Seminary of the Street

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Personal and Social Transformation in Deep Community

Our overall goals are collective liberation from systems of domination, violence, and oppression and the cultivation of alternative communities rooted in tenderness, compassion, love, kindness, generosity, recognition of the sacredness of all life, and awe and wonder at the grandeur of the universe. We recognize that neither liberation nor the creation of alternative community is possible without concurrent transformation within ourselves as we allow the values of the dominant culture to be rooted out of us. In other words, we believe that liberation comes as we struggle toward full aliveness ourselves and align ourselves and our work in the service of life; this then catalyzes aliveness in our communities.
 
In order to become fully alive, we must identify the practices, beliefs, and norms of our culture that do not foster the flourishing of life; become conscious of the ways that we ourselves act day-to-day from those practices, beliefs, and norms; and discover and commit to new ways of being that contribute to fuller life.

Resistance to the pressures of the dominant culture is probably impossible without intentional relationship with something larger than our limited individual selves, something that we call Spirit, though it is known by many names. It is through this intentionally cultivated relationship with the Spirit that we get enough distance from the dominant culture to resist it and live into an alternative.

One of the ways that we can access Spirit is through communities of mutual support and accountability. For that reason, our classes and community gatherings seek to foster deep relationship, including a willingness to show up fully, with all our vulnerabilities and strengths; to treat each other as sacred beings deserving of love and respect; and to commit to one another’s wholeness.

By encouraging inner as well as outer work in the context of deep community, we seek to catalyze in ourselves and others vibrant countercultural ways of being in the world, as well as social change work that is deeply relational and emerges from a spirit of humility and love.

Radical Hospitality and Inclusiveness

We welcome all participants regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, cultural background, education, and familial or economic status, and we actively seek ways of amplifying the voices of those who have been marginalized.

We recognize that what we are calling Spirit is known by many names, is present in a variety of religious traditions, and speaks in myriad ways within and outside those traditions. We welcome seekers from all religious contexts and those who have not found a spiritual home in any tradition.

At the same time, integrity demands that we speak clearly from our own experience and traditions, owning our own subject positions as we welcome others to speak from theirs. In many of our classes, we will be plumbing the ruins of traditions that have oppressive as well as liberating histories. In those classes, we will ask all participants to meet the material as fully as possible, relinquishing nostalgia and looking honestly at the elements of tradition that serve love and those that do not. In this process, we will all have to confront and work through our own resistance to changing long-held beliefs so that we can be shaped and transformed by each other and by the Spirit as it lives in us.

Who Are We?

 Seminary of the Street was founded in August 2008 by a group of feral folks from a variety of faith traditions (Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Unitarian Universalist, and agnostic) who shared a sadness and sense of urgency around the state of both the world and our social justice efforts and a hunch that something loosely named spirituality was part of the remedy. Click here to read more about us.

Areas of Study

For a list of current offerings, click here. Drawing from a variety of faith traditions, the underground seminary offers classes in at least the following five areas:

Spiritual traditions, movements, and theology: What do we know about the Spirit of Life(known by many names), about our right relationship to that Spirit, and about the world that the Spirit would lead us to create? What movements for social transformation have already emerged from our spiritual traditions and what can we learn from them?

The spiritual disciplines and practices: What disciplines and practices can transform us into adequate instruments for bringing the love of the Spirit of Life into the world? How can we overcome our own stuck places—addictions, compulsions, fears, internalized oppression and privilege, prejudices, triggers, and vulnerabilities—that stand in the way of aliveness?

Vocation/call discernment: What piece of the healing and transformation of the world is mine to do?

Social, economic, and environmental justice: What forces are working against life in contemporary America? How do those forces relate to each other, and how can we best resist them? Which norms, practices, and beliefs of our culture serve the flourishing of all life, and which do not?

Servant-leadership development: How can we develop the leadership skills we need to catalyze aliveness in ourselves and others? What leadership practices will contribute to the formation of authentic alternative community?
 
Click here for a listing of current classes. 

Our Location

Unless otherwise specified, classes and events are held at First Congregational Church of Oakland, 2501 Harrison Ave, Oakland, CA 94609.

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