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2015 Seminar Options:

#1: Preaching & Worship for the Future Church

and the Future of Church

Rev. Michael Piazza

The Rev. Michael Piazza is a passionate speaker on church renewal and worship. Join him in this seminar to take your preaching and worship leadership to the next level. Our model for worship, he says, is based on a template hundreds of years old. He will present his ideas for what he believes constitutes transformational worship in the 21st century.

Michael S. Piazza is the Co-Director of the Center for Progressive Renewal and as such is the Senior Consultant for congregational renewal.  He is also the Sr. Pastor of the Virginia-Highland Church in Atlanta, Georgia, a congregation that has quadrupled in attendance since he became pastor in 2011.  Prior to that he served as the Senior Pastor and Dean of the Cathedral of Hope in Dallas, Texas where under his leadership the congregation grew from 180 members to almost 4000 becoming the largest progressive and inclusive church in the South.  He is the founder of Hope for Peace & Justice and served as its president for seven years. Author of eleven books including Liberating Hope, Prophetic Renewal, Liberating the Gospels, and Gay by God he was named by The Advocate Magazine as one of the most influential leaders in the lesbian and gay community.  Rev. Piazza met his partner in 1980 and together they have reared two daughters who are currently in college.

#2: Even If We’re Not on a Par with Mozart: 

The Minister as Artist - Worship and Preaching as Art Forms 

Rev. Kathleen Rolenz, Rev. Mark Belletini, w/ Jeff Horst (Acting Coach, Actor)

Limit: 24 - FULL

Like painting, dancing, sculpting, composing, the composition of poems and all music, even like good cooking, preaching and worship are not just received traditions, but present art forms. Themes and motifs, colors and sounds, speech and silence, techniques and improvisation, fear and joy run through all the arts, and their makers.

Revs. Belletini and Rolenz, working with Acting Coach Jeff Horst, will create an experiential workshop designed to help sharpen your preaching skills, expand your liturgical repetoire and provide appreciate and critical feedback to help you to be a better preacher and liturgist.  We'll explore the History of Worship as Art in the UUA (the Humiliati, Abraxas etc), the use of body in worship, including practice sessions with preaching and cameras.  We'll look at the use of color, sounds other than music, silences, rhythm, poetry and visual foci in worship. We'll look at your particular preaching style and give you direct feedback about how to be a more effective communicator.  

Rev. Mark Belletini has served as a Unitarian Universalist preaching minister for 35 years. He was born in Detroit, lived in the Bay Area of California 24 years, where he attended Starr King and served our congregations in San Francisco and Hayward,  and has served our congregation in Columbus OH for 16 years. He chaired the committee that compiled the (now aging) grey hymnbook, and was privileged to serve on the Ministerial Fellowship Committee for 8 years. He is a visual artist and takes pleasure in cooking for family and friends. For him, preaching and worship design is reliable spiritual work and play.



Reverend Kathleen Rolenz recently celebrated 20 years of ministry, having served for the last fourteen years at West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church in Cleveland, Ohio.She currently serves as one of the Deans of the Beyond the Call Program for Excellence in Worship and Preaching; she was a recipient of several sermon awards: The Richard C. Borden Sermon Award; the Beacon Press Sermon Award; UU Men's Network Sermon award.  She and her husband and co-minister, the Reverend WayneArnason, co-authored "Worship That Works" on best practices of worship in Unitarian Universalism.  She is also the editor of "UU Christian Voices in Unitarian Universalism," and "Sources of Our Faith," published by Skinner House.

Jeff Horst has been in the performing arts for over 15 years. Jeff began very young as a chorister and branched into theatre in high school. As an actor, Jeff has traveled across the country on tour and performing regionally in many states. Today, Jeff works with young performers and seasoned professionals in a mutual exchange of ideas and performance techniques aimed at bringing consciousness awareness to ones’ own performance techniques physically, mentally and emotionally that include: thought processes, text & character analysis, motivations in real or fictional situations and creation of a world based in one’s own truth.

#3: Just Transition in a Time of Unraveling  

Dr. Joanna Macy, Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald and the staff of Movement Generation

Limit: 40

In a time when a radical confluence of crises sweeping the globe challenges human and planetary existence and eco-system integrity as never before in history: What knowledge must we possess? What path can we follow?  What practices will sustain us as a people, and as those called to minister?  Together we will explore experiential and learning practices that will stretch and deepen our relationship to time, stir our call into healing engagement, and deepen our analysis of the crises as well as the potential forward in our perilous times.  Together we will celebrate what it means to develop an evolved sense of place in a time that calls profoundly for a resilient and just transition to a world that is sustainable and ecologically and culturally diverse.

Eco-feminist/philosopher Joanna Macy, PhD. is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A globally respected leading voice in the movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with five decades of activism.

Rev. Kurt A. Kuhwald, Assistant Professor of Practical Arts and Prophetic Engagement at Starr King School will assist her. 

They will be joined by members from the diverse collective of Movement Generation: justice and ecology project (MG), based in Oakland, CA.  MG will also present workshop offerings based on their commitment to cultivating an urban justice and resilience based approach to ecology.  MG is particularly involved with leaders of organizations working for economic and racial justice in communities of color.



CANCELED: #4: Sacred Place, Sacred Space

Dr. Nicole C. Kirk 

Limit:  35

With all the discussion of changing how we do church and congregational life—a reimaging of congregational space is afoot. Part historical survey of the American Religious Landscape, part creative aesthetic workshop, and part brainstorming session—this course explores the contours of sacred space within American religion, historic American Unitarian Universalism, and offers the opportunity to think imaginatively about what sacred space for Unitarian Universalists will look like in the future. 

 Dr. Nicole Kirk is the Rev. Dr. Frank and Alice Southworth Schulman Professor of Unitarian Universalism at Meadville Lombard Theological School.  Before earning her Ph.D. at Princeton Theological Seminary, Nicole served as a parish minister in Ohio and New Jersey.

#5: InterPlay: Unlock the Wisdom of Your Body

Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter 

Limit: none

"What is InterPlay?” It’s a folk art, a community practice, a healing experience, an educational toolset, a spiritual path, and a system of good ideas. It is professional development that makes your body say, "Thank you!” It’s challenging, fun and lets you enjoy lots of connections that foster health. Rooted in play, it’s radical. It helps professionals move quickly to self-care, people care, and earth care through surprisingly unconditional, unplanned creativity. It’s not an emotion, cult, or answer. It simply helps people take small creative bites, reflect on them, and move to bigger bites. Why? Because bodies want to create and care for each other. InterPlay assists by restoring our access to freedom of movement, voice, speech, stillness, and connection in simple, but thought-provoking ways. You’ll have chances to play alone and in community. You’ll regain body wisdom tools too rare in adult development and find the grace to dance with human limits and strengths. With its emphasis on human sustainability you might see why people link InterPlay to local food, global peace programs, gift economies, and artful, down-to-earth community life: The Earth and body wisdom like each other. The learning is endless as Porter and Winton-Henry know.

InterPlay was created by two serious people who discovered something wild about body and soul and decided to give their lives to it. Co-founders Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter are community artists, teachers, writers, and collaborators interested in creative designs and disciplines that help bridge gaps in gender, race, accessibility, culture, class, religion, and between body, mind, heart, and spirit. They enjoy supporting people to use InterPlay all over the place (five continents) with all kinds of populations from their studio at InterPlayce in Oakland, California. See



#6: Love. Period: Reconciling our way to

justice, hope and the Beloved Community

Rev. Jacqui Lewis

Limit: None

"The Beloved Community” is a term that was first coined in the early days of the 20th century by the philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce, who founded the Fellowship of Reconciliation, but it was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who popularized the term and invested it with a deeper meaning which has captured the imagination of people of good will all over the world. In times like these, when fear of the other continues to drive us into silos of sameness, how can we grow congregations that are vital manifestations of the beloved community? How does congregational life—particularly worship, education and activism—not only nurture the souls of our people, but develop leaders who are ready to work for a healed world? This interactive and experiential workshop will help you plan worship and programming that is attractive to millennials and that engages your entire congregation in deeper relating, purposeful reconciliation, bolder truth-telling, more inspired visioning of a just society, and a robust ability to see themselves as change-agents.

Rev. Dr. Jacqueline Lewis is Senior Minister at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City and Executive Director of The Middle Project. Lewis earned her M.Div at Princeton Theological Seminary and her Ph.D. in Psychology and Religion at Drew University. Ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Lewis is a nationally recognized author, speaker, and preacher on the topics of racial, economic, and gender/LGBTI justice. Lewis has been adjunct faculty at Princeton Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, The Graduate Theological Union, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and Wesley Theological Seminary. She has been interviewed on NPR’s Weekend Edition, WABC, WNBC, CNN,, and Essence magazine, and The New York Times online. Author of The Power of Stories: A Guide for Leaders in Multi-Racial and Multi-Cultural Congregations and a children’s book that celebrates diversity, You Are So Wonderful!, Lewis has published numerous articles, sermons, and blogs. She is married to her best friend, John Janka, with whom she works for racial reconciliation every day.



 #7: Taking Your Staff Team to the Next Level

Rev. Susan Beaumont

Limit: 50

Payroll expense is the probably the single largest line item in your operating budget.  Does the performance of your team reflect the significance of the congregation’s investment?  In this seminar we will explore thirty benchmarks of staff team health and explore dysfunctions that often get in the way.  You’ll learn to match your leadership style to the developmental stage of the team; help people work with their natural role preferences; enhance team spirituality; resolve team conflict and nurture team productivity.

Rev. Susan Beaumont has supported leadership development in congregational, nonprofit, and corporate organizations for more than 25 years. Susan in a former Senior Consultant for the Alban Institute; she currently manages her own consulting practice and has served on the faculty of two business schools.  Prior to joining the Alban Institute, Susan served as an Area Minister in the American Baptist Churches, and she is an ordained minister in the American Baptist Churches, USA. Susan’s consulting work specializes in the unique dynamics of large congregations and the staff team dynamics of middle judicatories. Her work synthesizes the best of business practice with careful theological reflection. Susan holds a BS from Northern Illinois University, an MBA from Northwestern University, and the M.Div. from McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, IL. She is the author of the acclaimed When Moses Meets Aaron: Staffing and Supervision in Large Congregations.



#8: Leading from Within: A Circle of Trust Retreat

John Fenner & Nancy Edmundson

from the Center for Courage & Renewal

Limit: 30 - FULL


  • Do you wish you had more time to pause, reflect, and reconnect with your calling?
  • Do you feel isolated and long for a community where you can candidly share your successes and failures without being judged?
  • Do you want space to explore spiritual practices that can strengthen your faith and breathe new vitality into your ministry?

Sustaining the Call is a small-group spiritual formation retreat based on the Circle of Trust approach as written about by Parker Palmer in his book A Hidden Wholeness. 

The Circle of Trust approach is distinguished by principles and practices that create a safe space in which to explore the questions of vocation, identity, and reconnecting soul and role.  In this 12-hour program, participants will be given an opportunity to take a break from the routines and demands of ministry, to slow down and enjoy a time of renewal and regeneration, and to explore, again, questions of meaning, purpose and calling.

In this retreat you can expect:

  • skilled facilitators to introduce Courage & Renewal principles and practices including the art of asking open and honest questions, use multiple modes of reflection, and create of a community of support.
  • a focus on how we listen prayerfully to ourselves, each other, and God in communal spaces.
  • the use of stories from your own journey along with insights from poets, writers, and various faith traditions.
  • the experience of a Clearness Committee: a communal process of discernment around a significant life or vocational question.

John Fenner is program director of the Courage to Lead for Clergy and Congregational Leaders, an initiative funded by the Center for Courage & Renewal and the Lilly Endowment. He has been facilitating Circle of Trust® retreats since 2003 for church groups, nonprofit leaders, and cross-professional cohorts. John is also a Senior Associate for Everyday Democracy, an organization dedicated to helping communities organize dialogue to action projects. He lives in Brevard, North Carolina, with his wife Claire and nineteen-year-old son Colin and is a member of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.

Nancy Edmundson is a Courage & Renewal® facilitator. She is also the Director of Administration at the Unitarian Church of Santa Barbara.



#9: Covenant-Based Conflict Resolution

Rev. Cat Cox

Limit: none; This is one of two half seminars. You can take this seminar alone and have extra free time, or you can take it along with seminar #10

This program offers a profound, spiritually transformative process that effectively bridges the gap between affirming our UU covenants in principle and having the skills to model them and guide communities by them when the going gets rough. Energy and creativity are renewed as mutual understanding leads to solutions that strengthen commitment.

Rev. Cat Cox, M.A.T., M.Div. offers a nationwide ministry of spiritual direction, The Path of Joy: Spiritually Grounded Conflict Resolution Without Compromise, which supports communities and individuals in navigating the rocky waters of conflict without compromising either their values or their needs.  We can stay true to ourselves while communicating with others in ways that build trust, create shared understandings and lead to solutions that benefit all. Her interfaith community ministry serves congregations, colleagues and seminarians, faith-based communities and service organizations and is affiliated with the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley. She serves on the Board of Directors of the UU Society for Community Ministries. Contact her at  



#10: Writing that Opens the Door: A Spiritual Practice of Writing for Self Care, Pastoral Care, Congregational Life and Sermon Writing 

Rev. Karen Hering

Limit: 75; This is one of two half seminars. You can take this seminar alone and have extra free time, or you can take it along with seminar #9

How do we engage writing as a spiritual practice in a way that invites our deepest truth to the page? In these guided writing sessions on the theme of hospitality, participants will be led in a spiritual practice of writing that engages metaphor, story, poetry and myth along with wisdom teachings, science and history. Developed in a UU congregation and explored in the book, Writing to Wake the Soul, this is a practice that can be used to inspire sermon writing, for a personal spiritual practice or discernment, or as a tool for pastoral care or small group ministry.

Rev. Karen Hering is the author of Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within. She serves as consulting literary minister at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, MN and chaplain for Goodwill of North Central Wisconsin. Before entering the ministry, for over 20 years she worked as a writer and communications professional for nonprofit organizations. Now, in her ministry of words and story, her programs engage writing as a spiritual practice and a tool for social change. She has led retreats for ministers, chaplains, CPE students and supervisors, and spiritual directors as well as lay people, writers and workplace managers. More information on her ministry and book is available at   



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