Guest speaker series

St. Paul’s Guest Speaker Series

Each fall, the St. Paul congregation hosts the community-wide Guest Speaker Series. The church brings persons of national stature to the Quad Cities – sparking new ideas about what it means to live faithfully. This event reflects St. Paul’s mission to serve as a learning center for our people and the entire region.

The 2019 guest speaker is Shon Hopwood. He will present on Sunday, Nov. 10 (please note change from original date). At 10:20 a.m., he will speak on “Why we need grace in the criminal justice system.” At 4 p.m., he will present “Criminal justice reform in an age of political unrest.” Both are free and open to the public.

Shon grew up in David City, Nebraska. After trouble catching on to college, he found himself in a local bar with a buddy. They talked about robbing a bank. That turned into committing five armed bank robberies before being apprehended. Sentenced to 10 years in the federal prison at Pekin, Illinois, Shon wasn’t sure if he could survive a cell block.

Shon slowly taught himself criminal law and began to help fellow inmates. He wrote one petition to the Supreme Court on a typewriter. It was chosen to be heard from over 7,000 other petitions submitted by the greater legal community that year. The Justices voted 9-0 in favor of Hopwood’s petition when the case was finally heard. What might have been considered luck by some, was dispelled when a second petition from him was selected to be heard by the Supreme Court.

Shon was released from custody in April 2009. After his release, he earned his bachelor’s degree, then was accepted to the University of Washington School of Law. He served as a law clerk for Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He passed the bar. He’s now an associate professor of law at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.

An impressive line-up

Over the years, Quad-Citians have met renowned leaders through St. Paul’s Guest Speaker Series. All have authored books that can be found in the church’s Book Corner.

2018: Austin Channing Brown

2017: Tom Gjelten, NPR reporter

2016: Tony Jones, author and theologian

2015: Leslie Hunter, chaplain and instructor

2014: Timothy Johnson, leading medical communicator

2013: Richard Lischer, theology professor, writing on grief

2012: Greg Boyle, urban priest and advocate for youth

2011: Joan Chittister, Catholic visionary, social advocate

2010: Bill McKibben, environmentalist on the impact of global warming

2009: Mark Allen Powell, New Testament professor

2008: Brad Hirschfield, Orthodox rabbi devoted to inclusiveness

2007: Tom Long, one of America’s leading preachers

2006: L. Gregory Jones, theology professor, writing on forgiveness

2005: M. Craig Barnes, pastor, author on God’s forgiveness

2004: Ann Weems, poet

2003: Gerald Sittser, professor, author on tragic loss

2002: Tony Campolo, sociologist/author, proponent for progressive thought

2001: Dorothy Bass, developer of resources for living the faith

2000: Lewis Smedes, late theologian/ethicist on forgiveness

Faith and Life Series: Ann McGlynn


Malachi 3:1-4

The Coming Messenger 3 See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. 2 But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap; 3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness.[a] 4 Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.

Hebrews 2:14-18

14 Since, therefore, the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death. 16 For it is clear that he did not come to help angels, but the descendants of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to become like his brothers and sisters[a] in every respect, so that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make a sacrifice of atonement for the sins of the people. 18 Because he himself was tested by what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Luke 2:22-40

Jesus Is Presented in the Temple 22 When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), 24 and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.” 25 Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon;[a] this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. 26 It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.[b] 27 Guided by the Spirit, Simeon[c] came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, 28 Simeon[d] took him in his arms and praised God, saying, 29 “Master, now you are dismissing your servant[e] in peace, according to your word; 30 for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.” 33 And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. 34 Then Simeon[f] blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed 35 so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.” 36 There was also a prophet, Anna[g] the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped there with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[h] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. The Return to Nazareth 39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.