Morning Seminars

  • #1 – Artistic Hand Embroidery

    Kim Homsher

    Design your own artful embroidery while learning 7 basic stitches. Discover how these stitches lead to an infinite world of designs using exciting color combinations and fabric choices. You’ll see how these stitches can be used to create many styles – modern, traditional, trendy, stylized and more. By the end of the week you’ll know how to free-style embroider, follow a pattern, customize a pattern and create your own pattern! You’ll also learn how to transfer a design to fabric and get ideas for framing and displaying your finished work. Join us for fresh perspectives on embroidery, hands-on instruction, inspiration and resources. Enjoy a little slow time as we practice this relaxing, centuries-old meditative art.

    Kim Homsher has been embroidering since her aunt taught her Candlewicking and “Chicken Scratch” techniques over thirty years ago. Since then she’s explored and completed pieces in Blackwork, Drawn Thread, Ribbon Embroidery, Surface Embroidery, Knotwork, and Whitework. She’s currently having fun creating her own designs and “free-styling”, making it up as she goes.

  • #2 – The Healing Drum

    Rebekah Benner

    Share your voice through the drum. No experience needed. Drum rhythms and songs will be taught along with shamanic and trance drumming for personal introspection and self-healing.

    Rebekah has been facilitating drum circles for over 20 years, for area communities, outreach shelters and health agencies. She is founder of Terra Amma Spiritual Center in Akron, and uses crystal singing bowls in weekly sound vibrational healing sessions. She is also a member of the Ethical Metalsmith Guilde and creates adornments from recycled metals, fair trade beads and gems.

    What participants should bring: A pedestal type drum – ashiko, djembe, along with other drums, rattles, bells and percussion instruments. Blanket and small pillow, if you need them for laying on the ground during some journey drumming.

  • #3 – Art as Meditation

    Michele Tarsitano-Amato

    Art has power to connect to one’s inner self, and seeing that expression connects one individual to another. This is why art is so important at all stages of life, and is essential to the second half of our lives. This workshop will provide participants a chance to reflect through art making on the UU Seven Principles. Each day individuals will start with a chalice lighting and quote of a principle. Participants will use the multimedia collage to reflect upon the quote. The last 20 minutes of each day will hold a reflection upon images and how they relate both the quote and one’s inner spiritual journey. Join us for expressions of self through art.

    Michele Tarsitano-Amato holds a Masters in Art/ Art Therapy from Ursuline College. She is an Art Therapist Registered – Board Certified. She has been a member of West Shore UU Congregation since 2002. Her passion is helping older adults with cognitive loss live their most resilient life.

    Things participants should bring: Any art supplies you might have – fun yarns, ribbons, papers.

  • #4 – Once Upon a Time in Judea…. A Story-Focused Intro to the New Testament

    Joan Van Becelaere

    This course approaches the New Testament not as scripture, or a piece of authoritative holy writing, but as a collection of ancient stories. You will be urged to leave behind your pre-conceived notions of the New Testament and explore it as if you have never heard of it before. Participants will be asked to try to understand the historical, political, economic and religious context of the NT stories in the tumultuous, changing Roman world and imagine how these stories might appear to an ancient person. We will also look at other messianic movements in the Roman world, how these influenced early Christianity, and how claims for the divinity of Jesus would have been viewed in the Greco-Roman culture.

    Rev. Joan Van Becelaere is a congregational life consultant for the UUA. Previously, she was the Vice President for Student Services at the Iliff School of Theology, Denver CO, where she also taught UU Polity and History. Much of her masters of divinity work was focused on Hebrew Bible and New Testament studies and she has offered several bible-focused classes at SI.

    Things participants should bring: A copy of the New Testament (RSV or NRSV or NIV)

  • #5 – Liberation, Interdependence, and Transformation: UU Theology Today

    Matthew Johnson

    This is an introduction to the most recent trends in Unitarian Universalist theology. In the last 15 years, UU theology has had a profound development. Grappling with ethics, science, process and liberation theology, and more, we are not the same faith we were a generation ago. In an interactive, multimedia conversation we’ll discover and add to this story.

    Matthew Johnson is the Senior Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL. He attended UU Summer Camp for decades and was thrilled to find a Summer camp home at SI last year. He’s the author of “Newborn Bards: A Theology of Preaching for Unitarian Universalists” and the co-chair of the UUA Presidential Search Committee.

  • #6 – Mobilizing Whiteness for Racial Justice

    Claire Galpern

    This workshop aspires to help racial justice advocates of all identities understand and subvert cultures of white supremacy as they manifest in our daily lives and activism. Join us to discuss theories, strategies, and practices of justice-building. We’ll also have opportunities for spiritual reflection, resource sharing, and forming much-needed relationships of sustenance and inspiration. You are very welcome!

    Claire Galpern grew up attending SI and is currently going to Temple University for a Masters in Social Work in community organizing and policy. Prior to that Claire was a community organizer at Youth United for Change in Philadelphia. She leads racial justice workshops for UU youth and loves doing this work with UUs!

  • #7 – Biracial Families Resisting Racial Microagressions: Stories and Experiences of One Family

    Patricia Trudeau and Wilburn Hayden

    Multiracial families are increasing in our society. The Pew Research Center has found that one in seven new marriages in the U.S. involve spouses from different racial groups. Some of the best guides—and those closest at hand—on the journey toward a multiracial society may be members of our congregations who are living in biracial marriages or relationships. This workshop will share stories of microagressions and resistance as challenges that affront biracial families in negotiating daily life in a white hegemonic society.

    Patricia Trudeau (white Canadian) and Wilburn Hayden (black Canadian-American) have been married for nearly 25 years and raised their biracial son in both countries. They have been members of Neighbourhood UU Congregation in Toronto since 2007 following nine years at First Church Pittsburgh. Patricia is completing a Masters of Divinity Degree at the University of Toronto, Emmanuel College and is a candidate for Unitarian ministry. Wilburn is a leading expert on Black Appalachians and Professor at York University, School of Social Work.

    Things participants should bring: A notebook.

  • #8 – Compassionate Connecting: Foundations of Compassionate Communication

    Irene Habermann and Joe Keenan

    Based on the work of Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD in Compassionate Communication, this workshop offers a new model of relating that will help you have open, honest and effective communication from the heart. Learn effective practices that put you in touch with your deeper values and transform self-limiting beliefs, habits, and reactions into resources for healing and connection. Through play, movement, stories, witnessing, sharing, and courageous caring, learn new skills to deepen your empathetic listening skills, cultivate a centered presence in stressful times, gracefully manage difficult conversations, take actions that align with your values, nurture intimate connections and cultivate community, and empower every voice to speak their own truth.

    Irene Habermann has more than 15 years’ experience of sharing Marshal Rosenberg’s NonViolent Communication in various settings in her private life as well as in public groups and in organizations. She also incorporated Dominic Barter’s Restorative Circles process into her life and her work. NVC* has helped deepen her relationships at home and in her community. Joe Keenan began learning and incorporating NVC* in his private relationships and his work with customer relations in 2004. NVC* has transformed his relationship with his children and strengthened his marriage with Irene. It has also helped him to become the number one sought after trainer and customer support analyst in his firm.

    Things participants should bring: An open heart.

  • #9 – Get “F.L.Y.”! (Fitter, Leaner, Younger)

    Christa Champion

    Would you like to regain your youthful daily energy levels? Do you want to feel better, move more easily, and get rid of some of those nagging aches and pains you’ve been carrying around lately? Wouldn’t it be nice to touch your toes again? If you need some motivation to get up off the couch and get active, then this workshop is for you! We will: 1. Review the science behind the powerful anti-aging effects of exercise. 2. Learn basic nutritional information to improve your everyday eating habits for better long-term health. 3. Practice simple and functional body-weight exercises that will improve your posture, strengthen your movements, and increase your flexibility while simultaneously reducing joint pain.

    Christa Champion is an athlete, an educator, and a life-long learner. For twenty-plus years she was a basketball coach, tennis coach, and physical educator at the collegiate and scholastic levels; among her current pursuits, she occasionally works as a private health and fitness consultant. Champion holds a Master of Science degree in Exercise and Sport Studies from Smith College.

    Things participants should bring: Wear loose, comfortable clothing; wear stable closed-toe footwear; bring notebook & pen.

  • #10 – Relaxing and Rejuvenating Yoga Retreat

    Maggie Comstock and Jeremy Brauning

    Ever wanted to learn Yoga? Already a practicing student? Just interested in what all the yoga folks are talking about? Great! Join certified yoga instructors Jeremy Brauning and Maggie Comstock for a calm and uplifting experience. In this workshop, they will explore the different styles of breathing, yoga poses, and guided imagery. This workshop encourages all ages and levels to experience the beautiful art that is yoga.

    Jeremy Brauning and Maggie Comstock have been life-long UUs with a friendship that blossomed at SI two decades ago. They learned at a young age to be peaceful and kind to everyone and both love to be able to teach this through yoga.

    Things participants should bring: Yoga mat, water, and smiling faces

  • #11 – RE: Self-Care & Wellness

    Lisa Theil

    REfresh your attitude and REkindle your spirited sense of wonder through yoga play. REjuvenate your body, mind and stamina with yoga and breath-work. REhydrate your connective tissue through myofascial self-massage & nourishing yoga. REcenter and REbalance yourself by addressing the role of stress in daily life. REconnect to your eternal self through yoga philosophy and meditation.

    Lisa A. Thiel has been practicing yoga and meditation for nearly 20 years and teaching group classes and private sessions for more than 10. She also helps to train advanced teachers in the Brahmrishi Yoga school. Lisa is a bodyworker in the art-forms of Jin Shin Jyutsu, Thai Yoga Massage, and Thai Reflexology, and has over 1,000 hours of training in therapeutic yoga, philosophy, pranayama and meditation. Her passion is helping others develop a relationship with their own selves, and inspiring self-care practices for all stages of life.

    Things participants should bring: Yoga mat, blanket, 2 tennis balls, and (optional but useful) yoga blocks and strap.

  • #12 – My Improvised Life: Comedy as a UU Philosophy

    Mike Frye

    Listening, support, sacrifice; these are all important elements to building community, and are also key ingredients to great comedy! We’ll be learning and practicing the basics of improvised comedy and examining how concepts like mindfulness, giving, and saying “Yes!” can build strong relationships both on stage and in the community at large. You might have fun and learn to embrace your inner weirdness, too.

    Mike Frye has taught and performed both long-form and short-form improv comedy for many years. He was a member of The Babbling Bishops, Ohio Wesleyan’s premiere improv troupe.

    Things participants should bring: As much courage as you can muster.

  • #13 – Swing Dancing for Dummies

    Kathy Ke and Joe Meier

    Swing dancing is a wonderful way to bond with another person, get some exercise, and listen to wonderful music. Learn some basic swing dance moves and impress your friends on the dance floor. No experience is necessary. Please sign up with a partner.

    Joe Meier and Kathy Ke celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary this year (2017), and Kathy is still struggling to learn not to lead on the dance floor. Joe is a structural engineer and Kathy is a Hospice and Urgent Care Physician. They attend the UU Church of the North Hills in Pittsburgh where they also sing in the choir.

    Things participants should bring: Comfortable clothes and leather-soled shoes

  • #14 – Living Through Ministerial/Staff Transitions

    Rev. Rod Thompson

    So, your beloved (or not) Minister/DRE/MRE/Music Director/Etc. is leaving. How do you and your congregation live through it? We’ll reveal all the secrets and help you connect with the resources available. it could be a magical time for all. Come see how.

    Rev Rod Thompson is a retired UU Accredited Interim Minister, member of the Kent Church, and former OMD District Consultant. Rod has served congregations in Ohio, Georgia, DC, North Carolina, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and New Mexico.

    Things participants should bring: Writing utensils.