CEIRS Reads Next Session CANCELLED!

CEIRS READS scheduled for May 17th is cancelled for now but will be re-scheduled.

Please watch the website for further updates.

Rev. Laury Larson will lead the next session of “CEIRS Reads.”  The selection is William P. Brown’s  Sacred Sense: Discovering the Wonder of God’s Word and World (2015).  You may borrow the book at a library or order it online.

Location may change — check the website for updated information.

The location for the session is: The Plymouth Church | 2860 Coventry Road | Shaker Heights, Ohio | 44120.  The cost is only $15 for this session that starts at 1:00 p.m. and runs until 3:00 p.m.

To register, pay online or send a check to CEIRS  c/o 2747 Fairmount Boulevard in Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44106.

All are welcome!  Come and join a stimulating discussion!




Spring Programs – 2016

The Path of Living and Dying: With Insights from Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen

Wayne Simsic, M.A.

A Retreat Workshop | Saturday, March 12, 2016 | 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. | $50 (bring or buy lunch)
Click Here to Register

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral | 2230 Euclid Avenue | Parking off 22nd and Prospect Avenue | Cleveland, Ohio | 44115

If we listen to the rhythms of aging, rhythms that eventually intensify our awareness of the transience of things, we believe that we will one day die. We may also discover the truth that the only way to live authentically and to embrace life fully is to befriend death and let go of the illusion of self-sufficiency and control. In this one-day retreat we will explore what it means to face our mortality, take on the mantle of a pilgrim, and travel into unknown territory trusting the paschal mystery: that death leads to rebirth.

Wayne Simsic, M.A. is a former adjunct professor at Ursuline College. He now directs retreats and workshops on such topics as the mystics and has authored several books on spirituality including Thomas Merton: An Invitation to the Contemplative Life. His book on St. John of the Cross, entitled Seeking the Beloved: A Prayer Journey with St. John of the Cross was published in 2012. His latest book is entitled The Inward Path to God: A Prayer Journey with Teresa of Avila (2015).

Two Versions of the Future of Religion

Hugh Burtner, Ph.D.

Four Mondays | April 4, 11, 18 and 25, 2016 | 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. | $60
Click Here to Register

Lakewood Presbyterian Church | 14502 Detroit Avenue | Lakewood, Ohio | 44107

In this course, we will consider two very different versions (or ‘visions’) of religiousness in the near future. One is represented by theologian Harvey Cox in his 2009 book The Future of Faith. The other can be gleaned from philosopher Philip Kitcher’s 2014 book, Life after Faith. Cox writes within a progressive Christian framework; Kitcher within a non-theist or secular humanist framework. We will discuss these two outlooks as fully as time permits. Handout materials will be provided by the instructor.

Hugh Burtner, Ph.D., taught in the Department of Religion at Baldwin-Wallace College for 32 years, including courses in world religions, religion in America, recent religious thought, religion, science and the arts, and various historical studies. Dr. Burtner is a clergy member of the East Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church (retired). He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Rabbi Moses Maimonides: Master of Biblical and Philosophical Spirituality

Rabbi Roger Klein, Ph.D.

Six Wednesdays | April 6, 13, 20, 27, May 11 and 18, 2016 [no class on May 4] | 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. | $90
Click Here to Register

The Plymouth Church | 2860 Coventry Road | Shaker Heights, Ohio | 44120

Moses Maimonides (1138-1204) remains Judaism’s greatest teacher. In addition to his major works on Jewish law and philosophy, Maimonides applied his mastery of Scripture and Greek philosophy to his understanding of such issues as the Nature and Role of God, Creation, Revelation, Prophecy, Politics, the Messiah, and the relationship between Religion and Science. In addition, Maimonides was famous as a man who, through a deep sympathy for human suffering and a powerful and comforting world view, consoled beleaguered communities and encouraged them to remain faithful to their convictions and their faith.

Rabbi Roger Klein, Ph.D., is an Associate Rabbi at The Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood. He is also Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine at Case Western Reserve University. Rabbi Klein received his Ph.D. from The University of Chicago in Philosophy. He is a sought-after lecturer and has often given pre-concert lectures for The Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Chamber Music Society and CIM. He has written articles, reviews and book chapters.

Exploring the Foundations of Contemplative Living, a weekend retreat

Exploring the Foundations of Contemplative Living,
a weekend retreat offered by James Finley, Ph.D. on Friday, April 29 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ($25) and Saturday, April 30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ($110, includes lunch). Location: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44106 ($125 for both days).

Registrations are open NOW for the James Finley weekend, our co-sponsorship with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. To register, go to St. Paul’s website: www.stpauls-church.org. Wait for the banner that announces James Finley, and “click to register.

CEIRS READS: A Book Discussion – May 2016

Rev. Laury Larson, Discussion Facilitator

May 17, 2016 | 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. | $15
Click Here to Register

Location: The Plymouth Church | 2860 Coventry Road | Shaker Heights, Ohio | 44120

This month’s selection is William P. Brown’s Sacred Sense: Discovering the Wonder of God’s Word and World (2015). This Hebrew Bible Scholar draws a vital connection between genuine biblical wonder and hope for the created world. Brown argues that our failure to wonder is at the root of our planetary crisis. Behold the world as the wondrous mystery of God and resist the urge to treat it only for its utility, to enhance our convenience and lifestyles.

Rev. Laury Larson is a retired Presbyterian Church (USA) minister and long-time Trustee of the Cleveland Ecumenical Institute. Borrow the book from the Library or order the text online. The discussion will assume you have already read the text.

Winter Programs – 2016

Surprise, Shock, and Gospel: The Parables of Jesus

Rev. George Smiga, STD

Eight Saturdays | January 16 to March 5, 2015 | 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. | $120 |

Forest Hill Church Presbyterian | Bodwell Hall | 3031 Monticello Boulevard | Cleveland Heights | 44118 – Registration Ended

Jesus preferred to teach in parables. The gospels are filled with these images and stories that are both elusive and powerful. They engage, delight, and disturb those who hear them. Join us as we explore what parables are, how they work, and what Jesus’ parables reveal about the Kingdom of God.

       Rev. George Smiga, STD, received his doctorate from the Gregorian University in Rome and teaches as part of the scripture department of St. Mary Seminary and Graduate School of Theology in Wickliffe. He is the author of Pain and Polemic: Anti-Judaism in the Christian Gospels and has recently published The Gospel of John Set Free: Preaching Without Anti-Judaism. He is a priest and the pastor of St. Noel Parish in Willoughby Hills. He writes regularly about faith issues at: www.buildingontheword.org.

CEIRS READS: Book: The Secret Chord (2015) by Pulitzer Prize-Winning novelist Geraldine Brooks

Rev. Laury Larson, Discussion Facilitator

Tuesday, January 26, 2016, 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. | $15

The Plymouth Church | 2860 Coventry Road | Shaker Heights | 44120 – Registration Ended

The Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies continues a book discussion group that meets periodically. Enjoy the shared experience of reading and discussing books by leading theologians, biblical scholars and other authors addressing religious belief and practice.

The CEIRS READS book selection is Geraldine Brooks’s The Secret Chord (2015). In her vivid and original novel, Brooks tells the story of King David through the eyes of the courtier and prophet Nathan, who both counseled and castigated David, and who is said to have chronicled his life.

Rev. Laury Larson is a retired Presbyterian Church (USA) minister and long-time Trustee of the Cleveland Ecumenical Institute for Religious Studies. Borrow the book from the Library of order the text online. The discussion will assume you have already read the text. It will also be helpful to read the story of David in the Bible, especially 1 Samuel: 16-31; 2 Samuel: 1-24; and 1 Kings: 1-2:11.

Henri Nouwen: Spiritual Guide

Alan Kolp, Ph.D.

Four Mondays, February 8 to February 29, 2016 | 7 – 9 p.m. | $60

John Knox Presbyterian Church | 25200 Lorain Avenue | North Olmsted | 44070 – Registration Ended

 The life and teachings of Henri Nouwen offer insightful spiritual guidance for life in our own times.  Focused around the four themes of heart, hospitality, healing and hope, the experience and wisdom of Nouwen will unlock new possibilities for spiritual encounter and growth.

      Alan Kolp, Ph.D., is currently holder of the Baldwin Wallace Chair in Faith & Life and Professor of Religion at Baldwin Wallace University.  Dr. Kolp earned a B.A. from Guilford College, a B.D. from Harvard Divinity School and a Ph.D from Harvard University.  He was a Fulbright Fellow in Germany.  He has been Visiting Fellow at U. of Birmingham and Kellogg College, Oxford U. in England, as well as at The Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley).

 Listen for a Change: Sacred Conversations for Racial Justice: An Interactive Theological Conference from Trinity Institute Wall Street with the Keynotes Streamed Live Via Webcast, Featuring:

Michele Norris, Nicholas Kristof, Anna Deavere Smith, Emilie Townes, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Victor Rios and Kelly Brown Douglas.

There is no charge for any or all parts of this workshop, but please register for Thursday, Friday and/or Saturday, January 21, 22, 23, 2016.

Location: Trinity Episcopal Cathedral | 2230 Euclid Avenue | Parking off 22nd and Prospect Avenue | Cleveland, Ohio | 44115

People can register for one, two or all three days

To Register:

Day 1 (Thursday, January 21, 2016, 6:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.)  http://tinyurl.com/TrinityInstitute201Day1

  • Trinity Institute Webcast: Opening Holy Eucharist (The Most Reverend Michael Curry Preaching) and Keynote Address by Michele Norris

Day 2 (Friday, January 22, 2016, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.pm)   http://tinyurl.com/TrinityInstitute2016Day2

Topics and Speakers:

  • Day 2, Session 1: What is Race Anyway; Nicholas Kristof, Emilie Townes, & Eduardo Bonilla-Silva
  • Day 2, Session 2: A People’s History of Race; Emilie Townes & Gary Dorrien

Day 3 (Saturday, January 23, 2016, 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)   http://tinyurl.com/TrinityInstitute2016Day3

  • Day 3, Session 3: Mass Incarceration; Victor Rios & Kelly Brown Douglas
  • Day 3, Session 4: Anna Deavere Smith
  • Day 3, Session 5: What Can We Do Together — Policy and Practice

Bring your own lunch each day or purchase lunch at the Cathedral’s Café or at nearby restaurants.

Trinity Institute’s 2016 conference (TI2016) is an action-oriented theological conference for racial justice. These life-giving conversations will teach us more about the racial issues of our time, including structural racism, mass incarceration, and policy change.  (More information as we receive it on ceirs.org).

The action-oriented theologians and thought leaders, listed above provide better understanding, inspiration, and ideas you can use in your community to make a positive impact. Go to http://www.trinitywallstreet.org/trinity-institute/2016/home for more information, biographies and videos.


Exploring the Foundations of Contemplative Living

(Thomas Merton and St. Teresa of Avila)

James Finley, Ph.D.

Dr. Finley lived as a monk at the cloistered Trappist monastery of the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky, where the world-renowned monk and author, Thomas Merton, was his spiritual director. Dr. Finley lived and prayed with Thomas Merton for six years. Dr. Finley, a writer and practicing psychologist, leads retreats and workshops throughout the United States and Canada.

April Weekend Retreat | April 29 and/or 30, 2016 | Friday 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. | $25 | Saturday workshop 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (includes lunch) | $110 ($125 for both days).

(Attend one or both sessions).

Location: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church | 2747 Fairmount Blvd. | Cleveland Heights | 44106

Co-Sponsorship with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church

Session 1 (Friday): Exploring the Foundations of Contemplative Living

Session 2 (Saturday): A Path to Inner Peace: Freeing the Mind and Heart

–through Spiritual Sobriety — Universal principles of awakening and transformation that lead to serenity, clarity, fulfillment and God’s nearness in our daily lives.

Thomas Merton & Teresa of Avila — In this retreat, we will turn to Teresa’s classic work The Interior Castle, in which she helps us find God by guiding us through the mansions of our own soul. Throughout the retreat, we will reflect on passages in Thomas Merton’s writing that resonate with the teachings of Theresa.