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Past Program Offerings

A list of previous courses and events that the Reformed Institute has offered. You may also visit our Resources page to view presentations and other information about past events.

Calvinism and Politics 
Presenter: Dr. W. David Little
Description: The Reformed tradition has long been known for the value its adherents have placed on participation in public life as a way of carrying out the work of the church in the world. It has also been known for the distinctive view its adherents have had of the nature and purpose of civil government as well as the way in which Christians should conduct themselves in public life. This event is designed as an opportunity to explore the resources available in the Reformed tradition for thinking about the political challenges of our time. Click here for more information. 
*Click here to view event photos. 
*Click here for an outline of the presentation.


Young Adults Picnic

 The DC Metro area can be a challenging environment to be a young adult and a ChristianHow do we balance work, family, church, community, etc.? We don't claim to have any simple answers, but it helps to know that there are others out there thinking about and wrestling with these same questions. Join us for a potluck picnic as young adults from a number of DC area churches get together, socialize, and think and talk together about how to integrate our faith into the rest of our busy lives. 


"A Chosen People" Course
Presenter: The Rev. James F. Cubie
Location: Potomac Presbyterian Church, 10301 River Road, Potomac, MD 20854 (www.potomacpresbyterian.org)
Description: The idea that God chooses a people is all over the Old and New Testaments.  That's part of the reason why it has been so important to the Presbyterian tradition, which has called this idea "Election" and the way it works out in the world: "predestination".  Starting with John Calvin, and then in our Book of Confessions, the claim that God chooses a people to save and to send, has been at the center of our life and thought.  Join the Rev. James F. Cubie (Member of the Company of Teachers at the Reformed Institute and Associate Pastor at Leesburg Presbyterian Church) for an in-depth look at what the Bible and our Reformed tradition teaches about election. Our course on election will be a seminar-style course, rather than a lecture-based course. Each Saturday, class members will gather around Biblical and theological texts which we will engage in class. Please come prepared to read, analyze, and discuss. |

Young Adults Brunch Event
Young Adults in the Mainline Church
Date: Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.
America’s changing religious demographics, generational shifts, and apparently increasing secularization are widely hailed as the decline of the Protestant Mainline churches, especially for young adults. Join us for a lecture and conversation led by Matthew Taylor, Facilitator of Young Adult Programs at the Reformed Institute, about seeing beyond the statistics to a vital and constructive spirituality and opportunity for leadership from Mainline young adults in our time.

 

Christ and Culture Revisited
Info: A course offered by the Reformed Institute of Metropolitan Washington
  In 1951 H. Richard Niebuhr, a Reformed theologian who was professor of Christian ethics at Yale University, published CHRIST AND CULTURE, a book designed as a comparative analysis of the various different ways Christians have responded to the challenge of relating their faith to the cultures in which they have found themselves. That book has subsequently come to be recognized as a classic, albeit a much-debated one; and it is commonly regarded today as a valuable resource for thinking through the strategic issues facing Christians in our time. The objective of this course is to enable the participants to acquaint themselves with Niebuhr's analysis and to consider its implications for mainline Protestants in America today.
 
 
 
Rediscovering John Knox Then and Now
Presenter: Suzanne McDonald, Calvin College/Western Theological Seminary on John Knox
What are we to make of John Knox on the 500th anniversary of his birth? The picture many have is of an angry man who preached an angry God, hated women, and advocated violence in the name of Christ. Come for a fuller portrait of Knox in the context of his time, designed to help us discover what we can take from Knox's life and teaching for our discipleship and witness today.

 

Jobs, Careers and Callings: The Difference Faith Makes - An Event for Young Adults

Dr. R. Bruce Douglass, Georgetown professor and director of the Reformed Institute was joined young adults from the D.C. area for an enjoyable evening with lively discussion on the topic of vocation. It was an evening to network, socialize, and engage Christian faith as it relates to careers and callings.

THE REFORMED INSTITUTE’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY:

Friday, January 25: Sacred Stories and Spiritual Tribes: Christian Communities and Everyday Christian Lives – A dinner with festivities at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA, site of the Calvin dinner in 2009, will kick-off the convocation weekend. Boston University’s sociologist Nancy Ammerman will share her insights from years of studying the mainline in an after-dinner presentation.

Saturday, January 26: Getting Saved From What and For What? A Reformed Perspective – The annual convocation is now a treasured tradition among many of us. Theologian David Kelsey will join us for a stimulating morning.


2014-2015 Lay Theological Colloquy
: Christianity and Religious Plurality

Instructor:  Dr. Richard Plantinga, Professor of Religion, Calvin College

The Reformed Institute is pleased to offer an annual opportunity for a group of lay people to explore together a particular topic in Reformed theology and ethics that has relevance to contemporary life, and to do so under the leadership of a Reformed theologian who is known for his or her expertise on the subject. This year’s colloquy will be led by Dr. Richard Plantinga, Professor of Religion at Calvin College. The syllabus for the colloquy and information about the leader may be found HERE.

Re-Formed Hymnals for Reformed Folk: An exploration of two hot-off-the-press hymnals:
Lift Up Your Hearts (CRC/RCA) and Glory to God (PCUSA)

        The Reformed Institute presented a leadership development opportunity with Dr. Martin Tel, Director of Music at Princeton Theological Seminary. This event was designed for professional and lay musicians, choristers, worship committees and anyone interested in hymnody and the music of the church. Participants discussed such questions as :

  • What is distinct about the theological approach to worship in these hymnals?
  • What is the place of the Psalter?
  • What additional liturgical materials are available?
  • How might these hymnals be used in our contemporary situations?

The Last Segregated Hour: The Memphis Kneel-Ins and the Campaign for Southern Church Desegregation

A presentation by the author, Dr. Stephen R. Haynes, of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. Co-sponsored by the Reformed Institute of Metropolitan Washington and Westminster Presbyterian Church, Alexandria, VA through a generous grant from the Rasmussen Church and Society endowment fund.


Is the Reformation Over? - The Past, Present, and Future of Reformed and Roman Catholic Relations

To be Reformed is by its very nature to stand in relation to the historic Catholic Church. Over the years, the relations between the Reformed churches and the Roman Catholic church have changed, moving from violence to hostility and misunderstanding to currently much warmer and friendly ones. Thus, is the Reformation over? Or, does faith demand that we push towards a new unity? What, if anything, could possibly be the basis of such unity? What do we have to learn from each other?

This course will look at the most central issues that have historically divided the churches of the Reformation from the Roman Catholic Church, issues that are still important today: the nature of justification, the nature and authority of the Church, the sacraments. We will look at how these issues arose during the Reformation and their subsequent history up to the present ecumenical discussions.

EXPLAINING OURSELVES BETTER - A Workshop Designed to Help Us Articulate Our Beliefs

Members of the RI’s Company of Teachers, facilitated by James Cubie, presented and lead discussion to explore ways to USE our doctrines in a five week course.

2012-2013 REFORMED INSTITUTE COLLOQUY:
What in the World Does It Mean to Be Saved?

The Reformed Institute is pleased to offer an annual opportunity for a group of lay people to explore together a particular topic in Reformed theology and ethics that has relevance to contemporary life, and to do so under the leadership of a Reformed theologian who is known for his or her expertise on the subject.

This year’s colloquy will be led by Dr. Joseph D. Small, former director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Theology and Worship. The syllabus for the colloquy and information about the leader can be found here.

2013-2014 Lay Theological Colloquy
Reformed Doctrine and Human Sexuality

The Reformed Institute is pleased to offer an annual opportunity for a group of lay people to explore together a particular topic in Reformed theology and ethics that has relevance to contemporary life, and to do so under the leadership of a Reformed theologian who is known for his or her expertise on the subject. This year’s colloquy will be led by Dr. Nancy J. Duff, the Stephen Colwell Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Princeton Theological Seminary. The syllabus for the colloquy and information about the leader can be found below.

Course on the Book of Confessions

Our Presbyterian confessions span the Christian centuries. They represent both our unity with the church catholic -- with Christians of all times and places -- and the distinctive character of our Reformed tradition. This course was for everyone – church members, inquirers, church staff who would learn what our confessions have meant to millions of other Christians, and would deepen their understanding of what they can mean to each of us. The intention is to learn so then you can go and teach or share this historic and living resource with your congregation. All sessions were led by members of the Reformed Institute’s Company of Teachers.

 

Beyond Stories:  Relating Theology to Life with 9 – 15 Year Olds - A Reformed Institute Workshop

For teachers, youth advisors, parents, anyone who is involved in educating older children and younger youth to explore how we can teach faith concepts that not only come alive but continue to capture their imaginations as they grow.


Created in the Image of God: Human Uniqueness in Theology and Science

Colloquy 2011-2012 was led by Dr. J. Wentzel van Huyssteen, James I. McCord Professor of Theology and Science, Princeton Theological Seminary. In this course we traced and reinterpreted the complex history of the ancient doctrine of the imago Dei and then quite specifically asked: what could it possibly mean today to believe that in some important sense we have been created in the image of God? To answer these questions we turned to the problem of human origins. Through our readings we traced the deep historical and evolutionary background of theological anthropology and focus on the complex question what it really means to be human. What are the theological and ethical implications of this vast biological and cultural background history, and how does it affect our theologies today, as well as our Christian ethics? 


“A Divine and Supernatural Light”: Jonathan Edwards and America
Course Instructor: Melissa Kirkpatrick (Company of Teachers)

No one argues about it: Jonathan Edwards is colonial America’s greatest theologian and philosopher. He towers over the age as a religious figure. But though his roots are in colonial Puritanism, he worked to reshape a Puritan worldview into something quite different. He was modern for his own time. He sought to reconcile higher learning of the day with a loving piety and achieved this with an elegance not since seen. The publication of his massive collected works, begun in 1957, is only just now being completed. In this course, happening more than 250 years after his death, we will take advantage of this recent scholarship and explore how Edwards and his work have continued to have an impact on American thought.

Living According to the Word: Reformed Spirituality
Course Instructor: Eric O. Springsted (Company of Teachers)

What is involved in the lived knowledge of God? What does it mean to say, as Calvin did, that “nearly all the wisdom we possess consists of the knowledge of God and of ourselves?” This course will look at how beliefs and practices are linked in the Reformed tradition. While it will deal with Reformed spirituality historically, it will chiefly be concerned with what it means to live as a Reformed believer now — of what we can do to recover the vitality of the Word of God in church and personal life. Topics will include prayer, worship, sacraments, vocation, intellectual life, and communal life.

Confirmation Retreat - Storming the Sanctuary
Workshop leader: Matthew Myer Boulton, Associate Professor of Ministry Studies at Harvard Divinity School, and First Service Choir Director at Old South Church (UCC) in Boston.

A weekend retreat for youth making a public profession of faith and their leaders where they'll learn about the original revolutionaries of the church – and discver concrete ways we can carry on their revolutionary legacy today. There will be interactive, hands-on workshops, as well as a concluding worship service, in which we’ll put what we’ve learned into practice.

An Educated Laity: An Obsolete Idea?
Course Instructor: R. Bruce Douglass 

The idea of a Biblically and theologically literate laity is basic to the Reformed understanding of Christian discipleship, and dedicated adherence to that idea has long been one of the defining features of Reformed piety. But in our time it is increasingly being called into question. These days life is simply too fast-paced, it is said, and people are too busy to practice the faith that way anymore. The purpose of this course is to explore the validity of that claim in the light of what Reformed Christians have said and done in the past about the role of learning in the practice of Christianity.

Leadership Development Events
Leaders: Dr. Louis Weeks, Pastor, Missionary and President Emeritus, Union-PSCE, Richmond, VA and Charlotte, NC, and Dr. R. Bruce Douglass, Director, Reformed Institute and an Elder at Lewinsville Presbyterian Church, McLean, VA

For officers of the church who want to understand better the sources of American Presbyterianism and the ideas on which the current practices of the PC (USA) are based. The program included two presentations: 

  • "What it Means to be Reformed"  led by Dr. Louis Weeks
  • "Elders, Deacons and Presbyterian Polity" led by Dr. R. Bruce Douglass

The New Form of Government: How It Came to Be and Why It Matters

This event is open to anyone interested but will be especially helpful to officers of the church. The Rev. Dr. William Chapman, author of History and Theology in the Book of Order--Blood on Every Page, will present and discuss with you the implications of the PCUSA’s new form of government. Copies of his book will be available.


"Passing on the Faith: The challenge to your congregation"
An event  for lay and professional church leaders designed to facilitate fresh strategic thinking about the church's educational ministry. When was the last time you took part in a serious discussion of the "big picture" in the educational ministry of your church? When have you had a chance to step back from the routine of program planning and take a good, hard look at some of the more fundamental issues at stake in that part of your church's life? The event was designed to provide such an opportunity, and to do so in a manner that will stimulate fresh thinking on the relevant issues. Our premise that it can no longer be taken for granted that the educational ministry of our churches can be carried on in the familiar ways. The time has come to acknowledge that we are facing a situation that demands something more from us than just business as usual. The program included two presentations: 

  • "Religious Illiteracy: Is It Really a Problem," presented by Stephen Prothero (Boston University).
  • "The Life of the Mind in the Service of God: The Reformed Perspective," presented by Michael Jinkins (Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary).

Educational Roundtable (Information from each Roundtable found on the Resources page)

  • Why Religious Literacy Matters
  • Biblical and Theological Literacy - What Exactly Are We Aiming For?
  • Christian Education in a Commitment-Challenged Culture
  • The Family as a Learning Community: How the Church Can Help
  • Teaching as a Call: Implications for Today
  • Little Big Minds: What We Can Learn from an “Old” Approach to Teaching

Source
The Reformed Institute partnered with SOURCE to investigate a philosophical approach to teaching all ages, including the very young. Marietta McCarty, author of Little Big Minds, taught on the approach and explore how we might apply it to Christian education.

Should the Belhar Confession Be Added to the Book of Confessions? What’s at Stake?
Dr. John Burgess of Pittsburgh seminary explores the Belhar Confession, the theology that undergirds it and a consideration of its inclusion in the PCUSA’s Book of Confessions. The Belhar event was offered in partnership with National Capital Presbytery.

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