available study guides for individuals or small groups that wanted to study this book their own.

Introduction + Chapter 1   (these are meant to go together)  
Chapter 2   |   Chapter 3   |   Chapter 4
Chapter 5   |   Chapter 6   |   Chapter 7
Chapter 8   |   Chapter 9

Marcus Borg’s Convictions – In Marcus Borg’s final book, Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most, Borg shares his beliefs about Christianity and America, contending that they are both at their best when they focus on hope and transformation, and shares his thoughts on how American Christians can return to what matters most.

“This Far By Faith” book discussion and Visit to CCSS – Faith Fowler, pastor of Cass Community United Methodist Church in Detroit and founder of Cass Community Social Services (CCSS) tells us stories of transformation and renewal from her 20 years of serving the Detroit community. Join fellow readers to discuss Rev. Fowler’s inspirational story, then volunteer at CCSS. Participants will need to purchase or borrow their own copies of This Far by Faith prior to the class. A visit to CSS follows.

United Methodist Discipleship – This is a great class for anyone who wants to learn more about Methodism and/or wants to grow in faith. Weekly topics are listed below — feel free to come to one or all! Led by Pastor Nancy Lynn – Four sessions: (1) Theology & Scripture – what do United Methodists have in common with other Christians?  What are the distinctive emphases in United Methodist theology?  How do we understand the role of scripture? (2) Personal Holiness/Works of Piety – How can we grow in faith?  Our discussion will include approaches to Bible study, different styles of prayer, why we worship the way we do, United Methodist beliefs about the sacraments, opportunities for faith development in our church. (3) Social Holiness/Works of Mercy – Why serve others?  What gifts do we have as individuals to offer back to the church and the world?  What opportunities are there for service in this church and in the general UM church? (4) The Church and the World – How is the general church organized?  How does that help United Methodists in service to the world?  How is our church connected to other United Methodist churches?

Animate: Bible class – This is a program of 8-minute videos offering perspectives of the Bible and how to interpret and understand it in ways that may challenge traditional views. In this one-time, 90-minute class, we’ll view and discuss two of the seven videos in the series. Expect a different perspective presented in a unique format.

Economics and Faith: Krista Tippet’s conversations about money, capitalism and doing good — What role does economics play in the lives of people of faith? The moral life of a nation? The interaction of a nation like the US on a world stage? Based on Krista Tippet’s curriculum Economics and Faith and combining segments of interviews from Tippett’s radio show, “On Being,” along with discussion, the group will look at some of the following issues: generosity and benevolent transactions, greed and economic fear, and collective responsibility and consumerism.

Zionism and the Quest for Peace and Justice in the Holy Land — This class offers a fresh look at the roots of Zionism to better understand the seven decades long Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Bart Beavin will be using a study guide to help answer these questions: 1) what role have the different forms of Zionism played in shaping attitudes in the Middle East; 2) How do Christians, Jews, and Muslims understand the competing claims to the land in the Holy Land? This study goes well beyond the prevailing superficial approaches to this conflict. It takes into account the many angles of the conflict while emphasizing Jewish and Christian theological values of justice and peace.

Is the Church Reforming or Dividing? A Challenge of the Past and Present — The current tensions around LBGT issues that are tearing at the United Methodist church reflect a modern reiteration of an old conundrum: when is reform necessary and how to go about discerning and implementing it? When does reform come up against the non-negotiable? Conflicts from the past will allow us to trace the tensions of the current challenges over belief and practice. Led by Dan Ramirez.

An Introduction of Christian Meditation — On Sunday afternoons during the last three weeks of Lent, Rev. Bob Roth will lead a class on Christian meditation and introduce participants to meditative and contemplative practices. Bob will draw on materials from the James Finley book Christian Meditation: Experiencing the Presence of God, the John S. Dunne book Love’s Mind: An Essay on the Contemplative Life, and works by John Wesley, Saint Teresa of Avila, and Saint John of the Cross.

Psalmody: Studying and Singing the Psalms — Join us for a class exploring the history, practice and implementation of the David’s great Book of Psalms. Led by our Minister of Music, Ann Marie Koukios, each session will look at groups of Psalms sharing common characteristics as well as styles of antiphon spoken text, sung responses, cantillations, psalm tone recitations and more. We’ll explore a variety of stylistic approaches to psalm settings, including those of different cultures, historical periods, and various composers.

Improvising on Faith — Did you even wonder what would it be like to be a blind man in 1st Century Jerusalem who heard that the great healer Jesus was coming to town? Or to be one of the kitchen staff who were told “slay the fatted calf, for the Prodigal Son has returned”? Or asked “how do these stories relate to my life today?” This is an experiential method that helps us think about familiar stories in a new way. Leader Mike Fedel holds advanced degrees in both Theology and Performance. No acting experience is necessary.

Journey with Adam Hamilton as he travels from Nazareth to Bethlehem in this fascinating look at the birth of Jesus Christ.  As he did with Jesus’ crucifixion in 24 Hours That Changed the World, Hamilton once again leads us through the actual territory of the nativity account, using historical information, archaeological data, and a personal look at some of the stories surrounding the birth.  •  Leaders:  Linda LaBarre, John Wilson, Sue Seitz, Kristina Eden.

Living the Questions — Join us for this thought-provoking series about basic questions of Christianity that we struggle with in today’s progressive church. We will listen to contemporary voices of faith and discuss the ups and downs of our own evolving faith journeys. This is an ongoing class offered during the fall, winter, and spring – this first session is 7 weeks long. Led by Debbie Houghton – no preparation or book study needed!

Our Values: A Civil Dialogue about Core Values — David Crumm and Dr. Wayne Baker, two of our popular adult education leaders, are returning to lead a class based on Dr. Baker’s latest publication about the 10 core values that we share as Americans. FUMC is one of the pilot locations for this class – David and Wayne for six weeks to take a fascinating look at how we are all more alike than different.

What are “Just War” and Christian Pacifism? — Logan Mehl-Laturi of Duke Divinity School will preach at FUMC on September 22. He will share his experiences as a both a soldier and conscientious objector in the Iraq War. To prepare for Logan’s visit, Rev. Bob Roth will offer a one-time class beforehand to discuss the meaning of the term “just war”, and to look at Logan’s book, Reborn on the 4th of July: the Challenge of Faith, Patriotism & Conscience.

Financial Peace University — Financial Peace University is a Biblically based, video-driven small group study that teaches families to beat debt, build wealth, and live like never before. Marty Javornisky, our business manager, lead this 9-week class.

The Journey: Walking the Road to Bethlehem — The Journey follows Rev. Adam Hamilton as he travels from Nazareth to Bethlehem, tracing the path of Mary and Joseph. Explore Advent on a deeper level with this 4-week study.

In the Beginning — Join us to enrich your understanding & enjoyment of Haydyn’s oratorio through discussion of the creation story in scripture, environmental concerns and the music of The Creation itself. According to Haydn, the “Creation” oratorio was written to inspire “the adoration and worship of the Creator” and to put the listener “in a frame of mind where he is most susceptible to the kindness and omnipotence of the Creator.” Led by Debbie Houghton and Ann Marie Koukios – look for the online sign up on the church website. Later come and catch a glimpse of “God’s creation” through Haydn’s inspired setting of the story of Genesis on May 5, at 7:00 p.m.

The Wired Word — led by Jim Higdon. This class is offered to both adults and youth, 8th grade and up. Jim will lead the group in discussions and study around real news events such as the winning of the Iditarod sled race, the selection of Pope Francis, and the admission of Lance Armstrong to using performance-enhancing drugs during the Tour de France, just to name a few past topics from Wired Word. Each session will work with a recent news headline — join us for Biblical commentary, discussion, and reflection on these current events.

Bible Basics — led by Rev. Nancy Lynn. Rev. Nancy will lead this class which is a general introduction to the Bible including its organization, history, social and cultural context — this is for all and any who feel they need a Bible brush up or are looking to know more about the Scripture.

The Church: Always Reforming? — led by Professor Daniel Ramirez. Listen and discuss the possibilities of reform as today’s church confronts the question: “When is reform necessary?”  Professor Dan Ramirez, Assistant Professor of North American Religious History at the University of Michigan, will lead the class as it explores the need for change and implementation of reform in the church from a historical perspective.

The Heart of Christianity — Join Pastor Doug as he leads a book study for Lent, featuring the Marcus Borg classic, The Heart of Christianity. Marcus Borg provides an “emerging paradigm” for those who question some of the doctrines of Christianity, aligning this new paradigm of the faith with God, Jesus, the Bible, tradition, and religious practice, which constitute the heart of Christianity. This study offers a way to live the Christian life daily and wholeheartedly.

Theology 101: the Basics of Christian Faith — A class offered by Pastor Nancy for 4 weeks that covered some of the basic questions of Christian theology. For example, What beliefs do United Methodists have in common with other Christian denominations? This class is for both those who are unclear about Christian theology as well as those wishing to revisit it. Some of the concepts discussed will include the trinity, humanity and evil, forgiveness and grace, and the kingdom of God.

Spirituality 101: the Basics of Christian Experience — Led by Pastor Bob for 3 weeks, this study explored soulful, spirit-filled ways of living. The group sampled the spirituality of John Wesley, Prof. John S. Dunne & deep ecumenism, and creation spirituality (featuring the insights of Sister Jose Hobday, St. Francis & others). As Matthew Fox has said, “Spirituality does not make us otherworldly; it render us more fully alive.” Spirituality is about finding a path – what is the best way for you?

Social Holiness — A panel discussion featuring Bishop Jesse Dewitt, the Rev. Bob Roth and others. Bishop Jesse and others discussed and took questions about the social activism so central to the Methodist tradition. Topics included fair labor practices, civil rights, and peace activism.

Children of Abraham: Understanding the Links between Judaism, Islam and Christianity was a 5 week series — We explored the story of Abraham through different faith traditions, innovative ways that Christians, Jews, and Muslims are finding common ground, and beautiful passages from the Bible, the Torah, and the Qur’an.. .

This I Know –- Jesus calls us to act out of love, not fear. This is the guiding principle for the 6 week study led by Bethany Meier, based on the film For The Bible Tells Me So. This study examines the issue of homosexuality and faith, using the film, which follows five gay/lesbian Christians and their families as they struggle with inclusion in the church, and the writings of current Christian ministers and scholars. If you saw the film last year at FUMC and enjoyed it, this is the class for you!

Year of Plenty: One Suburban Family, Four Rules, and 365 Days of Homegrown Adventure in Pursuit of Christian Living — In 2008, Pastor Craig Goodwin and his young family embarked on a year-long experiment to consume only what was local, used, homegrown, or homemade.  Year of Plenty explores how an average suburban family stumbled onto the cultural cutting edge of locavores, backyard chickens, farmers markets, simple living, and going green. More than that, it is the timely tale of Christians exploring the intersections of faith, environment, and everyday life.

A Guide for Caregivers: Keeping Your Spirit Healthy… — In 1 out 3 households, someone is a caretaker — come and join us in this spring Sunday morning book group as we discuss the ways to revive the spirit and soul when we are in the midst of this difficult role.  Benjamin Pratt’s book, A Guide for Caretakers, is easy to read and packed with wisdom and practical help, and is drawn from the experiences of fellow caregivers.

The Red Letters: The Words of Jesus for Today’s World — Do we value the words of Jesus?  Do we live his words?  Join us as we listen to Tony Campolo, pastor, author, sociologist and public speaker, challenge all Christians to actually follow the “red letters” of the Bible — the words of Jesus.  This will prove to produce many engaging and thought provoking conversations as participants discuss the priorities that Dr Campolo sets before them.

The Awkward Season: A Contemplative Lent Study — Believers approach Lent in a variety of ways – we will use Pamela Hawkins’ book, “The Awkward Season”, to discover a prayer path to follow through this holy time.  Come join in prayers of invocation, confession, intercession and thanksgiving, and discover other prayer tools to help you find a road map for the Lenten journey.

Disciplines for Life: States of Bliss and Yearning by John Bell — Lent is a season for thinking about spiritual disciplines…join us as we explore three different kinds of disciplines: remembering, waiting and imagining.  Based on John Bell’s book “States of Bliss and Yearning,” this class will discuss the need for a nourishing spirituality that embraces both bliss and yearning.  If you enjoyed the recent John Bell visit, this could be a great Lent activity for you!

Lenten Simplicity — Come to Green Wood for Communion, a simple meal, and the study of Richard Rohr’s book “Simplicity: The Freedom of Letting Go.” The book helps us recognize our radical dependence on others, helps us understand why less is more, and with contemplation helps us embrace deeper spiritual freedom.

So you want to be a United Methodist. Not only was this a title of Pastor Doug’s sermon, it will also be an adult education offering this winter. Come and join Pastor Nancy for four weeks on Sunday nights as she guides participants through the history, theology,and polity of the United Methodist Church. This is a great class for new AND old members who wish to know more about their place of worship.

Blessed Are the Peacemakers is a joint adult education class offered by the Wesley Foundation and FUMC. David Crumm, content editor for Our Values.org, returns to lead this 4-week course based on Daniel Buttry’s book — an amazing collection of 62 mini-bios of peacemakers organized by areas of peacemaking work. As Dan Buttry says, “I [get inspired by] these ordinary folks who did extraordinary things in their time and place.”

Esther: An uppity woman of the Bible — Power, corruption, violence, and courage — is it a Clive Cussler novel? No, it is the Study of Esther, in the form of a curriculum called Uppity Women of the Bible. Both men and women can join Julie Roesch as she leads the class in a 6-week exploration of Esther, which has complex characters, twisty plots and slapstick farce — all without mentioning God. You will enjoy Rev. Dr. Lisa Wolfe’s video presentations of this fascinating, action-filled book of the Bible!

Civil Discourse — How do we engage in civil discourse around public triggers such as abortion, racism, and global ethics? Dr. Wayne Baker, sociologist on the senior faculty of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business and creator/host of the Our Values site on the Read the Spirit online magazine, will lead a five-week class created by Krista Tippett, host of the NPR show “Krista Tippett on Being” that is designed to open hearts and minds by joining contemporary political and moral leaders as they explore complicated and explosive issues. This study, called includes interviews from Tippett’s show with Richard Mouw, Frances Kissling, Elizabeth Alexander, Nicholas Kristof and E. Ethelbert Miller.

24 Hours that Changed the World — Several groups have decided to journey through a Lenten small-group study called “24 Hours that Changed the World.” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NIOVIyeYR4o )This seven-session DVD and book study by Adam Hamilton takes the reader through Jesus’ last hours, visiting sites in the holy land and drawing readers into the Last Supper, Garden of Gethsemane, crucifixion and resurrection.

Beginnings – This study explores the basics of Christianity, and can be completed in 9-12 weeks. An Introduction to Christian Faith centers around a question for each session:
• So, is this all there is? (Introduction)
• Who is Jesus, and why should I care? (Jesus Christ)
• Why am I not where I want to be? (Sin and the Cross)
• What happens when I die? (Death and Resurrection)
• Can I trust God? (Providence and Suffering)
• How does God speak to me? (The Bible)
• If I don’t feel lost, why do I need to be found? (Salvation and Conversion)
• Can I start again? (Forgiveness and Wholeness)
• How do I speak to God? (Prayer)
• How can I make a life and not just a living? (The Good Life)
• Why should I join any group that will have me as a member? (Church Membership)
• Love feast! (Remembering, Sharing, and Continuing the Journey)

“Disciple” Bible Study, including “Christian Believer” and “Jesus in the Gospels”
In a 32- to 34-week study, participants discuss scripture based on careful study and preparation, bringing their own experiences and struggles to the discussion. Registration runs from August-September. Disciple classes typically run from September-April.

The Disciple Bible Study program is designed to develop strong Christian local churches through the in-depth study of Scripture. Through these Bible studies, persons are strengthened in their faith and guided into service and ministry. This series of in-depth, high commitment studies take participants from Genesis through Revelation. Often, it seems like we know far too little about what the scriptures actually say or how they are relevant to our daily lives. You have the opportunity to change all that. Disciple 1 Bible Study is a weekly program in which small groups meet to understand scripture. It’s a chance to read, interpret, and discuss the Bible in an accepting community and apply it to your faith journey.

Christian Believer is from the author of the Back Side Books, J. Ellsworth Kalas. Have you ever sung a hymn or recited a creed and asked, “Why do we say that?” Discover the church’s answer to questions that grow out of human life and Christian experience as you study church history and doctrine in this in-depth look at the classical doctrines.

In Jesus in the Gospels participants study the name, the place, and the people — encountering the Jesus who is both hard to ignore and hard to control as portrayed in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

School of Christian Living (SCL) — SCL was developed with an emphasis to learn, share, and grow as persons of God. Small and large group opportunities are offered to deepen our faith, enhance our relationships, and increase our understanding of the world around us. These four- to six-week series of classes are typically offered during Lent.

Book Study: “An Altar in the World” — An Altar in the World – Early in 2010, the WOWMOMs group studied Barbara Brown Taylor’s book “An Altar in the World.” Congregation member Amy Kennedy developed a book study guide, and all of the chapter studies are available below. Please use these guides for exploration on your own or in a group.  Chapter 1  |  Chapter 2  |  Chapter 3  |  Chapter 4  |  Chapter 5  |  Chapter 6  |  Chapter 7  |  Chapter 8  |  Chapter 9  |  Chapter 10  |  Chapter 11  |  Chapter 12