Thursday, February 28, 2008

New online class considers Peter and Paul: Agents of Change

Helping students sort out life’s questions will be instructor’s approach to Spring online course – a focus on the Book of Acts

PHILADELPHIA, PA (February 28, 2008) – “The assumption some people make is that we are living in a completely unique time,” says Autumn Fletcher Hardenstine, who is the instructor for the May-June online course “Peter and Paul: Agents of Change” – a focus on the Book of Acts. The class, for growth and enrichment, is the 21st in a series offered by The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (LTSP) through its Faith and Life Institute. The class is part of the Institute’s Online Theological Education for Laity initiative. Students completing the course earn a certificate. The course is non-credit, for growth and enrichment.

“We do live in a unique time in many ways, but I want to help students in the class think of Peter and Paul as believers who were much like them, living in a milieu similar in some important ways to the world as we know it.” For example, she says, Paul was involved with communities of people who both ignored God and were God-fearers. “Paul was addressing the hungry, the deprived and the mentally ill, the same as believers do today. Peter was more of an insider, working with the Jews of the day. We can study how both Peter and Paul worked through their faith in the church’s early time.

“What we learn about them poses lots of questions for us,” Hardenstine says. “How do we today live out our faith? How do we relate to the hungry and the deprived, and what are our churches doing? How do we strive to meet the needs of the mentally ill?” Hardenstine, a family therapist at Philhaven, a Schuylkill County treatment center for people with mental illness, daily encounters troubled youth and families during home visits. “In many ways I think the daily challenges aren’t so very different,” Hardenstine says. “I hope people taking the class will see that what they do in attempting to live out their faith journey is similar to what Peter and Paul were trying to do in their day.”

Hardenstine, an Episcopal rector, has served in parish ministry prior to serving in her present capacity at Philhaven. She and new husband, Jim, worship at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Pine Grove, PA. Autumn is a graduate of The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. She has previously taught online courses for the seminary on the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and John.

To register for the online class taught by Hardenstine, go to The registration period concludes at the end of April. The course costs $130. For further information contact Mark A. Staples, director of the seminary’s Faith and Life Institute, at 215/248-7352 or email Mark at

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