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Digging Deeper Online

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By Paige K Slighter

At Woodland, we believe we learn and grow best alongside others. Even during COVID, we’ve stayed active learning and connecting through online classes. Nearly 300 of you signed up to cultivate your head and heart knowledge with WH students from all across the map. Check out what our church body has been studying and applying to their daily lives.

Tribe: Why Do All Our Friends Look Just Like Us?

In this ten week course, we explored Sandra Unger’s book, Tribe, covering topics such as race, class and segregation. We looked at how we can open ourselves up to new perspectives and create possibilities for bridging differences, leading to a more diverse life.

Sandra, who taught the class, really enjoyed engaging with the participants. She said, “I didn’t feel like I had to force people to talk (or to not talk!). I think we all learned from each other.”

Laura who worked in the St. Paul School District here in Minnesota for 25 years, said this class helped to re-educate her. She was prompted to learn more about diversity from our Racism and Reconciliation learning resources. She said, “As an individual who has benefited from white privilege, I hope to help bring about more equity and make a difference. One of the first and most important steps I’m taking is listening. I recently stepped out to apply what I had learned. My efforts were clumsy and awkward, but I am trusting the Lord to use the care behind ‘showing up.’ I can’t undo my whiteness and I can’t undo the history of white privilege, but with God’s help, I can make new friends and love those that don’t look like me.”

Jenny, a podrishioner from Wisconsin, said, “I found the Tribe class to be very valuable. I learned so much reading the book and being able to discuss in community with others and the author.”

Podrishioner Christi from Arizona really appreciated the opportunity to participate from afar. She said, “With the amount of podrishioners that WH has, it is really important to continue having online options for classes as well as continuing to have courses that discuss race and class issues. Anti-racism work is very difficult and easy to walk away from, but partnering with others doing the same work is incredibly encouraging and necessary.”

Josh from St.Paul thought it was awesome to be able to interact with podrishioners from all over the world. He said, “The discussions were great and a lot of times people were sharing personal stories of how the book or the topics had impacted them, or were relating things that were going on in their lives as they wrestled with white privilege, white guilt, American culture in general, etc.”

Revitalizing Our Relationships 

This thirteen week class, still in process, encourages us to reflect on Jesus’ relational principles in the midst of conflict and dysfunctional communities. Kevin Callaghan, our Discipleship and Formation pastor at Woodland, teaches the content via video, while Shawna Boren (Engagement Pastor) and her husband Scott lead the discussion afterwards.

Kimberly, a podrishioner from Wisconsin, said, “The content has been sincerely life changing.”

Chris and Carol, a couple from Alabama, have really enjoyed the class. They said, “Between COVID and other stuff our local Sunday School class fizzled out, so we are really glad to be in Bible study and fellowship again.”

Spiritual Friendships 

This five week pilot class taught us some helpful practices to shape our spiritual friendships. Find out more about Jane, Mary and Mandy’s life giving journey throughout the course here.

Theological Disagreements as Spiritual Formation

Debates about theological issues have been a part of the church since the very beginning. In this class, we considered a number of controversial topics together. In the process, we also learned how we can seek theological truth together in love even when we disagree.

To sum it up in a sentence, Patrick from Minnesota said the class taught him, “how to disagree in a civil, Christ-like way, without accusations, through reasoning while poking holes in the other’s stance through the scripture.”

WH Teaching Pastor and Bethel professor Paul Eddy taught this course with his good friend and colleague, Jim Beilby. He said, “We had a good group of folks from around the U.S. and dug into some tough issues like the nature of hell and the eternal security debate. Each evening we ended with a Q&A time, and we always had a number of really thoughtful and insightful questions.”

Kevin, a podrishioner from Mississippi, said, “I was tickled pink to have the online Zoom groups appear; what an unusual, unexpected and surprising thing to have happened. It came at the exact time that God was really on me about finding community and so, community found me.”

Sabbath: Restoration, Delight and Justice in Everyday Life

In this class, Dr. Stina Busman helped us embrace Sabbath living in the present. One of her students emailed her with this feedback: “I am so thankful for the Sabbath class you taught.  I would take it all over again if it was offered. I have learned so much. It’s going to take me time to process all that I learned. I feel like there was this big gap in my knowledge and practice of my faith that I can now start to address. I’m looking forward to continuing to study Sabbath and jubilee justice.”

Mike from Colorado has been on a multi-year journey of learning about Sabbath rest and attempting to put it into practice. He said, “The thing about the class that I have enjoyed the most, besides Stina’s enthusiasm, has been more of the covenantal aspects and historical background from the Jewish perspective. I’ve studied more of the present day practical reasons for pursuing Sabbath so this class has been a good grounding for me.”

The class came at a very good time for Jocelyn from Texas. She said, “I have felt like the pandemic gave me a break from some of the unhealthy busyness in my life. I signed up for the class because I felt like learning more about Sabbath would possibly help with giving me some structure for making rest a part of my regular routine.”

Marie from Minnesota appreciated everything she learned and looks forward to digging in even more. She said, “It opened a new window for me into what God intended for the Sabbath and Sabbath practices that extends far beyond personal rest to God’s intention for delight and peace and rest for all. My responsibility is not for my own rest but to be a part of bringing that to all Creation in whatever way God directs me in my life and world.”

Walking in Truth

This six week class, also taught by Kevin Callaghan, is still going. It focuses on several key truths of the Christian life and how to live them out in practical ways in everyday life.

Rosy from New Jersey said it’s a blessing to be able to attend the class from where she is at. She learned she doesn’t have to give up her “function of reasoning in order to take in God’s word.”  She said, “That is very refreshing.”

Michael and Rachel from Massachusetts said, “We are having a great time! Kevin is an awesome communicator and it has been a blessing. He does a great job of making Kingdom realities practical and measurable.”

Mary Leung, from Minnesota, has been learning how much God loves her and trying to show that love to others. She said, “So much more to learn and practice in this life journey. I highly recommend this class for anyone who desires to learn God’s truths and grow in his love.”

We’re so encouraged to hear how our community is digging deeper and growing in wisdom during this difficult season. We hope our content has helped you to flourish and inspired you to continue your learning journey. Thank you for making our classes possible and engaging wholeheartedly! We look forward to offering more opportunities in the future and will keep you posted when new classes are available. Until then, feel free to let us know what you’re nerding out on, or what courses you’d like to take!

 

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"I've been a WH podrishioner for several years now and I can't tell you how much it has changed my life. I came across these podcasts at a time when I was in an extremely unhealthy/abusive situation, and these teachings were immensely influential to me maintaining my faith and sanity. THANK YOU for showing me what a Jesus-looking God is like and what it means to follow Him. Many, many blessings to all of you!"

– Christina, from Oregon