The Zephyr Experience

July 3-8, 2016

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: Theology, Community, 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.

Zephyr Experience 2016 offers five days of morning classes for adults and children. Afternoons are free to explore a choice of activities and evenings offer a time to worship together, watch the sunsets, and play games. Our annual Variety Show is on Thursday evening, along with our traditional ice cream party. We gather on Friday morning for a closing communion service of celebration and farewell.

Adults may choose two classes, one from each session:

    • First Session
    • Second Session
    • Children and Youth
See the daily schedule of events.

Description of Courses:

(View a PDF of the brochure: BrochureRegistration Form) or you can Register by selecting Online Registration on the top right side of the page. *Make sure to fill out the Forms section for your class choices*

Theology Classes:

Understanding Islam: A Thoughtful Approach

by Ben Daniels (First Session)


by Greg Love (Second Period)

This course with look at popular misconceptions about Islam and will seek to deconstruct the Islamophobia that has taken root in American popular culture. The course will draw from two of the presenter’s books, The Search for Truth About Islam and Thoughtful Christianity, and will look at Islam using empirical data, scholarly research, critical reflection and story-telling. Reading the presenter’s books are recommended but not required; copies of both books will be available for purchase during Zephyr Experience.

Ben Daniel is now the pastor of Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland. He is the author of three books, Neighbor (named 2010 religion book of the year by ForeWord Reviews Magazine), The Search for Truth about Islam, and Thoughtful Christianity.

Who thrives, and why do they thrive? This course looks at four different views of what it means to thrive, and how it comes about: the views of “the prosperity gospel”: of the author of John’s gospel, who described Jesus bringing “abundant life” (John 10:10); of Christian spirituality; and of recent science, medicine, and holistic medicine. This final view focuses on the traits of thriving found in cancer survivors discovered by Kelly Turner, Ph.D., in the NY Times bestseller Radical Remissions (2015).

Resources in order of importance for the course:
The Johannine Literature (The Gospel of John; I, II, III John; Revelation).
• John Powell, S.J., Fully Human, Fully Alive.
• Kelly Turner, Ph.D., Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds (2015).
• T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and Thomas M. Campbell II, M.D., The China Study: Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health (2006).
• William C. Dement, Ph.D., M.D., The Promise of Sleep: A Pioneer in Sleep Medicine Explores the Vital Connection Between Health, Happiness, and a Good Night’s Sleep (1999).

The Rev. Dr. Gregory Love is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary. Also a Presbyterian pastor, Dr. Love brings together the best of contemporary Reformed theology with the issues of Christians in the pews. He specializes in questions of divine providence, and how God acts in the world. His most recent book, on the meaning of the cross, is Love, Violence, and the Cross: How the Nonviolent God Saves Us through the Cross of Christ (

Community Classes:

Language Matters: How to be a “White” Person in the Conversation About Race

by Beth Brown (First Session)

Called by the God of Justice: Dismantling Systems of Mass Incarceration and Racial Injustice

by Beverly Brewster (Second Session)

How does a congregation that is primarily “white” engage in conversations about race? My contention is that the biblical and faith narratives we claim have resulted in white supremacy for those of us who are “white” and without our even realizing the connection. This class is designed to wake us up from our paralysis and lead us into recovering from the shame we often feel, sometimes unconsciously, and move us into deeper self-awareness and empowerment for how to create a world in which all people can thrive and be whole. We won’t change the world in a week but we will be able to change ourselves with God’s help.

Beth has been a pastor in the PC(USA) for 25 years and has more questions than answers. She is the proud mom of Emily and Anna who have kept her honest. As a woman in ministry who came out as lesbian more than 16 years ago, Beth has understood in a personal way how some of the faith and biblical narratives we claim can be harmful and divisive rather than healing. As a spiritual director and mediator, Beth desires to encourage congregations and individuals toward healing.

Why is the US imprisoning more of its population than any other country in the world? And why are Blacks incarcerated five times more than Whites? Could it be, as attorney activist Bryan Stevenson suggests, that slavery didn’t end in 1865, it evolved? Under Israeli occupation, 40% of the Palestinian male population has been arrested on military orders with a conviction rate of 99%. Guided by Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, and Mike Peled’s The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine, we’ll explore mass incarceration, racial injustice, and solutions in two contexts, the US and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Beverly Brewster is the Pastor of the Sleepy Hollow Presbyterian Church. She is a human rights and criminal justice reform activist, former trial attorney, and has recently served as international human rights advisor to the PC (USA)’s Prospects for a Just Peace/Two State Solution Study Team in Israel/Palestine.

Spirituality Classes:

Embodying Jesus’ Vision: Exploring Non-Violent Communication

by Nancy Wiens (First Session)

Spiritualties of Desire

by Lisa Fullam (Second Session)

When you encounter anger, guilt, and judgment, do you long for a new response? When you feel exhaustion, frustration, and discouragement, do you wish you had more resources? I imagine we all would enjoy more calm, meaning, and courage inside ourselves, in our families, workplaces, and our world. What about more acceptance, vitality, collaboration, connection, honesty, and rest?

When I found Non-Violent Communication in 2004, I thought, “Ha, finally! A truly practical way to love God with my whole self, love my neighbor, and myself!” Jesus’ inspired vision calls for an equally powerful implementation, especially in a world where thinking in terms of right and wrong, blame, and scarcity diminish our free response to God’s love. In this class, we will explore how reconnecting to our choices empowers integrity, forgiveness, creativity, and cooperation. Participants’ areas of interest and concern will guide the course explorations.

Books I will be referencing:
• Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Love
• Inbal Kashtan, Parenting from Your Heart
• Miki Kashtan, Reweaving Our Human Fabric: Working Together to Create a Nonviolent Future
• Walter Wink, The Powers that Be: Theology for a New Millennium

The Rev. Nancy S. Wiens, Ph.D., Graduate School of Theology (GTU) in Christian Spirituality and Natural Science, teaches Christian Spirituality at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Deep in Christian tradition rests the conviction that we are created with a holy thirst for God. This week we will explore spiritualities of desire, spiritualities that seek God in the longings of our hearts and yearnings of our imaginations. We will begin with Ignatian spirituality, then consider the writings of Julian of Norwich. A brief engagement with the work of Charles Williams will wrap up our week. We will discuss how God has called and is calling us in our own desires. The music of Melissa Etheridge will provide a soundtrack for our pilgrimage into the spiritualities of desire.

Lisa Fullam D.V.M., Th.D. teaches moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology. Research interests include Virtue Ethics, medical and sexual ethics, and Ignatian spirituality. Her essays include: Toward a Virtue Ethics of Marriage: Augustine and Aquinas on Friendship in Marriage, Joan of Arc, Holy Resistance, and Conscience Formation in the Face of Social Sin, Sex in 3-D. A Telos for a Virtue Ethics of Sexuality, and Why Ordination Matters: A Reflection from Jamaica.

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 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.

Children ages 5-9 MUST register for Zephyr Point Day Camp. For information and a registration form, call our program office at 775-588-6759 x 107 or e-mail Completed registration forms for Day Camp must be submitted by June 26th. Day Camp fees are covered by Zephyr Experience registration fees.

With All Our Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strenght (Ages 10-13)

led by Jeanette Banashak, Ph.D, Ed.D

As middle schoolers, we seek caring relationships and genuine encounters with others. One German philosopher described caring as the very Being of life. Connection, rather than separateness, is at the heart of who we are as relational people of God. We will use the foundational Jewish prayer, the shema (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), as a jumping off point to explore how we might love the stranger in need. We will get creative about how we can care for others, ourselves, creation, our stuff, and others’ points of view.

Once upon a time, Jeanette’s nickname was The Gamester. Years later, the designation as one who loves to play still holds true. When not playing games or music, Jeanette teaches Spanish and Education at Grand Valley State University, Michigan. She is a trained spiritual director and leads retreats and workshops for students and adults. Previously, she was a camp director for youth among the pine trees in Michigan.

A Time to Act? Moral Obligations and Christianity (Senior High School Ages 14-18)

led by Ellen Williams

We’re excited to discuss different events throughout history in light of a moral responsibility to act. Do Christians have a responsibility to act in the face of perceived injustice? How do we choose which injustices to take on? We’ve chosen the movies Suffragette and Iron Jawed Angels to discuss women’s voting in the 1900-1920s, Selma to discuss civil rights, and The Letters and The Good Lie to discuss poverty and missionary work. All of these historical events will be viewed in light of current events such as refugee resettlement, global poverty, and gender equity. We can’t wait to see everyone and have engaging and thought-provoking conversations.

Ellen is Executive Director of the Samuel Lawrence Foundation, which funds K-12 science initiatives in San Diego County, and also runs University Preschool. Ellen has a Masters of Education from the University of San Diego and is pursuing her Masters of Finance from Harvard. She has a two-year old son and two teenage foster daughters.

Daily Schedule: Monday-Thursday

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

Morning Light: Begin the day with meditation, movement, and prayer by the lake.

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 One Hour Overviews of the Sessions will be presented by our leaders.

Evening Program: Worship services Monday & Wednesday, Sunset Sing on Tuesday, and Variety Show on Thursday. All ages are invited to participate in our variety show with 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*

(View a PDF of the brochure here.)
(View a PDF of the registration form here.)
~Tahoe Center~ After 5/16
Adult $575 $585
Ages 3-18 $300 $310
~Commuters~ After 5/16
Adult $360 $370
Ages 3-18 $225 $235


To Register select Online Registration at the top right hand portion of this page. For all dietary, mobility issues and church association, please click on the Forms section/ Online Forms “Open Camper Profile Sheet” on the final page to add this information. You will also find the Roommate addition at the bottom of this page.

Some additional details…

  • Includes Sunday dinner through Friday lunch
  • * $15 per person dietary fee for vegetarian or vegan options
  • Non-refundable/non-transferable deposit due with registration: $130 per adult; $35 per child/youth
  • Balance due 14 days before event start date
  • Cancellation Policy: all fees are non-refundable after June 3, 2015
  • [Travel/Trip Cancellation Insurance is available for cancellations that take place after the final due date. Since we cannot refund after June 6, 2015, with insurance you can still be covered if last minute illness or mishaps arise. It needs to be purchased within 14 days of deposit. For details call Travel Guard 1-800-826-4919 or for web info:]
  • Your registration before May 16, 2016 will greatly assist us in the planning of your accommodations.
  • Children ages 5-9 MUST register for Zephyr Point Day Camp. For information and a registration form, call our Camp Zephyr registrar at 775-588-6759 x 106 or e-mail Completed registration forms can be submitted upon arrival at Zephyr Point. Day Camp fees are covered by Zephyr Experience registration fees.
  • 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.