A Penned Pilgrimage - online

Reading the Gospel of Mark with our own life

instructor: Gianluigi Gugliermetto

The Gospel of Mark, the oldest account of the life of Jesus, is an itinerary from Galilee to Jerusalem, from success to failure, from misperceptions about God to an astonishing renewal of the mind. In between, we find strange trips among the pagans, Jesus being both compassionate and angry, while demons are everywhere. Autobiographical writing will be introduced as a technique for spiritual understanding, paired with diverse interpretations of the deceptively simple Markan text. Our reading will be grounded in the historical-critical method, but it will then extend to sample a great variety of points of view including: literary, narratological, psychoanalytical, political, liturgical, postcolonial, feminist, and Buddhist. We will find ourselves immersed in such a kaleidoscope with the purpose of enlarging not only our understanding of this Gospel but especially that of enlarging our vision of our own life and its meaning.

This class is especially suggested to:

  • non-Christians who are curious about approaching Jesus in a non-sectarian way;

  • those who would like to explore the meaning of discipleship of Jesus in the 1st century and in the 21st century;

  • preachers who are tasked with preaching on Mark (in the RCL starting on June 6);

  • all who refuse dogmatism (people in deconstruction, etc.)

  • those curious about the interaction of bible study and autobiography

This class is divided in two parts, one starting mid-April and ending mid-June; the other starting mid-September and ending mid-November. The suggested donation for each of the two classes is $150. They can be taken separately.

First meeting: Thursday, September 16; 6:30pm - 8:30pm PST

Weekly meetings on Thursday

For enrolling:

On June 5, 2021, Dr. Sara Moslener presented on "Purity, Race, and Nationalism" for our series "Wisdom for our Time". See video link above.

On April 14, 2021, Dr. Angela Gorrell presented her book "The Gravity of Joy" for our series "Wisdom for Our Time"

The Birth of Jesus: Myth, History, and Spirituality,

an online class

with Jim Dunkly and Gianluigi Gugliermetto

Decades, even centuries, of sentimentalization of the "Christmas story" have contributed to hide to our eyes the power of the narratives regarding the birth of Jesus that are found in Matthew' and Luke's Gospels. But the familiar images of angels and shepherds, kings and stars, Mary and the babe, and even more the dreams and visions of Mary and Joseph, originally had a revolutionary meaning. Today it is still possible to recover such images and dreams for an engaged spirituality of justice and hope.

This class is:

  • informative: the "infancy gospels" will be explained with the rigor of the historical-critical method

  • fascinating: the power of mythic and archetypal images will be explored

  • spiritual: the option of allowing our deepest desires to inform our lives will be engaged

"Either the dream of Jesus of Nazareth of the kingdom of God upon earth is a fantastic, anarchic, completely crazy dream, that one must oppose... Or it is completely true. It did not fit into his time, and it does not fit into our time. But each one of us can know that it is true, for it touches us in the depths of our being. It reverberates with truth and a longing within; we can feel that the kingdom of God is near" - Eugen Drewermann

This class meets four times on Tuesdays from 7:00pm to 8:30pm, starting on November 24, 2020, via zoom. The next dates are December 1, 8, and 15.

This class is co-taught by James Dunkly, Ph.D. in New Testament, and Gianluigi Gugliermetto, Ph.D. in Theology.




an online free class - APRIL and MAY 2020

taught by Dr. James Dunkly and Fr. Gianluigi Gugliermetto

What do the earliest testimonies about the resurrection of Jesus say? How did the early Christians connect the resurrection of Jesus to a new hope for the human race? How do the "mystery" of the cross and the resurrection of Jesus ground the Christian faith? Is it necessarily so?

Atonement, Violence, and the Cross of Jesus

To be rescheduled

There is no doubt that the cross has shaped people’ s lives in positive ways – liberating them in ways they never thought possible and revealing a vision of love and compassion that gives hope in situations of suffering. For other people, the cross can be oppressive in that it serves to justify pattern of abuse through upholding silent suffering as redemptive or because it has been used as a symbol of racist or nationalist aggression. Indeed, one person may hold conflicting images of the cross that speak to different aspects of one’s experience – Marit Trelstad

Should Christians substitute the image of the cross in their churches with that of the empty tomb in the garden? And why should we focus on the last three horrible days of his life, rather than on the whole of it: his teachings, his healings, his defiance to the power of the Empire? This class examines the historical construction of the doctrine of atonement (i.e. the notion that Jesus Christ saves humanity through his death on the cross) not simply to justify its demise, but rather to explore the possibility of reframing it in non-violent and non exclusionary ways.


We are all seekers

Believer, atheist, agnostic, pantheist, spiritual but not religious; however we self-describe, the fact is we are all seekers. No matter who you are or where you are on your journey of life and faith, all are welcome to drop in on Wednesdays in January 2020! In our present context, many of us are skeptical of religion and experiencing a growing sense of frustration with religious gatekeepers. But at the Center for Spirituality at Christ Church, Ontario, California we believe there is value in coming together to listen and share together with open minds and hearts as we seek after all that is beautiful, true, compelling, and lasting.

January 29, 2020 Experience of dogma?

January 22, 2020 Why Jesus?

January 15, 2020 Which path led you here?

January 8, 2020 Why bother with belief?


Dreaming our Way to Wholeness, with Kathy Sperling

JANUARY 24 and 25, 2020

Are you longing for an ancient and powerful practice to explore spiritual growth and transformation? Dreams are one of the fastest ways to connect to the soul and experience human wholeness, which brings freedom, spaciousness and meaning to our often distracted lives. Whether or not you have worked with dreams, this will open up new possibilities to develop greater compassion for self and the world around you.


Ritual, liturgy, and sacraments


The shape of the festive liturgies that are celebrated at Christ Church, Ontario, the home of the Center for Spirituality, depends on the New Testament and other very ancient sources dating as early as the 2nd century. In this series, we discuss each part of the "Mass" and discover its significance, its history, and its spirituality.

12 January The ancient roots of our liturgy: the meaning of baptism in imperial Rome.

19 January Sacred space and sacred action: the entrance rite and the music.

25 January Sacred words and sacred teachings: hearing the Bible at mass.

2 February Giving and receiving: the offertory and the body in the liturgy.

9 February Memorial and sacrifice: the sacred meal of Christians.

16 February Praying at mass: thanksgivings and petitions in a sacramental context.

23 February The liturgy of the heart: how to live Baptism and Eucharist .


A weekly meeting from October 2018 to March 2020

The search for wisdom, the attempt at understanding oneself with the help of others, and the healing of deep wounds by opening to the transcendence are at the core of the universal monastic experience in every religion. Christian monastics throughout the ages have joined such search to their faith in Jesus Christ as teacher, healer, and conduit to God. Today, it is possible to draw from some of the treasures of the monastic experience without living in a monastic community, thus our expression "Monastery Without Walls".

During our meetings, we learn and practice contemplative prayer, we read passages from monastic theology and spirituality, and we share some of our life journeys. Awareness, balance, and compassion are among the virtuous habits of the heart that we learn by spending time together and staying open to the action of the Holy Spirit.

Among the authors and texts studied:

  • Thomas Merton, Seeds of Contemplation

  • Evagrius, On Prayer

  • The Cloud of Unknowing

  • Sayings of the Desert Fathers and Mothers

  • Bruce Davis, Monastery Without Walls


God and Desire

with Gianluigi Gugliermetto


What has human desire to do with God? Is God simply a projection of human wishes? Has sexual desire anything to do with spirituality? Why mystics say that God desires us?

December 1: The fight against "the prejudice towards libido" in the theology of the 20th century

December 8: Feminist theology and the divine eros: promises and critiques

December 15: Asceticism, mysticism, and desire in the life of Christians

December 22: Cosmic desire in a Buddhist-Christian conversation


Dreams as a Path to Deep Healing of the Soul

with Peter Fritsch

November 22-23, 2019

Westerners have been raised to believe for the past few centuries that dreams have nothing to do with truth or with their spiritual life. However, early Christian literature bears witness to the spiritual importance of dreams, and in the 20th century the work of Carl Jung has reclaimed for dreams their rightful place in contemporary spirituality. In this workshop, participants will be led to explore the symbolism of their own dreams as a path to a surprising depth of healing.



September 9 and September 15


with Dr. Jim A. Sanders

What did Paul mean when he asked his readers to “have the mind of Christ, who had the mind of God”? What changes does it make to look at the whole system of Christian doctrines once we understand this point?Dr. Jim A. Sanders is professor emeritus at CST/CGU and founder of the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center in Claremont, California

September 22 The Jewish High Holidays

with Dr. Jim Dunkly and guests

Dr. Jim Dunkly was professor of New Testament at Sewanee School of Theology

September 29 Reclaiming the Past: French Heroines and a Hidden Child in World War II

with Monique Saigal-Escudero

Her story is that of as a hidden Jewish child thrown in a train by her grandmother to save her. By chance, a Catholic family found her and raised her as a Catholic. Many years later, she writes a book in which she reconnects to her past and presents her interviews to French women who chose the path of the Resistance against the Nazi during occupation. Dr. Monique Saigal is a retired professor from Pomona College. She is the recipient of several awards, including the Dr. Philip Weiss Inaugural Award for Storytelling for Peace and Human Rights from the University of Manitoba.

October 6: The Polity of the Episcopal Church with Jim White

The Episcopal Church is an historical offshoot of the Church of England, but in our American context it has assumed unique characteristics. This church seeks to embody and balance the ideal of democracy in a Christian context without altering the traditional sacramental authority of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons. The result is an interesting hybrid whose complex inner-workings will be sketched in this presentation. Jim White is lay leader in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

October 13: Seeds of Hope: How a Garden Can Create Community with Tim Alderson

Gardens have symbolic, aesthetic, and ecological meaning. Today, they are also connected to issues of health and justice. Come hear how these dimensions intertwine from a man who has helped establish many community gardens in the Greater Los Angeles area.Tim Alderson is director of Seed of Hope, a food justice ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

October 20 Hospital chaplaincy as a vocation with Jonathan Stoner

The work of a chaplain is to consult with precious and vulnerable human beings in need of compassionate, comprehensive spiritual, emotional, and mental health care. Jonathan will be leading us through an interactive experience to get a taste of the incredible honesty, vulnerability, and healing that takes place in the support groups he facilitates in the healthcare settings where he serves. Jonathan Stoner works as a certified chaplain at Glendale Memorial Hospital

October 27: Africa, the Bible and Women's Empowerment with Karen J. Torjesen

A transformative project sponsored by the World Council of Churches is using the Bible as a tool for African women's empowerment. This project will be presented by a principal actor in its creation, implementation, and evaluation. Karen J. Torjesen, Ph.,D, is a feminist theologian and former Dean of the School of Religion at CGU

November 3 Monastic Life in the 21st Century with Br. Adam McCoy, OHC

Why become a monk in the 21st Century? What is the meaning of Christian monasticism, and what future can be envisioned for it? What transformations are required and which values must remain? We will pose these and other questions to a man who has been deeply involved in both parish and monastic life.Br. Adam McCoy, OHC is prior of Mount Calvary Monastery in Santa Barbara

November 10 The Indigenous Jesus: Native American Perspectives with Simon Joseph

A professor of the New Testament talks about his research on how the figure of Jesus is interpreted in Native American communities. One of the most fascinating presentations of this season!Simon Joseph, Ph.D. teaches at California Lutheran University and UCLA

November 17: Images of Motherhood in the Book of Job with Mary Toroeiy

An alternative reading of the Book of Job that focuses on birth imagery. The dual meaning of the message of Job's book is that the cycle of life brings both joy and sadness. Rather than question these realities, we can learn how to better navigate them.Mary Toroeiy, Ph.D. is a Kenyan Anglican priest and theologian

November 24: Faith and Psychiatry with Bob Zondervan

Bob Zondervan is a retired psychiatrist and an old friend of Christ Church.


JESUS 101: Essentials of Christology

taught by Fr. Gianluigi Gugliermetto


Who was Jesus? Are there ways to uncover his original teachings? When and why Christians proclaimed the divine origin of Jesus? What does it mean to believe in Jesus? What bearings the historical doctrines about Jesus may have on our contemporary life? In this class, we will learn about such big issues from a variety of perspectives. No statement of faith is required to attend the class, yet each student will be invited to reflect on a personal level.

Book: Roger Haight, Jesus Symbol of God


Theological knots


For some of us, the following are issues of curiosity, for some of real concern. For some others, these are non-issues or they were issues. The point of this summer program is to LEARN about the history and the theology behind these doctrines, LISTEN to others’ points of view about them (i.e. how they affect their faith), and come out with more QUESTIONS than answers. The following questions are for guiding the discussion.

June 23 and June 30: The death of Christ and its effects

July 7 and July 14: Salvation and original sin

July 21 and July 28: Historic, symbolic and metaphorical

August 4: General discussion of the issues that have emerged.

August 11 and August 18: Creation and the sacraments

August 25 and September 1: God and evil


Lecture by the Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox


May 30, 2019


The Resurrected Life: Beyond Dualism

with Gianluigi Gugliermetto

May 17-19, 2019

The word "dualism" here indicates the psychic perception of life in terms of either/or.While the ability to observe the presence of opposites in the surrounding reality is paramount for the development of human consciousness, it becomes an obstacle when it does not yield to a more fluid and dialectical interaction. Participants to this retreat will be helped to face those "dualisms" which prevent them from living a fuller, happier, and more loving life.The retreat is held in the context of a contemplative experience of reflection and prayer.



March 10 - Deepening our spiritual life through our practices

March 17 - Psalmody as a way to personal growth

March 24 - A communal understanding of Scripture

March 31 - Contemplation as leading to a deeper life

April 7 - Personal growth in our humanity

April 14 - The depths of God's hospitality

During Eastertide 2019 we will discuss Rowan Williams' book Tokens of Trust, which is a contemporary exposition of the Creed.

April 28 - Tokens of Trust, ch. 1: Who can we trust?

May 5 - Tokens of Trust, ch. 2: The risk of Love

May 12 - Presentation of Matthew Fox, "A Way to God: Thomas Merton's Creation Spirituality Journey"

May 19 - Tokens of Trust, ch. 3: A man for all seasons

May 26 - Tokens of Trust, ch. 4: The peace dividend

June 2 - Presentation of James Cone, "The Lynching Tree and the Cross", with Patricia Orton

June 9 - Tokens of Trust, ch. 5: God in company

June 16 - Tokens of Trust, ch. 6: Love actually

June 23 - Presentation of Mark S. Heim, "Saved from Sacrifice"


The Flow of Love: Finding Our True Ground

with Jana Milhon-Martin

January 18-20, 2019

Why is so difficult for us to love? The simple answer is: our own woundedness. But so often our woundedness manifests itself outside of our own awareness, beyond our rational or conscious thinking, leaving us cut-off from others. In this retreat we will endeavor to explore the grammar of the dynamics of love as it actually is, not just as we would like it to be. We will endeavor to open up to the work of the Holy Spirit on our souls, moving toward a greater wholeness.



1/6 The Offertory at Mass, with Fr. Gianluigi

1/13 Church Music as prayer, with Jan Aldrich, our cantrice at Christ Church

1/20 True love as a flow, with Jana Milhon-Martin

1/27 Sin in the writings of the Father of the Church, with Liza Anderson.

2/3 "DeRay McKesson's life work for civil rights and nonviolence", with Mary Roberts

2/10 The Episcopal Calendar of the Saints, with Liza Anderson.

2/17 The Creeds and secularization: the position of Harvey Cox with Jeff Paulus

2/24 Monks behind bars (prison ministry), with Br. Dennis Gibbs

3/3 Moralizing vs. theologizing: two ways of reading the Bible, with Jim Dunkly and Jim Sanders.



led by Dr. Jim Dunkly


12/2 Who are "our" enemies?

12/9 Do we "need" enemies?

12/23 Enemies "within us"?


The Nonviolence of Jesus:

Encountering our Wounds and Receiving the Balm of Divine Healing

with by Giovanni Esti, Ph.D.

October 5-7, 2018

The retreat will bring participants to confront their own violence as both agents and victims of it, but aimed at transcending the reaching of awareness of such state of affairs. Through reflection, contemplative prayer, art-as-meditation, and rituals, participants will be helped to become available to the work of the healing Spirit of God.


Fall 2018

9/9 A plastic-free world? With Amanda Alexander and Kevin Morton

9/16 The Huerta del Valle community garden in Ontario, with Arthur Levine and Maria Alonso - click here for more info on the speakers

9/23 Church and politics from ancient Israel to today, with Dr. James A. Sanders (1) - click here for more info on the speaker

9/30 Church and politics from ancient Israel to today, with Dr. James A. Sanders (2) - click here for more info on the speaker

10/7 The Nonviolence of Jesus, with Dr. Giovanni Esti, click here for more info on the speaker

10/14 Ecology and theology in the works of Anne Primavesi, with Mary Roberts

10/21 Prayer as interiorized liturgy in the Syriac tradition, with Dr. Liza Anderson, click here for more info on the speaker

10/28 Matta-el-Meskeen and contemporary Egyptian monasticism, with Dr. Giovanni Esti, click here for more info on the speaker

11/4 Water as part of holiness, with Meg Ferris

11/11 Post-traumatic slave disorder (1), with Cash Sutton

11/18 Post-traumatic slave disorder (2), with Cash Sutton

The series on POST-TRAUMATIC SLAVE DISORDER is based on the work of Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary.

11/25 The Nonviolent Messiah, with Dr. Simon Joseph