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Explorers Forum archive

Explorers Forum, Winter, 2023:

Pastor Laura moderates Explorers Forum for the month of January.

January 8

The lectionary draws on Matthew’s gospel (mostly) through Easter. We’ll explore what we know about the author and his initial audience, as we as themes and motifs that set this telling apart from the other three.

January 15

Now that we’ve had a few months to get to know each other, it’s probably time for an Ask Me Anything (Within Reason) session. You can submit questions in advance and/or drop last minute queries into a randomizer (bowl) I will draw from. The only rule is that I get to decide where the “within reason” line is.

January 22 No Explorers Forum this week.

Pastor Laura on vacation.

January 29

Leadership Challenges and Ministry Opportunities here on the corner of Rodney Square.

February 19

Judie Rodgers will moderate. How and why do we Stay Hopeful?  We will explore Jane Goodall’s 4 reasons to hope in these challenging times taken from her recent publication “Hope:  A Survival Guide for Trying Times.” How we can help will also be part of the discussion.

February 26 through Lent

During the six Sundays in Lent, different spiritual disciplines will be explored, focusing on one each week. Pastor Laura will lead the first session on FASTING. Following weeks cover PRAYING, LISTENING TO GOD, EMBRACING SIMPLICITY, UNPLUGGING, and MEDITATION.

Explorers Forum, Fall, 2022:


September 11:

Wilmington's Kitchen Collective

The Rev. Chelsea Spyres (Grace United Methodist Church and the Riverfront Church)

Chelea will give an overview of this new project providing work facilities for up-and-coming culinary entrepreneurs in our center city. First & Central is now an active partner in this project.

September 18:

Lay Reader Training

Anyone wishing to be (or become) a Lay Reader for Sunday services is requested to attend this training. Remember: we’re now livestreaming our services, so even experienced readers will want to get some new tips for working with the cameras!

October 2: Bill Hathaway gives an update on the Haiti Reforestation Project

October 16: Charlene Bradley and Walking the Labyrinth for Peace

October 23: Young Adult Volunteer program featuring Grace Fulda and The Rev. Hyeyoung Lee

October 30: Finance Committee Update with Ellen Roberts, Treasurer and Finance Committee Chair

November 6 & 13: Gene Thompson will speak about the philosopher and mystic Ken Wilber’s view on human evolution. How can we grow up to higher levels of consciousness?

Sundays in Advent (November-December): members and guests will lead discussion around the subjects of our Giving Tree.

Explorers Forum, Spring, 2022:

March 6 through April 10:

Lenten series: An Experiential Encounter with the Lord’s Prayer

Alison Halsey and Bill Hathaway will lead the discussion, with the exception of week 3 when Shannon Hansen will be the facilitator.

Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name... We continue saying the words we memorized as children and repeat every week in worship (albeit with more modern language), but do we really know what we are praying? Join us as we explore in a creative fashion the various petitions of the prayer. Our hope is that you will have a new view of this prayer which Jesus taught his disciples. Perhaps when you vocalize the words you’ll see it in such a fashion that it will remind you of his presence and his call upon your life.

April 24:

The Incarnation

Rev. Dr. Lyle J. Dykstra, retired PC(USA) pastor, will lead the discussion in this special one-day forum. Issues related to the incarnation have been a theme of Lyle’s preaching ministry throughout his life. On this second Sunday of Easter, we will have some discussion around the question: Before the crucifixion, did Jesus know he would rise from the dead?

May 1 through 23:

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together
For the first 4 Sundays in May, Sarah Ryan will facilitate an in-depth book discussion of The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee. (Click book cover at right for link to Amazon.) Participants will be asked to read 2–3 chapters per week and come ready to discuss them during Explorers Forum. Heather McGhee is an expert in economic and social policy who explores racism’s economic and social impacts on all people in the United States. Her 2020 TED talk, “Racism Has a Cost for Everyone” has been viewed millions of times.
“In this critical moment where we have fallen so far apart, The Sum of Us is a book we all need. This book provides an important and necessary piece of the equation—not just how racism hurts Black people and people of color, but white people too. The Sum of Us is a must-read for everyone who wants to understand how we got here, but more importantly, where we can go from here—and how we get there, together.”
—ALICIA GARZA, author of The Purpose of Power and cofounder of Black Lives Matter

Explorers Forum, Fall, 2021, through Winter, 2022:

The series begins at 9:30 a.m. on September 19 with a discussion of "Silver Linings." During the past 18 months, did you make any surprising discoveries or learn something new? Did you begin any practices, routines, etc., that you want to continue as we (hopefully) emerge from the pandemic? Is there anything you were relieved to leave by the wayside? You are invited to share your ideas and experiences from your journey, so that we may learn from each other as we all adapt to new ways of knowing, doing, and being.

September 26: Searching – an update from the Pastor Nominating Committee.

October 3: Welcoming the Refugee. Team Hope, led by Bill Getman, will assist the resettlement of an Afghan refugee family in Wilmington.

October 10: Personal Histories During LGBT History Month. Ellen Roberts conducts an interview with members Judy and Danielle.

October 17: Listening for God’s Call. Church member and new seminary graduate Sara Snowden shares her story and invites conversation about how each of us listens for, hears and responds to God’s call.

October 24: Show Me the Money. An update on First & Central’s finances, and the power of pledging. Ellen Roberts and Mark Olson lead the discussion.

October 31: For All the Saints. The Christian festival of All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, celebrates the lives of God’s saints and the spiritual connection between those in Heaven and on Earth. In Latin America, All Saints Day coincides with the cultural celebration of Día de los Muertos. Sue Getman leads us on an informative and participative journey.

November 7 and 14: Poetry and Healing. Good poetry promotes healing and celebrates healing already done. Elder Gene Thompson will introduce us to some poets you likely know and some who may be new to you, including Gene himself.

November 21: Before it’s Too Late. Bill Getman will lead this conversation about how we can prepare our loved ones to fulfill our wishes when we are no longer able to do so ourselves.

December 12 and 19: “Advent Affirmations” with Pastor Jim Kay. When we rise in the church to profess (or sing) our beliefs, what does the end-time language of Advent mean to us? What do we think about the coming of the next world, as it relates to our individual lives? Can poets and prophets help us imagine what we have yet to experience?

January 9: Arts & Spirit, Part One.  A short history of church music at First & Central Church. How have music traditions at F&C evolved over the years? Church music and the arts are very different now than they were in 1960! Led by Minister of Music David Schelat.

January 16: Arts & Spirit, Part Two.  Worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness. A discussion of beauty in worship, including visual, textual, and aural beauty. Led by Minister of Music David Schelat.

January 23: The Civil Rights Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Led by Don Morton, a faculty member at Wilmington Friends School.

Recordings from our "Live at 11" Zoom discussions.
Thanks to Margaret Anne Butterfield for compiling and editing the videos.

May, 2021

Clergy Conversations

Archives of this series are found in this YouTube playlist.

Five weeks of conversations with the retired clergy (and spouses) who make First & Central their worship home. This concludes the program year. We'll be back in fall!

April, 2021

Inner Workings of First & Central

Archives of this series are found in this YouTube playlist.

Three weeks dedicated to the finances of the church, and the Mission Study Report which is part of the pastoral transition process.

January-February, 2021

Racism in America—The History We Didn't Learn in School

Archives of this series are found in this YouTube playlist.

Presented by Sue Linderman, a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church.

Gratitude and Thanksgiving, November, 2020

Week 1: November 8

This series begins with a presentation by John Hanson about his sabbatical experience, the unexpected turns it took during a global pandemic, and how he turned challenges into positive outcomes. John teaches middle school social studies and history at Wilmington Friends School, and he is a friend of the F&C congregation.

Week 2: November 15

This series continues as The Rev. Shannon T. Hanson leads us through an interactive session:

“Are We There [Muted!] Yet? Gratitude and the Zooming Thanksgiving."

Week 3: November 22

This series concludes with a focus on "Graceful Gratitude." Our guest speaker, Marla Blunt-Carter, shares her journey through life, and how being grateful plays a role in her response to significant challenges.


The Importance of Begin Colorful: A Journey in Black & White - TEDxWilmington with Marla Blunt-Carter


"You've Been So Faithful" - Eddie Jones & the Phoenix Mass Choir

Democracy, Values, and the 2020 Election, October, 2020

Week 1: October 4

Sue and Bill Getman launch the series with a discussion of how political forces have worked (both in the past and in the present) to suppress minority voices.

Week 2: October 11

Sue and Bill Getman continue the discussion by focusing on "Protecting God's Creation: Climate Justice." They are joined by Shweta Arya, the outreach director for Delaware Interfaith Power and Light.

Week 3: October 18

Sue and Bill Getman continue the discussion by focusing on "Moral Health Policies in a Time of Pandemic." They are joined by Scott Siegel of ChristianaCare.

Week 4: October 25

Sue and Bill Getman continue the discussion by focusing on "Respecting the Dignity of LGBTQIA+ People." They are joined by Clarinda Choice and Liz Getman.

Helpful resources include:

The History Around the Word "Queer" on YouTube

The Human Rights Campaign

This Ted Talk on intersectionality

How to use gender-neutral language

Week 5: November 1

Sue and Bill Getman conclude the discussion by focusing on "Restorative and Racial Justice." They are joined by Rebecca Cotto, Director of Racial & Social Justice for YWCA Delaware.

Helpful resources include:

White Privilege and Racial Realities, September, 2020

Week 1: September 13

Jesse and Judie, an interracial couple, talk about their experiences with work, church, and family, over the decades of being a blended family.

(Note: we neglected to click "record" until after introductions were complete, about 5 minutes into discussion. The video begins after the moderator asked Jesse if he felt he had experienced racial discrimination in the workplace.)

Week 2: September 20

Noble and Patrick, an interracial gay couple, talk about their experiences with work, the police, family, and acceptance within the LGBTQ community and beyond.

Week 3: September 27

Glen and Rich talk about their decision to adopt biracial children, and how First & Central will play a part in their children's lives.

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