A variety of classes and groups are offered throughout the year to meet the varied needs and interests of members and friends. These include theological and biblical studies, book groups, and classes that cover topics such as social issues, environmental concerns, problems in the U.S. and around the world, preparation for church trips, and other topics that merit our attention. A connection with our faith, though not always explicitly stated, is always implied.
Sunday Adult Education
Intersections: Sacred Conversation on Race
We are a congregation founded and grounded in affirming all people regardless of race and ethnicity. To deepen the Sacred Conversation on Race and learn how race intersects with many justice issues, we gather on the first Sunday of each month, September through May, at 8:30 am for prayer and thought on the continuing issues of racism.
Experiencing the Bible Again for the First Time
Come and share in an experiential small group gathering, engaging Marcus Borg's Reading the Bible Again for the First Time through worship, reflection, and dicussion. WInter and spring sessions focus on the Hebrew Scriptures, where they came from and how we can journey with their stories on our life in faith. Gatherings take place on Sundays Feb. 2, 16, 23, March 9 and April 6 from 9:30 - 11:00 am in the Jubilee Room. The class resumes on June 15, 22 and 29 with a focus on the Gospels, the letters and the Book of Revelation.
Ecclesiastes: A Listen Up! Bible Study
Sometimes considered the most curmudgeonly and cynical of all the books of the Bible, Ecclesiastes is also praised for telling it like it is. It addresses eternal problems that have always troubled human society and also reminds us the that the great joys in life are fairly simple. It offers soothing certainty about what it means to enjoy the good life: waiting, expecting, with open arms, to receive day by day the good things that come from God. The class meets Sundays July 13, 20, 27 and August 3 at 2:00 pm at the home of Chris Weakley, the class leader.
Faith Formation at 11:00 am
With Animate: Faith we set out to do one thing: Help kick-start conversation around big questions of the Christian faith in our congregation. Session titles were God, Cross, Jesus, Church and Religion.
Painting the Stars
Celebrating the communion of science and faith, Painting the Stars explored the promise of evolutionary Christian spirituality. Topics included: Toward Healing the Rift, A Renaissance of Wonder, Eco-Justice, An Evolving Faith, Imagining a Future, An Evolving Spirituality, and Mysticism.
Faith in Film
Most months, usually on the second Sunday, we gather for lunch and a movie at 12:30 pm. The films are chosen to be relevant to today's most pressing issues of justice, faith, society, spirituality and how we can grow in our faithful response.
Monthly themes tie together Faith in Film and the church's outreach and social justice programs. These programs are offered in partnership by the Board of Outreach and Social Justice and the Board of Christian Education.
2013-14 sessions include:
September 8: A Place at the Table, a documentary that investigates incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, and proposed solutions to the problem.
October 13: For the Bible Tells Me So, which "offers healing, clarity and understanding to anyone caught in the crosshairs of scripture and sexual identity."
November 3: Invisible Young, a documentary that tells the life stories of four young adults, all of whom were homeless as teenagers in Seattle, Washington.
November 24: The [Advent Conspiracy] invites us to slow down and experience a Christmas worth remembering by worshipping fully, spending less, giving more, and loving all.
January 12: Excerpts from Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.
February 9: Welcome to Shelbyville explores immigrant integration and the interplay between race, religion, and identity in this dynamic dialogue.
March 16: Excerpts from MAKERS: Women Who Make America, a PBS documentary that “tells the remarkable story of the most sweeping social revolution in American."
April 13: Chasing Ice, a documentary about the efforts of nature photographer James Balog and his Extreme Ice Survey to publicize the effects of climate change.
Footsteps Educational Series
In 1996, a group of members and friends traveled to Israel and Palestine to study our biblical heritage and the roots of our faith. Two years later many of the same group and others went to Greece and Turkey “in the footsteps of Paul.” Every other year since, a group of 30-some persons has traveled to study some aspect of our Christian heritage. In preparation for each of these trips, classes have addressed different aspects of the country to be visited.
A Swiss Reformation Footsteps tour is planned for 2015. As presently envisioned, the tour will focus on sites associated with John Calvin and Ulrich Zwingli, both theologically important to UCC religious heritage. We will visit the Matterhorn and ride the Swiss Glacier Express train through the mountains. And then of course, there is Swiss chocolate. Main cities to be visited include Geneva, Zermatt, Chur, Lucerne, and Zurich.
Monday Morning Bible Study
The Monday morning Bible study class features weekly discussion of the Bible and related biblical studies topics. This year the class explores From the Hebrew Bible to Judaism, From the Old Testament to Christianity, a Harvard College class. Topics include canon and prophecy; exegesis and midrash; Shabbat and Sunday; temple, synagogue, church; the Oral Torah and the Logos; sin and righteousness; messiah and redemption. The varied backgrounds of the class members contribute significantly to the discussion. The class meets at 10:00 am in Room 8 from September through May.
Lenten Soup and Discussion Series: The Art of Lent
Throughout Lent the Board of Christian Education's Adult Education Committee and the Board of Deacons host a soup supper and discussion series on Wednesday evenings. Meals begin at 6:30 pm and discussions at 7:15.
The season of Lent has inspired many artists for the two centuries of the Christian faith. Borrowing from older traditions and contemporary expressions, Christians have found ways to share the introspection, frustration, grief, and joy of the season. From facing our mortality on Ash Wednesday to the promise of resurrection on Easter, we are stretched to the limits of life's journey.
This year we spent time encountering the scripture passages read in the Revised Common Lectionary through the season of Lent. We deepened our personal journey by "reading" these passages through the lenses of artistic expression. Through paint, granite, paper, textile, word, and song, we shared in each other's faith journeys, walking together towards the empty tomb of Easter morning.
2013 Lenten series program information may be found here
Pathfinders: Progressive Christian Young Adults
Little River's young adults join young adults from other progressive churches for Bible study, dinner, and fellowship on the first and third Mondays of each month. The group meets from 7:00 - 9:00 pm at Caffe Amouri in Vienna, VA. Pathfinders also participate in mission projects, an annual retreat, and other events. To learn more about Pathfinders please visit their blog.
The character and scope of the offerings of this group change over time depending upon the suggestions from women of the church and the planning team's discernment. Some of the offerings of the group are:
Covenant Group: a gathering of women who share prayers, joys and concerns with one another through meetings and brunch gatherings. There are currently four covenant groups, each of which focus on a common interest such as "moms who work outside the home" and "social justice".
Women's Book Group: a gathering of women who meet approximately every other month on Sundays, 12:15 - 1:30 pm, to discuss books of mutual interest. Leadership is volunteered. All women are invited and encouraged to attend whether the book has been finished or even opened!
Sept. 14, 2014:The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Previous Book Group selections may be found here.
Annual Retreat: A half-day to day-long experience with a wide range of foci depending on the input of the women of the church. Retreats provide time for quiet prayer, self-reflection, a shared meal, and connection with others seeking refreshment and renewal through conversation, creative activities, and worship.