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2018 Seminar Options:

Embracing Family Ministry; Breaking down Silos

American families are lacking critical societal support structures. Unfortunately, many houses of worship are not offering viable solutions. Learn effective strategies and practical tools from this northern NJ team whose thriving family ministry model has served well their mid-size congregation and large children and youth program. This workshop is ultimately geared toward congregations of multiple sizes and families of all variations.

Rev. Emilie Boggis is the Minister of Congregational Life at The Unitarian Church in Summit (UCS). She serves as the VP of her UUMA Chapter, recently finished her term as President of Summit’s Interfaith Council, and is a student in the Entrepreneurial Ministry program.


Laura Beth Brown, Director of Family Ministries at UCS, has also served congregations in Manhattan and Long Island in her 15 years as a professional religious educator. Currently, she is the VP of her LREDA Chapter, and before that served for 6 years as a Good Officer.


Prophetic Protest in the Public Square

In this era of increasing public protest against social injustice, what is the role of the faith community outside of the walls of the sanctuary? Whether the protest is against racism, sexism, heterosexism, classism, xenophobia, islamophobia, transphobia, anti-semitism, or some other "othering," this workshop is designed to assist participants in constructing a theology of resistance and a template for prophetic presence in the public square.

Rev. Traci Blackmon is the Acting Executive Minister of Justice & Witness Ministries for The United Church of Christ and Senior Pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO.

As pastor, Rev. Blackmon leads Christ The King in an expanded understanding of church as a sacred launching pad of community engagement and change.  This ethos has led to a tripling of both membership and worship attendance over the last seven years, expanding membership engagement opportunities, and the establishment of community outreach programs. Community programming includes a computer lab, tutoring, continuing education classes, summer programming, a robotics team, children's library and girls' mentoring program, all housed in the church.

Regionally, Rev. Blackmon's signature initiatives have included Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit, a mobile faith-based outreach program she designed to impact health outcomes in impoverished areas.  Sacred Conversations on Solomon’s Porch, quarterly clergy in-services designed to equip local clergy to assess physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health concerns within congregational life, Sista SOS Summit, an intergenerational health symposium for women and girls, and Souls to the Polls STL, an ecumenical, multi-faith collaborative that was successful in providing over 2,800 additional rides to the polls during local and national elections.

Rev. Blackmon currently resides in both St. Louis, MO and Cleveland, OH and was recently named as one of St. Louis' 100 most influential voices. Rev. Blackmon is the proud mother of three adult children: Kortni Devon; Harold II; and Tyler Wayne Blackmon.

Gathering Our Selves: Sustenance for People of Color in a Multicultural World

It’s not easy hosting the body and spirit of a black or brown person.  Generations of our ancestors lived out their lives nested in inhumane settings that were determined to confine us to limited conceptions of who we are and what we could be.  While that cultural machine is still at work, today’s religious professionals of color must find spiritual and intellectual sustenance that affirms our being while enabling us to create practices that minister to the brokenness of the world.  This experiential workshop is the pilot for the launch of a theologically inclusive, multi-format, art-infused curriculum to sustain the spiritual resilience of people of color – people of African/Black, Latinex, Asian, Native American, Arab, or bi-racial ancestry – in mixed race-settings.  Pre-conference reflection required. 


 Dr. Mark A. Hicks is the Angus MacLean Professor of Religious Education and Director of The Fahs Collaborative Laboratory for Innovation in Faith Formation, both at Meadville Lombard Theological School (Chicago).  His teaching and scholarship are noted for the transformative quality of stretching the boundaries of the mind, body and spirit in service of growth and development.  He is the principle author of the small-group ministry curriculum, “Beloved Conversations:  Meditations on Race and Ethnicity”, “Building the World We Dream About”, and the article, “Spiritual Malpractice and the Struggle for Voice in Multi-Racial Congregations”.  He holds a doctorate in philosophy and education from Teachers College, Columbia University in NYC, and is a member of All Souls Church, Unitarian (Washington, DC) and The Riverside Church (NYC).  

Pray like an Activist: Wisdom Teachings for the Practice of Freedom

Whether we are acting in solidarity with black lives, pursuing climate justice, defending LGBTQIA rights or protecting a woman’s right to choose, working for social change in a time of tyranny is exhausting, often discouraging, and absolutely essential.  How do we find the strength and capacity to continue the work? We nurture those qualities in ourselves through regular practices that feed the soul and remind us of what we’re fighting for.

This workshop draws from the spiritual practices of activists whose moral examples continue to inspire our own organizing in the present day. It grounds those practices in the stories of those called to be change agents in the world and invites us to bridge our own ministries with new opportunities for meaning making.

This workshop is meant to provide participants with hands on experience of multireligious spiritual practices drawn from traditions as diverse as the activists themselves. Our focus will be on incorporating one (or more) practices as a means of sustenance amid urgent movements for change. Join us for a time of experiential engagement and deep collegial sharing.

The Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt is President of Starr King School for the Ministry, a Unitarian Universalist and multireligious seminary in Berkeley, CA.  Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, she is a graduate of Yale University and Drew Theological Seminary. An editor and widely anthologized writer for more than 20 years before answering the call to ordained ministry, The Rev. Ms. McNatt is a former editor at the New York Times Book Review; author of three books, including her memoir, "Unafraid of the Dark;" a former contributing columnist for; a contributing editor to UU World, the magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and a contributing writer to the Huffington Post.

Rev. Sofia Betancourt serves as Assistant Professor of Unitarian Universalist Theologies and Ethics at Starr King School for the Ministry (a member school of the Graduate Theological Union), and is a Ph.D. Candidate at Yale University in the departments of Religious Ethics and African American Studies. Her work focuses on environmental ethics of liberation in a womanist and Latina feminist frame. She served for four years as the Director of Racial and Ethnic Concerns of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and her ministry centers on work that is empowering and counter-oppressive. Betancourt holds a B.S. from Cornell University with a concentration in ethnobotany, an M.A. and M.Phil from Yale University in religious ethics and African American studies, and an M.Div. from Starr King School for the Ministry.

Think like a Filmmaker: Sensory-Rich Worship Design for Unforgettable Messages

Are you burned out, in a rut, and frustrated by Sunday mornings? Then you need to “think like a filmmaker!” Renowned worship designer and teacher, Dr. Marcia McFee, will give you her time-tested strategies for creating and sustaining sensory-rich worship that offers unforgettable messages each and every week. Insights from filmmakers: art directors, screenwriters, composers, cinematographers and directors, will attract and ignite volunteers as they gain skills for every worship art. Applying these lessons to vital communication of important messages will not only inspire pastors and staff for their work, but will invigorate the congregation’s excitement for Sunday mornings.

Marcia McFee, Ph.D. has been designing, teaching and leading worship for over 20 years across many denominations and traditions. Connecting worship professionals and volunteers to their passion and depth of spiritual leadership is her aim in teaching and consulting as well as equipping them with skills to carry this out. She is the creator and visionary of the Worship Design Studio, an online experience of coaching, education, inspiration and a design application.   

Spiritual Leadership for Stewardship and Fundraising: Enough Already!

In this seminar we will begin by exploring our own spiritual and cultural relationship with money.  Grounded in our own work toward health, we will examine the role of religious community in building a healthy and prophetic vision for our collective relationship with money.  We will share the latest research about giving and offer an overview of the adaptive changes needed for successfully resourcing mission, including practical wisdom and tools.

Rev. Mary Katherine Morn is the Director of Stewardship and Development and Special Assistant to the President for the Unitarian Universalist Association. Mary Katherine’s passion for fundraising arises from her belief that ministry is the work of unleashing the best we have to give—and though we sometimes forget it, unleashing financial giving is what makes the rest of the ministry possible.  Previous to her denominational service, Mary Katherine served and grew small, mid-size, and large congregations in five different states.

Rev. Lisa Greenwood has served as Vice President for Leadership Ministry for the Texas Methodist Foundation since March 2012. The Leadership Ministry for the Texas Methodist Foundation (TMF) helps clergy and lay leaders to discern and discover new ways to steward their communities’ potential to fulfill God’s purpose. Three program areas in which TMF's Leadership Ministry is making a difference under Lisa leadership are: Learning Communities provide opportunities for self-directed learning that builds courage in order to lead in an environment of change. Learning Projects offer experimental programs and projects that help Church leaders to gain new insights and develop innovative approaches to help the Church and its people to thrive during uncertain times. Congregational Cultures of Purpose and Generosity connect Church leaders with the resources they need to discern their purpose and respond with acts of generosity that help them achieve their God-appointed missions. Prior to joining TMF, Lisa was a Ministry Strategist with Horizons Stewardship Company from June 2008 - March 2012 and also served as Pastor to the Access Community at FUMC Richardson of the North Texas Conference from 2010 - 2012. - See more at:

Aimée A. Laramore, MBA, Owner/Lead Consultant, ALlyd Image Solutions and former Associate Director, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is a trusted consultant, effective strategist and premier team-builder in the field of faith & philanthropy.  She is the Owner/Lead Consultant for ALlyd Image Solutions, a boutique consulting firm dedicated to building organizational capacity and effective development practices, with more than 17 years of executive non-profit leadership.  Her ministry is anchored at the intersection of faith & giving, with a heart for generosity, youth ministry & diversity in giving.  

Building Vocal Communities: An African American World View

What good is a song?  Why do we sing?  Our answers may differ significantly because our world views may differ. A discussion of African world view will provide the context for looking at traditional aspects of African American music: function, oral/aural tradition, call and response, poly-rhythms, syncopation, repetition, leaders but no conductors,  leaders but no soloists, improvisation, composite rather than linear melodies.  This will be the context for discussing the continuum of African American music including calls, chants, Spirituals, Gospels, Blues and emerging song forms; their styles and purposes.

Dr. Ysaÿe M. Barnwell is a gifted musician and master teacher who has been a member of Sweet Honey In The Rock® since 1979. Her workshop Building a Vocal Community® has been conducted on three continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration for both singers and non-singers, a model of pedagogy for educators, cultural activists & historians. In 2016, President Obama nominated Dr. Barnwell for membership on the National Council on the Arts.  The nomination awaits confirmation by the Senate  

Prophetic Preaching: Title and Description to Come

Prophetic Leadership in the Digital Age

The world has always needed prophetic voices calling people and society to pursue justice, healing, harmony, and peace. Yet the tools and the methods available for this work change over time. In the 21st century, there is a dizzying array of options available to the contemporary prophet. This course will equip faith leaders with the capacity to use digital resources for communicating effectively in the media landscape, combine digital activities with on-the-ground organizing to lead social change campaigns, create “ethical spectacles” to capture the imagination of traditional and digital media and promote your causes, and more.


Isaac Luria, Vice President of Auburn Action, is a movement leader, faith-rooted organizer, and social impact technologist who specializes in how the stories we tell shape our lives and change the world.As the strategist behind Auburn’s digital action platform, he helped grow Auburn’s online faith-based social action network to a community of 225,000 people committed to faith-based social change. Isaac is a trusted strategist and trainer in modern organizing with digital tools, faith-rooted story-telling for social change, and prophetic

Entrepreneurial Ministry: Title and Description to Come

Embodied Organizing For the Planet: Prophetic Social Justice Ministry for the 21st Century

What does bold, embodied, prophetic, organizing look like? The Environmental Justice Collaboratory, Justice-Building at UUSC and Commit2Respond believe the time is right to provide essential healing work and organizing skills in an integrated fashion. With deep theological grounding, music, and experiential learning we will explore and survey a range of skills, techniques and landscapes that can be used to connect this work across all kinds of difference. We seek to create and be fearless, grounded, connected leaders: Bodhisattvas for the Planet.

As we look about our world, there is much that can lead us into despair and cynicism. We are in an unprecedented moment in history - a time of great peril and great opportunity. When we acknowledge our pain and grief for the world we are empowered to move through it and act with dignity and determination. The grief that we experience is essential. If we truly believe that all life is interconnected, then we all benefit from a global view that holds and honors intersections of place and people, kind and kindred, micro and macro views.

This track brings together expert leaders and guides, Climate Justice Activist and founder of Peaceful Uprising, Tim DeChristopher, and Bryan Cahall, who will weave together an integrated approach. The track will include 1) opportunities to explore theological grounding that calls us to act and supports our work, 2) embodying our grief and ways to facilitate healing for ourselves and our professional settings, and 3) tools and techniques for organizing for social change. 

Catherine Flowers

Tim DeChristopher is an American climate activist and co-founder of the environmental group Peaceful Uprising. In December 2008, he protested a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction of 116 parcels of public land in Utah's redrock country by successfully bidding on 14 parcels of land for $1.8 million with no intent to pay for them. DeChristopher was removed from the auction by federal agents and taken into custody, eventually serving 21 months in prison.

Bryan Cahall is a storyteller, poet, and singer-songwriter based in Providence, RI. 

Tim and Bryan collaborate to offer powerful events weaving together speaking, music and song.   Tim has often said, "We will be a movement when we sing like a movement.”  Bryan's music helps reminds us that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves.

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409
© 2016 Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.