St. Mark Explores ‘Faith and Politics’

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St. Mark Presbyterian Church invites the community to attend its Faith and Politics Series on Wednesdays, Oct. 10, 17 and 24, from 7 to 9 p.m. each night.

“Our congregation believes that there are many significant issues before us, and that it’s very important to be as knowledgeable about these issues as possible, particularly in an election year,” explained Deborah Mayhew, elder at St. Mark.  “The Faith and Politics Series isn’t a partisan program at all, and it’s not about getting everyone to agree on a particular point.  Rather, it’s about presenting a diverse range of views and conducting a civil, thoughtful dialogue in which everybody is invited to participate.”

The series is a collaboration of St. Mark’s Commissions on Peace and Justice and Adult Discipleship and Nurture.

“This election year series seeks to deepen academic and public understanding of faith and politics in the United States,” said Roberto Sirvent, the event moderator and a member of St. Mark’s Peace and Justice Commission.  “We hope that as a result, participants will come away with information that is not only helpful during election season, but in understanding related issues in a greater context as time goes on.

“The speakers in this series are highly respected scholars who are experts in their field-whether it be philosophy, ethics, theology, or biblical interpretation,” he continued. “Our first speaker, Dr. Amesbury, will address issues of church and state, and discuss how the word ‘religion’ is used in contemporary America and the many misconceptions concerning its nature and effects.”

St. Mark, which calls itself “An Inclusive Community with Open Arms and Open Minds,” will celebrate its 50th anniversary in December.  Its Mission Statement is: “We embody God’s inclusive love and compassion.  We live our faith by wrestling with questions, not defending answers.  We promote the love and justice of Jesus Christ and the responsible stewardship of God’s creation.”

“The Faith and Politics Series is just one example of St. Mark’s commitment to being a progressive, active church community that believes it is our responsibility to ask the difficult questions and understand the complexity of the issues that shape our community and world so that we can best put our faith into action,” Roberto said.

St. Mark offers programs and opportunities for engagement and continuing education through the various commissions and committees that are represented on Session, the governing body of the church.

For example, St. Mark is a “green church” and has an environmental focus group called Ecophilians that educates and motivates the congregation and community to support environmental sustainability in the context of Christian values.  They are very involved in the Orange County Interfaith Coalition for the Environment’s annual Caring for Creation Conference that they will host on Oct. 27.

The Adult Discipleship and Nurture Commission offers expert presentations and discussions about current topics in such wide-ranging areas as theology, interfaith issues, family health and wellness, social justice, and church mission and service.

The Peace and Justice Commission works to identify and fight the root causes of social injustice by clarifying social issues and recommending priorities for study and effective use of resources by the congregation.  Upcoming events include the ‘Partners in Peace’ luncheon on October 2; hosting and the annual Alternative Christmas Market on November 18.  All events are open to the community.

“These activities offer a chance for individuals to interact with people from different walks of life who may also hold divergent views,” said Deborah.  “We look forward to continuing to present these opportunities for dialogue and fellowship.”

The Faith and Politics Series schedule is:

  • Oct. 10:  Dr. Richard Amesbury, discussing key points from his books ‘Faith and Human Rights: Christianity and the Global Struggle for Human Dignity,” and the forthcoming “Secular State/Religious Nation: Imagining Religion in America.”  Dr. Amesbury is Associate professor of Ethics at Claremont School of Theology.
  • Oct. 17: Dr. Julia Lambert Fogg, discussing “Is Paul’s Universal Christ Also Interfaith?” She is Associate Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at California Lutheran University; and Dr. Helen Slessarev-Jamir, discussing key points from her book, “Prophetic Activism: Progressive Religious Justice Movements in Contemporary America.”  She is the Mildred M. Hutchinson Professor of Urban Studies; Professor of Ethics, Politics, and Society of Claremont School of Theology.
  • Oct. 24: Dr. David Matson, discussing “The (Non)-Political Jesus: Challenging the Three P’s of So-Called Progressive Christianity.”  He is the author of “Household Conversion Narratives in Acts: Pattern and Interpretation,” and is Professor of Biblical Studies at Hope International University.

The series is free and for adults only (18 or older).  For further information, visit Cindy can be reached at [email protected].

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