Rev. Snider to begin sabbatical in January

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) denomination provides recommendations for congregations and ministers that are put into place in order to maintain healthy and dynamic practices of ministry. Disciples of Christ congregations are encouraged to grant full-time ministers three months of sabbatical every five years of ministry. Here are a few reasons why, according to the Disciples of Christ Guidelines for Sabbatical/Renewal Leave:

“Congregations expect much of their ministers and ministers expect much of themselves. In healthy relationships between congregations and their ministers, there is a sense of mutual care. The minister cares for the members of the congregation and they also care for the minister. Temperament and practice must find a balance for healthy ministry. Everyone needs time away periodically to reflect, renew and recover the work/rest rhythm necessary to complement effective ministry. A Sabbatical/Renewal Leave offers the minister time for reassessment of his or her ministry, which can be difficult to do while engaged in the day-to-day tasks for ministry. By changing the scene and the pace as well as engaging in different activities, ministers find themselves enriched spiritually, mentally and even physically.”

Phil’s sabbatical will be from January 2 to April 2. During this time, please refer all pastoral concerns to Rev. Bowen-Marler (
A note from Phil…
Serving as a minister at Brentwood is one of the true joys of my vocational life. I express my deepest gratitude to the board for extending this time of sabbatical study leave and renewal. I also express my appreciation to a number of volunteers helping cover some bases that will make sure all of the regular activities I’m part of will continue. I’m also immensely grateful to Emily for her most capable leadership in every respect, as well as that of the staff and lay leadership of Brentwood.

During this time, I will focus on three related projects, all related to my work as a minister at Brentwood:

First, and most central, I’m immersing myself in affect theory as related to preaching and worship. Broadly speaking, this studies the way people experience, process, and understand their world through feeling and emotion. I contend that progressive preaching frequently runs the risk of making listeners at times feel more fatigued than inspired, especially when emphasizing social justice-themed sermons on a regular basis. It’s not that such themes shouldn’t be addressed (quite the opposite), but care toward how they are addressed is paramount. As such, I’ll be trying to develop ways to faithfully address social justice themes from the pulpit that help listeners experience feelings of inspiration and encouragement, so that they leave the worship space feeling renewed and inspired. It’s no secret that evangelicalism connects with people’s deep emotions in powerful and significant ways; I’ll be exploring how and why progressivism might also connect with people’s emotions in powerful and significant (albeit different) ways as well. The idea is for worship to be a site of joy and celebration, even as it’s a space where we deeply engage the most pressing matters of our day.

Second, I’m researching the role and power of Christian rhetoric as related to “pro-life” conversations, as well as the urgency of developing constructive alternatives. The way Christians often speak about pro-life issues is hollow, duplicitous, and vacuous — yet at the same time deeply pervasive. Why is this the case? Why are there so many inconsistencies among those most likely to invoke pro-life rhetoric? And how can progressive communities of faith engage this great divide with integrity and justice? My wager is that there’s more commonality than we’re often led to believe, and if progressives were better at their messaging in this regard then we could better work together toward common sense and the common good by both reducing the number of abortions in this country and truly caring for all life.

Third, I’m interested in examining the most misused, misunderstood, and misguided passages of the Bible (e.g., “the poor will always be with you;” Jesus’s commandment to his disciples to buy swords; Paul’s admonition that those who don’t work shouldn’t eat, etc.). There are several of these that I might work into a sermon series for 2019 or possibly even a book. This is of great interest to me.

I view all three of these projects as exceedingly important for the life of the church, at Brentwood and beyond. While I might receive a cursory understanding of one or more of these dynamics at various points along the way, it’s only by taking sabbatical study leave that I will be able to engage them with the depth necessary for true growth and pastoral/spiritual formation. I thank you for the gift of sabbatical study leave and trust it is of mutual benefit to my spiritual journey and to Brentwood Christian Church.

I welcome your questions about any or all of these projects! I hope you find them to be of interest as well. 🙂

Deep, deep thanks.


Advent & Christmas Schedule of Events

Dec. 24, 5:30-6:30pm: Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Advent Sermon Series: “Recovering the True Meaning of Christmas: A Sermon Series on the Holy Family”

Dec. 2: “Of Gods & Tyrants” (Matthew 2:1-12)

Dec. 9: “Brown Skinned Refugees” (Matthew 2:13-23)

Dec. 23: “Casting the Mighty from Their Thrones” (Luke 1:46-56)

Week of Witness

This Sunday at Brentwood, we are joining thousands of people in a multifaith “week of witness” to increase awareness about children still separated from their parents after arriving at the southern border seeking refuge. You can learn more online here.


Brentwood 101

Are you new to Brentwood? Would you like to learn more about our beliefs and values, as well as our programs and justice initiatives? If so, we hope you’ll join us at Brentwood 101!

This series will be held from 9:00 – 9:45 a.m. on the Sundays of September 9, 16, 23, and 30. It’s led by Phil Snider and will meet in Room 10 (which is next to the nursery and close to the sanctuary). While there’s no need to RSVP, you can direct any questions you might have to

Building Communities of Resistance


“If a church never gets into conflict with the ruling powers it should question whether it’s a church of Jesus Christ.” Jon Sobrino

We live in a time where the message of Jesus and the agenda of the powerful are in conflict, where the hidden systems of domination are being revealed, where the need for a movement of justice and a people of resistance is ever more clear.

Here at Brentwood, we are partnering with Homebrewed Christianity and activist-theologian Robyn Henderson-Espinoza for a four week series (Wednesdays in September at 6:30 p.m.) on Building Communities of Resistance.

  • September 5: Resisting Nationalism with Dietrich Bonhoeffer
  • September 12: Resisting Patriarchy with Rosemary Radford Ruether
  • September 19: Resisting Racism with James Cone
  • September 26: Resisting Empire with Jon Sobrino

This is free and open to the public. We’ll meet upstairs at Brentwood, in Room 10. The series will be convened and facilitated by Phil Snider, in partnership with Tripp Fuller and Robyn Henderson-Espinoza.

Upcoming Sermon Series: Healing Spiritual Wounds

Our next sermon series is inspired by Carol Howard Merritt’s book, Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God After Experiencing a Hurtful Church.


“While we go to church to affirm our deepest ideals, too often people receive spiritual wounds rather than nurture. Whether these wounds are due to the sting of sexism, homophobia, religious politics, or abuse, the challenge becomes finding healing and reconnecting with a loving and nurturing God going forward. For Presbyterian minister and author Carol Howard Merritt, this is precisely her calling: to help us recover a loving and life-giving faith in the wake of suffering at the hands of the church.” – From the back cover

Sermons will reflect on themes in the book; interested participants might wish to read the chapters corresponding to each week’s sermon in order to more deeply engage the material.

Aug. 5: Healing Our Image of God – Rev. Snider

Aug. 12: Recovering Our Emotions – Rev. Snider

Aug. 19: Redeeming Our Broken Selves – Rev. Bowen-Marler

Aug. 26: Reclaiming Our Bodies – Rev. Snider

Sept. 2: Regaining Our Hope – Rev. Snider

Sept. 9: Reassessing Our Finances – Rev. Bowen-Marler

Sept. 16: Being Born Again – Rev. Snider



Summer Sermon Series: “The Big Questions”

June 3: Can the Bible be Trusted? (Rev. Dr. Phil Snider)

June 10: Is Christianity the Only True Religion? (Rev. Snider)

June 17: How Can Faithful Christians Affirm LGBTQ persons? (Rev. Snider)

June 24: Is the Rapture for Real? (Rev. Emily Bowen-Marler)

July 1: Was Jesus Really God? (Rev. Snider)

July 8: Is it Reasonable to Believe in God? (Rev. Snider)

July 15: What Happens When We Die? (Rev. Snider)

July 22: Is Hell for Real? (Rev. Bowen-Marler)

July 29: Who Decides What is Orthodox? (Rev. Snider)