Christ Church, Presbyterian Burlington, Vermont
Christ Church, Presbyterian Burlington, Vermont


Social Issues Forum:Tightrope (April 2020)  

We'll spend April reading and having an online discussion of Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. 


“With stark poignancy and political dispassion, Tightrope draws us deep into an "other America." The authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon, an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared. About one-quarter of the children on Kristof's old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. But here too are stories about resurgence, among them: Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, as they navigate the chaotic reality of growing up poor; Daniel McDowell, of Baltimore, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation's drug epidemic. These accounts, illustrated with searing images by Lynsey Addario, the award-winning photographer, provide a picture of working-class families needlessly but profoundly damaged as a result of decades of policy mistakes. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.”

Social Issues Forum: Falter (September 2019)

Thirty years ago Bill McKibben offered one of the earliest warnings about climate change. Now he broadens the warning: the entire human game, he suggests, has begun to play itself out.

Bill McKibben’s groundbreaking book The End of Nature -- issued in dozens of languages and long regarded as a classic -- was the first book to alert us to global warming. But the danger is broader than that: even as climate change shrinks the space where our civilization can exist, new technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics threaten to bleach away the variety of human experience. 

Falter tells the story of these converging trends and of the ideological fervor that keeps us from bringing them under control. And then, drawing on McKibben’s experience in building, the first truly global citizens movement to combat climate change, it offers some possible ways out of the trap. We’re at a bleak moment in human history -- and we’ll either confront that bleakness or watch the civilization our forebears built slip away.


Falter is a powerful and sobering call to arms, to save not only our planet but also our humanity.

Social Issues Forum: Deer Hunting with Jesus (January 2019)

In January 2019 Social Issues Forum will begin a 4 session study of the book “Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America’s Class War” by Joe Bageant.  
Deer Hunting with Jesus is Joe Bageant’s report on what he learned when he moved back to his hometown of Winchester Virginia.  Like countless American small towns, it is fast becoming the bedrock of a permanent underclass.  Two in five of the people in his old neighborhood do not have high school diplomas or health care.  Alcohol, overeating and Jesus are the preferred avenues of escape.
By turns tender, incendiary, and seriously funny, this book is a call to arms for fellow progressives with little real understanding of “the great beery, NASCAR-loving, church-going, gun-owning America that has never set foot in a Starbucks.”  


Social Issues Forum: How Democracies Die (Fall 2018)


The Fall session of the Social Issues forum continues with the book How Democracies Die by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt.  The four weekly session series began Wednesday afternoon October 24 at the home of John and Ann Owen.  If you are interested, please join us.  Here is up a short description of the book:

"Donald Trump’s presidency has raised a question that many of us never thought we’d be asking: Is our democracy in danger?  Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt have spent more than twenty years studying the breakdown of democracies in Europe and Latin America, and they believe the answer is yes.  Democracy no longer ends with a bang—in a revolution or military coup—but with a whimper:  the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions, such as the judiciary and the press, and the gradual erosion of long-standing political norms.  The good news is that there are several exit ramps on the road to authoritarianism.  The bad news is that, by electing Trump, we have already passed the first one."


Social Issues Forum: Immigration

(Spring 2018) 


Immigration will be the topic of the  spring CCP Social Issues Forum.  The 4-6 week series will begin the week of April 9, with a group meeting on a weekday at the home of John and Ann Owen.  The day and time will be determined based on participant’s schedules. A second group, if necessary, will meet Sunday afternoon at St Paul’s Cathedral before our worship service.


The series will begin with a two-session discussion of the book “The Line Becomes a River – Dispatches from the Border” by Francisco Cantu.  Following is a description of the book from the Amazon website:


For Francisco Cantú, the border is in the blood: his mother, a park ranger and daughter of a Mexican immigrant, raised him in the scrublands of the Southwest. Haunted by the landscape of his youth, Cantú joins the Border Patrol. He and his partners are posted to remote regions crisscrossed by drug routes and smuggling corridors, where they learn to track other humans under blistering sun and through frigid nights. They haul in the dead and deliver to detention those they find alive. Cantú tries not to think where the stories go from there.


Plagued by nightmares, he abandons the Patrol for civilian life. But when an immigrant friend travels to Mexico to visit his dying mother and does not return, Cantú discovers that the border has migrated with him, and now he must know the whole story. Searing and unforgettable, The Line Becomes a River goes behind the headlines, making urgent and personal the violence our border wreaks on both sides of the line.


In sessions three and four we will discuss several articles from the New Yorker magazine covering various points of view on immigration.  For the final session a local immigration expert will present his/her views on the issue.  If there are two groups, they will be combined for the final session.


If you have not already done so, please sign up by emailing John Owen at jrowen18(at), or on the signup sheet which will be available at our worship space.  Please indicate whether you can meet weekdays and/or Sundays.

Social Issues Forum Winter Study Group to Focus on Our Work  (January 2018)

Beginning in January 2018 The CCP Social Issues Forum will be focusing on a seven-part discussion series developed by a group that included Frank Sadowski. It is called “Sacred  Conversations, Connecting our Spiritual Lives with Our Work in the World”. 


The premise of this discussion series is that we know when our work (which includes much more than paid employment) is satisfying the expectations of customers, supervisors, and stakeholders, and when it is not. But rarely is someone helping us to think deeply about what it means to be accountable to God for the work that we do in the world. These conversations provide a way for people of faith to connect in small communities of support and accountability and help each other grow into deeper understandings of what it means to live faithfully in the world. These seven conversations are the fruit of many interviews conducted by pastors who spent time visiting parishioners at their work sites. Without exception, each of the pastors was deeply inspired by parishioners’ willingness to struggle with the complexities of their work responsibilities in light of their deepest convictions.


These discussions will cover these questions and more:


  • Who or what has most powerfully influenced or shaped the work you are doing today?
  • How are you uniquely gifted for the work you do?
  • Where do you find the deepest meaning in your work?
  • What does faithfulness look like for you at work?
  • What obstacles prevent you from integrating your life of faith with your life in the world?
  • Where and with whom do you have meaningful conversations on the relationship between faith and work?
  • How does the concept of Sabbath or renewal help you work faithfully in the world?


In order to maximize participation, the groups for this seven-session series will have a maximum of 8 participants.  Frank Sadowski will lead a group in the nursery space at St. Paul’s on Sunday afternoons, beginning at 2:00.  John Owen will lead an additional daytime group at his home during the week. A third group will be created if needed. The series will begin the week of Sunday January 7.  


If you have questions, please feel free to contact Frank at fhsadowski(at) If you are interested in participating, please email John Owen jrowen18(at) and indicate whether you prefer the Sunday or weekday group.  If you prefer a weekday group, please indicate the times during the day you are available.  There will also be signup sheets available at the CCP worship space. 

Social Issues Forum: American Nations

(September 2017)

Our next book discussion is Colin Woodard’s book American Nations: A History of the

Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. The book is an illuminating
history of North America's eleven rival cultural regions that explodes the red state-
blue state myth. North America was settled by people with distinct religious,
political, and ethnographic characteristics, creating regional cultures that have been
at odds with one another ever since. Subsequent immigrants didn't confront or
assimilate into an “American” or “Canadian” culture, but rather into one of the
eleven distinct regional ones that spread over the continent each staking out
mutually exclusive territory. These intranational differences have played a pivotal
role at every point in the continent's history, from the American Revolution and the
Civil War to the tumultuous sixties "blue county/red county" maps of recent presidential elections.

Social Issues Forum: Strangers in Their Own Land (Feburary 2017)


We will be reading and discussing Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild.  The book focuses on the white middle class in “red” America who feel they have been left out of the American dream in the last several decades; the people who voted for Donald Trump.  

Renowned sociologist Arlie Hochschild spends time in Louisiana bayou country—a stronghold of the conservative right, and gets to know people who strongly oppose many of the ideas she famously champions. Hochschild draws on her expert knowledge of the sociology of emotion to help us understand what it feels like to live in “red” America. Along the way she finds answers to one of the crucial questions of contemporary American politics: why do the people who would seem to benefit most from “liberal” government intervention abhor the very idea?


Social Issues Forum: Racial Injustice (November 2016)

The Social Issues Forum continues its exploration of racial injustice with the study of The New Jim Crow by Michele Alexander,  a companion piece on racial injustice to Just Mercy,  which we recently completed.  

Social Issues Forum: Racial Injustice (September 2016)


The Social Issues Forum Fall program, which will begin in mid-September, will focus on the issue of racial injustice in the criminal justice system. As we did for the Spring session, we will meet in small groups in people’s homes at different times to accommodate everyone’s schedules. What is new this Fall is that we are partnering with St. Paul’s Cathedral for this series. There will be four discussion groups, one of which will be led by Linda Sheridan, a member of St. Paul’s. Meetings will be in the facilitators’ homes with options of weekday mornings, weekday evenings and Sunday afternoons before the CCP worship service. Members of both churches are encouraged to join any of the four groups.


We will be reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, a lawyer and author who has represented the poor, the oppressed, the imprisoned, and those with no hope. Stevenson tells stories of deep-seated and widespread injustice as well of instances of human compassion, understanding and justice that offer hope. The current plan is to cover the book in four sessions, with the option of continuing with a second book “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander, which focuses on the racial prejudice and injustice of our legal system. 


So that we have some idea of interest, please email John Owen at jrowen18(at) if you would like to participate, and indicate which of the three meeting times you prefer. There will be sign-up sheets available soon.

Religious Studies Group (May 2016)


Paul Jordan will be leading a four-session examination of Not in God’s Name by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  Rabbi Sacks explores how the three Abrahamic based religions have used their faith to justify violence.  He examines how humanity has coped over the ages with living with “others”.   Sacks rejects the suggestion that religion itself is what causes violence, though he does believe that if it is to be solved theology must play a part.  Sessions will be held at Paul’s home on either Friday or Saturday mornings or Wednesday evenings.  The group is limited to 10 participants.  Please contact John Owen (495-0710, or jrowen18(at) if you are interested and indicate which times work for you.

Social Issues Forum (April 2016)


We've begun the Social Issues Forum, a study of issues which impact our lives and communities.  The topic for the Spring 2016 series in April is end-of life issues focusing on Atul Gawande’s book Being Mortal.  We will address issues such as: attitudes about aging in our culture, questions of increasing dependence and the need of assistance from others, what options would you consider when you can no longer take care of your basic needs, and how to have end-of life conversations with family members.

Social Issues Forum: Being Mortal Book Study
For information on signing up for our book study, please click here.
Announcing the Social Issues Forum for o[...]
Microsoft Word document [15.7 KB]

Bringing Faith Into the Gun Control Discussion (January 2016)


Last year, we at Christ Church helped support an Interfaith Worship Service focused on Gun Violence.  This year we continue our efforts to elevate the level of dialogue around sensible gun control laws.  We believe progress can only be made by bringing the values that guide our respective faiths into the discussion of what laws should control our firearms.

Bringing Faith Into the Gun Control Discussion
Click here for discussion questions from our study.
Bringing Faith Into The Gun Control Disc[...]
Microsoft Word document [12.9 KB]

Black Lives Matter Study (September 2015)


Recent police actions resulting in the deaths of Black Americans have caused a rising chorus of indignation and anger by tech-savvy, young Black youth and other people of color.  The Black Lives Matter Movement in our country is asking us to become aware of how our privilege and power as White Americans plays into the daily oppression felt by people of color her in Vermont and across the country.  In September, we began a study to dig deeper into BLM and CCP.  We have indicated that we would like to learn more about ourselves and how we might intentionally address the issues that inextricably connect ourselves with the oppression expressed by the BLM.  Here are some of the resources from our September 27th discussion.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Knapsack
White Priviledge Unpacking the Invisible[...]
Adobe Acrobat document [28.4 KB]
Black Men and Public Space
Black Men and Public Space.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [83.2 KB]

God is a Verb 


What would it be like to be “known through” while engaged in prayer?

How important are words to prayer?

To whom are you addressing prayer?

How much of your personal prayer is “asking for something?”

How important to you is personal daily prayer? What about group prayer in church?

Could intercessory prayer be regarded as simply “seconding the motion?”

What would Body Prayer mean to you?



God Is A Verb
Materials for our discussion on what constitutes prayer.
God is a Verb.docx
Microsoft Word document [14.6 KB]
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