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February 16-17, 2018 — Tom Christofferson

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to welcome Tom Christofferson as our February 2018 speaker.

In a recent book review, former Miller Eccles Study Group Texas speaker Julie Smith wrote:

“…I absolutely positively did not think that Deseret Book would ever publish anything including these sentences: ‘Being gay is one of the great blessings of my life’ and ‘If you are the parent of a gay child who decides to marry a same-sex partner, I encourage you to be there, to participate fully and with happiness for their happiness.’

But here we are.

Tom Christofferson has written a book called That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith and Family, and Deseret Book has published it. The book will have an added measure of moral authority with many members of the church because Christofferson’s brother, D. Todd Christofferson, is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, and much of the book concerns the reaction of the extended Christofferson family to Tom’s coming out, asking to be excommunicated, and then living for decades with a male partner….

The book is largely a memoir, with a few sections devoted to spiritual lessons that Tom has learned. The power of the latter sections is such that I hope that even people with minimal interest in LGBTQ issues would read the book.

Tom’s journey back to the church is a fascinating one: it involved a ward who welcomed him—and his partner—with open arms. Tom argues against the idea that shunning is somehow necessary to remind gays of the commandments and points out that, when he was ready to return to full activity, he did not have to overcome the additional barriers of bitterness and pride that family or ward ostracism would have created.”

Please join us for what will surely be one of MESGTX’s most enlightening and uplifting meetings.

STUDY GROUP DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, February 16, 7 pm (McKinney)
*PLEASE NOTE NEW VENUE*
Bettner Residence
311 N. College Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, February 17, 7 pm (Arlington)
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

FIRESIDE DATE AND LOCATION:

Sunday, February 18, 7 pm
McKinney Stake Center
2801 Eldorado Pkwy
McKinney, Texas 75070

THE STUDY GROUP TOPIC:

“That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith & Family”

In this presentation, Tom Christofferson will share perspectives gained from his life’s journey as a gay man who left The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and later returned to it. After having asked to be excommunicated from the faith he was raised in, Tom spent two decades in a loving relationship with a committed partner. Over time and enjoying a very happy life, Tom increasingly felt a desire for increased spirituality, until he found himself one night sitting in his car in front of a bishop’s house preparing for a discussion that would, over the next seven years, change his life.  Tom will share lessons that he, his family, and his fellow Saints learned while trying to love as God loves.  For anyone who has wondered how to keep moving forward in the face of difficult decisions and feelings of ambiguity; for anyone who needs to better understand the redeeming power of our Savior, Jesus Christ; for anyone who seeks to love more fully; Tom’s presentation will offer reassurance of God’s love for all of His children.

THE FIRESIDE TOPIC:

“Bread of Life, Living Water”

In this devotional presentation, Tom Christofferson will discuss how the challenges of our lives lead us to greater understanding of the Savior’s healing love.

THE SPEAKER:

Tom Christofferson has spent his career in investment management and asset servicing, living in the United States and Europe.  He has served as a director on corporate and nonprofit boards and was a founding board member of Encircle, a group providing resources to LGTBQ individuals and their families in Provo, Utah.  Tom is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and serves as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in his Salt Lake City ward.

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October 13-14, 2017 — Steve Peck

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Steve Peck at study group meetings in McKinney on Friday, October 13, 2016, and in Arlington on Saturday, October 14, 2017.  His topic was “Making a place for evolution in Mormonism: Why it matters“.

Steve Peck speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendees in McKinney on October 13, 2017.

Steve Peck visits with attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas after he concluded his presentation in McKinney on October 13, 2017.

Steve Peck speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington on October 14, 2017.

Steve Peck displays a quote by Russell M. Nelson at a Miller Eccles Texas Study Group Texas presentation in Arlington on October 14, 2017.

Steve Peck speaks to attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington on October 14, 2017.

Steve Peck signs a book for a Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendee in Arlington on October 14, 2017.

 

October 13-14, 2017 — Steve Peck

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to welcome BYU professor and author Steve Peck as our October 2017 speaker.

In a review of Steve Peck’s recent book Science the Key to Theology, Volume 1: Preliminaries, Steve Evans of the By Common Consent blog wrote: “There is a sense of wonder and amazement at the universe that permeates Steve’s writing. He is our excited tour guide to the innermost workings of the world, unveiling the behind-the-scenes intersections of religion and science that other guides won’t show us. The book informs us, challenges us, and ultimately reaffirms our faith in a universe where the most wonderful things are possible and real.”

We hope you’ll join us as we explore this fascinating topic.

DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, October 13, 7 pm (McKinney)
*PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN VENUE*
Bettner Residence
311 N. College Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, October 14, 7 pm (Arlington)
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE TOPIC:

“Making a place for evolution in Mormonism: Why it Matters”

In this presentation, evolutionary biologist Steve Peck will explore why Mormons can accept what science is saying about the origin of life on earth and its evolution, and be true and faithful members of the Church. He believes that the evolutionary story adds beauty and depth to our understanding of the creation. He also will explore why this matters in terms of helping scientifically minded youth find a place for their love of science and our Church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE SPEAKER:

Steven L. Peck is a biology professor at Brigham Young University. He teaches History and Philosophy of Biology and Bioethics, and has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers in evolution, ecology, philosophy of science, religion, and ethics. He is also an award-winning fiction author with numerous published poems, short stories, and novels.

 

July 28-29, 2017 — Brian and Faith Kershisnik

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Brian and Faith Kershisnik at study group meetings in McKinney on July 28, 2017, and in Arlington on July 29, 2017.  Their topic was “Creative Discipleship“.

Faith and Brian Kershisnik speak to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in McKinney on July 28, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian and Faith Kershisnik speak to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in Arlington on July 29, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Brian and Faith Kershisnik listen to a question from the audience at a study group meeting in Arlington on July 29, 2017.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After delivering their prepared remarks, Brian and Faith Kershisnik visit with attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington on July 29, 2017.

July 28-29, 2017 — Brian and Faith Kershisnik

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to welcome artists Brian and Faith Kershisnik as our July 2017 speakers.

In a recent blog entry, Brian wrote: “I make art because I am searching for things. I do not approach my easel with an overriding objective to change anything or anyone. Rather I am looking for something. Looking teaches me, and teases thinking out of me, and precipitates internal and external conversation that I believe do me good. My job of course is to paint, and to paint very well, but I have observed that art often accomplishes something quite independently of any artist’s intentions. It is understandably difficult to accomplish things beyond your own intentions and so my way is to walk forward into the work looking for something and being open to finding something else altogether.”

We hope you’ll join us as Brian and Faith discuss how their artistic searching has improved their discipleship.

DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, July 28, 7 pm (McKinney)
110 E. Davis Street
McKinney, Texas 75070

Saturday, July 29, 7 pm (Arlington)
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE TOPIC:

CREATIVE DISCIPLESHIP

Too often creativity is mistakenly relegated to so-called creative people or professions.  Brian and Faith believe that following Jesus has always demanded courageous and unusual thinking, novel solutions to unanticipated circumstances, and the need to proceed even when our plans have broken down.  It sounds very much like a day in the studio.  They will talk about how discipleship has informed their art–and art their discipleship–as well as how the scriptures suggest a brilliantly inventive God working with brave and innovative children.

Detail of “Temptation of Adam and Eve after Masolino da Panicali” by Brian Kershisnik.

THE SPEAKERS:

Brian Kershisnik is the youngest of a happy and widely traveled family of sons. His father’s work as a petroleum geologist took them to various continents across the globe where his mother unfailingly set up a home filled with music, great food and active conversation, furnished with treasures and artifacts from their travels and hosting frequent parties and exotic slide shows of their globetrotting family life.

After serving as a missionary in Northern Europe he determined to study ceramics at Brigham Young University and then architecture at the University of Utah. During his first year in ceramics he met Joe and Lee Bennion and arranged to spend the summer working in Joe’s pottery. After some months it became apparent that Brian was no potter and Lee suggested he try something with her paint box. Painting changed everything. Gallery owner Dolores Chase noticed his exhibitions and offered to begin his professional career.

While many of his contemporaries looked elsewhere to establish their art careers, Brian focused on his Utah home. Though he now shows elsewhere and his works are in collections around the world, his home base of local collectors remains his most satisfying audience and his openings at David Ericson Fine Art in Salt Lake City and Meyer Gallery in Park City have an air of reunion and camaraderie. He now lives in the town of Provo.

Faith Kershisnik is a Texan transplant who has taken happily to her desert home in Provo, Utah.  She grew up in a large family, surrounded most closely by her brothers, who helped raise her amongst the wild woodpaths of Texas.  In school and church, Faith continued to discover an inquisitive mind that listened best while sketching out imagery from her imagination on whatever scraps of paper were convenient to the circumstance. She began college with a long-established plan to pursue a pre-med college major that would transform in her junior year to the pursuit of a BA in psychology.  She then went on to study marriage and family therapy at BYU to earn a Master’s degree and begin her career as a systems therapist.  Her journey in this field has been defined by her draw to Jungian depth psychology, emotionally focused couples therapy, and Buddhist psychology.  She has worked with a diverse range of clients at BYU and LDS Family Services, and currently works with patrons of the Healing Group, a clinic that services the population of the Wasatch Front with a unique feminism-informed approach to therapy.  Just as Faith’s therapeutic career began to feel established, she felt the disquieting call of the arts and course-corrected to allow for more time in the studio, drawing, painting, and writing.  She has enjoyed the discovery and expansion of her creative self, and her work has been featured in both university and gallery exhibitions in Texas and Utah.

April 7-8, 2017 — Patrick Mason

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Patrick Mason at study group meetings in McKinney on April 7, 2017, and in Arlington on April 8, 2017.  His topic was: “Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt.

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas participants gather to hear Patrick Mason speak at a study group meeting in McKinney on April 7, 2017.

Patrick Mason speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in McKinney on April 7, 2017.

Patrick Mason and Adam Miller chat following Patrick’s presentation in McKinney. April 7, 2017.

Patrick Mason speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting In Arlington on April 8, 2017.

April 7-8, 2017 — Patrick Mason

patrick mason We are privileged to have as our April 2017 speaker, Professor Patrick Q. Mason, Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University.  Dr. Mason is the author of Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt, published by the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and Deseret Book in late 2015. This important work explores the challenges many LDS members face when Church doctrines are opposed by worldly influences, or seem opposed to current scientific knowledge, possibly causing doubt, disbelief, inactivity, or formal opposition.

DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, April 7, 7 pm (McKinney)
110 E. Davis Street
McKinney, Texas 75070

Saturday, April 8, 7 pm (Arlington)
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE TOPIC:

“Planted: Belief and Belonging in an Age of Doubt”

For all its beneficial advances, our secular age has also weakened some people’s ties to religious belief and affiliation. Latter-day Saints have not been immune to this trend. In recent years, many faithful Church members have encountered challenging aspects of Church history, belief, or practice. Feeling isolated, alienated, or misled, some struggle to stay. Some simply leave. Many people search for a reliable and faithful place to work through their questions. The abundance of information online can make them feel frustrated. Dr. Mason offers people who struggle with questions—and people who love those who struggle—practical ways to stay planted in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather than attempting to answer every possible question or doubt, he presents an empathetic, practical, and candid dialog about the relationship of doubt and faith. “We live in an age of doubt, but we need not be overcome. When we are planted in the Savior, we can be nourished as much by our questions as by the answers.”

planted

THE SPEAKER:

Patrick Q. Mason is Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies and Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities at Claremont Graduate University in southern California.  An American religious historian, he earned a BA in History at Brigham Young University, an MA in International Peace Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in History also from Notre Dame. He is the author of The Mormon Menace: Violence and Anti-Mormonism in the Postbellum South, which examines extralegal violence against Mormons in the South and the limits of religious freedom in late nineteenth-century America. He is also the co-editor of War and Peace in Our Time: Mormon Perspectives, and editor or co-editor of two forthcoming volumes, Directions for Mormon Studies in the Twenty-First Century and Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945. Before coming to Claremont, he held faculty positions at the Notre Dame and the American University in Cairo.

An expert on Mormonism and the historical role of religion in American public life, Professor Mason has often been featured in the national media, including the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, National Public Radio, PBS, and the Huffington Post. He currently serves as the chair of the Board of Directors of Dialogue Foundation (which publishes Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought), and is a member of the boards of the Mormon History Association, Mormon Studies Review, and the Mormon Studies Group at the American Academy of Religion.

Patrick and his wife Melissa both teach Gospel Doctrine in the Claremont 1st Ward and live in Claremont with their three children.

January 27-28, 2017 — Jill Mulvay Derr

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Jill Mulvay Derr at study group meetings in McKinney on January 27, 2017, and in Arlington on January 28, 2017.  Her topic was: “How Women Created and Negotiated Their Institutional Presence: Emergent Narratives from Key Documents in The First Fifty Years of Relief Society.”

Jill Mulvay Derr speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in McKinney on January 27, 2017.

Jill Mulvay Derr speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in McKinney on January 27, 2017.

Jill Mulvay Derr visits with study group attendees in McKinney.

Jill Mulvay Derr visits with study group attendees in McKinney.

Jill Mulvay Derr speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendees at a study group meeting in Arlington on January 28, 2017.

Jill Mulvay Derr speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas attendees at a study group meeting in Arlington on January 28, 2017.

Jill Mulvay Derr speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington.

Jill Mulvay Derr speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington.

Jill Mulvay Derr speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group attendees in Arlington.

Jill Mulvay Derr speaks with Miller Eccles Study Group attendees in Arlington.

 

January 27-28, 2017–Jill Mulvay Derr

jmderr-2Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to announce that our first speaker of 2017 will be Jill Mulvay Derr, coeditor of The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Document in Latter-day Saint Women’s History.

In his always excellent year-end round up of noteworthy books and articles in Mormon History, Ben Park of the Juvenile Instructor blog had this to say about the book: “The CHL’s publication of essential Relief Society documents is a significant contribution not only to Mormon women’s history, not only to Mormon history in general, but to American religious and gender history; the documents contained in those pages are absolute gems.”

Excerpts and other resources related to the book are available on the Church Historian’s Press website.

Please join us for what is sure to be a fantastic evening!

DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, January 27, 7 pm (McKinney)
110 E. Davis Street
McKinney, Texas 75070

Saturday, January 28, 7 pm (Arlington)
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE TOPIC:

How Women Created and Negotiated Their Institutional Presence: Emergent Narratives from Key Documents in The First Fifty Years of Relief Society

In March 2016, the Church Historian’s Press released The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History.  The seventy-eight documents in this collection were selected from among the thousands of records available in the Church History Library to illustrate the development of Relief Society across the first fifty years of its existence—from 1842 to 1892. The documents range widely in genre, and include minutes of meetings, sermons by both women and men, annual reports from local Relief Societies, newspaper articles and editorials, political petitions and speeches, poetry, letters, diary entries, and reminiscences. They were produced not only in settlements at church headquarters, but in far-flung settlements in the West and areas as remote as Hawaii and England. The records give insight into the spiritual dimension of women’s lives and their political, temporal, and social pursuits. The documents also provide an expanded perspective on women’s ecclesiastical activities, as they ministered within the church structure through the Relief Society and its sister organizations for young women and children.  The 1842-1844 Minutes of the Female Relief Society of Nauvoo, the core document in this collection, contain instructions from Joseph Smith that established a mandate and pattern for women’s ecclesiastical participation. After first suspending and then redacting these instructions (1845-1855), Brigham Young reconstituted the Relief Society (1867) and Eliza R. Snow and other society leaders appropriated Joseph’s words to both restore and reinvent the Relief Society and create women-led organizations for younger women and children.

rs-book-cover-small

THE SPEAKER:

Jill Mulvay Derr has studied the history of Mormon women for more than four decades. In 1973 she joined the Historical Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a member of the History Division, directed by Church Historian Leonard J. Arrington. Her association with the Arrington team continued after 1980 when the group transferred to Brigham Young University and became the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute for Latter-day Saint History.

Derr was Associate Professor of Church History at BYU and served as Managing Director of the Smith Institute from 2003 to 2005, when she rejoined the LDS Church History Department in Salt Lake City.

Following her retirement in 2011, she continued working with colleagues Carol Cornwall Madsen, Kate Holbrook, Matthew Grow, and many department volunteers to complete a longtime project, The First Fifty Years of Relief Society: Key Documents in Latter-day Saint Women’s History, recently published by the Church Historian’s Press. A past president of the Mormon History Association, Derr has published more than two dozen articles in scholarly books and journals and co-authored four books: Women’s Voices: An Untold History of the Latter-day Saints (1982), with Kenneth W. Godfrey and Audrey M. Godfrey; Women of Covenant (1992) with Janath Russell Cannon and Maureen Ursenbach Beecher; Eliza R. Snow: The Complete Poetry (2009) and Eliza: The Life and Faith of Eliza R. Snow (2013), with Karen Lynn Davidson. She and her husband, C. Brooklyn Derr are the parents of four children and ten grandchildren. They reside in Holladay, Utah.

November 11-12, 2016–Ashley Mae Hoiland

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Ashley Mae Hoiland at study group meetings in McKinney on November 11, 2016, and in Arlington on November 12, 2016.  Ashmae’s topic was “One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly“.

Ashley Mae Hoiland reads from her book "One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly" at a Miller Eccles Study Group Texas Meeting in Arlington on November 12, 2016

Ashley Mae Hoiland reads from her book “One Hundred Birds Taught Me to Fly” at a Miller Eccles Study Group Texas Meeting in Arlington on November 12, 2016.

Ashley Mae Hoiland listens to questions from attendees.  November 12, 2016.

Ashley Mae Hoiland listens to questions from attendees. November 12, 2016.

Ashley Mae Hoiland visits with attendees after her presentation.  November 12, 2016.

Ashley Mae Hoiland visits with attendees after her presentation. November 12, 2016.