Dear Beloved Community,
Well, it has been quite a year since we last gathered, hasn’t it? For many of us, myself included, the national news and political climate in which we find ourselves can be all consuming, overwhelming, endlessly frightening, infuriating, and depressing.
And yet. And. Yet. There is so much to hope for, and so much to be thankful for. It is good for us to be together. It is particularly important in these times that we be together. That we gather in love, support, strength, and laughter. It is more important than ever that we recommit to each other and our values. And that we laugh and have fun together. I can promise you this: at Summer Institute, there will always be plenty of laughter.
And so we will do all of these things! Gather with us this July, in community and solidarity and fun. In our gathering, find strength and rejuvenation. Play some music, some Peek, and some Euchre. Learn new ways of communicating with others and in line with our values. Sheila Schuh, the adult theme speaker, and Janine Harris Degitz, the youth theme speaker, will both be helping us learn new ways of living our values through the way we communicate, both at home and in the world.
There are some changes this year, and some things that remain the same as always. We’re looking forward to open elections of the next members of the Summer Institute Planning Council, and the Summer Institute Committee on Ministry (formerly the Strategic Planning Committee). We’re super excited about the next great thing in afternoon fun for the children: Dr. WhUU! (Yes, there will be the Tardis!)
In the last several months I have returned again and again to the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes, in her essay entitled We Were Made for These Times. The entire text is here: http://www.grahameb.com/pinkola_estes.htm. A favorite exerpt: “I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.”
I cannot wait to see you all again, or meet you for the first time! We’ll see you in July!
SIPC 2017 Chair
Theme Speaker: Sheila Schuh
Fun Worship! Social Action! Sacred Stories! The Arts! These are her loves in the ministry. In a culture of many forces which conflict with our UU Principles, Sheila is committed to supporting parents in their roles as spiritual guides and to the principles of Non-Violent Communication. Sheila is a licensed Creative Arts Therapist, has won awards for intergenerational worship, and helps create workshops, retreats, and webinars through the Liberal Religious Educators Association.
Sheila’s theme with us for the week is Beyond Lip Service: the Courage to Communicate UU Values.
#1 – Artistic Hand Embroidery
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
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
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
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
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)
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
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
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 CER District Consultant. Rod has served congregations in Ohio, Georgia, DC, North Carolina, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, and New Mexico.
Things participants should bring: Writing utensils.
Early Afternoon Workshops (1:30– 3:00)
Tuesday Special! – UU Family Circles
UU Family Circle is a framework to use in your home to build deeper family connections. Based on the work of Kay Pranis, this structure helps families celebrate, make decisions, move through change, appreciate, or solve challenges together. Families are invited to come together to the workshop, learn the characteristics and process of doing a circle as part of their UU faith development at home, try a simple circle, and leave with a worksheet for adapting the framework for their use.
Thursday Special! – Parenting as a Spiritual Practice
During this session, participants will be invited to try mindfulness practice and non-violent communication to explore needs that are challenging to meet in their parenting. Our aim together is to create a space for any parent or grandparent, single or partnered, to take time out and focus on what can make their parenting more enjoyable as Unitarian Universalists.
The Children’s Choir meets 12:45 to 1:30 in the church sanctuary. School aged Children 6th grade and under are welcome to drop by to join.
At Duct Tape workshop, you will be creating your masterpieces out of duck tape in all kinds of color and patterns. We will be working on pull string backpacks, beach bags, wallets and many more items. Duct Tape is not just a tool in your toolbox anymore.
Sara Beech have been creating and fabricating all kinds of pieces out of Duct Tape for years, and has a vast knowledge of how to construct many things.
Things participants should bring: We will supply duct tape in basic colors and patterns. If you would like to make grocery bags, you should bring two rolls of tape in different colors or patterns.
Shrinky Dink Chalice Jewelry
We will use Shrinky dink to create jewelry using stamps, ink, crayon, pencil, and markers. Bring your ideas or use a chalice template to make a one-of-a-kind piece. Any age can create beauty that is wearable.
Evelyn Sobczek is a lifelong UU and has been attending OMDSI for the last 10 years. She has sold jewelry, including shrink dink, in the SI bookstore, created especially for her church table. Evelyn has been making jewelry with shrink dink and other media for over 20 years.
Things participants should bring: Any chalice ideas, Shrinky dink sheets, markers, stamps, and patience.
Throughout history, people have chosen to decorate their bodies for any number of reasons, from fashion to religious ceremony. Come join us as we enjoy our own explorations into adornment. We will have many different options available from tattoos to hair dye. Together we can find our own way of expressing ourselves. We will even have guest artists who can help make your body art dreams come true.
This is Deb Cannon’s second year hosting Body Art. At home, she plays for a living…with children of all ages.
Things participants should bring: Their imaginations and any supplies they want to use.
Poetry for a Summer Day
This is a course in reading and appreciating poetry. We will read and discuss poems on different topics by a variety of poets, from all over the world and different eras. The topics for this summer haven’t been picked yet, but in the past, we discussed nature poetry, love poetry, poems of transformation, poetry reflecting UU principles, poetic meaning lost (and found!) in translation, and poets like Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and Rumi.
Dean Hazelton is not an academic, but is a voracious consumer of poetry. He has led a poetry group at his home church (UU Church of the South Hills) for about 20 years, and has facilitated afternoon workshops at SI for 7 years.
Things participants should bring: Imaginative open minds.
Tie-Dye & Un-Dye
Nicole Hayman-Staples and Lexi Hayman-Staples
Come get messy with us at the Summer Institute tie-dye workshop! It’s time to let your creative juices flow and create colorful masterpieces on clothing and other fabrics! Also available is the option to un-dye darker pieces of fabric! Bring as many items as you wish, but please only dye a couple of items each day so everybody has a chance to complete their projects. Little ones should be supervised during project making!
Nicole and Lexi Hayman-Staples have been running the tie-dye workshop for many years. They both have jobs that are centered around art and creativity! We encourage people to be creative and have fun with tie-dye while avoiding stringent rules.
Things participants should bring: Items to tie-dye, a positive attitude, and an open mind.
Plus, these early afternoon events:
Late Afternoon Workshops (3:15—4:45)
All those in the SI Youth Program are invited to be a part of the SI Youth Choir starting up this year. Whether you have sung in a choir before or not, if you like to sing please join us. The workshop is led by Joe Schafer, who directs the SI Children’s Choir, as well as children’s and youth choirs at his church.
Socrates believed that all people had something to contribute to human thought and understanding. That’s why he took his philosophy “to the streets,” engaging those he met with his famous questions. In his book, Socrates Café, philosopher Christopher Phillips develops a technique to get the practice of philosophy out of the Ivory Tower and back into the public square. Using Phillips’ methods, we will generate A Big Question every afternoon, and tackle it through lively and open discussion. Anyone with a brain (or even half!) is welcome!
Jane Dirks is an anthropologist and long-time SI attendee and workshop presenter, who has facilitated many Socrates Cafés at Winter Institute over the years. She considers SI more of a vision quest than a vacation.
What participants should bring: A notebook, if you would like to record thoughts or comments, but nothing is required.
Sacred Song Circle
Want to avoid the early crush of people waiting in line for dinner? Come join us instead for 30 joyful minutes of spiritual and spirited singing in community with the Sacred Song Circle. This group meets from 5:00 till 5:30 PM every day and is open to everyone regardless of age, singing experience, or musical expertise. Sacred Songs are drawn from a variety of sources and are songs with a positive message or theme, such as love, community, peace, care for the Earth, etc. No need to sign up or bring music.
Saunis Parsons is a member of the UU Church of Kent, and has been singing since she could talk. She has been leading Sacred Song Circles for at least 5 years now, and enjoys bringing this spiritual practice to more and more people.
What participants should bring: Water to wet your whistle.
Mindfulness & Gentle Yoga
Mindfulness and gentle yoga welcomes the body, mind, and spirit to an expression of balance and peace, through asana (postures), mindfulness, breath, and relaxation. This practice is accessible to any level adult student, as following ahimsa (non-harming) is at the foundation of this style. Every student learns to listen to their body and understand the feeling sense of each pose, achieving union with a greater wellbeing that will expand beyond the mat into daily living.
Carol Posch Comstock, RYT, has a mystical approach to teaching yoga, informed by her many years as an art-for-meditation teacher & artist. She has an intuitive flair for connecting the natural seasons, chakra symbolism, and expressive arts into her teaching style.
What participants should bring: Yoga mat and thick cotton blanket.
For instrumentalists with some music reading experience (about middle school level, give or take). Folk orchestra will provide music for the adult vespers services during the week of SI, and possibly other performances as well. We try to “mix it up” for the benefit of the SI community and musicians by trying a variety of types of tunes: traditional folk, ethnic tunes, free form, jazz, and (not limited to) Beatles, to fit with the flow of the evening worship services. Music selection suggestions from participants are always appreciated and considered – and sometime used depending upon service themes and energy level of leader.
Pat Lorei is a not-yet retired human services worker (Program Specialist, 28 years), SI Folk Orchestra leader (circa 20 years) and musician in “wedding band” The Mar-Vels and acoustic band Bus 17, as well as helping with tunes at the UU Congregation of Erie (PA).
What participants should bring: Bring your musical instrument and a folding music stand if you have one. Pat will need to know if you have an instrument other than the usual C-Bb-Eb-bass clef notation, so he can write out the notation as needed.
Dungeons and Dragons
Kristy Bores and Reid Parsons
A workshop for children and adults, grades 8 and above. Use dice and pencils to simulate a fictional fantasy or sci-fi character in this shared-story-telling experience. Experienced players are strongly appreciated, as is anyone who likes to get involved! Most campaigns will run Pathfinder/D&D3.5E. Workshop is limited by the number of Dungeon Masters available to run campaigns. Two 6-8 player campaigns are guaranteed, other campaigns are dependent on participant volunteer.
Kristy Bores and Reid Parsons have been either attending or running the D&D workshop for almost as long as they’ve been attending SI. Both are experienced table-top dungeon-masters capable of running week-long campaigns for players of varying skill levels.
Taking Action on Climate Change
Bob Mitchell Becky Mitchell
The 2016 electorate rated climate change nearly last – 16 out of 18 — among national issues. In this workshop, we will explore why this is the case and what tangible actions we can all take to correct it. Each day we will discuss challenges such as: bringing up this “taboo” topic in the first place; thinking about climate change at a personal level; dealing with dismissive arguments; and avoiding the pitfall of “perfect” solutions that undermine good ones. Please join us to discuss these issues, raise the challenges that you see and — above all — to offer solutions.
Bob and Becky (father and daughter) have been attending SI since 1998. Bob is happily retired and holds a PhD in Electrical Engineering and a MS in Physics from Carnegie Mellon University and a BS in Physics from University of Pittsburgh. Becky (former SI Young Adult Chair) works as an engineer in a manufacturing facility and holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University.
Come join us for some wibbley wobbley fun! Join us while we chart the intersection of science and our faith! We will journey in a big blue box through time and space with the Doctor to meet aliens and humans while looking at situations that require them to use their UU values to solve problems.Even if you are not a “Whovian,” jump on and enjoy the journey. This is open to all ages. Children grades 5 and under must be signed in and out.
Theme Talk Back
Young Adult Program (SI-ers aged 18-35)
YAs at SI are a diverse, growing community. Because young adulthood is a time of transition and self-discovery, this year’s Young Adult theme is all about balancing UU beliefs and ideals with living in the real world. Young Adults join the general community for most daytime activities, including meals, theme talk, morning worship, workshops, and evening vespers. They also engage in Young Adult specific activities, which include themed touch groups and their own worship. These touch groups offer a variety of activities that range from trivia to music jams, discussions on broad topics to weird games and provide a daily opportunity for first-timers and old-timers alike to meet new people. Don’t forget to bring outdoor games and crazy clothes for Monte Carnival, where we run all sorts of fun games of chance to raise money for the Scholarship Fund!
For those Young Adults who want to attend but can’t afford to, there are scholarships available!
If you can’t take off work for the whole week, there is a discounted “Weekend Deal” option available as well.
Youth Program (arriving 7th grade-Completed 12th grade)
Janine has been studying Non-Violent Communication (NVC) since 2005 with a primary focus on Robert Gonzales’s work of Living Compassion. She is a graduate of Robert’s 2009-2010 LIFE program and was an assistant for Robert in the 2012-2013 LIFE program in Portland, OR. She has spent over 700 hours practicing and supporting Robert and his work. In addition to NVC Janine has been studying conflict resolution, restorative circles, community building, mediation and restorative justice for the past 19 years. She is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Restorative Practices at the International Institute of Restorative Practices in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
Janine lives in Columbus Ohio with her life partner of 29 years, two children and several hives of bees. Janine regularly facilitates classes and workshops in her community on embodied practices of living compassion and NVC. In addition she is the creator and owner of Fermenting Abundance, a certified teacher of The Embodied Present Process (TEPP) and a teacher mentor of Urban Zen Integrative Therapy. Each of these passions lead Janine in practical ways to support others in sensitizing to their true nature and returning to the wholeness and connection to the passion in their life.