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Activities and Events

Within the framework of the council’s mission and purposes, what we do follows the interests of the members, and so is in a continuing stage of development. There is a weekly seminar, an annual luncheon and access to on campus lectures.

The weekly seminar, however, serves as a core, common activity of the council. This seminar series runs each year from September to May. While a membership activity, guests are also welcome to attend seminars of interest. People who wish to attend regularly should consider becoming a member of the council.

The Twenty-First Year of the Council   

Tuesdays, 2:00-4:00 p.m.   
Pioneer-Johanson Conference Room, FPU Steinert Campus Center   
(unless otherwise noted) 

September 12 – Opening Reception

Time: 2:00-4:00 p.m.   
Location: Lobby of the Warkentine Culture and Arts Center   
Parking: Free, open parking in the lot surrounding the Center. Enter from Butler Seminary Entrance.

Welcome to another year of Senior Professionals seminars!

Again we begin with a reception allowing us to reconnect with each other and envision what awaits us by way of forthcoming seminars.

All are welcome, including on-going members, new members, and those still considering whether to join the group or not.

Moderator: Harold Ens

September 19 – Pastor Forrest Jenan: “Love Where You Live”

Forrest Jean is the lead pastor of Neighborhood Church (MB) in Visalia. On its website, Neighborhood Church declares that it “exists to inspire people wherever they are to live like Jesus wherever they go.”

Pastor Jenan adds a quote from James Hunter’s To Change the World “To be Christian is to be obliged to engage the world, pursuing God’s restorative purposes over all of life, individual and corporate, public and private. This is the mandate of creation.” 

Giving focus in this session to what Neighborhood is attempting in Visalia, Jenan further notes that “Jesus isn’t interested all that much in the quantity of people you can get to show up on a Sunday. Jesus cares about the quality of your service to the people around you. What does it mean for the Local Church to add value to the place it calls home? How does a local church love where they live? What does it mean for a local church to be FOR its community?”

Moderator: Frank Duerksen

September 26 – Mark Baker: “Reading Galatians Through the Lens of Paul Hiebert’s Centered-Set Church Concept”

Paul Hiebert was a leading missionary anthropologist of the twentieth century (also brother of Phyllis Hiebert Martens, our Senior Professionals member before her death). Among his many contributions was his distinction between what he called centered thinking and boundary thinking.

Mark Baker, J.B. Toews Professor of Mission and Theology at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, has drawn on Hiebert’s distinction in his recent works on Centered-Set Church: Discipleship and Community Without Judgmentalism (Inter Varsity Press, 2022) and Freedom from Religiosity and Judgmentalism:

Studies in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Kindred Productions Luminaire Studies series of biblical commentaries, 2023). Of the latter, Baker writes: “Galatians is often read through the lens of Martin Luther’s experience and seen simply as a letter that corrects false teaching that salvation is by works.” But seen through centered lens proposed by Hiebert, Baker sees the letter as illuminating a “deeper and broader purpose—one that has significance for all of us.”

In this session, Baker will share insights from both of his recently published books. If not the books themselves, members are encouraged to read at least the letter to the Galatians (only six chapters) before this session.

Moderator: Pat Unruh

October 2 (Monday) – Liz Garvin: “My Story and Vision”

Liz Garvin began her service as the new FPU Vice President for Advancement in August of this year after over twenty years of fundraising and nonprofit management in Fresno. Most recently, she has served in this capacity with the Foundation for Fresno Unified Schools after serving as senior director of planned and foundation giving at California State University Fresno. Earlier she served as director of mediation at the Fresno office of Better Business Bureau and President/CEO of Samaritan Women (Rescue the Children) in Fresno.

Educationally, Garvin is a graduate of our FPU Biblical Seminary (M.A. in Christian Ministry). She has earned a number of professional certificates from FPU (e.g. Basic Institute in Conflict Management and Mediation), United Way of Fresno, San Joaquin College of Law and Pepperdine University. Her B.A. in Communications Studies is from California State University, Sacramento.

In this session, Garvin will share her life story and vision for her new role as FPU Vice President for Advancement. 

Moderator: Dalton Reimer

October 10 – Debie Thomas: “Recovering the 'S' Words – Sin and Salvation for the 21st Century Church”

Location: To be announced.

Debie Thomas is the author of Into the Mess and Other Jesus Stories (Cascade Books, 2022), and a columnist and contributing editor for The Christian Century. She serves as the Minister of Lifelong Formation at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Palo Alto, California, and leads retreats and workshops on scripture, Christian formation, and writing as spiritual practice. Debie lives in Scotts Valley, CA, with her husband, Alex, and they are the parents of two "all grown up" children.  

As Senior Professionals, we are honored to be the primary audience for this first presentation of the 2023 Believers Church Lectureship. The Lectureship was originally established through an endowment of our former member, Dr. Herbert Penner and his wife, Jessica, while still living in Bakersfield. 

Of this presentation, Thomas writes: If Christianity is all about "Good News," then why do so many people experience it as bad? Is there a way we can rehabilitate the "S" words at the heart of the Gospel, so that both "sin" and "salvation" will resonate in ways that speak life, hope, and wholeness into the complexities of 21st century life? 

Lectureship Coordinator: Lynn Jost, Professor of Old Testament and Director of the Center for Anabaptist Studies at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.

Note that we are also invited to join others in the remaining lectures by Thomas:

Tuesday, October 10 – 6:00 p.m. public lecture: “Embracing the Mess: Finding Christ in Hard Places”

Wednesday, October 11 – 7:30 a.m.: Clergy/Lay Leader Breakfast: “The Story We Live In: Reframing Evangelism.”  Prior registration required.

Wednesday, October 11 – 10:00 a.m. chapel: “Holy Wrestling (Genesis 32:22-31) 

October 17 - Christa Pehl Evans: “The Schaffner Manuscripts: Musical Commonplacing in an Age of Print”

Christa is back for a second session after concluding our spring seminar sessions with a delightful presentation-demonstration titled “Flutes, Flutes and More Flutes.”

Now chair of the FPU music program, Christa, who earned a Ph.D. from Princeton University in historical musicology with a certificate in women’s studies and completed her undergraduate degree summa cum laude in flute performance and early music studies at Northwestern University, describes this session as follows: 

“In the 1790s and early 1800s, Lancaster, Pennsylvania resident Casper Schaffner (1767–1825) copied around 1,000 pages of music into several bound commonplace books. The two keyboard manuscripts and one vocal manuscript document a richer and more diverse amateur musical culture than was previously thought to be in any one geographic location in America at this time. Indeed, Schaffner’s collection includes mid-eighteenth-century German lieder and keyboard suites, popular English sonatas and theatrical music, and music by American composers including sonatinas, marches, and Masonic songs. 

“Beyond expanding our knowledge of how long and how far printed music may have circulated, Schaffner’s collection leads us away from a composer-centric world into that of the eighteenth-century American amateur musician, where composers are hardly worth noting and musical text is fluid rather than fixed. Schaffner routinely alters the music he copies, reorganizing suites, choosing one or two single movements from entire printed volumes, and even truncating works of particular composers. His approach to music, however, changed throughout the manuscripts, and in this we witness the changing tastes of an individual during a formative time in American history and the American music industry. 

“While the number of Schaffner’s manuscripts that survive is unusual, the practice of copying printed music into manuscripts was common in America at this time; Schaffner in fact even lived next door to musicians who also kept music commonplace books.  

“In this presentation, I relate the practice of keeping music manuscripts to the broader Enlightenment culture of commonplacing described by John Locke, who believed such collections were essential to organize and assist in the recollection of the diverse and complex material the creator knew and valued. The culture of commonplacing blossomed alongside the growing availability of print, or as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz wrote, “the horrible mass of books which keeps on growing.” This growing mass included printed music. Providing a window into the turn-of-the-nineteenth-century American home, commonplace music manuscripts tell us a great deal about printed musical culture and the musicians who consumed it.”

Moderator: Dalton Reimer

October 24 – Food Bank Tour

Ever wonder where the food distributed through churches of our members comes from? Today’s tour will provide an opportunity to find out.

Our group will be taking a tour of Central California Food Bank, the largest food bank in Central California serving Fresno, Madera, Kings, Kern and Tulare Counties. With the help of dedicated volunteers through 300+ partner feeding sites, they serve over 300,000 people each month, distributing 46 million pounds of food to neighbors in need each year. There will be an optional opportunity for members of our group to join their volunteer staff for a few hours, as part of our experience. 

Details regarding location and time will be forthcoming as we near this event.

Coordinator: Pat Unruh

October 31 - FPU Social Work 1

Education in helping professions is built into the DNA of Christian institutions of higher education. So it is that Fresno Pacific is adding a master’s degree program in social work to its already existing, long-term undergraduate major in the field. 

Supporting the inauguration of this new initiative is a $1.5 million grant from the California Department of Health Care Access & Information (HCAI) Social Work Education Capacity Expansion program. Noted is that “the HCAI program serves children and youth through developing and expanding social work education programs that increase the supply of trained behavioral health care staff. The program is supported by the Children and Youth Behavioral Health Initiative (CYBHI) and the Workforce for a Healthy California for All package.”

A number of our Senior Professionals members have careers in social work-related fields motivating Dean Ron Herms of the FPU School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences to invite members into conversation regarding the development of the master's program. This is an important expression of our Senior Professionals mission of serving as a resource to the University and Seminary.

Al Dueck of our group is working with Dean Herms on the details of this session and the next, which will also include others from the University and possibly others from our group. Details will be forthcoming as we near these sessions.

This and the following session will provide us with the opportunity to hear what is being projected as well as contribute further to the development of this important opportunity for the University to further impact social work practice through graduate social work alumni. 

Moderator: Al Dueck

November 7 - FPU Social Work 2

Continuation of Social Work 1

Moderator: Al Dueck

November 14 – Anne Guenther: “My Story”

The life stories of our members are an important feature of our Senior Professionals seminars. Today we are privileged to hear the story of Anne Guenther. 

Anne is Canadian by birth, the third of a family of seven children. Her life’s journey includes what was then called Mennonite Brethren Bible College in Winnipeg, where she met her husband Allen. Their journey together ultimately brought them to Fresno, where Allen joined the faculty of what is now FPU Biblical Seminary, and Anne began “thirty-four and one-half years of fulfilling and enjoyable service” as librarian in Hiebert Library, as she describes it, serving both the college-university and seminary. Her journey at the library included earning a master’s degree in Library Science from San Jose State. 

But preceding Fresno Pacific and Seminary, Anne and Allen’s journey included educational involvement at a number of institutions including short stints of teaching on Anne’s part at both the elementary and high school levels. Three sons by birth also joined them along the way. But we wait to hear the fuller story of her journey in this session. 

Moderator: Harold Ens                                                                 

November 21 – President Stephens: “The Post-COVID State of the University”

After an intensive first year of many challenges including unanticipated surprises, by this date FPU President Stephens will have begun his second year as Fresno Pacific’s president. By November, critical enrollment projections will have been tested against reality, and the many dimensions of shepherding a university will have moved into another stage of both continuing challenges as well as opportunities. 

As a supporting Senior Professionals group, it is important that we remain informed, and so we welcome President Stephens for a second presentation to our group after his first introduction last year.

Moderator: Al Dueck

December 3 (Sunday 3:00 p.m.) – FPU Christmas Lessons and Carols

As last year, we will again join the Sunday afternoon (evening optional) FPU Christmas Lessons and Carols concert as our last fall session, as we traditionally end with a concert by an FPU musical group. 

2023-24 Senior Professionals Steering Committee:

  • Al Dueck
  • Frank Duerksen
  • Harold Ens
  • Dalton Reimer
  • Pat Unruh