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May 18-19, 2018 — Jana Riess

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas is thrilled to welcome Dr. Jana Riess as our May 2018 speaker. Jana is the author of a forthcoming book titled Millennial Mormons: The Rising Generation of Latter-day Saints (Oxford University Press, 2019), which is based on extensive surveying conducted by Jana and Benjamin Knoll.

You’re likely familiar with Jana’s writing for Religion News Service and her frequent media appearances where she provides commentary on issues relevant to current-day Mormonism and its culture.  We hope you’ll join us as she describes how demographic changes are likely to influence the future of Mormonism.

STUDY GROUP DATES AND LOCATIONS:

Friday, May 18, 7 pm (McKinney)
Bettner Residence
311 N. College Street
McKinney, Texas 75069

Saturday, May 19, 7 pm (Arlington)
Baird Residence
3804 Indian Springs Trail
Arlington, Texas 76016

THE STUDY GROUP TOPIC:

“Millennial Mormons: The Rising Generation of Latter-day Saints”

How do young adult Mormons — the “Millennials” — differ politically from older Mormons, and how do they relate to authority?  Research from the Next Mormons Survey (2016) indicates that young Mormons are less likely to vote Republican or adopt conservative positions than older Mormons, but more likely to do so than non-Mormons their own age.  They also show a somewhat weakened relationship to institutional authority and obedience than older Mormons but are more responsive to authority than non-Mormon Millennials.  Jana will discuss how Mormon Millennials are caught between competing ideals and what that means for the future practice of Mormonism.  They’re part of a generation that is the least religious in modern recorded history, but they’re part of a religion that is demanding and rigorous.  How they will reconcile these competing ideals tells us a good deal about where Mormonism might be heading into the 21st century.

THE SPEAKER:

Before writing Millennial Mormons, Jana Riess authored a number of books, including Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray, and Still Loving My Neighbor, which was selected as one of the top ten religion books of 2011 by Publishers Weekly.  Her most recent book is The Prayer Wheel: A Daily Guide to Renewing Your Faith with a Rediscovered Spiritual Practice.  She is a senior columnist for Religion News Service and is often quoted in national news and magazine articles on Mormon issues.  Although she was never able to climb the rope in gym class, she has a Doctorate in American religious history from Columbia University.

Jana lives in Cincinnati with her husband and daughter, who are both Episcopalians, and together they navigate the waters of being a Mormopalian family.  This means that they light Advent candles early and often, but hide any evidence that wine is ever used in cooking.  Jana is obsessed with travel and also loves reading, yoga, dogs, and did we mention travel?  She is a Relief Society teacher in her ward and a stake Self-Reliance facilitator in the Cincinnati Ohio Stake.

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February 16-17, 2018 — Tom Christofferson

Miller Eccles Study Group Texas was pleased to host Tom Christofferson at study group meetings in McKinney on Friday, February 16, 2018, and in Arlington on Saturday, February 17, 2018.  His topic was “That We May Be One: A Gay Mormon’s Perspective on Faith & Family”.

Katy Bettner introduces Tom Christofferson at a meeting of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in McKinney on February 16, 2018.

Tom Christofferson speaks to attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in McKinney on February 16, 2018.

Tom Christofferson visits with attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a meeting in McKinney on February 16, 2018.

Tom Christofferson autographs a copy of his book at a meeting of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in McKinney, on February 16, 2018.

Tom Christofferson speaks to attendees of Miller Eccles Study Group Texas in Arlington, Texas, on February 17, 2018.

Tom Christofferson speaks to Miller Eccles Study Group Texas at a study group meeting in Arlington, Texas, on February 17, 2018.

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.

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, 2017, 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.