Contemporary Christian Life Issues (CCLI)


Sunday mornings, 10:50–11:50am
Meeting September 17 – December 10 (not meeting November 26)
Chapel off the Rotunda

The Contemporary Christian Life Issues class explores current and relevant faith and justice issues affecting our community, nation, and world. The goal of each session is to “think Christianly” about each topic, so that we can live well in God’s world. Speakers are often experts in their field.  For more information or to register for the link to view this class online, contact Lori Baker  or 796-3361.

Fall 2023 Speaker Schedule:

September 17:  What’s at Stake in the Russian-Ukrainian War and How are Christians Involved?
Dr. John A. Bernbaum, President of BEAM (Business and Education as Mission), Inc., a private foundation that supports educational programs in Russia, Ukraine, and Eurasia

The Russian-Ukrainian war has been described as a ‘pivotal moment in contemporary history.’ This class will briefly offer an update on developments on the battlefield and the strategy of the Ukrainians. We will then focus on the home front in both countries, including the role of religious communities and their involvement in the war. We will also reflect on how people of faith are dealing with this war as faithful disciples of Jesus.

September 24: Adventures Towards Diversity
Rev. Reggie Smith, Director of Office of Diversity, Christian Reformed Church

Many of us would like to think racial diversity doesn’t require much effort. However, diversity challenges every aspect of the church’s identity, mission, and adaptability to change. Dr. Smith has been on the diversity journey for almost four decades as a pastor, community leader, husband, and father. Let’s have a conversation about racial diversity.

October 1: God Incidents: Real Life Stories to Strengthen and Restore Your Faith
Rev. Dr. Glenn M. Wagner, author and retired pastor with a rich history of service in many communities and in churches God has placed him in

This class, with the same title as Glenn’s book, will be of interest for people who are losing faith, have lost faith, or wish to help others who have lost faith in God. According to the Pew Research Center, 3 in every 10 persons in the US identify as “Nones” indicating no belief in God or no participation in organized religion. Most of us know some “nones” personally. They are neighbors, colleagues at work, former members of our congregation, and even members of our own families. Glenn will share briefly about some of his life-shaping experiences with persons who consider themselves “nones.” He will offer some ideas from his book about ways that he believes God is made known to people of faith and conclude by sharing what he has learned from 40+ years of ministry that can be helpful strategies for helping others to affirm and grow in their Christian faith.

October 8: How My Mind Has Changed
(Just a word of explanation: this is a title that borrows from a series of articles – that then launched a series of books – back in the 60s and 70s from famous theologians. Some folks might know about that series and will recognize the title.)
Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, President Emerita, Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta;former Vice President of Academic Affairs, Western Theological Seminary

Many of us would describe our life experiences as a series of stages, beginning in infancy and progressing throughout adulthood. Similarly, many of us would describe our faith as a series of stages. We think differently from when we were children; we believe differently as well. This presentation will explore what that looks like from the point of view of the speaker and then will give space for others to reflect on their own faith development and change.

October 15: How to be News Literate in the Age of Information
Sarah Leach, Executive Editor, Holland Sentinel

A brief explanation on how journalism and information gathering has changed over the past 50 years and how to identify trusted news sources to make informed decisions.

October 22: Radical Rest: Reorienting Your Life to Delight and Abundance Through the Sabbath
Rev. Travis West, PhD, Associate Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament, Interim Director of the ThM Program, Western Theological Seminary

In the Bible, the Sabbath stands at the heart of God’s vision of the good life. But in our day and age, it’s generally little more than an overlooked, misunderstood spiritual discipline. In this session, we will consider how the Bible envisions lay and delight. The Sabbath is about much more than rest; it is a radical rest that encompasses all of our living.

October 29: Challenges of Democracy Worldwide
Dr. Joel Toppen, Associate Professor of Political Science, Hope College

Professor Joel Toppen, will be addressing the challenges that democratic governments and nations face in this present age. He will speak to the decline in the democratic system on the world stage and more particularly in our own nation and states. He was recently featured as a guest speaker at the South Haven Lecture Series this summer.

November 5: Why We Should Read Banned Books
Mark Hiskes, retired high school English teacher; Deborah Van Duinen, PhD, Arnold and Esther Sonneveldt Professor of English Education Director, Senior Seminar Program, Hope College; Director, NEA Big Read/Little Read Lakeshore

Why has there been an increase in the banned book movement in the past few years? What’s important to know about it? Join Mark Hiskes and Deb Van Duinen as they explore the banned book movement, past and present. Come to hear their thoughts about how good literature is honest about our broken world, not by celebrating it but by offering visions that somehow transcend it. As Christians, they believe that reading such literature can leave us more human and hopeful.

November 12: The Prodigal
Rev. Dr. JP Sundararajan, Director of Global Mission, Reformed Church in America

“My true joy has always been in telling the story of God’s work in India. . . because in telling these stories, the greater body of Christ is edified,” Sundararajan says. In this session of CCLI, JP will share his family’s story about how his father came to know and love Jesus despite pressure from his community and family.

November 19: Flourishing as You Age
Rev. Dr. Jill Ver Steeg, President and CEO, Evergreen Commons

The Reverend Dr. Jill Ver Steeg will lead us in exploring both from a theological and practical perspective what it means to flourish in older age. Come. Be inspired. And as the preacher in Hebrew says, “let’s meet together to stir one another up to greater love and good deeds!”

▪ November 26: No Class – (Thanksgiving Break)

December 3: Growing with the Enneagram – Part 1
Meredith TerHaar-Schrotenboer, award-winning journalist, speaker, and storyteller; Communications Specialist for Corewell Health, formerly Spectrum Health

The Enneagram describes 9 different ways of seeing the world. It’s an invitation to deeper self-awareness. It’s an invitation to view others with greater compassion. It’s an invitation to grow. While other personality systems look at behaviors, the Enneagram explains the WHY behind our thoughts, feelings, and actions. What motivates you to show up in the world the way you do? What motivates your colleague? Your spouse? These insights create empathy and compassion for others and for self. In part one of this class, Meredith will teach an introduction to this 9-type personality system and help you discover your type.

Meredith’s passion for the Enneagram came from the transformation she experienced in her own life as a newsroom leader, wife, and mom. Meredith is the co-founder of Growing with the Enneagram, a West Michigan organization that facilitates Enneagram workshops and provides both group and individual coaching. Articles that she has written about the Enneagram have appeared in the Enneagram Magazine and West Michigan Woman. She has been a featured guest on several podcasts discussing topics like the Enneagram in the Workplace, the Enneagram and Parenting, and the Enneagram and Communication Styles.

December 10: Growing with the Enneagram – Part 2
Meredith TerHaar-Schrotenboer, award-winning journalist, speaker, and storyteller; Communications Specialist for Corewell Health, formerly Spectrum Health

In part two of Growing with the Enneagram, we will take a deeper dive into all 9-types and how they relate to each other.



This Sunday, October 1:  "God Incidents: Real Life Stories to Strengthen and Restore Your Faith" presented by Rev. Dr. Glenn...
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