Print Page | Contact Us | Your Cart | Sign In | Join
CENTER Institute Program
Share |

January 31 - February 4, 2022

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay, San Diego, CA



Since the Institute has had to be rescheduled due to the pandemic, the seminars and presenters may change. We will do our best to announce updates as soon as we have them.


2022 Keynote and Seminar Options:



As we consider the theme of Faith Empowering Resilience, what are the theological roots that we can draw from? Both keynotes will ground us theologically and help us explore the spiritual sources of our resilience. 

Tuesday Keynote Speakers

Dr. Anthony Pinn
Dr. Benjamin Valentin

Thursday Keynote Speakers

Rev. Sofia Betancourt
Rev. Rosemary Bray Mcnatt
Dr. Elias Ortega-Aponte

Full Seminar Options:

Full Seminar #1: From Burden to Blessing: Trauma and Resilience

In the course of our ministries, we co-mingle with tragedy and despair on the regular. Together we will reflect on how these experiences affect us personally, professionally, and spiritually, and consider how we can navigate them with authenticity and grace. How can we navigate these ties with authenticity and grace? How do we integrate our most difficult truths into our lives and our ministries? Discussions will include (but are not limited to) compassion fatigue and trauma informed care, theological grounding, challenges of challenging populations, and how to remain faithful to the tender path of renewal.

The Rev. Dr. Emily Brault is a UU minister and full-time Chaplain for the Oregon Department of Corrections. Her biggest caper so far was convincing Vanderbilt University to give her a PhD in "Religion and Personality." She says she was looking for both. For Emily, religion is not about helping us escape our lives, but helping us get into our lives in ways that foster grace, hope, and healing. In her spare time she hangs out with her family and plays the banjo, although her family doesn't quite appreciate the elegance of the banjo.

The Rev. Susan Maginn is a military chaplain currently serving Third Marine Corps Air Wing in San Diego where she lives with the love of her life in a small house packed with brilliant teenagers.

The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Stevens currently serves as the minister of the UU Church of the Palouse in Moscow, Idaho. Her doctoral work focused on trauma in congregational systems. However, the experience of accompanying her congregation through two gun-related suicides and a mass shooting taught her more about trauma and resilience than any academic work. The congregation is thriving and growing, and is currently in the midst of a building expansion.

Full Seminar #2: Grief, Gratitude and the Ministry: Have You Made Art About it Yet?

Using the methodology of the Jewish Studio Project, this arts immersion workshop will invite theological reflection and creative expression on themes of grief and gratitude as a means to empowering clergy wellness, community healing and expanding a trauma informed perspective for self and community care. The workshop will follow an arc of spiritual grounding, text study, creative writing, use of arts materials (watercolors, oil pastels and inks) and offer tools for sacred witness. A companion workbook for personal practice after the event will be shared and a discussion of strategies for using the arts in congregations and communities will round out the program.

Rev. Michelle Favreault is a long time UU educator, coach and consultant working with communities to engage creative practices in support of spiritual care and liberation. Michelle has taught writing, ritual arts and leadership courses for more than 25 years in congregations, seminaries and community centers. Michelle is a Fellow of the Jewish Studio Project Creative Facilitator Program, a Collaborator of the REImagine End of Life Festival and an Advisor to the Institute for Collective Trauma and Growth.

Dr. Pat B. Allen, Ph.D., A.T.R., Senior Advisor & Consulting Faculty of the Jewish Studio Project,  is an author, artist, art therapist, and teacher who connects to the Creative Source through art and writing. Their two books, Art Is a Way of Knowing (Shambhala 1995) and Art Is a Spiritual Path (Shambhala 2005), explore the borders between art, psychology, spirituality, and social action and are considered classics in the field of expressive arts therapy. Author of numerous professional articles and book chapters, Dr. Allen lectures and delivers workshops nationally and internationally. Their artwork has been exhibited in a wide variety of juried and invited exhibits. Dr. Allen served on the faculty of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for twenty years and has taught at many colleges and universities nationally and internationally, including JFKU in Berkeley. Dr. Allen co-founded the Open Studio Project in Chicago and Studio Pardes in Oak Park, IL and continues to provide inspiration and leadership in the community studio movement in the field of expressive arts therapy.

Full Seminar #3: A Renaissance Module - Innovation for Shared Leadership training

Sometimes common challenges call for uncommon solutions.  In this training we will learn how to develop your current and future big idea(s) into project proposals that will clearly communicate its purpose and minister to your congregation’s unique concerns.  We will learn strategies for gaining congregational buy-in, project success, and the role of shared ministry in innovation.

UUA’s Lifespan Faith Engagement w/TBA

Full Seminar #4: Mourning the Earth: Creating Rituals in Community

In this workshop we will engage issues related to global warming and climate catastrophe through community rituals. Scientists are saying that we are running out of time to protect the earth from burning. We are living before an unprecedented looming catastrophe and there is no going back once we pass the limits imposed by the earth. Together, we will engage with some of the disasters of our time and the fears that come with it, hoping to find ways to cope with it in our communities.

Rev. Dr. Cláudio Carvalhaes is a former shoe shining boy from São Paulo, Brazil. A theologian, liturgist, artist and activist, he is the Associate Professor of Worship at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Author of From the Ends of the World: Prayers in Defiance of Empire (Abingdon Press, August 2020); What's Worship Got To Do With It? Interpreting Life Liturgically (Cascade 2018); Liturgy in Postcolonial Perspectives - Only One is Holy, ed. (Palgrave, 2015); and Eucharist and Globalization: Redrawing the Borders of Eucharistic Hospitality,(Wipf and Stock, 2013). He is writing a new book: #Plantgate: Confessing To Plants And Other Absurdities At The End Of The World. Cláudio is married to Katie and father of three children. Personal Website:

Full Seminar #5 Sustainable Leadership in Emergent Systems

What if a congregation is more like a flock of birds or slime mold than like a machine? More an organism than an organization? What are the patterns of systems we can learn to see? What are the implications for leaders, to nudge and inspire these living systems in the direction of the Beloved Community?

Rev. Jake Morrill has served as Lead Minister of the Oak Ridge UU Church since 2003. A former UUA Trustee and Army Chaplain, he is also a marriage and family therapist and the Executive Director of the UU Christian Fellowship. Jake has been a serious student of systems theory, especially applied to organizational leadership, since 2004. With 5 years in the Bowen Center Post-Graduate Program, he is now part of the Bowen Theory Group and is on the faculty at the Bowen Theory Education Center. Jake’s work as a clergy coach has meant working with dozens of clergy, including many UUs, as well as a number of large-group workshops, with LREDA, the Mass Bay District UUMA Chapter, and the UUs of Colorado, among others.

Tuesday Half Seminars:

Deepening in Faith - Spiritual Development for Unitarian Universalists

For too long we've failed to articulate a clear path for spiritual deepening as Unitarian Universalists - let alone ways to apply this path in congregational life. Over the last 3 years, our congregation - Foothills Unitarian Church - has been working to change this. We believe that there is a recipe for spiritual maturity - a path that draws us into partnership with courageous love and compels us to be faithful to its call. In this workshop we will share our model and resources, and invite dialogue with our colleagues as we continue to learn together, and manifest a bolder vision for Unitarian Universalism and its capacity to speak into the biggest questions of life today - and to be a tool for resilience and transformation for generations to come.

Rev. Sean Neil-BarronThe Revs. Sean Neil-Barron and Gretchen Haley serve as the two settled ministers of the FoothillsUnitarian Church in Fort Collins, Colorado - a congregation whose mission is to unleash courageous love. Sean was born on Treaty 7 land in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and came to Foothills after four years in New England where he completed seminary at Harvard Divinity. You may know Sean from his work on The Pamphlet (the UU History podcast), or from his leading work on Faithify. Sean is a self-proclaimed nerd, particularly about history, current Rev. Gretchen Haleypolitics, science, and Star Wars. Outside of ministry you will find Sean hiking or cooking up a storm with his partner Charles, and their dog Dollie.

Gretchen shares Sean's ambition for the liberal church, believing in its capacity to transform lives and our world through hyper-local relationships and partnerships that inspire the unleashing of courageous love. Her ministry is infused with her relentless curiosity about most things, especially the big stuff of theology, the beauty of creation, the magic of collaboration, and the joy of pop culture. She moved to Colorado from Washington state over 20 years ago for grad school in theatre, and knew immediately that she would never leave. Before Foothills, she served in western Colorado as the minister for Two Rivers UU in Carbondale. She and her amazing partner, Carri, have 2 tween/teen kids, Gracie and Josef, who both relish and resent being PKs, and who keep her grounded, frustrated, inspired, and humbled, everyday. She is basically obsessed with her dog, a large-sized mutt, Charlie.

Deeper Discussions with the Keynote Speakers 

Dr. Anthony Pinn
Dr. Benjamin Valentin

This workshop is an opportunity to have a deeper exploration of the concepts from the keynote. 

Thursday Half Seminars:

Empowering Resilience in Staff Management

The minister is given the role of head of staff more often than not. Your approach to staff supervision and team leadership impacts congregational vitality and missional alignment, and can make or break your ministry. Yet there is little training and seemingly little time for this work. What do you need to know? What are your legal and ethical obligations? How are the values of our faith calling us to lead staff in this time? We'll cover nuts and bolts as well as theological tie-ins, budget and time constraints, routine staff support, cross-cultural interactions, tricky situations like incompetence and misconduct, and how to support a healthy, spirit-filled team. Let us help you make staff management a vital and affirming part of your ministry!

Ms. Jan Gartner serves as Compensation and Staffing Practices Manager in the UUA Office of Church Staff Finances. She equips congregations to be excellent employers and loves working with supervisors and staff. A skilled educator and facilitator, Jan is a visionary pragmatist who makes the complex accessible and intertwines the everyday with the expansive. Special areas of interest: healthy staff teams, productive transitions, economic sustainability, and polarity thinking.

The Rev. Dr. Lisa Presley was both an interim and settled minister in several locations before joining the Congregational Life Staff of the UUA where she has been for the past dozen years. She has advised congregations on matters such as dealing with employees that embezzle, employees who are being harassed by members of the congregation, and also brings her safe congregations background into play while helping ministers through tough situations. She has training in the Intercultural Developmental Continuum and is a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Developmental Inventory.

Deeper Discussions with the Keynote Speakers 

Rev. Sofia Betancourt
Rev. Rosemary Bray Mcnatt
Dr. Elias Ortega-Aponte

This workshop is an opportunity to have a deeper exploration of the concepts from the keynote.

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association, 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston, MA 02210-1409
© 2020 Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association.