FAQs about the Wrestlers Class at National Presbyterian Church

Paul Arveson, Dec. 2011

What does the Wrestlers Class do?
The Wrestlers Class is an adult Christian Sunday class at the National Presbyterian Church.  We invite a variety of speakers to share from their experience and professional knowledge, and how they relate their Christian faith to their work. The motto of the class is Applying Godís Word to Godís World. This is not a typical Bible or theology class. The subject matter ranges widely, over at least 20 categories that are listed on the Wrestlers schedule banner. There is no predictable sequence; speakers are invited as their schedules permit.

How did the Wrestlers Class get its start?
In 1978, Colleen Townsend Evans, wife of Pastor Louis Evans, and John Dellenback, a Congressman from Oregon (also founder of the Peace Corps, and former Chairman of World Vision), established the class and its general charter. Its management has been passed along through many lay leaders since then, including (since 2000) Clyde & Ginny Taylor, Sharon & Donner Buchet, Bill Davnie, Serge Duss, John Knubel, Cathy Trauernicht, Cyril Draffin and Paul Arveson.

What is the size of the class?
In the 1990's the class reached an average of 85, but there has been a gradual decline since then, and currently the attendance ranges from about 15 to 50.

Where is the classroom located?
It is in the lower level of the Agencies Building, the stone building on the corner of Van Ness and Nebraska Avenue.

Why is such a class relevant in a church?
We would point out that this is a Presbyterian Church. In the Reformed tradition, all so-called secular professions are viewed as valid callings of God for those with the appropriate gifts and knowledge. Godís sovereignty rules over all aspects of the world, and all professions and life experiences may have moral, spiritual and theological implications. Conversely, we believe it is a mistake to confine Christian education only to matters of "religion". Heb. 13, Rom. 12, I Tim. 2, I Pet. 2, James 1 and other passages affirm the importance of thoughtful consideration and integration of faith and practice. Christians are in need of opportunities to hear and "wrestle" with ideas Ė this is an essential component of the pathway of discipleship.

What is the format for the class?
Generally Wrestlers follows a lecture format; after a brief Bible reading, prayer and introduction, the invited speaker shares for about 45 minutes to an hour. The remaining 15-30 minutes is used for questions from the audience. This portion often engages the audience, and it is usually necessary for the facilitator to interrupt to close off the discussion. In past years, part of the time was used for sharing prayer requests, group prayers, announcements and sharing of news. Due to the reduced size of the class and leadership, some of the preliminaries have been shortened or eliminated. The current facilitator (Paul Arveson) is open to alternative formats or a variety of formats if help is provided to plan and prepare the class for these formats.

What are the practical benefits of the Wrestlers Class?
The schedule format allows a wider range of subject matter and speakers than are usually made available to a church audience. We feel this is especially desirable in an educated community of professionals such as Washington, DC. Sometimes an opportunity arises to invite an interesting speaker on short notice; often the Wrestlerís class can accommodate these contingencies. Many times, elders or other members of NPC are invited to speak about their own lives. This allows a wider range of members to get acquainted with each other. New members or visitors can come to any session of the class, without a long-term commitment, to become acquainted with the church. This provides an evangelistic feature and offers the opportunity to increase membership in the church.

What funds are used to support the Wrestlers Class?
The class intends to be self-supporting. Expenses include honoraria for some outside speakers, and some travel expenses for speakers outside the DC area. This assumes that a specific line item is provided in the church budget designated for the Wrestlers Class. An offering is not taken in the class, but supporting members are encouraged to donate by check with the Wrestlers Class designation for some of their NPC giving. Any funds not utilized within a fiscal year are turned over to the general fund.

How does the facilitator identify speakers for the class?
Most speakers fall into these categories: a) missionaries or NPC members who serve in missions or ministries locally or elsewhere; b) NPC members or friends of members who work in a professional capacity and wish to discuss how their faith and work relate; c) scholars, ministers or religious leaders; d) VIP visitors, such as parliamentarians or ambassadors who often visit in conjunction with the National Prayer Breakfast in early February.

Are the Wrestlers classes recorded?
Yes; since 1998 most of the classes have been recorded Ė over 400 in all. Recently, all the recordings available have been digitized and edited. They are posted on the Web site at http://wrestlers.nationalpres.org. For a listing and searchable database of recordings, please check the web site.

For other questions, please contact the facilitator at email address: paul (at) arveson.com.