First Week of Advent: Hope

November 28, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

Hope knows where it needs to go

By Jean Reinhold

Maybe you’ll fly to Orlando

to have the best dinner conversation

of your life. Maybe you’ll drive

to Erie just to say happy birthday,

noticing the blazing trees, wishing

they could be the gift you give.

Maybe you’ll answer the phone

in the middle of the night because

someone needs you, then get out

of bed to really listen. Curl yourself

onto the floor, the phone beading

her words into your bones.

God is revealed in details. Today,

it hit you, all of the movement,

the way God made them walk to the

holy land. Mary, Joseph, the wise men.

We must leave ourselves, slither

out of routine.  We must venture

outside of the known to know.

God is saying to us – find and follow

your star, there is a distance to travel

and it will not be easy. Life is mapped

out by your veins, hope knows where

it needs to go.  Walk your way to the edge,

knowing you’re sure to come home

a different way.

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Developing Your Super Powers:
Disrupting Interpersonal Racism Series – via Zoom!
Danielle Cosgrove, presenter
William Shaul, presenter
Robin Harbage, presenter
Lisa Vahey, host

October 18, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

It can be challenging to talk about racism, white supremacy, and even the news, yet we must build our skills to help us move toward equity and justice. How do we step into the challenge, away from “negative peace, which is the absence of tension, to a positive peace, which is the presence of justice”? (Dr. King) This session will focus on building new knowledge and working through role plays to help us practice deep listening skills. We will also have guest presenters to help us learn a structure to change the culture of conversations about race, finding alternatives to the polarized and judgmental nature of these exchanges that tie our politics and problem-solving into knots. This skill can lead to more productive conversations and joint action with people of all races. If you’ve attended this class in the past, you are welcome to participate in it again.

Sunday afternoons, 4:00-5:15 pm
November 6, 13, 20
SKIP 11/27 (Thanksgiving weekend –
a chance to “try out” what we learn!)
Dec 4 and 11

If you wish to join, please sign up here: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/59e87b.

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Strength to Love

September 22, 2022 Kurt Haas

Facilitators: Quentin Smith and Ron Zimmerman
Dates and Times: Sundays, September 11 through November 20, 9:15-10:15 AM
Format: Zoom only
Resource Text: Strength to Love, by Martin Luther King, Jr.
Class Description: The class will examine King’s philosophies and principles in resisting the evils of this world – poverty, racism, and war – through a study of his book Strength to Love, a collection of his sermons.
For a full description
or to sign up, click here.

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Study of the Book of Wisdom

September 22, 2022 Kurt Haas

Facilitators: Kathryn Eloff and Tom Zych
Dates and Times: Sundays, September 11 through November 20, 9:15-10:15 AM
Format: Hybrid (both in person at church and on Zoom)
Resource Text: Each week, the facilitators will send an email containing reflections and suggested readings
Class Description: This class continues our long tradition of Sunday morning Bible study. By popular demand, Kathryn and Tom will facilitate a follow-up to our Spring 2022 series, “How the Scriptures come to be THE Bible.” After our study of the books that did NOT become part of our Protestant canon, the focus of this class will be the Book of Wisdom as an example of late pre-Christian wisdom literature.

For a full description or to sign up, click here.

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Follow Me: Biblical Practices for Faithful Living

September 22, 2022 Kurt Haas

Facilitators: Pat Jenkins and Ann Williams
Dates and Time: Sundays, September 18 through December 18, 9:15-110:15 AM
Possibly also 4:00-5:15 PM, if there is enough interest
Format: Meeting by Zoom only.
Resource Texts: One Follow Me book for each month and your own Bible
September – Honoring God’s Diversity October – Practice Generosity
November – Make Peace December (Advent) – Go Tell
Class Description: The Follow Me classes are designed to help us to follow practices that Jesus taught for spiritual growth. As we learn about each practice, we will have ample opportunity to share our experiences, encourage each other, and build community.
For a full description or to sign up, click here.

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Probing the Parables

September 22, 2022 Kurt Haas

Facilitator: John Lentz
Dates and Times: Sundays, September 26 through December 5, 4:00-5:30 PM
Format: In person at church, with an option for Zoom participation of needed
Resource Text: Short Stories by Jesus, by Amy-Jill Levine, and your own Bible
Class Description: Using the book Short Stories by Jesus as a guide, we will explore Jesus’s most popular teaching parables, exposing their misinterpretations and making them lively and relevant for us.
For a full description, or to sign up, click here.

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Praying with Others Through the Challenges of Life

September 22, 2022 Kurt Haas

Facilitator: Leslie Clement
Dates and Times: Five days in the Fall, with dates and times to be determined by participants
Class Description: Do you long to deepen your prayer life in company with others who have the same longing? Leslie will be sharing a five-part series written by faculty, program directors, and leaders from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary community.
For a full description, or to express interest, click here.

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Racial Equity Book Club

September 22, 2022 Kurt Haas

Facilitator: Quentin Smith
Dates and Times: Many (not all) Saturday mornings from October through June, 10:30 AM to 12:00 Noon
Class Description: Join this book club to discuss amazing texts by Black women with fellow FHC and community members. We’ll read the books in advance and come together by Zoom, with discussion prompts and opportunities to reflect, too.
For a full list of the books to be discussed, and to express interest, click here.

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Classes and Groups for Fall 2022

August 31, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

The Ministry of Adult Spiritual Growth

For the Fall of 2022, the Ministry of Adult Spiritual Growth is pleased to announce the following classes.

We have tried to balance our offerings of classes in a variety of areas of Spiritual Growth:

We hope these classes will help people connect with each other, while building our community of faith.

About Sunday Morning Class times:

Please notice that the starting time has changed to 9:15 AM. This allows us to accommodate the many people who attend classes and have to be available for something related to our worship service at 10:30.

If you intend to participate in a Sunday morning class, please be ready to begin class promptly at 9:15 AM.

About Books for the Classes

All of the books used in the following classes, except for the Follow Me classes, are widely available through local public libraries and major online booksellers. Many are available in audio format.

Inexpensive, used copies can be purchased through used booksellers like AbeBooks.com, Biblio.com, or ThriftBooks.com.

Books for the Follow Me classes will be purchased by the Ministry of Adult Spiritual Growth. If you can, please donate $8 per book to Forest Hill Church, specifying that it is for books for a class. But if this expense would be difficult for you, please consider the book to be our gift to you.

Strength to Love

Study of the Book of Wisdom

Racial Equity Buddies

Follow Me: Biblical Practices for Faithful Living

Probing the Parables

Praying with others through the Challenges of Life

Racial Equity Book Club

Also coming this fall:

Intergenerational Gathering – An opportunity for adults and children to neet together, facilitated by Amy Wheatley and members of the Ministry of Family, Youth, and Children; dates to be announced

Immigration Task Force Forum – in November

Developing Your SuperPowers: Disrupting Interpersonal Racism Series – in November and December

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Exploring Racial Equity Buddies

August 30, 2022 Antoinette Richardson

Exploring Racial Equity Buddies

The racial equity buddies concept was introduced to Forest Hill Church (“FHC”) about four years ago, by a frequent visitor and friend of FHC, Professor Mark Joseph*.  Saturday morning, September 17, via ZOOM (10:30 to noon), Mark will lead us as we meet to continue this program. Those wishing to attend can respond to racialequitybuddies@fhcpresb.org or register here: https://fhc.breezechms.com/form/0a3ab6.

The Racial Equity Buddy Program Explained

I. A buddy is a trusted companion where difficult discussions on race can be had. To be successful, this must be a safe space where two people can be honest and explore their equity journey:

a) On the personal level of combatting racism, to better explore racial stereotypes and barriers that separate us, Dr. Joseph recommends partnering with someone of a different background, culture, or race. Our partner should be a person with whom we feel comfortable having a candid and frank discussion on these issues. 

b) The partners should talk openly and honestly, without judgment, about one another’s experiences and views regarding race and racism. The key is to listen to each other and examine the world from your partner’s viewpoint. This shared experience, if faithfully done, should bring about greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s views and perhaps, result in a change in how each thinks and acts. 

c) One’s racial equity buddy can be someone from the same race. In FHC, that is necessary due to the asymmetrical ratio of black and white members. 

d) A racial equity buddy is NOT a personal trainer for his or her partner. Rather, where the buddies are of different races or cultures, the conversations should reflect the individual views of the participants. No black person should attempt to speak for or to represent all people of color and no white person should presume to speak for or to represent all white people.

e) Buddies are not assigned but choose to partner with each other.  Help is available in making a match.  Having multiple buddies is okay and changing buddies after a while is normal and beneficial.  

II. The racial equity buddy concept is a method for enlarging and changing individual awareness and perspectives, which hopefully will lead to transforming those institutions they are a part of:

a) Our premise is that in our racialized society, we all urgently need to be on a personal journey to remove the injustice and inequity in the organizations and institutions that we have inherited, that we depend upon, that we support. That requires each of us to look with improved vision at our role and responsibility in perpetuating or deconstructing the racial injustice and inequity that is still embedded in the inherited organizations and institutions on which our way of life depends. Our goal is to get the members and participating friends of FHC on this journey and to begin it with a trusted buddy with a different background and perspective;

   b) It must be appreciated that each individual is at a different point in their racial equity journey. We must be cognizant and appreciative that some of us are just beginning and are not as far along as others in this journey.  However, if there is a willingness to begin such a journey, those individuals are welcome. With such a buddy, one must be even more sensitive to the principles that discussions are to be a safe place and nonjudgmental. Some of us will be walking and others running. One needs to learn about his/her buddy and act accordingly.                                             

Other important aspects of the racial equity buddies include consistency, an open and curious mind plus a willingness to engage in respectful dialogue.   Embarking on a racial equity journey requires a willingness to explore the history of non-white cultures in America.  Be prepared to embark on a wonderful, colorful discovery tour and learn about hidden historical figures and events.

The impetus for resuscitating this program was  Deborah Plummer’s book Some Of My Friends Are… The Daunting Challenges and Untapped Benefits of Cross-Racial Friendships, which we read and discussed in June. That book reminded us of the importance of cross-racial friendships and discussions and motivated many – both in and outside of FHC – to reimplement the racial equity buddy program.

As implied, the book club works in tandem with the racial equity buddies. Reading and discussing the material of the book club will fuel your racial equity work. The book club introduces various topics and explores non-white culture in a safe, non-judgemental atmosphere. 

Our first book discussion takes place Saturday morning, October 25, where we will discuss the NY times bestseller and winner of the Christian Book Award, Be The Bridge, Pursuing God’s Heart For Racial Reconciliation, by Latasha Morrison. The book club adheres to the core principles of the equity buddies program outlined above.


We must do more than pray. In the words of Fannie Lou Hamer,

“You can pray until you faint, but unless you get up and try to do something, God is not going to put it in your lap” Join us. Together we will pray and act!

*For those of you unfamiliar with Mark Joseph, here is a brief introduction. Mark Joseph, Ph.D. is the Leona Bevis/Marguerite Haynam Professor of Community Development at the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University. His research focus is mixed-income development as a strategy for promoting urban equity and inclusion. He is the co-author of the award-winning book Integrating the Inner City: The Promise and Perils of Mixed-Income Public Housing Transformation and co-editor of What Works to Promote Inclusive, Equitable Mixed-Income Communities. He is the Founding Director of the National Initiative on Mixed-Income Communities, which conducts research and consulting projects in cities across the US and Canada. He serves on the Editorial Advisory Boards of the journals Cityscape, Housing Policy Debate, Journal of Community Practice, and Journal of Race and Ethnicity in the City. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, a Master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, was a Post-Doctoral Scholar at the University of Chicago, and a Harlech Scholar at Oxford University.

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