Learning in Community


February 22, 2023
A Note from Beth Palmer

Dear Friends,

I have always loved school. I can remember all my elementary school teachers’ names. I loved learning and being with my friends. I still remember the satisfaction I felt at coming up with an enormous list of homonyms in about third grade (words that sound the same but are spelled differently, remember?). I still have some of my artwork.

High school wasn’t my favorite, but I remember a great physics class (of all things).

I loved college! And seminary was even better (the masters degree you get when you want to work in a church or be a pastor)! Picture attending lectures on the context and meaning of the Bible (swoon) in a historic building at Yale Divinity School with world-class professors, then running out to the quad for a game of Ultimate Frisbee or to your a capella singing group’s rehearsal, the “Sacramental Winers”! I was finally one of the cool kids (though that’s not saying much among a bunch of church nerds).

Amazing how God works, that I end up in a job where I get to help people learn about God and the Bible and themselves!

One of the things that kept me sane during the pandemic was taking online classes.

A couple weeks ago I took another two-day Enneagram training online, and a few days after that I did a two-day “Somatic Abolitionism” class led by Resmaa Menakem, an anti-racism teacher and the author of My Grandmother’s Hands.

Both of these classes were amazing, and they also left me completely wrung out, because the learning wasn’t just about facts and concepts, it was heart and body, too.

In the Enneagram class, the best part was the breakout sessions, where I got to process what I was learning with a few other people (though the teaching was great, too!). The Inquiry Exercises we did were intense and excellent and challenging:

  • “Write a list of five things I wanted to do or be that my inner critic stopped me from doing or being, then monologue for five minutes about how that list makes me feel.”
  • “How has the story I tell about myself defined me? And what part of my narrative may no longer be useful?”

Good, hard stuff!

Deliberately Making Ourselves Uncomfortable!

Yes, this journey of exploring my inner world is rewarding, but it’s also suuuuper uncomfortable. But of course growth doesn’t usually happen inside my comfort zone (SIGH).

In the Somatic Abolitionism class, I was being educated about the history of racial trauma in Black, Brown, and Indigenous bodies, and I was being asked to explore my privilege as a white person. The focus was about how this shows up in our bodies, and how the way to start healing is to attend to what’s happening in our bodies.

It was a gut punch! And the facilitators helped me learn how to slow down and attend to that gut-punch feeling, and to explore the why behind my emotional and physical reactions. It was intense and excellent and challenging, too, and it made me really uncomfortable. And I’m completely glad I signed up.

Classes at church are mostly a whole lot different from school

(And they’re a lot less intense than these last two Zoom classes I took, don’t worry.)

Some of our classes at church are focused on head learning, and we’re also bringing in the intelligence that comes through our hearts and bodies, too — wisdom we’re often oblivious to or conditioned to dismiss. Balancing these helps us grow toward wholeness. At church we want to engage the whole person.

Lent Classes for Adults

So I want to encourage you to prayerfully consider signing up for a Lenten class this year, and maybe if you sign up for classes all the time, this time try one that’s a little different from your usual?

In-person options:

  • Explore history and context and The Risky Business of Holy Week with a DVD study led by Stephanie Harrell & me, on Sunday mornings at 10am, starting this Sunday…
  • Coloring Lent: Color and pray your way through the scripture texts of Lent with Lynn Weatherby, also at 10am on Sunday mornings, starting March 5… 
  • Pray the scriptures using the lectio divina sacred reading practice, Wednesdays at noon, with Judy Scott and Pastor Jon, starting March 1…
  • Walk the path of Jesus with a deep dive into the Beatitudes, 6:30pm on Wednesday evenings with Pastor April, starting March 1…

Online options on Zoom:

  • Dig into Matthew’s Holy Week Story through study and prayer with Ginny Fisher on Monday evenings, 7-8pm starting February 27 (next week)…
  • Engage the stories of Jesus with Stories for the Soul on Tuesday evenings with Lindsay Robinson (Godly Play for Adults), 7-8pm starting March 7…
  • And think about scripture in Rev. Brian Maguire’s Great Story Bible Study, our Fairmont Presbyterian Church partner, 7-8pm on Thursday evenings…

You’ll find all the details here, and here’s a direct link to the signup form if you already know which one you want to do.

Helping You Connect with God

Our whole job in Adult Discipleship at Hilliard UMC is to help you connect with God, yourself, and others through various learning opportunities and groups, and to help you take the next step in your faith journey, whatever that may look like.

Maybe school wasn’t your jam, but maybe a class at church will fill your bucket in a way that school didn’t? They’re like the best parts of school, only way better.

The Season of Lent is an invitation to look inward and to focus on God and your spiritual life.

Maybe one of these classes is the next right step out of your comfort zone?

Maybe it’ll help you grow in your faith?

Maybe you’ll meet someone who will become a new friend?

Maybe you’ll feel the no-matter-what love of God for you in a new way?

Maybe you’ll feel seen and understood in a new way?

I encourage you to prayerfully consider…

Ash Wednesday 2023

Also, Ash Wednesday worship is TODAY at 7am & 6:30pm in the Sanctuary (6:30pm also livestreams).

Wishing you a blessed Lent, friends.


Beth Palmer
Director of Adult Discipleship

P.S. A Request from our Friends in Pakistan

Hello Dear Friends,

[This is Carey Odum] writing to you on behalf of our friend Sohail. As you know Sohail operates a school in a remote village in Pakistan. Sohail started and built this school with his own money more than 20 years ago.  He can no longer fund it on his own. He needs our prayers and our financial support. Sohail would also ask for you to pass on this letter to others in your life. Maybe share with your church as well. 

A few of us created a non-profit called Children’s Development Mission. Our goal is to help raise prayer support and funds so Sohail and his  school can continue to provide its valuable mission of providing education and Christian Love to the  underprivileged children in this remote village in Pakistan. 

We also want to thank all of those already supporting Sohail and his school. You can give here.

Please read Sohail’s letter and pass it on:

The Bible