These are some examples of past Adult Education topics: 

 Adult Education is meeting on Zoom, see our homepage for more info and current events.

“Christianity & Human Rights”

What are “human rights” and does it make sense to call human rights “Christian”? How are we to understand the relationship between the biblical value of justice for the oppressed and the modern-day movement for universal human rights? How have the American government and the Presbyterian Church (USA) engaged this movement? For those moved by Christian faith to support the human rights of all, what historical and theological support is available?

We’ll be exploring these questions during a two-week series on ‘Christianity & Human Rights,’ led by human rights professional Allyson McKinney Timm. The series will consider Christian influence on the advent of human rights, Christian theologian Nicholas Woltersoff’s theory of justice as respect for human rights, and the modern-day human rights movement expressed in international law. It will consider how our government and our denomination have responded to the human rights movement. Through this study, we seek to deepen our understanding of what it means to live as a Christian people called to “do justice” in today’s trying world. Allyson McKinney Timm is a theologically-trained human rights lawyer whose commitment to justice ministry has been inspired by her faith journey. She is the Founder and Director of Justice Revival, an ecumenical Christian community whose mission is to inspire, educate, and mobilize Christians to the biblical call to justice by standing in solidarity with the oppressed and defending the human rights of all. 


“Insights on Barnabas”

On May 20, Professor Michael Cosby will join us for “Insights on Barnabas.” Barnabas was a Cypriot Jew who was an influenceial leader in the early Christian movement. Barnabas was the mentor of the Apostle Paul, and he led the first missionary journey, accompanied by Paul and John Mark, going first to his homeland of Cyprus. Professor Cosby will summarize what he discovered while in Cyprus and details in his book, Creation of History: The Transformation of Barnabas from Peacemaker to Warrior Saint.

Previous classes are described below, with the most recent listed first. 


Recovering from Brokeness & Stitching Together New Lives”

  • February 4: Professional counselors Tory Joseph and Caroline Bernhardt-Lanier led a discussion and small groups that explored emotional and personal healing.
  • February 11: Pastor David Gray explored spiritual healing through lessons from the Bible.
  • February 18: Faith Community Nurse Joanie Friend led the group and explored aspects of physical healing.

“Making Lent Meaningful for Families and All Christians”

  • February 25: Lent can be a meaningful but also challenging season for Christians. It lacks the excitement of the lead-up to Christmas. Culturally, Lent brings to mind giving up things, eating fish on Fridays, and serious music. How do we make sense of this special season? How can we help families appreciate it? What are ways for parents and grandparents to encourage their families to find meaning from Lent as we prepare for Easter? Pastor David and Director of Christian Education Matt Nabinger led a disussion of making Lent meaningful for all, with ideas for hands-on activities and crafts for children to help the season come alive.


“Race and Faith: Would Jesus Take a Knee?”

Since the shooting of unarmed Michael Brown in the summer of 2014, the nation has been confronted with the consequences of unresolved racial divisions established at its founding. These divisions reached a dramatic crescendo in Charlottesville this summer where images of torch-bearing protestors re-created the worst of our dark history of race relations. Why are we still here over a century after the Civil War? How can people of faith tackle these long-seeded divisions and move to healing? Join us in Adult Ed as we strive to understand the divide and discuss the path forward.

  • January 14: Implicit bias – What It Is and Why It’s Important to Understanding Racism
  • January 21: Reverend Jimmie Hawkins from the Office of Public Witness on How the National Presbytery is Addressing the Issue
  • January 28: Director of Christian Education Matt Nabinger – “Jesus and Race”


“Being Church in a Secular Age”

There are thriving congregations, but the big picture is all too clear: more and more people are happy to live their lives without any connection to church. The church is much more than numbers, though. And the crisis of secularization runs deeper than numbers can measure. As deep as this crisis goes, it does not outrun the wily, persistent love of God for the world. Emory University’s Rev. Dr. Ted A. Smith led us in thinking about the sources of this situation, the nature of the challenges we face, and some faithful ways forward.

Dr. Smith works at the intersections of practical and political theology, tracing connections between everyday church life and basic questions of politics and culture. He is the author of two books, The New Measures: A Theological History of Democratic Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2007) and Weird John Brown: Divine Violence and the Limits of Ethics (Stanford University Press, 2014), and has written numerous essays for both scholarly and popular publications. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Louisville Institute and on the editorial boards of Political Theology and Practical Matters. 

  • November 5: Rev. Dr. Ted A. Smith lectured.
  • November 12: We continued to discuss the ideas that Dr. Smith presented in his lecture.


Justice – What Does It Mean?

Justice. We are all in favor of it, even Superman. But how do we define it? Justice is a rallying cry used today to support often-contradictory calls for action – deport all illegal immigrants? Welcome law-abiding ones? It can be, and is, applied to almost the entire range of human activity…social justice, environmental justice, economic justice, etc.  And as Christians, we believe in a just God demanding a just world. 

In October, Adult Education classes considered the complex and compelling concept of justice. First, we focused on the values that undergird the legal understanding and practice of justice. Next, we looked at the values that inform the Biblical concept of justice. The series concluded with a panel discussion of different perspectives on justice from members of the congregation.

  • October 8: Judge Kentaji Brown-Jackson, United States District Court, District of Columbia, “Legal Interpretation”
  • October 15: Pastor David Gray, “Biblical Concepts”
  • October 22: Pastor David Gray, “Sabbatical Reflections”
  • October 29: Panel Discussion, “Perspectives of Justice”


“Revisting Our Roots:
The Protestant Reformation, 500 Years Later”

On October 31,1517, an Augustinian monk named Martin Luther posted on the main door of the castle church in Wittenberg a set of 95 theses designed to serve as a basis for discussion of reform of the Roman Catholic Church. That event, which precipitated a crisis in the Catholic church and led eventually to the creation of a series of new “Protestant” communions, is commonly regarded today as the point of departure for the Protestant Reformation. 2017 is thus the 500th anniversary of the start of the Reformation. This series of talks led by Dr. R. Bruce Douglass, Director of the Reformed Institute of Metropolitan Washington, is designed to provide informed answers to some of the key questions that are commonly asked today about the Reformation.

  • September 10: The Difference Luther Made
  • September 17: The Catholic Response (the Jesuits, Council of Trent, etc.)
  • September 24: The Rise (and Splintering) of Protestant Christianity
  • October 1: Congregational Discussion


Moral Leadership

May 7 – Our Moral Leadership Series begins with Adam Rothman, Professor of History, Georgetown University, speaking on “Slavery, Abolition, Race, and Moral Leadership: Then and Now.” 

Dr. Rothman’s books, Beyond Freedom’s Reach: A Kidnapping in the Twilight of Slavery and Slave Country: American Expansion and the Origins of the Deep South, have received numerous awards.  Dr. Rothman is a member of Georgetown’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation, and is principal curator of the Georgetown Slavery Archive. 

One of our nation’s experts on slavery and on the slave experience in Georgetown and the D.C. area, Dr. Rothman will speak about the failings of moral leadership in the foundational history of race relations in America, and the potential for a different path for our country in the future.

Naming God’s Absence

April 9 – Tracy Rankin led a discussion on Environmental Stewardship Sunday.

April 23 – We viewed the documentary ‘Poverty, Inc.’ The West has positioned itself as the protagonist of development, giving rise to a vast multibillion-dollar poverty industry of for-profit aid contractors and massive NGOs – the business of doing good has never been better. Yet the results have been mixed and leaders in the developing world are calling for change. From TOMs Shoes to international adoptions, from solar panels to U.S. agricultural subsidies, Povery, Inc. challenges each of us to ask the tough question: Could I be part of the problem?

April 30 – We heard from Jean Johnson, Executive Director of World Mission Associates. With over 29 years of ministry experience, Jean serves as a missionary and coach as well as WMA’s Executive Director. She is the author of We Are Not the Hero: A Missionary’s Guide to Sharing Christ, Not a Culture of Dependency. Jean holds a B.A. in cross-cultural communications from North Central University, Minneapolis, MN, where she also taught as a missionary-in-residence from 2009-2012. 


The End of White Christian America

March 5: Lecture and Discussion with Robert P. Jones, Ph.D, M.Div. CEO, PRRI

“Quite possibly the most illuminating text for this election year.” —The New York Times Book Review.

Dr. Jones joined us for Adult Education to discuss his latest book, The End of White Christian America. This provocative book outlines the rise and decline of the influence of white Protestant Christians in the cultural fabric of our country.  Using findings from extensive PRRI survey reports, the book explores the origins of the anxiety many in the white Christian community feel in the face of a changing racial and cultural landscape in the United States.

Dr. Jones is a noted scholar of religion and public policy and the author of numerous peer-reviewed articles.  He is frequently featured on major national media outlets, discussing politics, religion and culture.  He holds a Ph.D. in religion from Emory University and a Masters in Divinity from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Full biographical details can be found at

Additional information on the book can be found at


On the Road to the Cross with the Psalms
with Dr. Denise Hopkins

March 19:  The Seasons of Faith 

March 26: The Power of Metaphor

April 2: Naming God’s Absence

Jesus in the Gospels quotes from the book of Psalms more than any other book of the Bible. Psalms can offer us imaginative metaphors to help name our diverse experiences, navigate the joys and pain of life, and connect us to God and one another in this preparatory season of Lent.

A native of upstate NY, Dr. Dombkowski Hopkins has studied twice at the Ecumenical Institute for Theological Studies on the West Bank. She has received several grants and awards, among them: a Wabash Center Project Grant, sponsored by the Lilly Endowment (2013), an Association of Theological Schools Research Grant (2007), and a Theological Education Renewal Award from the Yale Center for Faith and Culture (2006), all with her colleague, Michael Koppel. She also received an Exemplary Teaching Award (2011-12) from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church. She is the author of a recent book on Psalms 42 to 89 in the new Wisdom Commentary Series from Liturgical Press (forthcoming, 2017).


Strategic Vision for Bradley Hills:
Presentation and Open Discussion of the New Strategic Plan

We learned about our strategic vision: our new mission and vision, our goals and objectives, and how we propose to measure our progress over the next five years.

  • February 5: New Initiatives in the Strategic Vision
    Cathie Lutter, Sara Inati, and George Petrides led the discussion of how the data were used to generate the current plan. What did the Strategic Visioning Task Force develop as a result of all the data gathered? How can you be part of making it real? 

Refugee Resettlement

BHPC is working with our partners at the Bethesda Jewish Congregation and the Idara e Jaferia Mosque to sponsor a single refugee family and assist in their re-settlement in the Bethesda area. We are expecting a family in the near future. This Adult Education Series focused on refugee resettlement programs beginning at the federal level and moving to the very local level.

  • February 12: Cameron D. McGlothlin, Program Officer with the Refugee Admissions Office in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) at the U.S. Department of State discussed how our federal government supports refugee resettlement.
  • February 19th: “Addressing Refugee Needs – Beyond the Material” 
    Many refugees arrive here after suffering a strenuous and traumatic journey.  This week’s discussion focused on appreciating refugee emotional and mental health issues and needs, presented by Jennifer Isely, MSW, LGSW, Clinical Case Manager, TASSC International. Jennifer completed her Master’s of Social Work with a clinical concentration from Catholic University in June 2015. During the first year of her graduate program, Jennifer interned at TASSC, where she was incredibly inspired by the survivors she worked with. Before starting her graduate work, Jennifer spent over two years serving in the Peace Corps in Kyrgyzstan working with local women to develop a crisis center for survivors of domestic violence and bride kidnapping. Post-Peace Corps, Jennifer worked for a local nonprofit in the Washington, DC area supporting survivors of human trafficking, and has additional experience counseling survivors of sexual assault.
  • February 26th: “How Bradley Hills, Bethesda Jewish Congregation and the Idara e Jaferia Mosque are coordinating efforts to make ‘our family’ feel at home”
    We had a panel discussion with representatives of the three faith communities spearheading the effort to re-settle a refugee family in our area.  

January Adult Education:

  • January 15: David Gray led a study of the Book of Micah. One of Dr. King’s favorite passages of scripture was from Micah 6 – a powerful discussion and statement of what the Lord requires of us. Yet what is the deeper meaning of Micah? On Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Pastor David led a study of the famous calling from the book of Micah.
  • January 22: As the world gets increasingly divided, civil discourse gets increasingly nasty. This session on “Compassionate Listening in a Divided World” looked at the potential for compassionate listening to restore our sense of humanity. International scholar of listening behavior Andrew Wolvin, University of Maryland Professor of Communication and BHPC member, led this session on the potential for compassionate listening to restore our sense of humanity. 
  • January 29: Bethany Frick and Bonnie Holcomb led a discussion on “Vital Signs and Upholding What We Value at BHPC” based on what the Congregational Assessment Tool (the survey you took last spring) showed about Bradley Hills. We explored where we stand in relation to other churches on a variety of measures (hospitality, morale, conflict management, governance, spiritual vitality, engagement in education, worship and music). We also discussed what it is most important to uphold in our current practices.