Personal Flourishing


The heart of Personal Flourishing at Jewell's Center for Faith and Culture centers around Flourishing classes offered by Jewell faculty members and select local pastors that reflect on issues of faith and culture. Each class is unique, taught from the perspective of flourishing and faith from each faculty member’s discipline. Our course offerings include a focus on Faith as it relates to Literature, Science, Politics, the Arts, Music, Nursing, Finance and Biblical Studies. Our classes are taught in four-week sessions or during a one-day seminar format in our local partner congregations. Our partner congregations include Second Baptist Church in Liberty, Village Presbyterian in Prairie Village, Country Club Christian Church near the Plaza, and Holy Trinity Cathedral in Downtown Kansas City.

View our course descriptions below.

Class Registration


Personal Flourishing also includes participating in our robust and joyous community worship opportunities that the Center for Faith and Culture will sponsor throughout the year. These worship experiences will include an opening service at Second Baptist Church and our highly popular The City Come Again service at Holy Trinity Cathedral in December. All our worship services will feature the outstanding and award-winning William Jewell College Choir and Performing Arts students and faculty.

Calendar of Events

Spring 2023 Courses

  • Many Sacred Spaces: Encountering God Wherever We Are

    The Very Rev. Dr. Andrew C. Keyse, Dean, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral

    Where do we encounter God? For some people it is only in a place of worship, for others it is in nature. Buildings and physical structures, for some, can seem to hold God in by putting God in a box rather than acting as gateways to draw us closer to God. Others might think that the openness of nature doesn’t allow us to focus our thoughts, that they might get lost in all that space. It really is subjective. Why does it have to be one way or the other? Why can’t it be both? Or, even stranger, could it be found in a prison cell, hospital bed, or other form of containment where we can feel isolated and cut off from God and the world? The answer is yes; all of the above; anywhere…anywhere you can find a way to open yourself to the presence of God. 

    Our physical spaces have many names: churches, tabernacles, temples, mosques, basilicas, chapels, oratories, grottos, shrines, etc. Our non-physical spaces have names as well: woods, rivers, forests, lakes, streams, oceans, mountains, plains, valleys, etc. Even, perhaps, golf courses. All, whether physical or not, can be a sacred space if it is where we encounter God at any level. Sacred spaces can be formally set apart for a purpose, but also informally created by us to serve the same purpose, that is, being drawn closer to God.   

    There are definite differences here, but the end result can certainly be the same. In this course we will explore different ways to experience God in all types of Sacred spaces. We will have class discussions on topical readings as well as sharing our own experiences.   

    Possible Reading:

    • An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith (Barbara Brown Taylor) 
    • Seeing God Everywhere: Essays on Nature and the Sacred Edited (Barry McDonald)
    • Soul Feast: An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life (Marjorie J. Thompson)

    Wednesdays, Jan. 25, Feb. 1, 8, 15
    6:30-7:45 p.m.
    Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral
    415 W 13th St., Kansas City, MO 64105

    > Register

    Andrew Keyse portrait Andy Keyse is the 9th dean of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral and began his ministry there on Dec. 1, 2019. Prior to coming to Kansas City, Keyse served as the rector of Trinity Episcopal Church in Florence, Alabama (2007-2019), and as the associate rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Hinsdale, Illinois (2002-2007). He received his Master of Divinity in 2002 and a Doctor of Ministry (Liturgy) in 2018, both from the School of Theology, The University of the South, in Sewanee, Tennessee. Keyse was ordained both deacon and priest in the Diocese of Chicago in 2002. 

    He lives in Parkville with his wife, Beth. They have two children: Siras, who attends University of Kansas, and Mary Mullis, a student at Park Hill South High School.

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  • Beauty in the Beast – Artist as Outcast

    Dr. Ron Witzke, Professor Emeritus of Music, William Jewell College

    Participants will read and study Chaim Potok’s novel, “My Name is Asher Lev,” exploring important contemporary themes embedded within the narrative. Potok synthesizes topics in a course Ron teaches at William Jewell titled “Beauty and the Divine,” raising several provocative questions. For example: Is the artistic imagination a Divine gift? Must one acknowledge beauty exists to have a fulfilling life? Who decides what is beautiful? Purchasing and reading the book will enhance the experience of those present for discussion sessions. 

    Wednesdays, Jan. 25, Feb. 1, 8, 15  |  6:30-7:45 p.m.
    Village Presbyterian Church
    6641 Mission Rd., Prairie Village, KS 66208

    > Register

    Ron Witzke portrait Ron Witzke joined the music faculty of William Jewell College in 1984 and is now emeritus professor of Music, teaching part time. He holds a B.M.E. from Southern Nazarene University, and graduate degrees in music from the University of Texas at Austin (M.M.) and from Indiana University (D.M.A.). In 2018, he completed requirements for a Certificate in Theology, Arts and Culture from Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, California. 

    Witzke has enjoyed a local performance career with the Lyric Opera of Kansas City and has soloed in several world premier works with other organizations. Recently, he has turned his attention to writing. In February 2020, the Dallas/Ft. Worth choral ensemble, Verdigris, premiered Dust Bowl; the music written by his colleague at Jewell, Dr. Anthony Maglione. Witzke compiled the libretto using primary and secondary sources, then combined them with original poetry, fashioning it into a multimovement work. Dust Bowl will soon be recorded by Verdigris in the fall of 2022. Witzke has also written an opera libretto to be work-shopped by students in Jewell’s Artist Diploma Program, as well as several hymns for his home church (Village Presbyterian). He is currently leading a new initiative at Village, focusing on liturgical arts, hoping to inspire new collaboration and vision among church leaders and congregants.

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  • Fallacies, F(ph)ysikos and Faith

    Dr. Blane Baker, Professor of Physics, William Jewell College

    The blurring of boundaries between science, pseudoscience and religion is now commonplace in modern American society. While prevalent, these trends often lead to ill-informed decisions that result in both human and financial costs. In this course, we will define the parameters and boundaries associated with science and religion and then explore models for how to consider scientific and religious questions in everyday contexts. In addition, the impacts of pseudoscience will be discussed, along with possible reasons for why folks embrace fallacies and fiction while rejecting mainstream science. As we ponder some of these questions, we will examine how to think critically about current topics and how to engage in meaningful conversations.

    Tuesdays, Jan. 31, Feb. 7, 14, 21
    7-8:15 p.m.
    Country Club Christian Church
    6101 Ward Pkwy., Kansas City, MO 64113

    > Register

    Blane Baker portrait Blane Baker is a professor of physics at his alma mater, William Jewell College, where he returned to teach in 1999. Over his tenure, he has taught general physics, electronics and quantum mechanics, along with a popular sport science course for non-science majors. He is the author of two recent books, "Science in the Arena" and "Critical Thinking in the Physics Curriculum."

    Baker is an active contributor to the American Association of Physics Teachers AAPT and serves as president of Sigma Pi Sigma, the national physics honor society. His areas of interest include electronics, sustainable energy and materials science. He is a member of the American Physical Society APS, American Association of Physics Teachers AAPT, Society of Physics Students SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma. He also holds the Wallace A. Hilton Endowed Chair in Physics at William Jewell College.

    Baker is an avid runner and baseball fan and enjoys traveling with family and friends. He is also a member of Second Baptist Church in Liberty.

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  • Wonder: Renewing, Relational, and Perhaps Glimpse of God’s Character

    Dr. Patricia Schoenrade, Professor Emerita of Psychology, William Jewell College

    Wonder and awe have received a great deal of attention from researchers in psychology and related areas in the last decade. There is considerable evidence that wonder has impact well beyond the moment of the specific experience. We’ll consider some of the ways in which wonder is linked to spiritual life, its connection to nature, accomplishment and relationship, and impediments that can limit one’s opportunity for the renewal of wonder.  

    Thursdays, Feb. 2, 9, 16, 23
    6:30-7:45 p.m.
    Second Baptist Church
    300 E Kansas St., Liberty, MO 64068

    > Register

    Pat Schoenrade portrait Patricia Schoenrade is professor emerita of psychological science, having recently retired after 33 years at William Jewell. She directs a student intervention program serving citizens with chronic mental illness. Her areas of research include wonder, social psychology of religion, interpersonal relationships and awareness of mortality. She is a member of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and serves as an elder at Glenhaven Church in Kansas City.  She is a mother of three and grandmother of two, and a dog-mom of a pit bull mix. She loves reading work by C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien and Charles H. Spurgeon.

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  • The Unanswered Question: Music as a Means of Processing and Reflecting the Human Experience

    Dr. Ian Coleman, Professor of Music and Performing Arts Chair, William Jewell College

    In this course we will examine four pieces of music. Each of these is inspired by some aspect of religious thinking and spirituality. The music is sometimes hard to hear, but always engaging and thought provoking. Dealing with war, the meaning of life, death and racial tensions, each piece is a specific window into the mind of the composer and often causes us to wrestle with contemporary issues, the deep questions of life and what it means to be human.   

    Wednesdays, March 1, 8, 22, 29 (no class March 15)
    6:30-7:45 p.m.
    Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral
    415 W 13th St., Kansas City, MO 64105

    > Register

    Ian Coleman portrait Ian Coleman grew up in Bristol, England, and attended Counterslip Baptist Church until he left Bristol for college at the age of 18. The Baptist tradition in England in the 1980s was evangelical in nature and influenced by the house church movement that was prevalent in California at that time. Coleman remained active in the Baptist church in England until he left for graduate study in the United States. Most recently, Coleman found his way to the Episcopal church. His background and training in music has meant that he has worked as a church musician since his teenage years and has acquired an eclectic appreciation for many forms of worship music, from the ancient to the contemporary. His interest in music has led to a broader interest in the arts and, as a professor of music theory and composition at William Jewell College, he has taught courses in music and culture as well as music theory and music composition.

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  • Joy Even On Your Worst Days

    Rev. Tom Are, Jr., Senior Pastor, Village Presbyterian Church

    The most joyful writing in the New Testament is found in Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Philippians was written while Paul was in Caesar’s prison. How did Paul discover joy in such a difficult circumstance? It’s an important question because storms come to everyone. No one escapes suffering. Paul may not be the first writer of scripture you would want to take to lunch; he can be somewhat hard to take at times. But he has something to teach us about joy. Joy is both a gift and something that is pursued; it is a manifestation of courage and hope. In this course we will focus on Paul’s wisdom regarding the practice of joy.  

    Wednesdays, March 1, 8, 15, 22
    6:30-7:45 p.m.
    Village Presbyterian Church
    6641 Mission Rd., Prairie Village, KS 66208

    > Register

    Tom Are portrait Tom Are, Jr., is a preacher who loves a good story. He has been in ministry for 35 years, the last 18 of them as senior pastor of Village Presbyterian Church. He is a graduate of Presbyterian College, Union Presbyterian Seminary and Yale Divinity School. He is the author of "Joy Even On Your Worst Days: Wisdom from Philippians."

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  • Spiritual Flourishing: Lessons from Jesus and His Earliest Followers

    Dr. J. Bradley Chance, Professor Emeritus of Religion, William Jewell College

    For this course we will use the following as a working definition of spiritual flourishing: Spiritual flourishing is the process of seeking a rich and satisfying life through the pursuit of four inter-connected attributes and actions: personal authenticity, interpersonal relationships, social engagement, and wisdom. 

    In the Gospel of John, Jesus alludes to a “rich and satisfying life” when he says: 

    9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10: 9-10 [NRSV]). 

    “Abundantly” in the quotation above is a translation of the Greek adjective perissos. The adjective can also mean “more than sufficient” and “over and above.” Most English versions, like the NRSV, translate the word perissos using a variation of “abundant,” though a survey of all the English versions reveals various attempts to capture the richness of this Greek word. I believe the translation offered by the New Living Translation captures best all the nuances of the word perissos

    9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life (John 10:9-10 [NLT]).

    Course Outline 
    We refer above to four attributes and actions that contribute to a life of spiritual flourishing: the pursuit of personal authenticity, interpersonal relationships, social engagement, and wisdom. These paths of pursuit regularly intersect with each other, though we will give focused attention to each path in our four lessons. 

    Personal Authenticity— “To thine own self be true”; that’s how Shakespeare summed up “personal authenticity.” We will explore historical characters such as Peter and Paul and fictional characters from Jesus’ parables to see the importance of both candid self-appraisal and self-disclosure. Such candor is crucial for authentic personhood, which expresses itself in living openly, honestly, and lovingly. 

    Interpersonal Relationships—Life requires participating in numerous relationships with other people, which can be made even more challenging when one attempts to live openly, honestly, and lovingly. What does the intersection of personal authenticity and interpersonal relationships require? We will focus on features of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and other teachings of Jesus and the Apostle Paul to address this question. 

    Social Engagement—Interpersonal relationships take place under the larger canopy of social, cultural, and political influence and pressure, what the New Testament consistently refers to as “the Powers.” Jesus and his earliest followers did not embrace an ethic that left any needed transformation of the Powers to God alone. Rather, God’s people were to be instruments that engaged and even challenged the Powers. We will explore the radical implications of confessing Jesus as “Lord and Savior” in the context of the Roman world, Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem, and some of Paul’s teachings relating to social engagement. And we will ask ourselves about the contemporary relevance of these radical implications. 

    Wisdom—Wisdom is not simply knowledge, but practical insight about life that is based on both knowledge and the insight that comes from life’s experiences. Spiritual flourishing that yields a rich and satisfying life will require wisdom. We will explore two broad approaches to wisdom in the Bible: conventional and unconventional or subversive wisdom, giving focused attention to Jesus as a teacher of unconventional wisdom and some insights from unconventional, contemporary theology—insights on living that regularly challenge ordinary common sense, but can provide a pathway to a rich and satisfying life. 

    Thursdays, March 9, 16, 23, 30
    6:30-7:45 p.m.
    Second Baptist Church; Hosted at William Jewell College
    Pryor Learning Commons Room 112, Liberty, MO 64068

    > Register

    Brad Chance portrait Brad Chance graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in religion. From there he graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, then went on to receive his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Duke University. Chance taught at William Jewell from 1982-2021. 

    Chance was reared in the Baptist tradition was ordained by a Baptist church in Wake Forest, which was in association with the Southern Baptist Convention. After the joining the faculty at William Jewell, he joined Second Baptist Church, Liberty, where he was an active member for more than 20 years. In the later decades of the last century, the Southern Baptist and the Missouri Baptist Conventions moved increasingly toward fundamentalism. Around this time, he began to explore other traditions through which to express his faith. He eventually was confirmed in the Episcopal Church at Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty. He and his wife, Holly, recently moved to Independence and, since that time have renewed their exploration of faith communities.

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  • A Life Worth Living - Virtual Course

    Dr. Mike Graves, Scholar in Residence, Country Club Christian Church

    The phrase “the good life” has become cliché in our culture, printed on T-shirts and bumper stickers and usually suggesting financial prosperity, even if we all know wealth does not guarantee a good life. But what does a life worth living actually look like? How do people decide for themselves? In this interactive course, we will explore different approaches to these questions and more. After an introduction on week one, we’ll wrestle with three areas: self and others, pain and pleasure, and work and rest. Participants will read materials each week in preparation (usually about 30 minutes’ worth), then meet to ponder life’s deepest questions together. Although somewhat grounded in a Judeo-Christian perspective, the course looks more broadly at different philosophical perspectives, as well as that of poets, artists and other deep thinkers. 

    Tuesdays, April 11, 18, 25, May 2
    7-8:15 p.m.
    Virtual Course (link will be emailed after you register)

    > Register

    Mike Graves portrait Mike Graves is scholar-in-residence at Country Club Christian Church. He joined the staff after retiring from teaching on the faculty at Saint Paul School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary in Kansas City. Graves has preached and lectured across the country as well as internationally. He is ordained in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ tradition. His most recent book is "Table Talk: Rethinking Communion and Community."

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Courses offered in Fall 2022

  • Christianity and the Enneagram

    The Rev. Canon Ryan Wiksell, Priest Associate, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral

    The Enneagram of Personality Types is a modern synthesis of a number of ancient wisdom traditions, and can be identified as far back in history as the works of Pythagoras. Franciscan monk and author Richard Rohr traces the Enneagram system to roots in Christian mysticism, namely in the teachings of 4th-Century Desert Father Evagrius Ponticus. Whether or not its origins are truly Christian in nature, the Enneagram has since been utilized by many Christian teachers and leaders as a tool for deeper understanding into the brilliant diversity of the human psyche, and the individual and collaborative roles we are respectively designed to fulfill. 

    In this course, we will delve briefly into the historical, psychological and theological underpinnings of the Enneagram, and then more extensively into the practical insights it has to offer us as individuals. Toward that end, the course will include video presentations, workshop-style activities and breakout group discussion to provide as much interactivity as possible, and to help us learn not only to understand ourselves, but also how to bring our best selves to our relationship with God, and with others. 

    Potential Reading: 

    • The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective (Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert) 
    • The Enneagram for Spiritual Formation: How Knowing Ourselves Can Make Us More Like Jesus (AJ Sherrill)
    • The Honest Enneagram: Know Your Type, Own Your Challenges, Embrace Your Growth (Sarajane Case)
    • Bible Promises for the Enneagram. Dayspring Publishing 

    Ryan Wiksell portrait Ryan Wiksell comes to his current position at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral by way of a long and winding journey through Christianity. Born and raised in the Assemblies of God in Northeast Oklahoma, he went on to study music and theology at Evangel University, a Pentecostal liberal arts institution, after a brief encounter with Messianic Judaism. His music education led him to several positions in music and arts ministry in nearby Southern Baptist Churches. It was during this time that Wiksell met and married his wife, Christina, who went on to partner with him in planting an independent “coffeehouse church” in downtown Springfield, Missouri, where he served as pastor. After this effort came to a close, Ryan and Christina were confirmed into the Episcopal Church, and he soon found himself pursuing ordination at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. In 2021, he graduated with a Master in Divinity and accepted the call to return to his home diocese and the position as canon minister at the Cathedral where he currently serves. 

    Along with preaching, worship and community-building, Wiksell’s greatest passion is teaching. He has pursued this in many formats, including music composition, graphic design, speaking and writing, and has partnered with his father to self-publish a trilogy of biblical-historical novels. He and his wife currently live in the Quality Hill neighborhood of Kansas City with their twins, Asher and Anya, and their cat, Charlotte.

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  • Bridge Building Toward a Flourishing Life for All: Deepening Solidarity in the Quest for Social & Racial Justice

    Rev. Dr. Vernon Percy Howard, Jr., Pastor, St. Mark’s Church

    Does our faith in Jesus Christ have a role in the quest for social and racial justice? Can the church build bridges and deepen solidarity around crises such as poverty, violence and equal rights for all? And if so, how do we do it? These questions are explored while examining the theological lenses and Biblical interpretive conclusions which shape our Christian witness and guide us in attempting to partner with God in creating a flourishing life for all. The course aims are as follows:

    • Provide a framework helping participants to define, clarify, develop and analyze their own theological lenses 
    • Present a rubric that demonstrates the relationship between theological lenses, our engagements with the Word (scriptural study/proclamation/teaching), and our Christian witness  
    • Pursue potential opportunities for bridge building and solidarity across race, geography, identity and socio-economic strata 
    • Partner in strengthening our collective Christian witness for justice, peace and love 

    Vernon Howard portrait Vernon Howard is a Civil Rights leader, activist, lecturer and pastor ordained within the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., (1992) and has served within the pastoral ministry for thirty 30 years in various church settings throughout Christendom.

    A Kansas City native, Howard is a product of the Kansas City, Missouri, public schools, a graduate of William Jewell College, Central Baptist Theological Seminary, and earned the Doctor of Ministry degree from Virginia Union University within the Samuel D. Proctor School of Theology. He has taught as an adjunct lecturer at the University of Arizona and Central Baptist Theological Seminary, currently serving as adjunct instructor and Fellow within the Center for Faith and Culture at William Jewell College. 

    He is president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Greater Kansas City (SCLC-GKC), a legacy Civil Rights organization started by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the mid-20th century civil rights era. He also serves as the senior pastor of the Historic St. Mark Church in Kansas City.

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  • Power, Tyranny and the Biblical Response

    Dr. Brendon Benz, Associate Professor of History and Religion, William Jewell College

    Following the outline of a course that Dr. Benz teaches at William Jewell College, participants will analyze the nature of social power and its relationship to tyranny. We will then evaluate the biblical approach toward combatting tyranny through a close reading of Genesis 1-3 guided by the insights of such biblical scholars and theologians as Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Buber, and Jürgen Moltmann. This will set the stage for us to consider how we might implement the message of Genesis 1-3 in our daily lives.


    Brendon Benz portrait Brendon Benz is an associate professor of history and religion and theologian-in-residence with the Center for Faith and Culture. Benz is from Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he was raised in the Lutheran Church and attended Lutheran school from kindergarten through 12th grade. After receiving his B.A. in Sociology from Taylor University, Benz traveled to Queens, New York, to teach history at Martin Luther High School. After several years in the classroom, he went on to receive an M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary, where he received the Goethe Institute Fellowship and the Henry Snyder Gehman Award in Old Testament. In 2013, he was awarded his Ph.D. in the Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Studies from the Department of Hebrew & Judaic Studies at New York University. While serving as an instructor there, he was granted the NYU College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award. Benz has published several pieces, including his first book, "The Land Before the Kingdom of Israel." He is currently working on a second book of the Greek philosophical tradition on the interpretation of the imago Dei in Genesis 1. Above all of these things, Benz is most passionate about teaching the message, history and context of the Bible in ways that contribute to the growth and flourishing of individuals and communities of faith.

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  • Good Country People: The Importance of Religion in Southern Gothic Literature

    Rev. Charles Smith, Associate Pastor of Student Ministries, Second Baptist Church

    Religion played a key role in the culture of the American South in the early to mid-part of the 20th century. It is a central theme of Southern Gothic fiction of that period. This course will examine the ways Southern Gothic writers employ facets of religion as principal motifs in their narratives.

    We will study a diverse selection of writings from critically acclaimed authors in this genre, exploring the ways in which religious and spiritual experiences in the text influence character development, drive the narrative of the story, and expand the reader’s view of cultural settings. Through the analysis of this important aspect of Southern culture, we will gain a better understanding of what life in the South was like in this time period. 

    Charles Smith portrait Charles Smith is associate pastor of student ministries at Second Baptist Church in Liberty. He is a graduate of William Jewell College with a B.A. in Literature and Wake Forest University with a Master of Divinity. His primary research interest is the intersection of religion and literature, focusing his master’s thesis on the function of the imagination, developed by reading works of fiction, especially fantasy literature, in experiencing key aspects of the Christian faith such as baptism, communion and the formation of sacred space. 

    Smith enjoys all disc-related sports, game nights with friends, “relaxing” with his 10-year-old son, Finn, and 5-year-old twins, Asher and Eleanor, and finding academic excuses to read Harry Potter.

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  • A Life Worth Living

    Rev. Dr. Mike Graves, Scholar in Residence, Country Club Christian Church

    The phrase “the good life” has become cliché in our culture, printed on T-shirts and bumper stickers and usually suggesting financial prosperity, even if we all know wealth does not guarantee a good life. But what does a life worth living actually look like? How do people decide for themselves? In this interactive course, we will explore different approaches to these questions and more. After an introduction on week one, we will wrestle with three areas: self and others, pain and pleasure, and work and rest. Participants will read materials each week in preparation (usually about 30 minutes’ worth), then meet to ponder life’s deepest questions together. Although somewhat grounded in a Judeo-Christian perspective, the course looks more broadly at different philosophical perspectives, as well as that of poets, artists and other deep thinkers. 

    Mike Graves portrait Mike Graves is scholar-in-residence at Country Club Christian Church. He joined the staff after retiring from teaching on the faculty at Saint Paul School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary in Kansas City. Graves has preached and lectured across the country as well as internationally. He is ordained in the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ tradition. His most recent book is "Table Talk: Rethinking Communion and Community."

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  • What Is So Special About Earth?

    Dr. Maggie Sherer, Professor of Physics and Chair, William Jewell College

    Over the past two decades, thousands of planets outside our Solar System have been discovered, many of which could have the right ingredients for life. With these discoveries, the question arises, “Is the Earth special?” We will look at some of these newly discovered planets, how we determine if they are habitable, and how they compare to our own Earth. We will discuss what makes our own planet habitable and the unique features that allow life to flourish, as well as our responsibility to this life-filled planet.  

    Maggie Sherer photo Maggie Sherer has been a physics and astronomy professor at William Jewell College since 2004. Her favorite courses to teach are those for non-science majors, including courses in astrobiology, astronomy, and energy and society. She received her B.S. from Emory & Henry College in Virginia and her Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. Her research areas include variable stars, extra-solar planets and astronomy education. A life-long Methodist, including many summers working in the camping ministry, she has always been inspired by nature and creation and fascinated by the intersection between faith and science.

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  • Pneumatology 101: A Guide to the Holy Spirit

    Rev. Dr. Rodger Nishioka, Associate Pastor and Director of Adult Formation, Village Presbyterian Church

    According to the Acts of the Apostles, when Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, he told them to wait together in Jerusalem to be “baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5). The Holy Spirit then comes upon the disciples and the church is born. So who is the Holy Spirit? How is the Holy Spirit the third person in the Trinity? What does the Holy Spirit do? Participants in this course will explore all these questions and more. From the Pentecostal tradition of speaking in tongues and being “seized by the Spirit” to the experience of the Holy Spirit as comforter in times of crisis, we will come to understand the work of the Spirit in our midst animating our lives and calling us to new ways of faith and faithfulness. 

    Rodger Nishioka portraitRodger Nishioka serves as the senior associate pastor and director of adult faith formation at Village Presbyterian Church. Prior to his coming to Village Church, he served for 15 years on the faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary as the Benton Family Professor of Christian Education. He received his undergraduate degree from Seattle Pacific University, a master’s degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and a Ph.D. in social and cultural foundations of education from Georgia State University. He is the son of a retired Presbyterian pastor and is evidence that you can be a pastor’s kid and still love Jesus.

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