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Life at Eden

LIFE at Eden

About LIFE
You're invited to take part in LIFE, the Lay Institute of Faith Exploration. LIFE retreats take place five times a year on the Eden campus and provide lay persons with a more comprehensive way to explore their faith.

LIFE at Eden

What is the LIFE program?

LIFE (Lay Institute of Faith Exploration) is a program  of retreats that invites lay men and women to study    scripture and explore Christian faith and life. It challenges participants to become life long learners and disciples, faithful witnesses to the gospel and faithful members and leaders of the church. LIFE is sponsored jointly by the Missouri Mid-South Conference, the Illinois South Conference and Eden Theological Seminary (all United Church of Christ).

How does the LIFE program work?

Each LIFE retreat offers two courses. Participants must register for one course or the other as they are offered simultaneously. All participants may register for either course.
    One course is always a Certificate Course (formerly called Basic Course). The 15 Certificate Courses are offered on a three-year cycle (five courses a year). Persons who complete all 15 Certificate courses receive a Leadership Certificate.
    The other course will focus on a topic of current interest in Christian faith and church life.

The 15 Certificate Courses are:

  • On the Road to Discipleship
  • Exploring the Presence of God (Thinking Theologically)
  • Reading and Understanding Scripture: Old Testament
  • Reading and Understanding Scripture: New Testament
  • What is the Church and what is its Purpose?
  • God in Scripture (Biblical Theology)
  • Shaping Faithful Worship (Worship and Sacraments)
  • The Church Is a Learning Community (Christian Education)
  • How Do We Live Our Faith? (Christian Ethics)
  • Confronting Reality:  Life and Faith (Justice and Witness)
  • Exploring the UCC  (UCC history and polity)
  • Proclaiming the Good News (Preaching)
  • Caring in Community  (Pastoral Care)
  • Telling and Living the Story (Evangelism)
  • Christianity in America (Church History)

Five retreats are held each year (early January, early March, late April, mid September, and early November). They begin with on Friday evening with 6pm dinner and end on Saturday at 3:30pm, following closing worship. Each retreat includes worship, community life, devotional time, meals and six hours of class instruction.

Where are the retreats held?

All retreats are held on the campus of Eden Theological Seminary, a leading theological center in Webster Groves, Missouri. Worship is held in the Seminary Chapel in the Press Center. Courses are held in classrooms in Press. Meals are eaten in the Schroer Commons, the Seminary’s dining room. Overnight lodging is provided in Seminary housing. Each suite accommodates two participants, providing a private bedroom for each and a common living room. Bathrooms are down the hall.
LIFE at Eden

Who teaches the LIFE courses?

All the courses are taught highly trained and skilled teachers. Many are professors at Eden. Others are outstanding church leaders in the St. Louis area and beyond. Instructors usually identify some preparatory reading for each course (a book or journal articles, etc.) At most retreats, books for the following retreat will be available for purchase. Or they may be ordered and will be mailed.

What is the schedule at a retreat?

    Friday evening
      5pm Registration
      6pm Dinner
      7pm Worship
      7:30pm Session 1 of each course
      9pm Fellowship
    Saturday
      7:15am Coffee/Tea ready
      7:30am Bible study
      8am Breakfast
      8:40am Session 2 of each course
      10:10am Break
      10:30am Session 3 of each course
      12 noon Lunch
      12 noon Seminary Bookstore is open until 1pm
      1:10pm Session 4 of each course
      2:40pm Closing Worship
      3:10pm Adjournment
What is the cost of a retreat?

The $140 fee includes Friday dinner, Saturday breakfast and lunch, parking, the course and overnight lodging. Persons who do not want overnight lodging pay $130 for the three meals, the course and parking. The cost of preparatory reading materials (books, articles, etc) is additional.


What's being offered in 2013-14?

April 25-26, 2014
Certificate Course: Church is a Learning Community: Christian Education
Elective Course: TBA

Click here to download a registration form for this LIFE Retreat

Certificate Course - "The Church is a Learning Community"

Marsha Peek

Mentor for new teachers in the Webster Groves school district

Elmhurst College, BA in Elementary Education and Psychology, 1976

Christian Education for all ages is a vital ministry in all churches. This workshop will explore the why, where, who, what, and how questions of Christian Education and Youth Ministry in the local church. We'll be using Karen B. Tye's wonderful book, "Christian Education in the Small Membership Church" as well as referring to her book, "Basics of Christian Education" both offering imaginative suggestions that will empower Christian formation through a variety of educational opportunities. This participatory workshop will also provide practical resources and
opportunities to dialogue about this integral part of church ministry, community, outreach and mission.


Before retiring in 2010, Marsha taught for 34 years in the St. Louis area. She has served as Director of Christian
Education in a local UCC church, has worked with children and youth of all ages at the local and Missouri Conference level, has directed summer camps at Mo-Val, and has written numerous Workshop Rotation Model curricula. Marsha is presently working part-time as a Mentor for new teachers for the Webster Groves school district.

Recommended texts:

"Christian Education in the Small Membership Church," Karen Tye
available in the Eden Bookstore


Elective Course - "God Revealed in Scripture: OT Historical Books"

Rev. Dr. John Bracke
Professor Emeritus, Eden Theological Seminary

Elmhurst College, BA, 1969
Eden Theological Seminary, M.Div, 1972
Eden Theological Seminary, D.Min., 1979
Union Theological Seminary in Virginia, Ph.D., 1983


Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings: The so-called historical books in the Old Testament include some of the most well-known stories in the Bible -- Sampson, David and Goliath, Elijah and Elisha. These books also include some very troublesome stories -- the conquest of Israel with the violent destruction of its cities and the slaughter of their citizens or the rape of Tamar. In this class, we will explore ways to read these books so
their theological themes can be discerned in the context in which they were written.




Before retirement, John taught Old Testament and Studies in Ministry courses. He taught the required introductory Old Testament class. He also taught several elective courses: Hebrew Grammar, a course on the books of
Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and Old Testament Theology. He has published commentaries on the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations in the Westminister Bible Companion Series and with Professor Tye, a book on teaching the Bible in the church.

Recommended Texts: "The Historical Books," Richard Nelson
available in the Eden Bookstore




For more information, or to register:


A deposit of $50 confirms your registration. Please make checks payable to Eden Theological Seminary.

Send checks to:
Jill Schantz
LIFE at Eden Theological Seminary
475 East Lockwood Ave.

Webster Groves, MO  63119



Meet God in new places, and come to LIFE!