Harvest Group

This Sunday morning study and discussion class was launched September 18, 2011.  Here’s an overview to welcome you.

NAME:  Derived to summarize life at our late middle years or “autumn” of our life cycle:  We are at a stage to glean from the rich fields of experience and study and have that nourish us for the chapters ahead.  However, we are ALWAYS gathering from the wisdom of each day of life, so “autumn” is a continuum, representative of the mix of ages we experience around the table each Sunday gathering.

FOCUS:  To give support and share our combined life wisdom and personal faiths and plan for the next chapters of life, respecting the views and understandings of each participant.

INCLUSIVE:  The Harvest Class has voted to become a “reconciling community” as defined by the Reconciling Ministries Network*. The Harvest Class of Manchester United Methodist Church is dedicated to living the ultimate Question of God while respecting the faith journeys of all participants. Our faith community celebrates that all persons are created in God’s image and are of sacred worth.  As we embrace diverse Christian views of God and strive to learn from one another with love and compassion, we welcome all persons into the life, studies and ministries of the Harvest Class without regard to age, race, culture, sexual orientation, gender identity, family configuration, religious background, economic status, or developmental and physical ability.

Participants draw upon the knowledge about the Bible and other books –those we’ve valued over the years as well as those from which we glean new understandings not before known.  We are nurtured by what life has taught us, and we welcome new ways to grow and make a difference in the world.  Class materials will vary. Some will be scholarly, and others more inspirational, coming from many writers and sources.  A coordinator sends weekly emails of news, study assignments, etc.

We respect the various views and stages of faith development each of us carries as we journey.  As people in transition from one stage of life to another, we have a foothold in how things were, how we’ve grown since our faith instruction geared toward a child’s understanding, and we care about each other in the life’s continual path of discovery and change.  We will harvest this bounty and celebrate opportunities for new or renewed friendships.

TYPICAL CLASS COMPOSITION:   This is a great class for open conversation, where no question is prohibited.  Students are typically inquisitive, open minded, inclusive, and learn by sharing in a spirited way–not by debate or coercion.  There is no age minimum or maximum.  Presently, students typically range in age from 50s through 70s, but ages represented range from 40s to 80s.  Anyone of any faith or denomination is invited, although the Christian perspective as nurtured through the Methodist tradition of grace and the “Wesley quadrilateral” of faith development will be the foundation for our learning and spiritual seeking.

Topics and Books of Study

2011  (class was launched September 18, 2011)

40’s and 60’s  — Life in the Sandwich Generation; preparing for aging and new adventures

Giving Thanks   (Thanksgiving session)


Banned Questions about the Bible by Christian Piatt

What’s So Amazing About Grace?   — Philip Yancey, author and DVD lecturer

Experiencing The (Reading The) Bible Again for the First Time   — based on Marcus Borg book, with Borg as DVD lecturer

Singing the Songs of Advent  (4 weeks about poetry and singing about Christmas themes)


Debbie Irving, 4 weeks special class on Other Christian Denominations and what they believe

Debbie Irving,  Your Faith Profile (one session assessment)—Types of Spirituality

Stephanie Lendt,  4 week special classes Lenten series:   WHY?– Making Sense of God’s Will by Adam Hamilton  (coincides with Rev. Weeks Sermon Series)


A Faith of Your Own  by Ronald Allen

What We Talk About When We Talk About God   by Rob Bell (led by Debbie Irving)

Falling Upward  by Richard Rohr

The Way  — Video and Book by Adam Hamilton

Animate Faith    —  Video Series with Brian McLaren and others

The Gods Aren’t Angry   — Video of the Rob Bell presentation (based on book of same)

Emergence Christianity – Video and Discussion  (features Phyllis Tickle)


Rev. Nancye Dunlap, leader, “Making Sense of the Violence in the Old Testament

Delving Deeper into UMC Standards and Beliefs— the UMC Book of Discipline Doctrines


Emergence Christianity  –videos and guide featuring Phyllis Tickle

Zealot – Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan

UMC Social Principles  —  the history, processes and specifics of the UMC Social Principles

Upside Down – A different way to live

Revival —  Faith as Wesley Lived It by Adam Hamilton

The Fourth Gospel –Part I  A book about the Book of John  by Bishop John Shelby Spong

Messiah – An Advent Study  —  Walter Brueggeman (Thoughtful Christian series)


The Fourth Gospel – The Signs (Parts II & III)  by Bishop John Shelby Spong

12 Steps to a Compassionate Life  —  by Karen Armstrong

The Fourth Gospel –The Passion Sections   by Bishop John Shelby Spong

The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers –  by Amy Hollingsworth (curriculum by M. Clark)

Holy Adventure:  41 Days of Audacious Living – by Bruce Epperly

Jesus Wants to Save Christians – by Rob Bell

Christmas Moccasins and The Give Away – two Christmas stories by Ray Buckley


The Apocrypha – by David deSilva

Eclipsing Empire – by John Dominic Crossan and Marcus Borg

All the Places to Go – by John Ortberg

Grounded – by Diana Butler Bass

All Things are Spiritual – video by Rob Bell

52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol – Bob Welch


52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol – Bob Welch  (continued, thru February)

Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation – Richard Rohr

Fresh Air – Jack Levison

NOOMA videos:  4: Kickball, Dust, Rhythm, Corner  — Rob Bell

God Is In the Manger –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer reflections


Living the Questions – Progressive Christianity (video series)

Unafraid – Living with Courage and Hope by Adam Hamilton

Living the Questions – Painting the Stars


Living the Questions – Painting the Stars

Here and Now: Living in the Spirit by Henry Nouwen – Lenten Study

The Power of Parable by John Dominic Crossan

A Month of Parables by Rev. Greg Weeks

The Contemplative Tradition — Videos of Richard Rohr speaking from Chautauqua

Defying Gravity by Tom Berlin (all-church study on generosity)

The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr


Journey in the Wildernesshope of new life for mainline churches by Gil Rendle (led by David Bennett)

(coming):   New Again  — Recreating Meaning in Uncertain Times   (MUMC Lenten study)

(coming):   On the Brink of Everything:  Grace, Gravity, and Getting Old  by Parker Palmer


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