What are Life Groups?

Life Groups create space within our stressful schedules to experience dynamic spiritual growth together. Through shared spiritual practices we call a Rule of Life, we connect with God through worship, prayer, and Scripture; by doing justice and sharing faith we hope to extend God’s wholeness to the world; in the process, we find deeper connection with each other.

How do I know if a Life Group is for me?

All that’s required to be a part of a life group is a desire to grow, experiment, and share your spiritual journey as you feel comfortable. You don’t need any religious background or knowledge; it’s OK to be seeking what faith looks like for you. All of us are beginners together, just trying to take the next step towards Jesus.

How do I sign up?

  1. Read the descriptions below and decide which group you want to join.
  2. Then, sign up using this link.
  3. After you sign up, the leader of the group will contact you with further details.


Contact Pastor Gary VanderPol (gary@churchwithoutwallsberkeley.org)

All groups described below practice the five elements of our Rule of Life (prayer, Scripture, worship, justice, and evangelism) but most have chosen an “anchor practice” that distinguishes their group.

NEW GROUP! Bite-Sized Bible Studies
led by: Paulina Hartono and Ginny Dawson
when & where: dynamic scheduling (daytime and evening–good for those without fixed 9-5 days!)
We are following along with the Bible Project’s videos, and reading commentary along the way.  Currently looking at the Pentateuch (just started Genesis in December), but later will alternate between OT and NT.

NEW GROUP! Welcoming Newcomers
led by: Jodi de la Peña VanderPol
when and where: TBD
Our vision is to partner together in supporting newcomers (refugees, immigrants and asylees). This group will be primarily outward focused and may include participation and coordination of monthly newcomer dinners and events, as well as regular gatherings with colleagues and friends directly working with newcomers who may feel drained and burnt out and may not have a spiritual home from which they act in the world.

NEW GROUP! Sabbath Together

led by: Melissa and Juan Manuel Aldape
when: monthly on the 3rd Saturday, 10am-sunset
where: South Berkeley

What would your life look like with a regular time and space to find rest from our packed schedules and anxiety-producing responsibilities? While God has gifted us the Sabbath, we might still struggle to immerse and sustain ourselves in it. This group seeks community in the pursuit of rest. We will do this by investigating God’s design for Sabbath, rooted in the teachings from the Old Covenant and embracing Jewish practices/calendar for this appointed time of the week. Our time together will include reading liturgy, watching Rabbinic commentary, sharing discussion over a potluck, and simply hanging out together—maybe even some board games.  You are more than welcome to join for any portion of this time. You are invited to bring a dish to share during the potluck, but it is not a requirement. Access note: We will meet in a house that requires walking up one flight of stairs.

DYN 01 – Environmental Justice Learning Community

led by: Gary VanderPol
when: dynamic scheduling, meeting 4x a month as participants’ schedules allow
where: South Berkeley
From the first page of the Bible, God gave us the honor of caring for this very good world. Healing our beautiful but battered planet remains one of our most fundamental callings. Shouldn’t Christians be known for our environmental justice activism? This fall our group will do the hard work of research, asking how a little church like ours can effectively combat a big issue like climate change.

TUE 01 – Spirituality in Everyday Life
led by: Loretta Matty and Erin Schweng
when: Tuesday evenings, 7:30 – 9:00 pm
where: Northwest Berkeley
We have an unstructured approach, but often include worship songs and time for sharing. We attempt to understand and experience Ignatian spirituality as well as engaging with historic and present injustice, especially as it regards race, in our culture.

TUE 02 – TnT (Twenties ‘n’ Thirties)
led by:  Marco & Miho Kitagawa Pedroso and Abby Jensen
when: Tuesdays at 7:00
We are an energetic and diverse group of young adults in our twenties and thirties (purportedly), growing together in spiritual disciplines and friendship. Transitions? Life decisions? Sounds like us. Come join us first in monthly fun events!

TUE 03 Luke Study

Led by: Humberto and Gaddy Reyes
When and where: Tuesdays 6:15-7:45 in South Berkeley
Come join us as we dive deep into the gospel of Luke. Dinner included and kids welcome!

TUE 04 – Virtual
led by: shared leadership
when and where: Tuesday evenings, 8:15 – 9:30 pm
Our group exists to form community and discipleship for people in circumstances that makes attending a weekly, in-person group challenging (e.g., parents of young children). We are an entrepreneurial bunch who will try different technological and logistical approaches to facilitate both remote and in-person discussions, which will be inspired by the sermon series.

WED 01 – cwow.justice.action
led by: Deborah and Tim Zenor-Davis
when: Wednesday evenings, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
where: West Berkeley
Each week we gather to dig into Scripture, share our lives and stories, pray, worship, reflect, and laugh a lot. Our justice practice is a focus on educational equity, and over the next six months, we’ll be doing some hands-on activities to partner with local schools, students and families in exciting ways. No experience required–just a heart for the kids and youth of our greater community. Come join us!

WED 02 – Spiritual Direction and Discernment
led by: Sharon Henthorn-Iwane
when: Wednesday evenings, time TBD
where: Berkeley
God is speaking, but how do I hear him? God is at work, but how do I recognize His activity? God is loving and empowering me, but how do I experience that reality? Are you asking these kinds of questions or do you desire more of God? In the context of group spiritual direction and prayer for each other outside the group, we will form a spiritual community which assists people in ongoing individual discernment. We will meet twice a month in a set group of 6-8 people. Come as you are. No spiritual direction experience necessary!

THU 01 – CWOW Artists’ Collective
led by: Bora Reed
when: dynamic scheduling.
where: Berkeley
We love Jesus and we appreciate and pursue various forms of art. This semester, the men and women will meet in spiritual direction groups twice a month (high commitment attendance). The whole group will meet monthly for a potluck dinner and to share their works-in-progress.

THU 02 – Justice and Restoration
led by: Ryan Grant and Dana Lundblad
when: Thursday evenings, 7:00 – 9:00 pm
where: Berkeley
Starting with a foundation in what scripture has to say about justice and restoration, with some consideration of issues present in and influencing our criminal justice system, we will serve people entering life after incarceration. This is meant to be an exploration with much learning, experimentation, discovery, and a variety of ways for members to respond. Okay, that all sounds pretty serious. We will also be enjoying life together as we nurture our spiritual lives and eat good snacks.

THU 03
led by: Kim Winkleman
when: Thursday mornings, 9:45-11:45am
where: West Berkeley
Got time during the day? Join us to study the texts of the sermon series, pray and worship together. We put an emphasis on creating a safe space to share our real selves and what God is up to in our lives.

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