Past Recordings of Adult Discussion Group

June 7. 2020: "Global Ministries"

8 Mar 20: "Ending Homelessness in the South Bay"

Nancy Wilcox, who is the co-chair of the South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness, describes the conditions of the homeless people in Redondo, Hermosa, Manhattan, and El Segundo. She provides demographic profiles and headcounts for the last five years for each of the four cities. She explains various actions being taken to help our homeless populations, including County Measure H and efforts by church groups and volunteer groups like Family Promise.

1 Mar 20: "The Varieties of God"

Around the world, there is a wide variety of ways in which people perceive God. Our speaker, Rev. Jim Burklo, senior associate dean of religious and spiritual life at USC, describes fifteen different concepts that humans have of God. Seven of these fit into the broad category of a supernatural God, four are versions of a natural God, and the final four are some variation of a transcendental God.

23 Feb 20: "Is The Human Mind Predisposed To Religious Belief?"

23Feb20: “Is The Human Mind Predisposed To Religious Belief ?”
Why is it that throughout history, humans have believed in supernatural beings, in fact, a very narrow band of these ? Why is this ? How do human minds work ? In the last several decades, researchers and academics have tried to answer. This research, now named “the cognitive science of religion”, has focused on the properties of the human mind and has been led by psychologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and others. On February 23rd, using YouTube and other media, we heard the views of experts, including Dr. Justin Barrett.

16 Feb 20: "Early Pioneers of Los Angeles" by Mark Rozelle


Our presenter, Mark Rozelle, is the great-great grandson of an early pioneer family from Indiana, who, in the 1890’s, inherited and relocated to, a large (114 acre) farm adjacent to the L.A. river, near the intersection of the present-day Century Freeway and Long Beach Freeway. In 2004, upon the death of Mark’s 104-year old grandmother, family archives were discovered containing hundreds of letters and photos dating back to 1886. These tell an intimate story of their lives, including facing the challenges of survival by farming in the arid LA basin. This rich history is the subject of this ADG presentation (and also of Mark’s book, “Beside the L. A. River”).

9 Feb 20: Women of the New Testament" by Dr. Julye Bidmead

Some of the women of the New Testament are well known, such as obviously Jesus’ mother, Mary, and also Mary Magdalene. But other less famous women also played a role in shaping the ministry of Jesus. Last May 28th Dr. Bidmead discussed Jesus’ mother, and now she examines the stories of these other women and uncovers their critical interactions with Jesus in the ancient society of first century Palestine.

2 Feb 20: "The Nature of God in the Old and New Testaments" by Rev. Matthew Baugh

Rev. Baugh gives examples of how God is portrayed in the Old Testament (often as a harsh and angry God) and in the New Testament (frequently as a loving and forgiving God). He places these images into the context of their time. He explores whether these could actually be two different gods, or is there a way in which these could both be faithful depictions of the same God, and thus reconciled.

26 Jan 20: "Persian Gulf: A New Regional Order?" by Feryal Cherif

The American government has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear deal and imposed harsh economic sanctions on Iran. Iran has responded by promoting proxy battles against America and by increasing its influence with its neighbors. Meanwhile Saudi Arabia and its Sunni allies are pushing back against Iran. America seems to be getting more deeply involved in the region, even though American public opinion is pushing our government to withdraw militarily, and President Trump seems to agree. Thru this turbulence, a new regional order may be forming. LMU’s Dr. Feryal Cherif explains this turbulence, and where it may be leading.

19 Jan 20: "Truth, Bias, Racism, Sin, Guilt, & Forgiveness" by Bill Nunan

Bill analyses the decision-making process of humans, including the flaws in the process, such as the inherited trait of making very quick decisions based on very limited information (often required by all species [not just humans] in times of mortal combat). Specifically, he talks about (compares and contrasts) bias, prejudice, racism, sin, and guilt. He also discusses wisdom, serenity, courage, and forgiveness.

12 Jan 20: "Conversation With Jerry's Street Kids & Mothers in Zimbabwe" (Skype)

This is the second of two consecutive presentations about Jerry and Tatenda Johnson’s efforts to help urban street boys and mothers with babies. It features our recent video conversation (via Skype from MBCC) with these kids and mothers of Harare (Zimbabwe’s capitol), who have taken refuge in Jerry’s “Finding Hope” house. They tell us about themselves, including their daily challenges on the city streets and their hopes and struggle for a better future.

5 Jan 20: "Helping Urban 'Street Boys' in Zimbabwe"

Bruce reported on his September visit to the home that Jerry and Tatenda Johnson’s “Finding Hope” charity has established for street boys in Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. Bruce was joined on this trip by Jim Goswiller, Pat Johnson (Jerry’s father), and the wives of all three. Bruce began by giving a brief history of Zimbabwe, including its recent politics and its economy. Then he focused on the Finding Hope house, including its accommodations and the availability of water, electricity, transportation, and security. Finally, Bruce discussed four items: his group’s interaction with these boys housed at Finding Hope, the boys’ efforts to improve their own circumstances, the boys’ survival on the streets of Harare, and the boys’ plans for the future.

15 Dec 19: “Rev. Pettis’ Sabbatical” by Mark Pettis

Rev. Pettis begins by explaining why he split his 3-month sabbatical into two distinct segments. He discusses his initial unwinding phase, including a quiet period, and having time with his family. Then he talked about the subsequent phases – – reassessing various past events at MBCC and analyzing lessons learned, collaborating and sharing insights and strategies with other ministers in our UCC conference, and planning for the future. He also spent some personal time developing his hobbies – new and old.

8 Dec 19: "How America Lost The Winning Recipe" by Alden Munson

Alden expresses his opinion that since WW2, numerous changes have occurred that has harmed our society and our national cohesion and diminished the effectiveness and responsiveness of our federal government. These changes include the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of fewer of our citizens (a small elite part of our society), the increased role of “big” money influencing our politics, the increased power of corporations due to court decisions such as “Citizens United”, and the demise of the FCC Fairness Doctrine, enabling falsehoods to be spoken by some in our news media as though they were legitimate news. Alden believes there is no easy solution to these problems, and corrective action will be met by strong, entrenched resistance.

1 Dec 19: "Solving LAX Congestion" by Randall Duncan

A major $5 billion airport modernization program has been started at LAX, and its goals include solving the existing traffic congestion problem. Randall Duncan, Alan’s and Candy’s son, has been a contractor on this program for several years, and he explains the overall program to us including some of the major trade-offs. Key components of this program are an automated people mover, multiple elevated guideways for pedestrian traffic, a new inter-modal transportation facility, and a new consolidated rental car facility, all of which Randall explains to us. He also describes how these LAX improvements will connect to the existing regional transportation system.

24 Nov 19: "The Pilgrims of Connecticut" by Jim Duffy

The Pilgrims who arrived at Saybrook, Connecticut fifteen years after the first English pilgrims came to Plymouth, MA was discussed by Jim Duffy. These pilgrims choose to leave England because some (not all) English monarchs opposed their religious beliefs. The survival challengers of these Pilgrims in the new world, especially the attacks by Pequot Indians, are discussed. The history of Saybrook’s oldest church (Congregational) (now 373 years old), and Jim’s recent visit to it, are also covered.

17 Nov 19: "Manhattan Beach Chronicles" by Jan Dennis

“ Manhattan Beach Chronicles” is discussed by Jan Dennis, author of eight history books about Manhattan Beach. Jan describes this sleepy, sparsely-settled beach town of 1940, and then takes us thru its war-time and post-war “discovery” by returning G.I.’s and their young families, followed by rapid development in the boom years of the 1950’s. Q & A was lively.


10 Nov 19: "UCC's Trendsetting Historic Firsts" by Rev. Baugh

Rev. Baugh gives us an overview of the history of the four Christian denominations that merged in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ. This overview includes is the earliest of these four denominations, the Congregational Church, which was formed upon the arrival of the Pilgrims at Plymouth in 1620. Examples are given of these denominations being strong advocates for human rights, including the rights of marginalized people, and strongly supporting an individual person’s freedom of conscience.

3 Nov 19: "Threatened Native Languages" by Pam Munro

The languages of many indigenous people in North and South America are endangered because their youth are failing to learn their unique language as rapidly as their older members are dying off. Pam Munro, an MBCC member and a retired linguistics professor at UCLA, has studied the indigenous languages of North and South America for nearly 50 years. She will discuss the ethnic people for whom these languages are very important culturally and then explain why we should all care about the endangerment and loss of these languages.

27 Oct 19: “Yemen’s Cruel Civil War” by Sophia Pandya

Yemen’s civil war is essentially a proxy war between supporters of the previous Hadi government (with help from the neighboring Saudis) and the Houthi rebels (backed by Iran). The Saudis have used drones for indiscriminate bombing, killing many non-combatants, while the Iranians have trained and supplied the Houthi rebels. Death and starvation have been rampant. All this is explained by CSU/LB professor Sophia Pandya, who has travelled in much of Yemen and recently interviewed Yemini refugees fleeing into Greece.

20 Oct 19: “Overview of All MBCC Boards” by MBCC Board Leaders

A leader from each of our nine boards briefly explained how their board contributes to the well being of the church. Specifically they explained their board’s role, responsibilities, and accomplishments. For those of you thinking about joining a board, this was an ideal venue to learn about our nine boards. For the rest of us, this was a chance to refresh our understanding of our various boards.