Adult Education

Adult Education at St. Peter’s aims to engage you spiritually, intellectually, creatively, and emotionally. We offer multiple classes to pique your interest each Sunday morning at 10 a.m. All classes take place on the second floor of St. Peter’s School at 319 Lombard Street, unless otherwise noted. Some classes overlap, so please review the schedule carefully. Questions? E-mail Rev. Sean Lanigan.

Fall-Winter 2019 Schedule

The American Gun Violence Epidemic:  September 22

Gun violence is an epidemic of enormous proportions which continues to plague all of us. St. Peter’s is partnering with the faith-based organization Heeding God’s Call to install a memorial in our churchyard to honor victims of gun violence in Philadelphia. Located along Third Street by the wrought-iron fencing, “The Memorial to the Lost” will include T-shirts with names and dates of those killed by guns. It will be a visible reminder of the loss of life and disruption of lives that gun violence creates. Our guest speaker, Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God’s Call, will discuss this epidemic and how we can take action.


Masculinity & Faith:  September 29

How can we define and think about masculinity in the context of modern spiritual life? Using ideas from David Brooks’ book, “The Second Mountain” (excerpts will be projected and distributed), our conversation will examine traditional gender roles in male spirituality and counterpoints to those ideas. People of all gender identities are welcome to come and engage in conversation on this hot-button topic in our age of “toxic masculinity.” Parishioner Doug Schaller will facilitate the conversation.


Grief Group:  September 29 & October 6

*Requires advance registration (email [email protected])

Join us for a two-week small group experience—a thoughtful and supportive space for considering the impact of grief and loss across many areas of our lives. We define grief and loss broadly as related to identity, relationships, employment, ability status, and physical, psychological, and spiritual functioning. Co-facilitated by Amy Jersild and Sanjay Nath, both St. Peter’s parishioners and mental health professionals, this group will explore grief and loss’ unique impacts on our lives. Each meeting will be lightly structured at the outset before opening up to a facilitated group conversation to help each participant process and make sense of their particular experiences of grief. Participants must be able to commit to attending both sessions.


A Pilgrimage to Northern Britain:  October 6

In June, a group of 12 St. Peter’s people went on pilgrimage to Northern Britain. Following in the footsteps of St. Columba, St. Aidan, and St. Cuthbert, we went to the Isle of Iona, Melrose, Holy Island, and Durham. It was a time of prayer, contemplation, laughter, eating, traveling, and becoming a community of faith. Join us for stories and images of our experiences.


The Eventual Death Of The Death Penalty:  October 13

The federal government, which has not executed anyone since 2003, recently announced that five inmates will be put to death in December. At the same time, Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner asked Pennsylvania’s highest court to declare capital punishment unconstitutional. We will delve into these recent developments and more with Marc Bookman, co-director of the Atlantic Center for Capital Representation, a non-profit based in Philadelphia that provides assistance to anyone facing the possibility of execution. Bookman will speak about short- and long-term trends involving the death penalty both locally and nationally.


Getting to Know our Retired Clergy:  October 27

St. Peter’s is blessed to have a number of retired clergy (including Episcopalians, Lutherans, and Methodists) as members of our congregation. We will hear from three of our retired Episcopal clergy people during this session. Judith Beck, Wayne Wright, and Dick Ullman will share from their varied experiences as leaders in the church and will also offer thoughts about where the church may be heading in the future.


Compassionate Self, Compassionate World:  October 27 & November 3

*Requires advance registration (email [email protected]g)

Compassion is a practice of acknowledging, allowing, experiencing, and opening our hearts to suffering: our own suffering as well as the suffering of others. Intentionally cultivating our capacity for compassion can help us to better understand and connect with others in our everyday lives. This two-week mindfulness-based course offers an opportunity to grow in our own ability to both give and receive compassion. We’ll learn the practice of loving-kindness meditation, along with other mindful tools for bringing more compassion into our daily lives. Our facilitator, Robert Pileggi, MSS, LCSW, is a social worker and psychotherapist who trained as a mindfulness teacher at Jefferson University and UC San Diego. He is also a certified yoga instructor and an ordained Interfaith minister.


Making Your Wishes Known: Advance Care Planning 101:  November 3 & 10

Who would make your healthcare decisions if were unable to speak for yourself? Advance care planning is a way to ensure you receive care that is consistent with your goals, values, and preferences. Two nurse practitioners will join us to explore the topic of Advance Care Planning. Carrie Doherty directs the palliative care minor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. Kevin Hook has had many roles in hospice and palliative care. Our sessions will cover: defining advance care planning, reviewing the importance of selecting a health care proxy, discussing challenges associated with advance care planning, and encouraging participants to create their advance directive.


Creation Theology:  November 10

“The Earth is God’s and all that is in it” (Psalm 24) yet we humans have long interpreted Scripture as saying we are the only part of God’s creation that matters to God, that we are the pinnacle of all that God created. Join Rev. Claire Nevin-Field for an exploration of how this misunderstanding of Scripture has distorted our relationship with God and with God’s beloved non-human creatures and led to the ecological crisis we are experiencing.


The Role of Prisons in American Society:  November 17

Why do we have prisons? What exactly is a prison? What are prisons meant to do, and what is their impact on our society? This conversation will help us to better understand the relationship between incarceration and social institutions, drawing from our speaker’s scholarly research, as well as her volunteer experience in a local prison. Our speaker, Dr. Chrysanthi Leon, is an associate professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Delaware.


The Plot Thickens: A Creative Writing Workshop:  November 17 and 24

Join us for an engaging creative writing series. We’ll examine differing perspectives: omniscient author, first person, or third person limited. We’ll also discover how one tale can be transformed into many, how antagonists become protagonists, and how secondary characters become primary. Additionally, we’ll experiment with techniques for successful narrative construction: linear, flash-forward, flashback, circular, and frame. Join us for one week or both. No prior writing experience necessary. This course will be led by parishioner Cordelia Biddle, who teaches creative writing at Drexel University’s Pennoni Honors College. She’s the author of six novels and one nonfiction work.


Becoming a “Zero Waste” City: November 24

The City of Philadelphia has a bold goal of becoming 90% zero waste and litter-free by 2035. Nic Esposito, the Zero Waste and Litter Director for the City of Philadelphia, will talk with us about his work. He is currently creating a coordinated public and private sector plan to address Philadelphia’s litter problem. He previously served as a PowerCorpsPHL project manager for Philadelphia Parks and Recreation and then as its Sustainability Manager. Nic is also the co-manager of Emerald Street Community Farm in Kensington where he lives with his wife and two sons.


Please, Thanks, Sorry, Wow, Breathe:  December 1

We will spend some time doing: 1) Breathing and what it can tell us about being present and in prayer; and 2) Singing and what that can tell us. We will sing—nothing harder than “Happy Birthday To You”—but we will not be performing. This is an exploration, a chance to listen—to ourselves and each other—and experience some of the ways Spirit=Breath=Spirit. This workshop will be led by parishioner Marianne Lipson, who has some years of vocal training and teaching, and has Thoughts about the ways our singing bodies echo and reveal our praying hearts. Bring yours.


Reading Poetry to Write It:  December 8

Reading and writing poetry can be a marvelous path to reflection and quiet, a door to a richer spiritual life. Among the most spectacular poems are the Psalms. But a more immediate path into contemporary poetry might be through your own journals. In this session we will read three or four poems by contemporary poets and reflect on how they distill into images our experience of being human. We will focus on craft issues in those poems—image, voice, metaphor, rhythm, and sound—how to turn insight into a poem. This might be a chance to jot notes toward your own future poetry, but rest assured, no one will be put on the spot. Whether this 45 minutes feels like a new adventure or one that’s familiar to you, please join us. This course will be taught by parishioner Jeanne Walker, who has taught poetry writing at the University of Delaware for 30 years and in the Seattle Pacific University MFA Program for 12. Her poetry is published in eight volumes and her memoir, “The Geography of Memory,” tells the story of how she and her sister cared for their mother during her last decade with Alzheimer’s.


Letter Writing & Card Making as a Spiritual Practice:  December 8 & 15

When was the last time you paused from the chaos of life to write a letter? This reflective and selfless activity creates space within for light and love. Through our unique handwriting, our love and appreciation for others bubbles to the surface of our consciousness and travels across the city, state, country, or world to our loved one: breaking through the clutter and monotony of day-to-day life. Parishioner Laura Sidla regularly writes letters and creates cards as a meditative practice. She’ll share tips for creating intentional space in life for snail mail and will invite you to choose from a pile of fun, beautiful, and free materials and stamps to get started!