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"Getting Smarter about Systems, Stressors, and Conflict in the Church” ~ Barbara Child


Ministries are more likely to thrive when ministers have deep understanding of congregational systems, how stress and anxiety affect them, how to manage inevitable conflicts, and how to distinguish between problems to solve and polarities to manage. Rev. Barbara Child will tailor a program focused to suit your chapter's needs on any combination of the following:

  • The difference between linear thinking and systems thinking
  • Stressors as triggers of anxiety in congregational systems
  • How to manage different levels of conflict
  • Conflict management styles and personal engagement with conflict
  • The difference between managing conflicts and managing polarities
  • Self-differentiation and triangulation
  • Behavioral covenants as conflict management tools
  • Mediating interpersonal conflicts

Barbara Child

Barbara Child has eleven years experience as an interim minister, seven of them as an Accredited Interim Minister.  She served four years as a called minister.  Trained by Speed Leas of the Alban Institute in intervention in highly conflicted churches, she served as a member of the Florida District Conflict Management Team. She holds a Certificate of Achievement in Appreciative Inquiry from the Corporation for Positive Change.  She has served as Chair of the Commission on Social Witness, the Commission on Appraisal, and the Interim Ministry Guild.  Having served as a Good Officer in the Heartland District, she is now a member of the UUMA's Good Officer Support Team. Having served as a Ministerial Settlement Representative in the Heartland District, she now continues that work as a Regional Transitions Coach for the MidAmerica Region. She and Keith Kron are co-editors of In the Interim: Strategies for Interim Ministers and Congregations. She is a consultant to congregations and has offered programs on various subjects included in this workshop to congregations, districts, district UUMA chapters, and at Ministry Days and General Assembly. 

Love Beyond Belief ~ Thandeka

A theological program that helps ministers and seminarians enhance their personal theologies and strengthened their liturgical skills.

Session 1: (2 ½ hours) ~ Our Religion and Our Emotions – Personal Lost and Found Stories
Participants will discover links between liberal religion and emotions through a series of workshop exercises. Using these personal experiences of discovery, we will discuss why these links are often ignored, rejected, or condemned by our liberal theology.

Session 2: Part I (3 ½ hours) ~ Seeing Beyond Belief
In this workshop, Thandeka presents excerpts from a major motion picture for use by participants to collectively "unpack” the visual images and non-verbal meanings of the film. This playful and engaging heuristic device will enable participants to (1) discover hidden aspects of the foundation of their own Unitarian Universalist faith experiences and (2) develop strategies that more systematically attend to this foundation of their faith when creating Sunday worship services that more fully integrate the music, narrative flow, and other liturgical elements.

Session 2: Part II (4 hours) ~ Music Matters
Thandeka will lead a workshop designed to help participants experience the ways in which music shifts their emotions and then apply insights gained from this experience to create new ways of working with their music directors. They will also create, if desired, initial plans for a monthly Evensong service of music, readings, and meditation for their congregations.



Thandeka is a Unitarian Universalist Minister and author of ‘What Moves Us’ (UUA Tapestry Theology Series). She has taught at Meadville Lombard Theological School, Harvard Divinity School, Brandeis University, Lancaster Theological School, and Williams College and has presented workshops and plenary presentations at General Assembly, District Meetings and in several hundred UU congregations as well as presented papers and led workshops at two ICUU conferences.

She is the founder of Affect Theology – the study of the human emotions and affective states that guide, direct, and prioritize religious beliefs, liturgical structures, religious education programs, and pastoral practices by members and leaders of a religious community (see for details). She is the author of The Embodied Self and Learning to be White as well as essays in the American Journal of Theology and Philosophy, the International Journal of Practical Theology, Harvard Theological Review, Process Studies, Tikkun, and other publications.

Preaching by Heart: The Art of Preaching without a Script ~ Dr. M'ellen Kennedy & Stephen Shick
This workshop provides a supportive and inspirational space for learning the basic elements of preaching without a script. We incorporate worship, short lectures, discussion, exercises and small group work. Extemporaneous preaching offers rich opportunities for deepening ministry and connecting with the hearts and mind of our people. Once highly valued in our tradition, this art, having nearly vanished, is making a comeback. Learning to be authentic in a variety of settings has long been a goal of educating ministers. The recovery of this art can help ministers come alive to their true self when delivering sermons or presenting in a variety of traditional and newly emerging electronic settings.  Contact: or
Note:  While the experience of this workshop is greatly enhanced by having both Rev. Shick and Rev. Dr. Kennedy present together, it can also be offered with only one presenter.


Stephen ShickStephen Shick

Rev. Shick has preached extemporaneously as parish minister for over sixteen years and led workshops and retreats on this subject. Stephen’s love of the spoken word began with hosting a nationally syndicated radio program for 12 years. As a principle founder of Community Ministry, the founding Director of UU Peace Network and UUSC’s U.S. Programs, Stephen has used this style of preaching nationally in theme talks and worship at GA, District Meetings, and in over a hundred UU congregations. As an Urban Fellow at Harvard Divinity School he began researching the UU history of this art. He is author of two Skinner House books, Be the Change and Consider the Lilies and produces Momentary Meditations, a weekly one minute YouTube nature video poem.


M’ellen Kennedy

The Rev. Dr. M’ellen Kennedy is passionate about helping people find their authentic voice in the preaching and public speaking.  She has practiced extemporaneous preaching and storytelling for many years. M'ellen is an ordained UU and Sufi minster, and has the honor of serving the Unitarian Universalist Churches in Springfield and Washington, Vermont. M’ellen is an expert in small groups and co-founder of the UU Small Group Ministry Network. M’ellen has presented over 100 educational workshops including at CENTER, GA, regional gatherings and at Ferry Beach. She is founding Director of Peace and Unity Bridge, a program for cultivating friendship and understanding among Muslims and non-Muslims.

Preaching & Worship in a Multi-Media Context  ~ Rev. Scott W. Alexander and Rev. Dr. Randy Becker


This highly interactive -- yet content-orientated -- workshop is designed to give participants wide-ranging familiarity with the many unfolding possibilities, promises, and technologies of multi-media worship and preaching, regardless of how much or how little experience they have had with these technologies to date.  This includes (but is not limited to) learning how to create Power-point presentations (pictures, text, videos) for both the entire worship service and sermons, “getting out of the hymnal” by use of Sanctuary projection, making and using video and audio clips in worship, and generally making the entire worship experience rich in multi-media enhancements -- while avoiding multi-media detractions.  The faculty will teach specific multi-media technologies and skills, and the participants will have time to both share multi-media presentations they have already created, and try their hand at creating some during the course of the workshop experience. 


These skills and technologies are fiercely relevant to UU clergy and seminarians because the future of worship in the 21st Century is clearly moving in a multi-media direction, most especially because the younger generations expect and seek the engagement only multi-media presentations can provide. 

Scott Alexander - Rev. Scott W. Alexander has been a UU parish minister for the last 41 years, serving in small, medium-sized, and large congregations, and ten years at CLF and UUA headquarters.   He has taught preaching and homiletics within our movement for the last 30 years – both at seminaries and at UUMA and UUA sponsored workshops, and is the author of The Relational Pulpit: Closing the Gap Between Pulpit and Pew.   He is the editor of four Skinner Press books on various aspects of Unitarian Universalist practice, and travels widely as a guest speaker and workshop leader.  He is presently the Senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Vero Beach which has state of the art audio visual capabilities which Rev. Alexander and the congregation utilize every Sunday.


Randy Becker - Randy Becker has been a UU minister for 42 years with Fellowship in Parish and Religious Education ministries.  A significant portion of his ministry has been as a consultant to congregations at the Area Council, District, and Continental levels. He was the first religious podcaster when rss feeds were first developed; was a member of the UUA Off-site Delegate Development Team; uses multi-media weekly in worship; is now a member of the UUA's Religious Education Credentialing Committee. Randy had taught at Andover-Newton, Meadville/Lombard, and William and Mary; he is currently teaching World Religions at Florida Keys Community College.

Writing and Living on the Threshold - Rev. Karen Hering

Writing and Living on the Threshold

How do we engage writing as a spiritual practice in a way that invites our deepest truth to the page while also building community? Writers and nonwriters alike have appreciated the chance to reflect on the risks and gifts present on the thresholds in our own lives and ministries, while also experiencing and learning contemplative correspondence, a group and individual practice of writing that can be used in ministries within and beyond the congregation. (Note: This guided writing experience can focus on “Thresholds" or any of 40 alternative themes, chosen by the hosting chapter.)


Rev. Karen Hering serves as consulting literary minister at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota and leads retreats and guided writing programs for clergy and lay gatherings, and writers and non-writers alike. She was a 2015 UUMA Center Institute presenter and is the author of Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within (NY: Atria Books of Simon & Schuster/Beyond Words, 2013), winner of a Silver Nautilus Award, recognizing “literary contributions to spiritual growth, conscious living, ... responsible leadership and positive social change.”




Planning Now for the Future of Our Faith:

Creating and Sustaining a Planned Giving Program ~ Don Southworth & Laura Randall

Sustaining the Call, the UUMA’s first endowment campaign, has three goals: to raise money; to honor and remember those who came before us; and to teach skills for our personal and professional lives. These skills include improving our knowledge and awareness of the options we have to practice generosity when we are gone. In this workshop you will learn how you can support your congregation, the UUMA, and other UU organizations now and in the future while inspiring others to do the same. Planned giving is an important, though sometimes overlooked, tool in our stewardship toolbox and it’s simpler than you might think! Come see the potential planned giving has to grow our faith and keep it strong for generations to come.  Join your colleagues, UUMA Executive Director, Don Southworth, and UUA Legacy Gifts Manager, Laura Randall for a day of practical and spiritually important work. This workshop will be 2-4 hours in length.

Laura Randall - The Rev. Laura Randall is the Affiliate Community Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Area Church at First Parish in Sherborn, MA. She serves the broader community through ministries of stewardship and chaplaincy. She is the Legacy Gifts Manager at the Unitarian Universalist Association, helping individuals and congregations nurture the faith we love through planned giving. She is also a chaplain with AseraCare Hospice as well as the Program Manager with Healing Moments Alzheimer's Ministry. Laura lives in Medford, Massachusetts with her husband, Luke, and their two dogs.


Don Southworth - Don is the Executive Director of the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association. He has served congregations in San Francisco, Atlanta and Durham, NC since his graduation from Starr King School for the Ministry in 2000. He has led workshops on stewardship and growth in the United States and England. Before he entered the ministry he worked in sales, marketing, training and various management positions in the corporate world. He and his wife Kathleen have two grown sons, Justin and Lucas and two cats, Blizzard and Quincy.


Mentor Training ~ Lead Mentor Team

Are you a mentor to colleagues in preliminary fellowship and would like to deepen your mentoring skills? Are you new to mentoring and want to learn ways to better support your mentee? Do you wish you had a cohort of other mentors to check-in with about your experiences, to give you advice and feedback? Serving as mentors is one of the most effective ways that we support and strengthen the ministries of our colleagues who are just starting out in their ministry careers. Having a mentor can mean the difference between burning out in one’s first few years of ministry, or having the resilience to grow, learn, and eventually thrive in service to one’s community. However, until now there has not been any formal training available to the ministers who provide this valuable service to new ministers.


This year, 25 experienced colleagues have been trained as “Lead Mentors.” Their intensive training covered the art of mentoring, led by Rev. Larry Peers, and intercultural competency skills for mentoring, led by Phyllis Braxton of PINK Consulting. Starting in fall of 2014, these Lead Mentors will be available to facilitate mentor training workshops in UUMA chapters and clusters. The basic workshop is 4 hours in length, with optional follow-up modules (an additional 4 hours) that can take place in-person or online. Anyone who participates in these trainings will have the opportunity to join a “Community of Practice” group to continue deepening their mentoring skills. For questions or to schedule a mentor training in your chapter, contact Allison Palm (


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