Summer Small Groups 2018

Tue, Jun 19, 2018

Sign up by July 1!
Email the group leader directly.

Once again, First Church Berkeley is offering Summer Small Groups: an exciting opportunity to learn, explore and play together! Eight different groups are available, covering a wide range of interests and providing opportunities to deepen our connections with God and with each other.

Times, locations and leaders for each group are listed in the descriptions below. It is important that each participant attend all (or most) of the sessions. To sign up for a group, contact the group leader directly via email listed in the description. Please sign up by July 1. For questions, contact Minister of Community Life Rachel Bauman ( or 510-848-3696).

First Church Reads!

Pam and Willem VandeKamp and Carolyn and Leonard Ash (
Join us for this four-session “summer” book-discussing small group! This group meets 10 am to 12 noon Second Saturday mornings beginning in August at Pam and Willem's home in Alameda and Leonard and Carolyn's home in Oakland. Sign up quickly for one of the six available slots!

CAUTION: Please sign up only if you can commit to reading all four books and if you would enjoy a dog (at Pam and Willem's) and a child (at Leonard and Carolyn's). Interactions with these beloved creatures highly likely.

Aug 11   For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History by Sarah Rose (Alameda)
Sept 8   The Far Away Brothers by Laura Markham (Oakland)
Oct 13   Being Mortal by Atul Gawande (Alameda)
Nov 17   Educated by Tara Westover (Oakland)

What Do We Believe and What Difference Does It Make?

Craig Pratt & Rachel Bauman (
Forming and sustaining a faith that makes a difference in your life is the subject of this small group discussion hosted by new(er) First Church member, Craig Pratt, and Pastor Rachel. We will use a handful of short writings to focus our attention on the “life of the spirit” in a  group sharing format. Participants will be encouraged to share inspirational pieces (articles, devotionals, podcasts, films etc) that have helped them navigate life’s turning points.

Sundays from 11:45 am – 1:15 pm: July 22, 29 and Aug 5, 26 • (the August dates are subject to change with input from the group) • Durant House

Journey Into Music

Betty Spamer (
Explore your inner world of creativeness and wisdom through music and the imagery it evokes. Each hour session begins with a focus (created from an overall theme), and follows with music listening time and drawing a mandala. (Artistic ability not required!)  This summer we will work with the theme of The Wildness of God. There will be opportunities to share your interpretation and insights from your experience, as you wish.

Wednesdays from 7–8 pm: Aug 8, Aug 15, Aug 22, Aug 29 • Loper Chapel

Park Picnic Fellowship

Sheryl Johnson ( & Kelly Colwell (
Join us for intergenerational fellowship and fun at San Pablo Park in South Berkeley. Group participants are invited to bring food to share potluck-style as well park toys and games (bubbles, sidewalk chalk, balls, Frisbees, etc). We’ll eat, talk, play and get to know each other as we play together on four Sundays this summer.

Sundays from 5–7 pm:  July 1, July 22, Aug 12, Sept 9 • San Pablo Park, South Berkeley

Socially Conscious Cinema and Conversation

Kara Korbel Chinula (, Kit Dunbar ( & Kristina McNaught (
So many issues to think about in today's world, and what better way to explore them than in the company of your thinking friends! Share the questions, ideas, discomfort, and inspiration of socially conscious documentaries with a group of people who also want to better understand current affairs. will be watching:

June 23   Dark Girls (2011): 71 min NR (not rated)
July 7   A Day Without a Mexican
July 21   The Mask You Live In (2016) 91 mins NR
Aug 4   Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home (2013) 75 mins NR
Aug 18   American Addict (2013) 90 mins NR

Saturdays, 6:30–9:30 pm • Pillar Room

Exploring Compassionate Communication

Louise Halsey & Jim Coates (
Join us as we explore the nonviolent communication teachings of Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD, as outlined in his book Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life. “NVC is founded on language and communication skills that strengthen our ability to remain human, even under trying circumstances,” explains Rosenberg. This group will begin to practice these skills with the intention of creating more connection - to ourselves, to others and to the world.  We’ll explore some key assumptions of NVC:  “all actions are attempts to meet needs” and “everyone’s needs matter.”

Thursdays, 6:45–8:45 pm, July 5, 19, Aug 16, 23 • Tower Room

Whines of the Bible

Molly and Peter Baskette (
From Adam kvetching to God about Eve to the Israelites missing their melons and leeks in their wilderness-wandering to the lion's share of the Book of Psalms, the Bible reads like an ode to whining. Is it OK to gripe to God? Judging by our forebears’ behavior: yes.

We'll explore a theological take on the art of Biblical complaint, examine some of our own complaints in beloved community, pray together, and do all this aided by a little crowdsourced wine tasting! Participants invited to bring either a bottle of wine or an app to share. Limit of 14 participants (kids are welcome, and don't count toward the total).

All sessions take place at Molly and Peter's home in Bay Farm Island, Alameda (behind Oakland Airport)

Wed, July 18, 6–8 pm   White wines and apps
Wed, Aug 15, 6–8 pm   Red wines and apps
Wed, Sept 5, 6–8 pm   Dessert wines and sweets

Pet Lover’s Companion

Rich Morrish (
Join with other animal-lovers in a small group facilitated by retired veterinarian Rich Morrish. We will get to know each other through sharing experiences we have had with the animals in our life—as children, while growing up, as parents, during retirement and what our relationship is to animals today. Do not bring your pet! Instead, bring memories, pictures and a willingness to share.

Saturdays, 9:30–10:30 am on Aug 4, 11, 18, 25 • Loper Chapel