The Zephyr Experience

July 6-11, 2014

Looking for a weeklong escape to a quiet setting to reconnect with God? The Zephyr Experience conference provides you and your family with that time to grow in faith and community. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada on a half-mile of Lake Tahoe shoreline, Zephyr Point is one of the most beautiful retreat centers in the world.

The Zephyr Experience conference supports theological learning, spiritual growth and deepening Christianity in our everyday lives through classes in: Bible, Church & Society, and Spirituality. Interactive and fun programs are provided for children and youth of all ages. Join us for a stimulating and enriching experience surrounded by the unparalleled splendor of Lake Tahoe and the Sierras.

Adults may choose two sessions from our five classes:

See the daily schedule of events.

Description of Courses:

(View a PDF of the brochure: BrochureRegistration Form)

Bible Classes:

Entering into and Interacting with the Narrative World of Matthew’s Gospel

by Herman Waetjen (First Period)

Zealot, Mystic or Messiah: Who is Jesus?

by Gregory Anderson Love (Second Period)

The genealogy at the beginning of Matthew’s gospel attributes two origins or ancestries to Jesus that determine the meaning of every episode in the gospel. These two ancestries have profound significance for our lives and our discipleship, and they offer us a paradigm of how we can choose to become a Self that manifests the glory of God in all the activities we undertake. It was Irenaeus who correctly perceived that “The glory of God is the human being fully alive.” Not in our future life beyond the grace, but in our lives here and now! To be fully alive requires our individual engagement in the activity of actualizing the Reign of God that Jesus inaugurated, a reality that is all to easily forfeited unless we are involved in its fulfillment; that very naturally draws us into universalizing our relationships with all of humanity. It is the Evangelist Matthew who intends to draw us, his readers, from both ethnocentrism and nationalism into the the world-wide relationships that God’s Reign is divinely destined to realize.

Herman C. Waetjen, Dr. theol. (Eberhard-Karls University of Tübingen, Germany) taught in the School of Religion of the University of Southern California, and subsequently as the Robert S. Dollar Professor of New Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary in San Anselmo and the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley. He retired in 1996, after 34 years of teaching, but he has continued to teach right into the present time. He is the author of books on the gospels of Matthew, Mark and John and now also on Paul’s Letter to the Romans (2011). He is married to Mary Suzanne Struyk, who retired from teaching English and art at a continuation high school in San Rafael. They have three children.

“In relation to the world’s religions,” writes Hans Küng, “… what is there special about Christianity?…. According to the testimony of Christians and non-Christians, the special feature of Christianity is this Jesus himself. However much they may occasionally venerate him even in a temple or in their holy book, none of the other religions would regard him as ultimately decisive, definitive, archetypal for people’s relations with God, with their fellow human beings, and with society…. The distinctive feature of Christianity is this person…. Christianity means a profession of faith in this one name.”

However, then Küng immediately asks, “Which Jesus?” In the New York Times’ bestselling book The Zealot, Reza Aslan answers that question. Aslan places Jesus amidst other Zealots of first-century Judea. Was Jesus a Zealot, or was he a different type of religious figure? Using current historical Jesus research, this course asks who Jesus was.

Beginning with Jesus as a Zealot (Aslan), it moves to Jesus as a political revolutionary caught in the wrong moment (Paula Fredriksen). A contrasting view sees Jesus as a mystic in touch with the divine sphere of reality, a figure who knew the wisdom known by all great religious leaders (Borg). In opposition to these three portraits, the last two portrayals say Jesus, while a political figure, saw himself as the Messiah: Jesus as a prophet (Luke Timothy Johnson), and Jesus as the Messiah (Tom Wright). Through this course, we will uncover the options for expressing why Jesus is significant for our faith in God.

The Rev. Gregory Anderson Love, Ph. D., is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Prior to teaching seminarians, Dr. Love taught college students at St. Olaf College. Also a Presbyterian pastor, Dr. Love brings together the best of contemporary Christian theology with the issues of Christians in the pews.


Church and Society:

Christ, the Tea Party and Those Dang Liberals

by Samuel G. Alexander (First Period)

Astrotheology: Sharing a Pew with ET

by Ted Peters & Robert John Russell (Second Period)

“The whole structure of society is changing so rapidly that none of us can cope, worse still, the rate of change is increasing.” My father preached that on March 7, 1965, then said, “We must introduce a full-blooded revolutionary Christianity into a culture that needs it, but has no place for it.” It’s been fifty years, the world is in outrageous pain, and we have failed to provide an interpretation of Gospel that does anything other than echo the cultural mindset. Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.” There is no time left — the Church must speak, not mimic. You and I will work out how. Too much for five days? Maybe, but we must face reality: we’ve become irrelevant, and there’s a reason for that. It’s time to shift our level of consciousness.

Rev. Samuel G. Alexander is Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael. He holds a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and an M.Div. from Union Presbyterian Seminary. Sam has served congregations in Maryland and the San Francisco Bay area. What they call, “his provocation sermons” have inspired, disturbed, and delighted his congregations. He serves as Adjunct Instructor in Homiletics at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He lives with his wife, Barbara, in their recently emptied nest in Fairfax, California. His sermons and blog posts are at www.gracecomesfirst.net

What might be the impact of the discovery of extraterrestrial life — microbial or, more importantly, intelligent life — on terrestrial religion? Will confirmation of ET, in particular, cause Christianity to go “back to the drawing board”? And what might we expect ET to be like — angelic or demonic, as Hollywood portrays them, or somewhere in between like us? Finally, will God become incarnate many times, once for each planet with extraterrestrial life, or will Earth’s historical Jesus suffice for the entire cosmos (the “cosmic Christ” scenario)? Bob and Ted will share ideas from their new book on the subject and provide handouts for each day’s session.

Ted Peters is a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and a professor emeritus of theology and ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Along with Bob Russell, he co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Ted is the author or editor of numerous books in theology, spirituality, and the dialogue between science and faith. See his website: TedsTimelyTake.com

Bob Russell is the Ian G. Barbour Professor of Theology and Science in Residence, the Graduate Theological Union, and the Founder and Director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, Berkeley. He is the author or editor of over a dozen scholarly volumes in theology and science, including Time in Eternity: Pannenberg, Physics and Eschatology in Creative Mutual Interaction. He is ordained to ministry in higher education in the United Church of Christ.


Spirituality Classes:

Talking the Talk: Getting Beyond and Behind Christian Clichés

by Marilyn McEntyre (First Period)

Opening the Heart

by Ken Henry (Second Period)

Reflections on language use in church communities and personal spiritual life, considering together how language choices shape worship, prayer, denominational identity, approaching to Scripture, the discourse of the faith in the contexts of contemporary American life.

Marilyn has taught for over 30 years, most recently at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, and now works part time in medical humanities at UC Berkeley. She leads retreats, short courses, and writing workshops for church and writers’ groups, including a 5-day July workshop, “Writing as a Spiritual Practice,” at Zephyr Point. Her most recent books include Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies; Patient Poets: Illness from Inside Out; Reading like a Serpent: What the Scarlet A is About; and What’s in a Phrase– reflections on phrases from Scripture. She also works as a hospice volunteer and is writing a book of reflections for those who are dying and their caregivers.

Through music, contemplative prayer, poetry, and studying the psalms, we will endeavor to see how hearts and minds might become more open to the movement of God’s Spirit. Meditation practices as well as ancient and contemporary prayers will be important. Throughout his 25 years of pastoral ministry, Dr. Henry has conducted spiritual retreats, written songs and books, taught classes, and invited people to deepen their understanding and awareness of God’s mysterious presence.

The Rev. Dr. Ken Henry grew up in Beaverton, Oregon, just outside Portland. He was ordained in 1988 and called as pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Santa Cruz. He then served Cascades Presbyterian Church in Vancouver, Washington, and Cetnral Presbyterian Church in Eugene, Oregon. For three years, he taught rhetoric and homiletics — the art of preaching sermons — at Northwest Christian College in Eugene. He has been head pastor at Stone Presbyterian Church in San Jose since 2007.

Ken writes: “The natural world and the Christian life go hand in hand for me. This is probably why I found myself writing my Doctor of Ministry thesis on Loving the Earth: Introducing Reformed Christian Eco-Spirituality to Adults. In my years of pastoral ministry, I have enjoyed the challenge of living out Christ’s command to love our neighbors, whether they are people living and dying with AIDS, foster children, the homeless, inner city kids, shut-ins, or simply the people who come each Sunday morning.”


Children and Youth Classes:

Fun and Adventure in Day Camp

Leaders: Zephyr Point Summer Day Camp Staff

(Ages 5-9; special exceptions may be possible upon request)

This summer we are offering a new, fantastic camp experience for your children! They will have fun and adventure within the grounds of this special piece of God’s creation known as Zephyr Point. Activities include: swimming, canoeing, archery, nature hikes, group games, arts and crafts, fun skits, singing, and worship.

Safety is a priority. Supervision and direction will be provided by caring, college-age role models. Lifeguards certified by the American Red Cross will be on duty at all times kids are in the water, and additional CPT and First Aid certified staff will be on site.

The day camp will officially run from 9 am to 4 pm. As parents wish, kids may leave the day camp at any time during the day and rejoin their parents. Costs for the camp are included in the Zephyr Experience children’s fee.

Hospitality (Ages 10-13)

led by Tom Nolen

“Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of my sisters and brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40

Our class will explore themes of hospitality, service and inclusion. We will seek to hear the many questions that spring up from our text in Matthew of the Great Judgement (Chapter 25) and together discern replies for ourselves today and our world. Who is my sister and my brother? How can we serve ‘the least of these’? Through discussion, devotion reading and song our class will be challenging and fun. We will spend time doing art and craft and of course, tie dye!! Join in the fun at the lake!

Tom Nolen is a Hospice and Palliative Care Chaplain for Kaiser Permanente in Portland, OR. Tom’s wife, Lisa, serves at the Cancer Institute at the Oregon Health and Sciences University. They have two fabulous daughters.

Considering Commercialism and Our Identities (Ages 14-17)

led by Brandon & Ellen Williams

This year we will focus on how the consumerism of our society fits with our identities. The goal of this week for our teenage group will be to hone a way of thinking about and answering questions they deal with on a daily basis. What image and message do I want to project to the world around me? How do I reconcile my identity with the consumerism of our society? Movie options include: Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Bling Ring, I Love You Phillip Morris, and Wall Street. We can’t wait for another great year of new insights with our Senior High class!

Ellen works for Your Local Playground, an online service that pairs youth with the perfect after school programs. Brandon works at JSR Micro in their Emerging Products division as a Biotech analyst. They have two teenage foster daughters.


Daily Schedule: Monday-Thursday

7:30 Morning Light
7:45 Breakfast
8:45 – 10:15 First Period
10:15 Break
10:30 – Noon Second Period
12:15 Lunch
1:00 – 6:00 Freetime
6:00 Dinner
7:15 – 8:15 Worship

Afternoon Free Time: The afternoons are free to explore, swim at the lake or hang out at the beach, bike or hike in the splendor of the surrounding Tahoe area. Organized Crafts & Activities will be available and Class One Hour Overviews will be presented by our leaders.

Evening Program: Monday & Wednesday evening, worship will be led by one of our adult class leaders. Tuesday evening will be a time of sunset music at Donaldson Amphitheater. Children and youth are included in all worship services.

Talent Show: Thursday night is our annual variety show. All ages are invited to participate with short songs, skits or special talents.

Communion: Friday before lunch, there will be a communion service to complete our week’s experience.


Room and Board Per Person

~Tahoe Center~ After 5/15
Ages 18 and Up $550 $560
Ages 3-17 $290 $300
~Commuters~ After 5/15
Ages 18 and Up $315 $325
Ages 3-17 $185 $200

  • Includes Sunday dinner through Friday lunch
  • Non-refundable deposit due with registration: $120 per adult; $30 per child/youth
  • Non-refundable balance due by June 6th
  •      Your registration before March 24, 2014 will greatly assist us in the planning of your accommodations.
  • If you would like to make a donation to Zephyr Point or contribute to the general scholarship fund to help enable others to enjoy a Zephyr Point experience, please click here to open our online donor application.