Summer Small Groups

Tue, Jun 13, 2017

Sign up by June 18!

This summer, First Church Berkeley is offering exciting opportunities to learn, explore and play together: summer small groups!

Nine different groups are planned, 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 June 18. For questions, contact Minister of Community Life, Rachel Bauman ( or 510-848-3696).

Altars in the World  

Emma S. & Sonny Graves (
The world is rich with the altars of God; it’s impossible to move through life without bumping into them! In this small group we will alternate between exploring together some places where such altars may be found (e.g., Presidio, Tilden, Berkeley Marina, Lafayette Reservoir) with sharing together about out experiences.

Tuesdays from 6–8 pm: June 27, July 25, August 29
Sundays from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm: July 9, August 13

Bread Baking  

Bree Elle Gardner (
Baking bread can be a wonderful, meditative process, and it's a great reminder of the power of patience and practice. Plus, kneading is a great way to work out your aggression (and biceps)! This small group will offer hands-on instructions and guidance for making bread, both the easy and quick kind (for sandwiches) and the more challenging kinds (like my communion bread!)—we’ll bake a new kind each week. Utensils and ingredients will be provided, but folks with kitchen scales are encouraged to bring them; they help a lot! Space is limited to 4 participants.

Saturdays from 11 am – 1 pm • July 1, 15, 29 & August 12 at Bree’s home in Oakland.

First Church Reads!    

Carolyn and Leonard Ash  (
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! We will read four books this summer and meet at Carolyn and Leonard Ash’s home in Montclair to share thoughts, feelings, ideas and questions provoked by each author.

Saturdays from 10 am – 12 noon. One book will be discussed at each meeting.
July 15   A People’s History of Chicago by Kevin Coval
August 5   The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the 14th Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu
August 19   Becoming Ms. Burton: From Prison to Recovery to Leading the Fight for Incarcerated Women by Cari Lynn and Susan Burton
Sept 30   The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell by W. Kamau Bell

Introduction to Nonviolent Communication (NVC)

(Note: this group is currently full)

Louise Halsey & Jim Coates (
Join us as we explore the 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 enhancing the quality of life within ourselves and with others. We’ll explore a key assumption of NVC that “all actions are attempts to meet needs.”

Sundays from 7-8:30 pm • July 2, 16 and August 20, 27 at the El Cerrito home of Louise & Jim.

Journey Into Music     

Betty Spamer (
Explore your spiritual self through music and the imagery it evokes. Each session begins with a theme, such as “What Stirs Wonder in Your Life?” and follows with music listening time and drawing a mandala. (Artistic ability not required!)  There will be opportunities to share your interpretation and insights from your experience, as you wish.
Every Wednesday in August (9, 16, 23, 30) • 7–8:30 pm • 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 Saturdays this summer.

Saturdays from 4–7 pm: July 1, August 5 & August 26, September 9

Salsa Dancing  

Kristina McNaught (

Let’s dance! This small group will meet at the Berkeley home of Kristina McNaught for an hour of fellowship then walk (4 blocks) to La Pena Cultural Center for free one-hour salsa dance lessons. No experience necessary.

Monday evenings • June 26, July 31, August 28 • home of Kristina McNaught/La Pena Cultural Center • 7 pm fellowship; 8–9 pm dance lessons (free); optional 9 pm – midnight for live music ($5 cover fee).

Sense of the Sacred    

Ann Jensen (
Have you been transported into an indescribable but palpable sense of the sacred on hearing a piece of music, viewing a particular piece of art, or experiencing a scene of exquisite natural beauty? This small group will share such experiences with each other and the art that instigates them. Together we will hone our ability to recognize the sacred and to relish the healing power of beauty. Space is limited to 8 participants.

Wednesdays in July (5, 12, 19, 26) • 10–11:30 am • Ann Jensen’s North Berkeley home

Socially Conscious Cinema and Conversation  

Kara Korbel Chinula & Kerrie Hein (
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:
Camp X ray (2014)
Living on 1 Dollar (2013)
Half the Sky (2012)
Frontline: Growing up Trans (2015)
YHomeless (2016)

Saturdays, 6:30 – 9:30 pm • June 24, July 8, July 22, August 5 & August 19 • Loper Chapel