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lenten speaker series

The 2017 Lenten Speaker Series begins on March 5 !

Details to follow.

Some History:

St. Luke's Lenten Speaker Series Concluded its Fifth Year on March 20th, 2016. The 2016 St. Luke's Lenten Speaker Series started on the First Sunday of Lent, February 14 - and the final session was on Palm Sunday, March 20. Attendees were treated to a wide array of interesting speakers from the civic, arts, academic, medical and religious sectors of San Francisco. A BIG THANKS to all who attended, presented and helped make our 2016 Lenten Speaker Series a success !!

On March 20th, Palm Sunday, at 9 AM in Dade Hall our final distinguished guest speaker in the series was Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. (pictured), His topic: "God, Grace, Gratitude and the Gospel".

Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis where he has taught since 1988. He received his Ph.D. degree from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign. He is the author of nearly 200 original publications in peerreviewed journals or chapters and has written or edited six books, including The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns (Guilford Press), The Psychology of Gratitude (Oxford University Press), Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton-Mifflin), Gratitude Works! A Twenty-One Day Program for Creating Emotional Prosperity (Jossey-Bass) and the forthcoming Little Book of Gratitude (Hachette). A leader in the positive psychology movement, Dr. Emmons is founding editor and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Positive Psychology. He is Past-President of the American Psychological Association’s Division 36, The Psychology of Religion. His research focuses on the psychology of gratitude and thankfulness in both adults and youth, and also include the psychology and spirituality of joy and grace as they relate to human flourishing. Dr. Emmons has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, the John M. Templeton Foundation, and the National Institute for Disability Research and Rehabilitation. His research has been featured in dozens of popular media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, Time, NPR, PBS, Consumer Reports, Reader’s Digest, Wall Street Journal, and the Today Show.


2016 Highlights / Distinguished Guest Speakers:

The 2016 Lenten Speaker Series started on February 14th with featured speaker, The Rev. Dr. John Kater, and his topic: COMMUNION AND CONFLICT: WHY ARE ANGLICANS ARGUING AND DO WE HAVE A FUTURE TOGETHER?

The Rev. John Kater is a graduate of Columbia University, the General Theological Seminary, and holds a Ph. D. from McGill University in Montreal. He served as rector of Christ Church in Poughkeepsie, NY for ten years and taught at Vassar College. He was Education Officer in the diocese of Panama from 1984 to 1990, and for 25 years has taught Anglican Studies at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, where he is now Professor Emeritus of Ministry Development. He has lectured widely around the Anglican Communion, was a consultant at the 1998 Lambeth Conference, taught in Brazil and Korea, and serves yearly as Visiting Professor at Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong.


Our Second distinguished guest speaker in the Lenten Series was Dr. Victoria Sweet on Sunday, February 21st.

San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital is the last almshouse in the country, a descendant of the Hôtel-Dieu (God’s Hotel) that cared for the sick in the Middle Ages.

Ballet dancers and rock musicians, professors and thieves — “anyone who had fallen, or, often, leapt, onto hard times” and needed extended medical care — ended up there.

Dr. Sweet ended up there herself, as a physician. And though she came for only a two-month stay, she remained for twenty years. Dr. Sweet is an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a prize-winning historian with a Ph.D. in history. She practiced medicine for 20 years at Laguna Honda Hospital in San Francisco, where she began writing. In her book, God’s Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine, she lays out her evidence—in stories of her patients and her hospital—for some radically new ideas about medicine and healthcare in this country. In our attempts to get control of healthcare costs by privileging “efficiency,” she suggests, we’ve been headed down the wrong path. Medicine works best—that is, arrives at the right diagnosis and the right treatment for the least amount of money—when it is personal and face-to-face; when the doctor has enough time to do a good job, and pays attention not only to the patient but to what’s around the patient. Dr. Sweet calls this approach Slow Medicine, and she believes that, put into wider practice, it would be not only more satisfying and beneficial for patient and doctor, but also less expensive for everyone. The New York Times calls her ideas “hard-core subversion”; Vanity Fair judges the book to be a “radical and compassionate alternative to modern healthcare,” and Health Affairs describes Dr. Sweet as a “visionary” and “subversive in all the best ways.” She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (2014) for her next project, tentatively entitled, Slow Medicine, Fast Medicine: Healing in an Age of Technology.

Dr. Sweet speaks frequently to medical professionals and the public about Slow Medicine and related topics, and we were pleased to have her with us on February 21st. Click this link to view her TEDx talk:


Our third speaker in the series was The Hon. Charles R. Breyer, United States District Court, Northern District of California, who spoke on February 28th about "The Moral Imperatives of Criminal Sentencing Reform". Judge Breyer received his AB in 1963 from Harvard College and his JD in 1966 from UC Berkeley School of Law. Upon graduation from law school, he clerked for Oliver J. Carter, chief judge, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. He then served as an assistant district attorney in San Francisco until 1973, when he was appointed assistant special prosecutor, Watergate Special Prosecution Force. He entered private practice in 1974, specializing in the defense of white-collar criminal cases. He was appointed to the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, in 1997 by President Clinton. In 2011, he was appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve on the Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation; and, in 2012, President Obama (with the consent of the Senate) appointed Judge Breyer to serve as Vice Chairman of the United States Sentencing Commission. Since 1997, Judge Breyer has advised the governments of Egypt, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukraine on criminal justice and civil case management issues.


Our fourth session in the 2016 Speaker Series was held on Sunday, March 6. The featured guest speaker, Mr. Travis Stevens, is a St. Luke's choir member and doctoral candidate in the history of Christianity at Harvard University. Travis spoke about "Praying with the Mystics: an Invitation for Lenten Practice", which focused on ways to enrich our spiritual life this Lenten season, and the history and practice of mystical prayer.


The fifth session in the 2016 Speaker Series - Sunday, March 13 - featured returning guest speaker and guest preacher, The Reverend Zach Drennen. His topic: "The Antidote to Toxic Charity Educating and Empowering Youth to Uplift their Communities".

Zach Drennen spoke and preached at St. Luke’s in 2014, and was so riveting, we wanted to hear more about the Elewana Education Project. In Zach Drennen’s own words “Mission, both in the sense of spreading the Gospel and trying to make the world a better place, is a fundamental tenet of our Christian Faith. Yet despite the best of intentions, many of our missionary experiences, whether foreign or domestic, meet with poor results and track records that leave the communities we had hoped to help little better off than when we found them. This Forum will explore the fundamental aspects of successful mission and service-learning endeavors such that visiting groups experience a deeper sense of accomplishment and appreciation for their hosts, while the hosting community comes away with a newly empowered sense of self-worth and agency. The background for this forum will stem from my 7 years of experience living and working as a missionary in Western Kenya - and making all of the aforementioned mistakes - so you don’t have to.”

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