Summer Small Groups 2020

Once again, First Church Berkeley is offering summer small groups: opportunities to learn, explore, and be together virtually during these challenging times. Six different groups are available, covering a range of interests and providing opportunities to deepen our connections with God and each other. To sign up for a group, contact the group leader directly via the email listed in the description. Please sign up soon. Space is limited in some groups. For any questions, contact Louise Halsey (

Summer/Fall Book Club, led by Pam & Willem VandeKamp (
Do you ever come to the end of a book and long to talk about it with someone? Then this is the group for you! One book will be discussed at each meeting. We will read the following: The Library Book, by Susan OrleanLila, by Marilynne Robinson; Tightrope: Americans Rearching for Hope, by Nicholas Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn; The Day the Sun died, by Yan Lianke. Depending on development of the shelter in place order, we will meet via Zoom or in person at the homes of the participants. Space is limited to 10 participants.
The second Saturday of the month, Aug. through Nov., 10 am to 12 noon: Aug. 8, Sept. 12, Oct. 10, Nov. 14 – on Zoom

Discover Your Inner Musician, led by Derek Tam (
Join Derek towards discovering your inner musician! To sing is to pray twice, and whether you’re a shower singer or a committed chorister, these 30-minute sessions on Thursday nights in July and August will help you develop your skills and confidence no matter your skill level. Email Derek to indicate which Zoom session(s) you’d like to join.
Learn the Basics (Thurs., July 2, 6:30 to 7 pm): Learn the basics of reading music notation and translating it into singing!

Your Voice, Your Body (Thurs., July 9, 7 to 7:30 pm): Gentle exercises for your body and voice to develop strength, stamina and flexibility in singing. If you can’t commit to a sustained course but want drop in, this is the best group to do so.

Intermediate Sight-Reading (Thurs., July 16, 7:30 to 8 pm): Improve your sight-reading skills. Suitable for people who can already read music notation but want to deepen their ability to translate sheet music into song.

Summer INTERGENERATIONAL Book Group, led by Lauren Jewett ( and Joyce & Scott Hedges (
Calling all Millenials and Boomers (and the generations in between that never get as much attention 😢)! Join us for a virtual study of Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward” as we explore and reflect on Rohr’s two phases of life. The first, which is essential as we grow from childhood to adolescence to adulthood, is where we learn the rules and our place in society and the focus is on achievement and success. The second phase is where we dig deeper into our truest selves and dismantle the false personas that we typically carry in the earlier phase of life, which is not easy work and usually requires necessary stumbling and being led to places where we wouldn’t choose to go. However the journey is its ultimate reward because we are given the gift of learning who we really are along with the humility and wisdom that goes with it. This exploration is particularly timely during this period of global crisis.
Tuesdays evenings, 7 to 9 pm: July 28, Aug. 11 & Aug. 25 –  on Zoom

Socially Conscious Cinema & Conversation, led by Kara Korbel-Chinula ( & Kit Dunbar (
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! Watch the films on your own and then join us for conversation to share questions, ideas, discomfort, and inspiration with those who also want to better understand our world.
Four Conversations – two in July & two in Aug. Contact Kara or Kit for more information.

Journey Into Music, led by Betty Spamer (
Explore your inner world of creativeness and wisdom through music. Listening to music can evoke imagery (in a direct, holistic way) that offers insight into our essential and spiritual selves. Each one-hour session begins with a focus (created from an overall theme), and follows with music listening and drawing a mandala. (Artistic ability not required.) There will be opportunities to share your interpretation and insights from your experience, as you wish. The small group experience will be different online. Before journeying together, Betty will communicate via email about creating an intentional sacred space in your home, the format of Journey Into Music and more about music imagery.
Space is limited to 6 to 8 participants.
Sundays, 7-8 pm: Aug. 2, 9, 16, 23 – on Zoom

Navigating Difficult Conversations using Compassionate Communication, led by Louise Halsey & Jim Coates (
After an initial grounding in the tools and consciousness of the nonviolent communication teachings of Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD (“Nonviolent Communication: a Language of Life”), this group will explore & practice navigating difficult conversations using these tools.
Tuesdays, 7 to 9 pm, July 14, 21, 28 & Aug. 4, 18, 25on Zoom

Dr. K-Z’s Latin Over Lunch, led by Kate Lucchese (

Latin was one of the first previously forbidden fruits enjoyed by formerly enslaved Americans. Why? It is the gateway to Law, Oratory, Medicine, and Botany, and is the seed-bed of Poetry. It is also the entry-language to Spanish, French, Italian…and grammar! If you are aged 12 and up, not put off by words like semantics and syntax (discussed right off) or adulterer or chamber pot (both in the Chapter 2 vocabulary), and don’t mind doing homework (answers given in the back of the book, but NO TESTS), then join in the crazy fun! Backed by a classical languages degree from Cal and 30 years of experience joshing kids into learning Latin, I love teaching from the hilarious-yet-excellent book by Alexander and Nicholas Humez, Latin for People/Latina Pro Popolo, always in print on Amazon (but let me know if it is back-ordered too long, and I will photocopy and mail you a bootleg copy to tide you over). In 7 x 3-to-4-hour sessions held over the lunch hour two days a week (with a single kick-off lesson, the first week) throughout July, we’ll cover the basics of Latin almost faster than you can say “Gloria in excelsis Deo!

Wednesday July 8, 11 am to 2 pm, then Tuesdays & Wednesdays 11 am to 2 pm: July 14 & 15, July 21 & 22, July 28 & 29 – on Zoom