Awakening the Body Series

Wed, Feb 6, 2019 | 06:30 pm - 08:00 pm

A Year-Long Series on Health, Wholeness, and Embodied Faith 

The Awakening Series is a year-long journey of exploration and discernment during which all people are invited to learn about current justice issues.  The series is mostly educational and is intended to create a deep understanding and compassion for those who live on the margins.  It encourages a critical examination of personal, structural, historical, sociological, psychological, historical, and theological obstacles to the establishment of equity, wholeness, and fulfillment of all people (a.k.a. shalom). 

In previous years, the Awakening Series has covered themes of racial and immigrant injustice.  This year we turn our focus to the human body.  Every one of us has a body; and as part of our embodied experience, we receive and perceive everything around us through our bodies.  While our bodies are a part of our human experience from the beginning, we (humankind) have an interesting history of relationship with these bodies.  In this year-long series, we will explore the historical and theological relationships of humans and our bodies.  We will examine ways in which our bodies have been perceived as a problem (aging, illness, violence, imperfection, etc.) and ways in which our bodies can be understood as solution (wholeness, health, acceptance, relationship, communion, etc.).  Throughout our journey of learning, we will endeavor to engage our bodies in spiritual practices that help us to integrate mind, body, soul, and earth. 

All are invited to join us on this journey of Awakening!

God be with us all along the way!   

Monthly Gatherings
Sundays | 9:45 – 10:45 am | Heaton Hall |
childcare and Faith Formation classes available 
Wednesdays | 6:30 – 8:00 pm | Heaton Hall |
childcare available in room 107 

Dr. Brian Bantum

Body as Solution
Sunday, February 24 | 9:45 – 10:45am | Heaton Hall
In this Sunday forum, guest lecturer Dr. Bryan Bantum leads us in a forum on redeeming the body as solution rather than problem. Bantum is Associate Professor of Theology at Seattle Pacific University.  He is a black bi-racial son of Wendy and Joseph, husband of Gail Song, a Korean American pastor, and father to three mixed race children.His academic and professional work focuses on theology, embodiment, and Christian life. All of his work is rooted in the intersections of diverse races, ethnicities, and communities.  

Sunday, March 10 | 9:45 – 10:45am | Heaton Hall 
In this Sunday morning forum the focus will be on Health Care Justice. Health care is the #1 concern for most Americans. Our health care system is broken and many people are suffering. The Cornwell Center’s Health Care Justice Group will bring a distinguished panel of doctors and experts for a discussion and Q&A on this very important topic.

Made to Die
Sunday, April 14 | 9:45 – 10:45am | Heaton Hall 
During this Palm Sunday gathering, we will talk about death and dying as a reality of the human condition. We will explore ways in which the Christian faith has understood death. Subsequently we will discuss ways in which our theologies of death and dying have impacted the ways we minister to each other in the midst of death, terminal illness, loss, and grief. 

Resurrecting the Body  
Wednesday, May 8 | 6:30 – 8:00pm | Heaton Hall 
In this season of Easter and resurrection, we will work to reclaim and resurrect ourselves as embodied beings.  Studying scriptural accounts of resurrection and exploring how resurrection is still happening, we will challenge ourselves to resurrect our bodies and live as an alive, embodied, redeemed community of Christ. 

Previous Gatherings: 

A Somatic Faith
Sunday, September 9 | 9:45 – 10:45 am | Heaton Hall

Drs. Ched Myers and Elaine Enns, guest scholars from Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries (, kicked-off the year with a broad conversation of the year of the body. During this forum we discussed the inter-woven nature of creation – mind, body, soul, and earth. In addition to this forum on September 9, Drs. Myers and Enns led us in a series of conversations on September 9 and 10.

How Did We Get Here?: History of Disembodiment
Wednesday, September 19 | 6:30 – 8:00pm | Heaton Hall 
Rev. Chrissy Williamson & Rev. Ben Boswell, along with Bethany Johnson (M.Phil, M.A., and member of MPBC) will lead a conversation that bridges the gap between the vision of wholeness and full integration and the disembodied state that many of us feel in the world and in our faith practices. During this 90-minute gathering, we will learn about significant historical, philosophical, and religious moments that have shaped our contemporary understanding of the body.

At the Intersections: Race, Gender, and Class | J21 Weekend Workshop with Rev. Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman
Friday – Sunday, October 12 – 14 | Various times 
Rev. Dr. Eboni Marshall Turman, J21 Scholar, will teach us about the layering of race, gender, class, and the impoverishment of bodies. Turman is Assistant Professor of Theology and African American Religion at Yale Divinity School. For more about Dr. Turman or the Weekend Workshop, click here.  

Ability & Disability 
Sunday, November 11 | 9:45 – 10:45am | Heaton Hall 
During this forum, Rev. Dr. Bill Leonard will teach us about  the universal and particular challenges of our human bodies, including (but not limited to) the following: aging, hearing/vision loss, mobility, illness, and mental health. 

An Incarnate God  
Wednesday, December 5 | 6:30 – 8:00pm | Heaton Hall

Kicking off the season of Advent, Chrissy & Ben present the theme of “an incarnate God,” which will explore scriptures, theologies, and spiritual practices that connect us with the God who took on human flesh. The theme of an incarnate God will be further explored in sermons and podcasts throughout the month of December. 

Bethany Johnson

The Perfect Body
Wednesday, January 9 | 6:30 – 8:00pm | Heaton Hall
How many of us made some kind of resolution this year to lose weight, to eat healthier, or to exercise?  In this season of body-based resolutions and new-found commitments, we will learn about all of the external forces at work in our lives that put pressure on us to have bodies that look and function a certain way. From media to sexual and gender normativity, there are so many expectations on all of our bodies, it’s hard to keep up! At this gathering we’ll name some of those stress-inducing forces in our lives and learn some spiritual practices that might help us cope under the societal pressure of perfection. 

A Well of Hope  
Wednesday, February 6 | 6:30 – 8:00pm | Heaton Hall
Our bodies offer challenges to us throughout our lives.  Some of the primary challenges that we face as embodied beings are related to illness and aging. In this age of webMD and overwhelming amounts of information about health, it can be difficult to parse out fact from fiction. In this session we will learn about integrative medicine, health, aging, and the impact that diet has on our overall wellbeing. Our guest lecturers are Dr. Joe and Sarah Parisi. 

Dr. Joseph Parisi

Dr. Joseph Parisi received a Bachelor’s Degree with Honors in Psychology from the University of Connecticut. He completed an M.A. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Hartford and was awarded a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology. Dr. Parisi was the Director of Psychology and Behavioral Medicine at Presbyterian Hospital for 14 years.  During that time he established the hospital’s Center for Mind-Body Health and co-founded the Center for Integrative Medicine.  Prior to that he was the Director of Psychology at Charter Pines Hospital where he developed and directed the hospital’s Anxiety Disorders Program. Dr. Parisi established and has maintained a private practice in Charlotte, NC since 1979.  He is in practice with Charlotte Behavioral Health Associates and is president of the Mecklenburg Psychological Association. Sarah Parisi served as Parish nurse at MPBC. 

Awakening News 
To stay up to date with the Awakening the Body series, visit the church website or the Awakening series website  News about upcoming gatherings, book studies, small groups, and pilgrimage opportunities can also be found in the Church’s weekly e-News. To subscribe, contact Laura Geer at

Join an Awakening the Body Small Group! 
Throughout the year there will be several opportunities for you to join a small group related to the theme of Awakening the Body. These opportunities will be posted in the weekly e-News.  To learn more about Awakening the Body small group opportunities, email Caroline Manning at To subscribe to the weekly e-News, contact Laura Geer at   

Coming this Spring… 

Pilgrimage Opportunity 
A pilgrimage is often described as a physical journey with a sacred purpose.  It is embodied learning at its best! For that reason, every Awakening series has a culminating pilgrimage opportunity.  This year’s pilgrimage is still being planned and will be announced in early 2019.  Stay tuned!

Podcast Book Studies 
Throughout the year, Chrissy and Ben produce podcast book studies on books from the recommended reading list (see below). This summer (2018) we published a series on Kate Bowler’s book, Everything Happens for a Reason, as a soft entry into the Awakening the Body series. These episodes, and future podcast series related to this Awakening series, can be found on iTunes as “Theology Upstream Podcasts” or online at

Recommended Reading 
There are so many great resources for learning more about bodies! The following is a list of resources for you to consider as supplements for your personal journey of awakening this year.  These are books that helped us understand the topics covered in this series. 

Podcast Book Studies for 2018 – 2019
Everything Happens for a Reason, Kate Bowler 
Honoring the Body, Stephanie Paulsell 
Incarnate, Michael Frost 
Being Mortal, Atul Gawande 

Religion, Theology, Spirituality 
Let the Bones Dance, Marcia Mount Shoop 
Finding God in the Body, Benjamin Riggs 
Body: Biblical Spirituality for the Whole Person, Paula Gooder 
Spirit, Soul, Body: Toward an Integral Spirituality, Cyprian Consiglio 
The Corinthian Body, Dale B. Martin 

Gender & Ability
The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, Joan Jacobs Brumberg 
Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man, Susan Faludi 
The Disabled God, Nancy L. Eiesland 

The Death of Race, Bryan Bantum 
Toward a Womanist Ethic of Incarnation, Eboni Marshall Turman (J21 Scholar) 

Integration of Body, Soul, Sabbath, & Soil 
Living the Sabbath, Norman Wirzba 
Making Peace with the Land, Norman Wirzba & Fred Bahnson 
Soil & Sacrament, Fred Bahnson 

More about the series can be found at

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