Lay Academy – Classes for Alumni

Anyone who has attended at least two years of Lay Academy is welcome to return for any of the classes being offered in any given year for just $25. The fee includes lunch on Saturday. Participants are responsible for purchasing their own reading material (if any) and providing their own lodging, if needed.

For Faith Foundations – Year 1 classes, see below. For Lay Leadership Skills – Year 3 classes, click here.

2016-2017 Faith Foundations – Year 1

How to Think Theologically September 9-10, 2016
Instructor: Dow Edgerton, Chicago Theological Seminary

Readings: All 150 Psalms from the Bible; and the Gospel of Luke


The Older Testament Part 1 November 4-5, 2016
Instructor: Carolyn Pressler, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities


  • First, read these scripture passages: Genesis 1-4; Genesis 15; Genesis 22; Exodus 1-3; 14-15; Exodus 19-20; Numbers 11; Deuteronomy 5-6; Joshua 1-11; Judges 4-5; 2 Samuel 7, and any other chapters in Genesis through Kings that particularly interest you.
    • Work carefully through one or two of the passages that especially interest you. That is, read them slowly, more than once, and if you can, in more than one English translation, pay attention to how they work as literature. How do they use repeated words, phrases, or images. Notice the characters in the story and how they interact. Notice how the story, or the command unfolds.
  • After working with the biblical texts, then read the assigned “secondary” writings:
    • Michael Coogan, The Old Testament: a Very Short Introduction. Chapters 1-7; 11. (pages 1-74; 111-129).
    • Ellen Davis, Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament. Chapters 5, “I’ve Got to Turn Aside,” Ch, 6, “The Binding of Isaac;” Ch. 12, “A Fool for Love,” and  17 “Greed and Prophecy.”
    • Let these readings serve as “conversation partners” to help you think about the biblical passages.


The Older Testament Part 2, January 20-21, 2017
Instructor: Carolyn Pressler, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities
Register online


  • First, read these scripture passage: Isaiah 1; 5-6; 40; 49; Jeremiah 1; 7:1-15; Jeremiah 22:1-9; Jeremiah 31; Amos 5; Micah 1-3; 6:1-8; Psalms 1; 6; 19; 22; 33; 42; 46; 100; 137; 139.  Job 3; 38; Proverbs 8; Song of Solomon 1; Ruth.
    • Choose one or two passages to work through more slowly, reading the passage several times, preferably in more than one translation.
      • If the passage you choose to work with is from one of the prophets, read the Introduction to that prophetic book in your annotated Study Bible, and consult the annotations, to get a sense of the historical events that triggered the prophetic oracle(s).
      • If you choose poetry from the writings i.e., (a psalm, a passage from Job, Proverbs 8, Song of Solomon 1), see how the passage works as poetry. Look at its movement, reflect on the images the poem uses, note repetition of words, or of images (e.g., “water” in Psalm 24).
      • If you choose to work with the book of Ruth, enjoy how it works as a story. How would you describe the characters? Do they develop? Do their relationships change or develop? Compare the townsmen’s blessing (4:11-12) to the women’s blessing in 4:14-15.
    • After you have read the assigned biblical texts,
      • read Coogin, chapters 8-10 and 12;
      • Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination (all)
      • Davis, chapters 1-4; 7; and 8-11.

Let these “secondary readings” serve as your conversation partners, to help you think more deeply or more precisely about the biblical materials.

Christian Theology: An Overview, March 3-4, 2017
Instructor: Carolyn Roncalato, Campus Engagement Manager at Interfaith Youth Core, Chicago, Ill.
Register online

Read: “How to Think Theologically” by Stone and Duke

Racism and Christian Ethics, April 28-29, 2017
Instructor: Dr. Ben Sanders III, Eden Theological Seminary, St. Louis, Mo.
Register online

Read: “The Cross and the Lynching Tree” by James Cone

Hotel information

If there are rooms available, you can get the Wisconsin Conference UCC special rate at the Holiday Inn Express, DeForest, at 7184 Morrisonville Rd. You must call the direct phone number and ask for the United Church of Christ special rate of $69. You cannot get the special rate unless you call the hotel directly. The phone number to call is 608-846-8686.

Another nearby hotel is the Comfort Inn and Suites, DeForest, 5025 Co Hwy V. There is no special rate for the Conference. Their phone number is 608-846-9100.

If these hotels are both full, hotels in Madison (north or East Towne area) and in Sun Prairie are within a 20-minute drive from the Conference office.


For program questions, contact Tisha Brown at or (608) 846-7880

For registration or logistics questions, contact Nola Risse-Connolly at or (608) 846-7880

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Contact Us

(608) 846-7880