Embracing Transformation

This year’s theme for Sunday mornings will challenge us to embrace the transformations within ourselves, within the church, and within the world at large. What can we learn from those in the past who have gone through similar transformations in their lives? Through embracing our transformations, we can serve God more fully and learn more about our faith and ourselves.

Raising a Child in Today’s World

Dr. Diana Bermudez
February 3-17

February 3:  How brain research has transformed our understanding of early childhood mental health, and the role of parents.

February 10:  The transformation of parenting from the traditional generic/authoritative style to a more responsive/nurturing style.

February 17:  The temper tantrum as an example of how parents can transform a challenging behavior into an opportunity to nurture the children’s social skills and protect them for coping with adversity.

Dr. Diana Bermudez is a psychotherapist specializing in early childhood. For over 18 years she has helped young children, parents, educators and administrators to enhance emotional health and decrease challenging behaviors; through her trainings, coaching and therapy (based on art, play and mindfulness). She is an art therapist, doctor in counseling, licensed counselor in Virginia, certified Pyramid Model trainer and coach, certified in Theraplay (L1), candidate for Infant Mental Health Endorsement in Virginia (L3), published research author, and instructor/presenter at graduate programs of counseling and art therapy. 

Westminster & Music

Dr. Ben Hutchens, Director of Music Ministries
February 24

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:15-17)

Strong music programs generally include three elements: planning and spontaneity; balance and variety; and quality and depth. Make plans to join our Director of Music Ministries, Dr. Benjamin Hutchens, as he explores ways in which the Westminster music program lives into these elements and seeks to transform our worship experience and mission at Westminster.

What History & Literature Reveal about American Nationalism

Dr. J. Gerald Kennedy
March 3

Between 1820 and 1850, the U.S. contended with a set of urgent problems: how to reconcile the ideal of liberty with the reality of racial slavery; how to square Christian belief with the removal of Native tribes from homelands coveted by white people; how to interpret the principle of “equality” vis a vis women, free people of color, and Catholic immigrants; how to invent a national identity and a robust nationalism in the face of conflict, demographic diversity, and geographical immensity. Underlying these conundrums—as we see in the literature of the era—was an unresolved contradiction about citizenship: were you an “American” because you pledged allegiance to the nation and its laws or because your ancestry connected you to the first colonists, those in the vanguard of “Anglo-Saxon Civilization?” And complicating it all was the righteous (but possibly self-serving) belief that God had destined Americans to be a new “Chosen People” and America to be a “city on a hill,” a nation exempted from the historical inevitability of rise and fall.

The author of Strange Nation and the Boyd Professor of English at Louisiana State University, Dr. J. Gerald Kennedy has a Ph.D. & Master’s from Duke University. He has published over 14 books on American Literature, short Fiction, literary nationalism and modernism and received countless awards and honors for his works on Edgar Allen Poe. He has been a Member of the Hemmingway Society, President of the Poe Studies Assn., and on various English advisory Boards. At Westminster, he is even better known as “Ben’s dad.” Adolescence is a time of many transitions. There’s so much happening mentally, emotionally, socially and physically as young people go from sixth grade through senior year of high school. In the midst of all these transitions, Westminster’s youth ministries is committed to allowing youth a space to feel accepted, where they can walk in their Christian faith, and empowered to share God’s love for the world. Come hear about the spiritual needs of Westminster youth and how we respond to those needs.

Lenten Series: Why Be A Christian?

Dr. Kathleen Staudt
March 10–April 7

What does it mean to “follow Jesus,” to “practice” Christian faith in an increasingly post-Christian culture?  What makes us uneasy about claiming Christian faith in the current climate? Is there a difference between being a good Christian and just trying to be a good person?  Does being a Christian mean we have to reject other religions?  This 5-week Lenten will explore these and other questions as a way of helping us name in new ways our sense of Christian identity in contemporary culture.

March 10 Christians in a Secular Culture: A spiritual path
March 17 Jesus: the Heart of Christianity
March 24 “People of the Book”:  Scripture and Christian Practices
March 31 Christian Spiritual Maturity
April 7 The Contemplative Path and the Way of the Cross

Dr. Staudt (Kathy) works as a teacher, poet and spiritual director at a number of institutions, including Virginia Theological Seminary and Wesley Theological Seminary. Kathy offers retreats and workshops at churches and retreat centers, including the annual Evelyn Underhill Day of Quiet. Her poetry, essays and reviews have appeared in Weavings, Christianity and Literature, Sewanee Theological Review, Anglican Theological Review, Ruminate and Spiritus.  She is the author of a scholarly study of the artist and poet David Jones, and she has published three books of poems: Annunciations: Poems out of Scripture; Waving Back: Poems of Mothering Life and a new volume entitled Good Places.

Trauma & The Old Testament

Dr. Paul Cho
April 28–May 12

Trauma lies at the heart of the Old Testament, and its many books offer a range of models for embracing potentially traumatic transformations. Two quite divergent models can be found in the book of Psalms and Job. The Psalter builds a temple in space and in time that envelopes and moves through trauma toward praise. The book of Job places trauma at the beginning and moves simultaneously into the dark reality defined by trauma and out of that darkness into a world after trauma, at once more free and mysterious than the world it attempts to leave behind. We will consider the impact of trauma on the formation of the Bible generally and the two particular responses in the Psalter and Job as models for resilience.

Dr. Paul K.-K. Cho holds a B.A. in comparative literature from Yale University, an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible from Harvard University. He serves as Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible at Wesley Theological Seminary. He is author of Myth, History, and Metaphor in the Hebrew Bible and is currently working on a book on The Dead Give Life: Willingness to Die in the Hebrew Bible.