Adult Faith Formation


Sunday school isn’t just for kids anymore.  At CCU, we strive to make sure that everyone has opportunities to learn and grow in faith. In our adult classes, book studies, bible studies and small groups, questions abound, faithfulness grows and disciples of all ages join in the journey of faith.

Most of our classes take place before our worship services, from 8:30-9:30 am, in the ‘Ohana room just across the breezeway from the kitchen. Here are some examples of recent adult classes (see our What’s New page for announcements about the latest study):

February 25-March 18, 2018 Journaling the Journey

journalThis four-part workshop with guided journaling by WCC Professor Desi Poteet will help us revisit and reframe the stories of our lives. Desi Poteet graduated from Punahou School and holds an MA in English, Creative Writing and an MFA in Professional Screenwriting. As an instructor at Windward Community College, her mission it to encourage her students to discover and honor their unique voices as storytellers. She’ll join CCU’s adult faith formation during Lent with the same mission. Please bring a journal.


January 28 – Feb 11, 2018 The Spiritual Tasks of the Last Season of Life


“But I’ve never been this age before!” We watch our children grow from one stage to the next throughout their childhood. We appreciate that they have particular developmental tasks to accomplish to grow cognitively, socially, and emotionally. Having worked with people for many years I have observed that like childhood we have a time of life called elderhood…and there are tasks to do! I’ll describe some of them I’ve observed in others and in myself in this series of classes, including:

1) Grieving: “Why am I grieving so much?”  This task is about accounting for multiple losses. At end of life, we are emotionally grief stricken with so much loss: homes, families, friends, privacy, capabilities, on and on and facing this is important work.

Read more about the spiritual tasks here.


December 3-17, 2017 and January 7, 2018 Look to the Stars!


It’s tough to be a citizen of the world just now. So we’re looking bigger: learning about some of the amazing and beautiful things happening in our universe. Join us as we look to the stars for hope and inspiration with the help of a few of our friends from the UH Institute for Astronomy.
Dec 3: Dr. Guenther Hasinger, Institute Director, will discuss black holes and the recent merging neutron star event.
Dec 10: Dr. Karen Meech will discuss the recent interstellar “visitor”
Dec 17: Dr. Paul Coleman will discuss Astronomy in the local context of Hawaii

Jan 7: Dr. Nader Haghighipour will discuss the potential for other habitable planets

Join one session or all four!


November 19, 2017 Special Gratitude Workshop

happy-thanksgivingWe’ll explore the meaning of gratitude and have an extended to time to reflect on and share our gratitude as we approach the Thanksgiving season. We’ll offer time and materials for journaling other creative documentation.





October 1-29, 2017: White Privilege and Racial Justice

RacialPrivilege FBTrayvon Martin. Eric Garner. Philando Castile. Ferguson. Charleston. Charlottesville. Everywhere we look these days, issues of race and the legacy of racism are erupting. But what does it all mean? And how can we contribute positively to building a more equitable society? Join us for a series of conversations on white privilege and racial justice. We’ll explore the concepts of racial privilege and implicit bias, discuss how these realities are lived out here in Hawai’i and elsewhere, and ask how we can work, individually and communally, toward racial justice. All are welcome to participate. Sundays, October 1-29, 8:30-9:30am

July 8-September 24, 2017: Summer Scripture Study

bible studyJoin us as we make our way through the gospel of Mark in a fun and free-wheeling discussion to which all can contribute. Along the way, we’ll review (or introduce!) various methods of scriptural inquiry, apply the historical critical method, and ask questions about narrative design, audience, translation and transmission history…all in service to finding out what this text might mean for our lives here and how. All are welcome to join and there’s no prior preparation required. Bibles are provided or you may bring your own. See you there!

April 30-May 14, 2017: Early Christianity

iconDr. Robert Littman of the University of Hawaii will lead us in an exploration of the earliest chapter in Christian history from an historical and archaeological perspective.





April 23, 2017: Special Presentation for Earth Sunday

leafJoin us for a special presentation by Buffy Cushman-Patz, School Leader of SEEQS–the School for Examining Essential Questions of Sustainability; a charter school founded in 2013.




March 12-April 9, 2017 Artistic Explorations for Lent

Join us on our journey through lent with a creative exploration of our personal visioning. Local artist, art therapist and art educator, Catherine Ventura, will engage us in a three-session series that will lead to the creation of our own vision book; “a powerful tool that can serve as an image of the future”.  She assures us that we don’t need to have any art experience or be good at art as the project will be accessible to everyone; all supplies will be provided.  Catherine will be with us on March 12, March 26,  April 2 and April 9.  On March 19 other “local artists” will share their perceptions about the connection between art and spirituality.


February 5-26, 2017 Christianity and Buddhism in Dialog

christianityandbuddhismDrawing on what we learned in our January series on intra- and interfaith dialog, we’ll explore the growing relationship between Christianity and Buddhism.  We’ll invite some local Buddhist leaders to meet with us and examine both the commonality in the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of the Buddha and the richness of our differences.



January 8-29, 2017 Prays Well with Others: Christians in Intra-and Inter-faith Dialog

interfaith2As we enter a new year and tensions around the world are on the rise, we hope you’ll join us for an exploration of the increasing need to understand – on a deeper level – the impact other faith traditions are having on our lives.  We’ll begin by discussing the various ways Christians can talk among themselves about interfaith concerns and move into considering how we can be in authentic dialog with those other faiths.  Bishop Randolph Sykes of the Inclusive Orthodox Church and president of The Interfaith Alliance Hawaii will meet with us and we’ll also look at a book published by Progressive Christianity about interfaith conversations.


November 27 through December 18, 2016

O Little Town of….Kailua??

We’re kicking off a fun and creative Advent adult education series on Sunday, November 27. We’re inviting folks to re-imagine new lyrics for their favorite Christmas carols, updating them with contemporary interpretations of our values and challenges and fresh perspectives on the transformative potential of Christmas. Join the discussion Sundays through December, 8:30-9:20 am in the ‘Ohana Room…and let John Heidel or Liz Leavitt know if you’d be interested to submit a re-written carol for us to consider and sing together!


August 21 through October 31, 2016

The World’s Religions

smithIn this eleven week series on the World’s religions as we explore the histories, beliefs and practices of our sister traditions and ask what we can learn from one another. Our companion to this course will be The World’s Religions by Huston Smith. Aug 21: What is a religion? Introduction to indigenous religions; Aug 28: Hinduism; Sept 4: Hinduism (cont’d); Sept 11: Buddhism; Sept 18: Guest Speaker Dr. Robert Littman (University of Hawai’i) on the history of Judaism; Sept 24: The Sects of Christianity; Oct 2: Islam; Oct 9: Islam (cont’d); Oct 16 & 23: Guest Speaker Dr. Ha’aheo Guanson on Hawaiian Spirituality; Oct:30 “Other traditions,” conclusions and questions.


April 24-June 12, 2016

Local Experts Series

passionJoin us as we hear for our Local Experts Series: folks connected to our congregation who will come and share with us about their passion and vocation, explore how their faith plays a role and invite us into discussion about how our church can connect!

April 24: Liz Leavitt will discuss her work with the Presbyterian Eco-Stewards and how young people are connecting faith and environmental stewardship.

May 1: Our friends from Unite Here Local 5 and workers from the Aston Waikiki will join us to give an update on the unionization campaign and the struggle for justice unfolding there.

May 8: Break for Mother’s Day.

May 15: Dr. Laurie Seaver will share with us about her work as a medical geneticist and how DNA may be the language of God.

May 22: Allie Pyan will discuss her fellowship with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and how public health is a ministry of social justice.

May 29: Andrew Torres will talk about his work NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and about how he and others are working to protect and steward God’s creatures.

June 5: Dr. Jim Brewbaker will offer his perspectives on GMOs (Genetically modified organisms) and how new advances in biology may be the key to feeding the world.

June 12: Kathleen will share with us about her work in Environmental Education and how she was called to the work of protecting God’s creation.

November 6: Rev. Lauren Buck-Medeiros will share with us about her sabbatical experience exploring sabbath and mindfulness in various settings cross the world.

November 13: Melody Heidel will introduce us to the world of industrial hemp and help us to understand why it may play a critical role in Hawaii’s future.

April 3-17, 2016

Report from the Parliament of World Religions

parliamentFor five days in October 2015, ten thousand people gathered in Salt Lake City for the Parliament of World Religions, an event-filled week aimed at cultivating harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and fostering their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world. Marian and John Heidel joined the program and will bring us a report on the parliament and its highlights. Led by John and Marian Heidel.

February 14-March 20 2016

Freedom Writers: Letters from Prison and the Longing to be Free

Long time

The season of Lent offers us a myriad of paradigms for considering our human predicament. The journey of repentance can be cast as a path between sin and redemption, between brokenness and wholeness and also between bondage and freedom. This year during Lent, we’ll explore this last possibility reflecting on the journey of faith as a journey to freedom. We’ll read the writings of various Christian luminaries whose voices come to us from inside a jail cell–Martin Luther’s King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, The Apostle Paul’s Prison Epistles, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, Nelson Mandela’s A Long Walk to Freedom–asking along the way what call we might have to minister to those who find themselves companions to these incarcerated authors. Readings will be copied and distributed in class. Led by John Heidel and Pastor Liz Leavitt

January 10-January 31 2016

The Cost of Discipleship: Exploring the Life and Times of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

bonhoefferPastor. Martyr. Prophet. Spy. Dietrich Bonhoeffer has captivated (and perplexed) generations of Christians. Claimed as a hero and guide by both conservative and progressive Christians, Bonhoeffer often defies our categorizations and our expectations. We’ll explore a bit about Bonhoeffer’s life and theology in this five week class, hoping to get to know him better. Led by Paul Haring and Pastor Liz Leavitt 



November 22-December 20, 2015

Adult Class: What Child is This? A Progressive Perspective on the Christmas Story

spongProphecies? Miracles? Immaculate Conception? What’s a progressive Christian to make of the stories that surround Jesus’ birth? Join John Heidel for an exploration of the Christmas narratives and join in imagining a fresh perspective on how we can prepare for Christ’s presence in our midst. New Suggested Reading: The Birth of Jesus by John Shelby Spong Class Facilitated by John Heidel 



September 20-October 25, 2015

Adult Class: Making Love: The Song of Songs and Christian Sexual Ethics in the 21st Century

love5Sex is everywhere: in the news, on TV, on our minds…and in our bibles. Amidst the confusing and often conflicting witness about embodiment and intimacy offered by scripture, one book stands out as a shameless affirmation of love and its physical expression: the Song of Songs. An erotic poem at the heart of our Old Testament, the Song is an ode to two young lovers entranced by the delights of embodiment, senuality and love. It is a blush-worthy and oft-ignored corner of our bible. But as recent debates have sought to narrow sexual ethics to a single issue, the time is ripe to take another look at the Song . It has guidance to offer us for developing a broader, deeper framework for thinking about sexuality…espeically as it is lived out by people of faith. It also opens the door to questions about intimacy with God and the building up of Christian community.
Join us for this six week series as we explore this biblical witness, ask questions of our tradition and discuss what a progressive, affirmative Christian sexual ethic for today might look like. Facilitated by Pastor Liz Leavitt. 



April 19-May 31, 2015

Adult Class: Prayer and Contemplative Spirituality

silentlandWhat is prayer? What is its purpose? Why do we pray and how? Do we use words? Or silence? Do we sit and listen? Or use our bodies? Join us for this seven week discussion on prayer and contemplative spirituality. We’ll explore the meaning of prayer, consider (and try out!) different prayer practices, and learn about the tradition of Christian contemplation with a specific focus on centering prayer. We’ll utilize Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation by Marin Laird as our guide, but will also draw from other sources. Facilitated by Pastor Liz Leavitt. 



February 15-March 29, 2015

Adult Class: Times They Are a’ Changin’ (Facilitated by Pastor Liz Leavitt)

christianityfortherestofusNone of us can deny that the face of the church is changing. As reports abound about the rise of the NONES (those who claim no religious affiliation) and as local churches struggle to engage younger believers, there is a lot of talk about what is happening to our faith and what it means for congregations like ours. But there is hope! And there are things to be said about how mainline churches are meeting the challenges of this season. Actually, there are reasons to believe that our church’s best days may be ahead of us. Join us for this study of current trends in church life. Our discussions will be loosely based on the book Christianity for the Rest of Us: How the Neighborhood Church is Transforming the Faith by Diana Butler Bass, but will also draw in insights from other thinkers. We’ll learn about how the changes we’re seeing in our own church are tied to broader changes in our culture. We’ll think together about the practices that characterize vibrant ministry in this era. And we’ll start to consider what role CCU might play in the future of our faith. Come and learn. Come and think. Come and imagine what might lie ahead. Facilitated by Pastor Liz Leavitt. 


January 4-February 1, 2015

Book Study: The Conversaion: A Revolationary Plan for End of Life Care by Angelo Volandes

conversationCome one, come all as we explore questions about end-of-life care and learn how we can live well into our last days. This class is open to and will be helpful for a cross-generational audience but especially those facing end-of-life decisions for themselves, those caring for aging parents and loved-ones, and those wanting to learn to discuss end-of-life wishes with spouses, families and friends. Robert Eubanks, of HMSA, will be joining us for the discussion. Read more at:  Facilitated by the Rev. John Heidel





October 5-November 16, 2014

Book Study: Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years by Diarmaid MacCulloch

christianityhistoryJoin us in this engaging and visually rich adult study class to learn about the History of Christianity as presented by Diarmaid MacCulloch, an Oxford University history professor and one of the leading historians of the Church, in the BBC documentary, “A History of Christianity”. Even an avid student of the history of Christianity will gain new knowledge and understanding of the Christian faith and practices and what it means to be a Christian from this documentary. Class sessions will cover: The First Christianity; Catholicism: The Unpredictable Rise of Rome; Orthodoxy: From Empire to Empire; The Reformation: The Individual Before God; Protestantism: The Evangelical Explosion; and God in the Dock. Faciliated by Paul Haring.