Morning Seminars

  • 1. Protecting Our Blue Boat Home

    Bob Mitchell

    Pope Francis has focused the world’s attention on the climate change crisis through his encyclical “Laudato Si — On Care for our Common Home”. Nations are beginning to take concrete action, but much more is needed to avert dire consequences. In this workshop we will examine the wide diversity of public opinion on climate change, the underlying science, and the likely impacts for humanity. Most importantly, we will explore how each of us can harness our talents to help transform public dialog and achieve policy changes that will preserve our Common Home — our “Beautiful Blue Boat Home” — for ourselves, our children and generations to come.

    Bob Mitchell became a member of First Church Pittsburgh in 1986. He holds BS and MS degrees in physics and a PhD in electrical engineering. He retired in 2014 following a career that ranged from high power lasers to robotic perception systems. For the past six years, he has been researching the science and politics of climate change. He is currently the liaison to Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

  • 2. Polymer Clay with a Side of Beads

    Christy Decker

    Experience the wonderful and amazingly versatile medium that is polymer clay. We’ll cover the fundamentals as necessary, and demonstrate basic and more advanced techniques based on group preference, requirement, and time. And because we can make beads, let’s plan on stringing necklaces, malas, prayer beads, bracelets, or the like. Participants will need to purchase some materials in advance.

    Christy Decker has worked with polymer clay for over fifteen years, and beads and jewelry since about 1983. She has homeschooled her three sons, taught RE for 15 years, and believes that she has a knack for instruction. She enjoys turning people on to polymer clay and making jewelry.

  • 3. Daily Practices for Nurturing the Inner Child Artist: Cultivating Creativity 2.0

    Margaret McConnell & Dawn Corley

    Building on the basic tools of Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, we will be exploring new ways to move through resistance and nurture the inner child artist. Through simple projects involving art, writing, meditation, and movement we will seek to entice the inner child artist to play. We also will have projects that will give us the tools to blow through the blocks to our creative growth. Modeled on a workshop offered at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron, Dawn Corley and Margaret McConnell will offer the highlights of Cameron’s principles in a supportive, enlightening, and fun manner. No prior knowledge of The Artist’s Way, or attendance of the 2015 Workshop is necessary.

    Dawn Corley, a member and Worship Leader of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron is a writer, calligrapher, and long-time journaler who has done extensive reading of Cameron’s works. Margaret McConnell, a writer, long-time journaler, and leader of meditation groups, co-facilitated an Artist’s Way group for two years at UUCA with Dawn.

  • 4. Discover Your Wisdom with SoulCollage®

    Julie Henderson

    SoulCollage® is an amazingly delightful and profound process for self-discovery developed by author and therapist Seena Frost. More than just a creative exercise, SoulCollage is grounded in the work of Carl Jung, James Hillman and Jean Houston. SoulCollage gently enables you to hear the deep wisdom of your own inner knowing and to honor all aspects of your life, so that you find yourself becoming ever more whole, ever more at peace, and awakened to the joy of simply being your true self. This experiential seminar will give you an overview of the theory and structure of SoulCollage. Then we’ll use the rest of the week to actually engage in the process, creating your own deck of beautiful SoulCollage cards and learning a simple process to work with the collages you create to access your inner wisdom and understand the messages the images have for you. With only images, glue and your own willingness to be open to the journey, you truly can “discover your wisdom and change your world.”

    Julie Henderson, MS, LMT has a Master’s Degree in the study of adult development and aging, complemented by over 20 years working in the holistic health field. When introduced to SoulCollage it was love at first sight, and she trained as a Facilitator in early 2009. Through her business, Our Sacred Pause, Julie uses SoulCollage and other holistic modalities to help people reconnect to a felt sense of authenticity and wholeness, and supports them in the work of creating lives that resonate and reflect those deep inner truths.

  • 5. Discovering a God That Could Be Real

    Michelle Buhite

    A discussion based on Nancy Abrams’ book, A God That Could Be Real: Spirituality, Science, and the Future of Our Planet. This book is a complete game-changer in the humanist-theist divide; together we can impact the evolution of God.

    Michelle Buhite is the developmental minister for the UU Church of Amherst in Williamsville, NY. She is passionate about Unitarian Universalism as a life-saving, soul-saving, planet-saving faith.

  • 6. Advocacy for Social Justice

    Max Grubb

    Having trouble generating congregational or public support for or recommendation of a particular cause or policy? If you build they will come does not work for social justice causes. Effective advocacy is vital as UUs pursue important social justice issues that challenge us as advocates. This seminar will give participants an understanding of what advocacy is, what it means to be an advocate, the basic fundamentals of advocacy, and advocacy in the 21st century. During SI, participants will experience the fun of applying concepts in advocating a cause or policy concerning SI.

    Dr. Max Grubb, a Medina, Ohio native, has a doctorate in communication from Ohio University, specializing in international media and development communications and advocacy, with an outside area in political science. Besides academic experience, he has over thirty years of professional commercial, public and community media experience. In addition, Dr. Grubb has served for over eighteen years as an international communications/media development consultant for state department funded projects.

  • 7. Using Whiteness for Racial Liberation

    Jessica Halperin

    This #BlackLivesMatter movement moment is calling upon white people to organize and take action for racial justice. There are many vital and strategic ways for white folks to be involved: political education, relationship building, direct action, and more. To do so, white people need to be able to see where their power, privilege, assumptions, and cultural values make an impact. In short, we need to understand whiteness. Join us for conversations that are academic and activist, challenging and liberating. People of all racial identities are welcome.

    Jessie Halperin is a life-long UU lay leader and OMDSI attendee. She recently left her faith-based advocacy work in Washington DC, including a position with the Unitarian Universalist Association, to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Jessie is a young adult and likes to spend her time having adventures and collaborating towards a more just and loving world.

  • 8. American Sign Language for Beginners

    Skyler Pierce

    This seminar will guide individuals to obtain a basic foundation in American Sign Language (ASL). In addition to fundamental signs of communication, they will also learn about sociocultural factors that influence social interaction within the Deaf community, salient historical facts about Deaf Culture, and answers to questions that they may have, such as how would a Deaf parent know that their child is crying in another room? How would someone who is Deaf know if there was a knock on their door? What is the difference between Deaf and deaf? (Hint: there is one!)

    Skyler Pierce is currently studying psychology at The University of Akron. She has completed two years of sign language classes and is an officer of The American Sign Language Association on campus. She spends much of her free time at social events within the Deaf community, having hosted several events herself. She also tutors ASL students.

  • 9. The Divine Feminine in the Bible and Beyond

    Rev. Joan Van Becelaere

    To the casual reader, the Hebrew Bible may look like the manifesto of the original “Old Boys Club.” But the deeper spiritual experience behind the stories included the Divine Feminine and the clues can be found throughout the pages, if you know where to look. Early Christianities developed in a cultural sea that was awash with the Divine Feminine. And many of these cultural elements helped shape Christian worship, theology and art. In this course, we will go on a socio-historical-poetic hunt for the Goddess through the pages of the Bible and on into the Nag Hammadi documents and other early Christian heretical sources. (Please bring a Bible to class)

    Rev. Joan Van Becelaere is a Unitarian Universalist minster, Congregational Life Consultant, and Staff Lead for the Central East Regional Group of the UUA. Her previous classes at SI have included ones on the Hebrew Bible, Jesus, the women of American Transcendentalism and Trends in American Religion.

  • 10. Swing Dancing for Dummies

    Kathy Ke and Joe Meier

    If you can count to four, you can learn to dance! Kathy Ke and Joe Meier are back on the dance floor after a brief hiatus due to injury (not caused by dancing). Bring a partner and learn some basic swing dance moves; then impress everyone at the Wednesday night family dance. Class is limited to 12 pairs so we can provide individualized attention.

    Kathy Ke and Joe Meier have been married for 24 years and have been coming to SI for the past 11 years. Kathy is a Hospice Physician who has been dancing since she started walking. Joe is a Structural Engineer who sometimes confuses his left and right feet but has learned to dance in spite of this.

  • 11. Balancing Body & Mind through Yoga

    Lisa Thiel

    Discover your dosha (Ayurvedic mind/body constitution) and learn how using this tool improves your health and creates more balance and ease in your life. Each person is unique, with different reactions to life events, physical and emotional tendencies, and individual needs. Understanding our own specific body/mind constitution can help address imbalances to bring ourselves back into natural alignment with life. Through discussion and practice, we’ll work on understanding the concept of doshas, discovering your dominant dosha and how it can change depending on life situations, learning how to recognize when you’re out of balance, and learning how to regain balance by customizing your yoga practice.

    Lisa Thiel is a 500 level yoga teacher and thai bodyworker with special trainings in therapeutic approaches to practice, meditation and pranayama (breathing exercises). She has been practicing yoga and meditation for nearly 20 years and has traveled three times to India for intensive study.

  • 12. The Zen Experience

    Ven. Shih Ying-fa

    Venerable Shih Ying-Fa, Abbot of CloudWater Zendo, the Zen Center of Cleveland, will lead participants in a week of authentic, monastery-style Zen practice. Participants will be instructed in Zen seated and walking meditation, Zen chanting practice, and how to maintain Zen mindfulness in a group meditation setting. Participants will have the opportunity to experience Zen meditation practices such as koans, huatou and silent illumination. Lectures on aspects of Zen history and teachings will also be presented to provide participants with a seminary-like experience. Topics will include Zen’s origins in China, the Five Houses of Zen, and the Ten Ox-Herding Pictures. Venerable Ying-Fa will be available for one-on-one interviews with participants both during the sessions and also during off-hours. Participants who have an established meditative practice are welcome to bring their own meditation cushions, mats, etc. Chairs will also be available for those who do not wish to sit near the floor.

  • 13. Piece by Piece

    Torie Thorne

    Mosaic is the art of creating images by assembling small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other material. This accessible art form is great for “artists” and “non-artists” alike. In this workshop, you will be introduced to a variety of materials – bold, matte, shiny, iridescent and downright unique – that can be combined to make stunning mosaics. Students will come away with all the basics of mosaic making as well as more advanced techniques. With access to images to inspire, you will learn about materials, adhesives, tools, how to cut and lay tiles and glass to achieve movement and flow. Each student will be able to make a set of 4 coasters, 2 picture frames or a full size solid mosaic piece. Limited to 25 people.

    Torie Thorne is a Toledo based artist who works in many mediums but prefers glass. Mosaics became a passion for her about five years ago when she made her first piece and was hooked! She enjoys the freedom and creativity that different colors, materials, and textures allow. Torie can’t wait to share her ideas and experience with the SI community.

  • 14. The Sacred Center: Art, Breath, & Creative Movement

    Carol Comstock

    Connect to the sacred center of your body, mind, and spirit through movement, breath, and art-as-meditation. Pilates and Yoga-inspired movement and walking meditation will compliment art exploration, ultimately creating a personal “sacred center” symbol. Participants should bring a yoga mat or thick towel or blanket.

    Carol Comstock is an artist/teacher and founding member of The Labyrinth Society. She owns and operates Goods of the Spirit Art Studio and is an aficionado of “art as meditation” and body/mind/spirit movement arts, expanding her creative spirit over the last year by studying and becoming certified as a Yoga and Pilates Teacher.