Chair’s Letter

Welcome to Central East Region Summer Institute 2019!

We are so looking forward to seeing you at CERSI this July! It’s a big year for CERSI, starting with our new name (though we might still slip and call ourselves SI at times). We are honored and thrilled to have Dr. Ysaye Barnwell unite us in Building a Vocal Community®. Her program as our theme speaker promises to be inspiring, informative, and engaging. And we are celebrating our 40th year of co-creating an intentional community. So many good reasons to make sure that you and your family are in Oberlin with us this summer!

For those of you returning, you may notice some changes. We’re excited about our new name, CERSI, a new website:, and a new facebook page: CER Summer Institute. Check out the new website in particular – it’s much more user-friendly and searchable. Even returning folks may learn something!

Other changes: We’re experimenting with a new location and time for the bookstore so be sure to watch for signs/announcements. At Oberlin’s request, we’ll be using fewer dorms this year, so this might be your chance to try out a new place to rest your head and meet some new neighbors. Good news: Oberlin College has finished renovating the pool! Bring on the summer heat and pack your swimsuit!

For those of you joining us for the first time, I hope you find a little SI magic. Look for fairy rocks. Sing with the sacred song circle. Make a new friend. Stop listening to the news and enjoy the music. Bring your enthusiasm and your good intentions for UU community. Your CERSI is what you make it. Together we create it for each other.

Anne Wilson
SIPC 2019 Chair

Morning Seminars

Art as a form of Meditation: Reflections of Sound

Michelle Tarsitano-Amato

“… lend your ears to music, open your eyes to painting, and … stop thinking! Just ask yourself whether the work has enabled you to “walk about” into a hitherto unknown world. If the answer is yes, what more do you want?” ― Wassily Kandinsky At the 2017 Summer Institute we experienced Art as a form of Meditation that focused on the 7 principles. In 2018 we expanded the program to look to the UU Six Sources. 2019 SI theme is about music as a form of spirituality, let us then listen to spiritual music and reflect upon that music through the making of art. Wassily Kandinsky has shown us the way by using his art to reflect the music around him. Kandinsky states: “Our hearing of colours is so precise … Colour is a means of exerting a direct influence upon the soul. Colour is the keyboard. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its many strings. The artist is the hand that purposely sets the soul vibrating by means of this or that key. Thus it is clear that the harmony of colours can only be based upon the principle of purposefully touching the human soul.” This five day workshop will provide participants with the opportunity to reflect through art making on different spiritual music. There is much music to choose from. Four genres of music will be presented – Gospel, Buddhist, Chants (Hildagard), Shamanic. On the fifth day we will reflect upon the Friday morning worship music. Each day individuals will start with chalice lighting. Participants will use multimedia collage to individually reflect upon the music presented. The last 15 mins of each day will hold a reflection upon the images and how they relate to the music and one’s inner spiritual journey. Join us for self-expression through art making. This program is a combination of my years of training as an art therapist and my UU spiritual journey. The goal is to bring together an opportunity to explore self-expression through the art making process and reflection upon that process.

Please bring: Art supplies that you are willing to share. I have my images basics, but if people want yarn, glitter, textured paper, etc. they will need to bring scraps and such with them.

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

Inter-culture Competency for UU’s

The Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson

Have you ever found yourself in a culture that wasn’t your own? Have you always lived in a wider culture that wasn’t your own? Insights from intercultural encounter can help us understand the challenges and opportunities of living in and building diverse communities. This program will help you be leaders of this work in your own contexts.

The Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson is senior minister of the UU Church, Rockford, IL. This is his 3rd SI. He’s passionate about how institutions can adapt to the world we live in, and are building together.

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.
Participants may bring yoga mat, blanket, or props as needed.

Jeremy Brauning and Maggie Comstock have been life-long UUs with a friendship that blossomed through this community over 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. Both instructors have a yoga 200 hour certification.

Five UU Spiritual Practices

The Rev. Dr. Rosemarie Newberry

The Rev Dr. Kendyl Gibbons developed a set of Unitarian Universalist spiritual practices over 10 years ago. Each of these develop our souls and help us live calmer and more peaceful. By developing muscle with these practices, we develop a deeper understanding of being human and humanity. Each day we will concentrate on one of these practices and report back our experience. No deep breathing, no physical exertion, no need to take notes. Simple meditations will be included.

Participants may bring an item for the altar that reminds them of their humanity; a folder for storing handouts. Note taking materials are optional.

The Rev Rosemarie Newberry is the minister at the UU congregation of Queens, NJ. She has served congregations in NJ, Cleveland and Long Island. She has also worked as a chaplain for adults with developmental disabilities. She is active in EqUUal Access being a strong advocate in our association.

Quilting the Old Fashioned Way

Sheryl Schrot

Before we had sewing machines, we had thread and needle. Rather than haul lots of equipment, all you need is needle and thread, good scissors and your choice of fabrics. Perhaps you have garments or fabric remnants from a special person or time. These make wonderful memory quilts. We will use Foundation Piecing on pre-marked fabric or paper (provided). No previous sewing experience is required. One of the best parts of the traditional quilting bee was the sharing of stories or concerns. Bring your stories, your creativity and your favorite fabrics.

Participants should bring: sewing scissors, hand sewing needles, straight pins, neutral colored all-purpose or cotton thread, fabric.

Sheryl Schrot has been sewing for 52 years and loves to teach quilting to her 4-H kids as well as adults. Sheryl is a member of the UU Bay de Noc Fellowship in Escanaba, Michigan and loves SI as an opportunity to hang out with fellow UUs and her sister

Connecting with the Ancient Ones

Jeanne Crane

Many have recently connected to their ancestry roots through DNA testing, others feel drawn to ancient cultures without explanation. This workshop links an exploration of our personal roots to our Unitarian Universalist sources and invites a deeper connection to both though activities and discussion. Roots and sources – Tree roots, family trees, cultural roots and their impact on our worldview Rituals and ceremonies – circles and drumming Places of deep connection – both natural and designed Wisdom, spirituality and beliefs – similarities and differences among cultures Myth and Story – an invitation to share a story that moves or identifies each of us.

Participants should bring written passages, songs, pictures, drums, flutes, sketch pad and/or items for an altar if you wish.

Jeanne Crane is a retired organizational consultant, leadership and life coach. She worked with OMD and UUA for two years before CERG. Presently, she writes and gives presentations about her travels in Ireland and to the Neolithic sites of Celtic lands. She was drawn to Unitarian Universalism because of our unique and rich embrace of multiple sources. Her latest book, Amidst the Stones of Celtic Ireland, can be previewed on Amazon.

The Promise of Permaculture: Saving the World One Backyard at a Time

Renee Ruchotzke

The threat of climate change calls for a revolution in our way of life, toward a sustainable future. Permaculture offers this revolution in the brilliant disguise of a gardening fad that is really developing a deep understanding of the complex workings of natural systems. Renee will share the basic principles of Permaculture, how they connect with UU Principles. She will share examples of how she is implementing biological principles in her back yard garden and social principles in her work as UUA Congregational Life Staff. Participants will practice the principles by designing their own project.

Participants should bring a notebook.

Rev. Renee has served as Central East Regional staff since 2010. On her recent sabbatical, she studied permaculture by taking a two-week intensive design course, spending a week on a Permaculture farm in Latvia, and designing and creating her own permaculture backyard food forest with her husband Randy in Kent, OH.

Artistic Hand Embroidery

Kim Homsher

Design your own artful embroidery while learning stitches, design tips, pattern transfer techniques, and framing methods. With the knowledge of a few easy stitches you can create trendy, quirky, and heirloom pieces. Join me 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 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.

Living Our Seventh Principle

Bob Mitchell and Cindy Frantz

Heat waves, droughts, and rising ocean acidity threaten the interdependent web of our existence. Shortages of food and fresh water are already producing contention for diminishing resources that undercuts human dignity and fosters authoritarian societies. Scientists now tell us that another decade without strong action will lock us into a frightening future. This workshop will explore specific actions we can take in our home and church lives to confront the climate crisis. We will examine our household and church carbon footprints to discover the most effective actions we can take, as well as ways to engage other churches and the larger community. Finally, we will consider collective actions we can take as citizens of the nation and the world.

Participants are invited to bring enthusiasm.

Cindy Frantz is an environmental psychologist and activist who has taught at Oberlin College for 15 years. She belongs to the Oberlin Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and has attended Summer Institute every year since 2010. Bob Mitchell retired in 2014 following a physics and engineering career that ranged from high power lasers to robotic perception systems. For the past eight years, he has been researching and teaching about climate change science, impacts and solutions. He belongs to the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh and has been attending SI with his family since 1998.

Contemplation, Meditation and Drawing

Linda Scharf

This class is designed to get in touch with certain words or phrases that will hopefully connect with your heart. I will conduct a short guided meditation, then we will let images, words, feelings, colors, whatever shows up in the moment to be expressed on paper with colored pencils. Or just let your pencil start wandering across the page and see what emerges. This is not a thinking experience, it’s a feeling experience. No previse art experience necessary, just come with a curious and open mind. We will have a short discussion about our experience. You may be surprised at what you can do when you go with the flow.

Participants will need a large drawing pad (14×17”) so you can really express yourself and colored pencils (Crayola)

Linda is a graduate of Kent State University with a BFA and a minor in education. I’ve had a career in graphic design, and now teacher art classes at local art galleries in my area. I spent six years working at a Buddhist retreat in upstate New York where I learned to meditate. I now live in Ohio and I attend the UU church of Youngstown, where I offer meditation practice.

Use Your Voice to Get What You Want Out of Life

Sharon Marrell

What could you do with a powerful voice? Every day, you’re using your voice to influence, lead, sell, service, heal, advise, teach…and a thousand other critical functions. For a tool you’re using so often…how much do you actually know about how to use your voice? Find out how to use the building blocks of voice through volume, pitch, pace, tone, and melody to unlock your voice that says “You WILL hear me!” Your voice speaks the truth. Express your passion for issues important to you and get the respect and recognition you deserve. Change lives and achieve the life of your dreams…with the power of your voice!

Participants are invited to bring a notebook.

Sharon Marrell has been a music teacher for over 40 years. She has coached vocal ensembles, including church choirs in UUC and UU congregations and community choirs. She is the founder member of the woodwind quintet, Winds of Fire. She has been coached by Roger Love, “Vocal Coach to the Stars.”

The White Ally Toolkit

Deb Lemire

The White Ally Toolkit Workbook was developed by David Campt, PhD, author, professor and former advisory board member for President Bill Clinton’s Initiative on Race. The toolkit is designed to encourage, empower and equip white folks to have more effective conversations around race. Using active listening, empathy and personal storytelling these conversations can help us not avoid not confront but engage in a way that is more effective. Together we will work through the Toolkit so maybe the next challenging thanksgiving dinner conversation won’t have to end with “you’re a F&$#@King racist!

Participants are invited to bring something to write with and a notebook if they wish to take notes; handouts will be available.

Deb Lemire is Co-Chairperson of the Racial Justice Task Force of the UU Church of Akron. Like most white folks she struggles with having productive conversations with other white people about race, particularly those that deny or minimize the impact of racism on us all. Deb is an artist, organizer and advocate.

Aging and Spirituality

Pat McDaniels

A five-part course in which participants identify and discuss the challenge and gifts of aging along with the aspects of spiritual maturity necessary for successfully traversing this third phase of life.

Participants are encouraged to bring a sense of curiosity.

Pat McDaniels, LISW-S is a semi-retired therapist, trainer, and seeker. She speaks to various church and senior citizen groups on this subject and is currently leading this class at the UU Fellowship of Wayne County

Jesus the Flaming Liberal

Katie Griggs-Miller

What is the real story about Jesus and his followers regarding conservative and liberal values? Atheists and Christians alike will investigate what the New Testament and other non-canonical texts actually say – and don’t say – about refugees, women, capitalism, gender issues, war, and other topics so frequently contested in today’s religiously charged political climate. We will study and discuss the words and actions of the original Christian and their application to current topics in a scholarly way that should be comfortable for most attendees whether they believe the historical record or not.

Participants should bring a copy of the New Testament (any modern translation).

Katie is a life-long student of the Bible and related texts, while consulting Bible scholars. She has read the Bible in its entirety with an open mind and willingness to be surprised. Because of the claimed “ownership” of morality by various political-religious groups, her current passion is to investigate and debunk erroneous claims about Christian teachings.

Vision Boards 101

Karen Jepsen

Jung said “Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakes.” In this hands-on workshop, we will create Vision Boards, explore personal vision statements and share positive goals and intentions for our future. No art skills required. Gain clarity about what you want and put the Law of Attraction to work for you!

Participants are invited to bring photos, pictures or any other inspirational print materials to include on their vision boards.

Karen created her first vision board on the wall of her bedroom in high school and has returned to this practice at times of transition and growth throughout her life.

Early Afternoon Workshops (1:30– 3:00)

Children’s Choir

Joe Schafer

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 and share their voices with the SI community

SI Choir

Hal Walker and Vanessa Vesely

SI choir is back and promising another year of musical fun and adventure. This once a year magical experience is not your average church choir. All are welcome. “Unleash the Magic and the Voice!

Participants should bring: A Black 3 ring binder.

Music director at the UU Church of Kent, Hal Walker returns to Summer Institute for his 22st year of music leadership. Hal’s true passion is melody, harmony, rhythm and building community through music. Vanessa Vesely is the accompanist at the Kent Church.

Duct Tape

Sara Beech

At Duct Tape workshop, you will be creating your masterpieces out of all kinds of color and patterns. Most of the workshop is on construction of wallets, pull string backpacks, beach bags, and many more items. Duct Tape is not just a tool in your toolbox anymore.

Participants may wish to bring two rolls of tape in different colors or patterns if they wish to make a grocery bag. Basic colors and patterns available for participant use.

Sara has been creating and fabricating all kinds of pieces out of Duct Tape for years as well as a vast knowledge on how to construct many things.

Body Art

Deb Cannon

Join us as we find ways to decorate ourselves! In every culture there have been explorations into how our appearances define us as well as the desire to change that appearance. Come play with different mediums, from hair dye to henna to tattoos and nail polish. It’s a wonderful way to relax on a summer afternoon.

Deb Cannon loves combining her love of art and her love of play to lead this workshop. It only gets better each year, as more people bring their talents and ideas to the space.

Volleyball: Community, Science and Art

John McCrystal

Fun, good sportsmanship, safety and community are all goals of this afternoon gathering. Two indoor courts will be set up for each weekday afternoon. The workshop will occur during the early afternoon and be available for those in middle school and older. John began playing volleyball in his early twenties and has played in a competitive coed league for over 35 years with his beautiful wife Suzan and more recently his son Connor. Each day will begin with introductions and warm up drills working on setting and passing technique. Everyone’s volleyball skill level will improve during the week and a fun time is a sure thing.

Participants should bring: Indoor court/tennis shoes (playing barefoot is not an option) and a refillable water bottle.

John McCrystal and his family have been attending SI since 1986. He was involved in the youth program for over a dozen years. As the Youth Program leader for two years he introduced the Youth Panel that is still in place and provides well rounded input from and learning by the youth. He was recently the Board President of First Church Columbus where in the past he has taught Sunday school, been on two search committees in addition to many other committees.

Art in the Afternoon

Natalie Isvarin-Love

Let’s make art together, with a focus on upcycling (using items that might otherwise end up in a landfill). We will play with fabric, beads, papers, markers, rubber stamps, wine corks and fun stuff I find at the Upcycle Parts Shop in Cleveland. I will provide ideas and examples of crafts but your own imagination and creations are encouraged. Each day there will be a focus craft along with a project that can be added onto daily that can culminate in a piece of art by the end of the week.

Natalie, a member of First Unitarian Church of Cleveland in Shaker Heights, is a fiber artist who has been quilting and creating her own fabric for over 30 years. She also likes to dabble in paper arts, watercolor and assemblage. She has the most fun when creating with her two very artistic teenagers.

Rocks of Love

Denise Deschenes

Spread the Love: decorate rocks to hide, give away or keep for yourself! We will have instructions and samples for dot painting, like making dot mandalas. Or, just paint the rocks however your SI spirit moves you! All materials will be provided. Relax, be creative and have fun!

Denise learned how to dot paint last summer at SI and has been busy painting rocks since then. She has been crafting and collage making since childhood. She previously ran a collage making morning workshop at SI.

True Songs and Tales of the Great Not-So-White Way – The American Musical Theatre

Bruce Kent

In 1866, The Black Crook premiered on Broadway, ushering in a new form of entertainment, a musical. In the next century and a half, the musical would evolve, echoing the social changes and adjustments of the time, until a rap musical about the American Revolution seems perfectly natural. Through Original Cast Recordings and other versions of the music, as well as clips from film versions and tapes of Broadway performances, we will look at these shows, from Showboat through the forthcoming Pretty Woman, enjoy the music, and discuss what brought us to this point.

Bruce Kent has a Bachelor’s Degree in Theatre Arts from State University of New York College at Cortland, and a Masters’ from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. In the decades since, he has continued his study of musical theatre by attending whenever he could, and working on productions in various aspects, including directing and writing. Having attended SI since 2002, he has served mainly as editor of the week’s newsletter, and has spent the last three years on the SIPC.

The Healing Drum

Rebekah Benner

Share your voice and spirit through the heartbeat of the drum. Drum rhythms and songs, drum circle facilitation techniques, and shamanic journey drumming for personal introspection and self-healing. All experience levels. You must bring a pedestal type drum, i.e, ashiko, djembe.

MUST bring a pedestal type drum such as an ashiko or djembe.

Rebekah has been facilitating drum circles for over 25 years, for area communities, outreach shelters and health agencies. She is founder of Terra Amma Spiritual Center, 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.

Permaculture Primer

David Paul

Permaculture: A sustainable way to design your home, yard and more. I will give a basic over view of Permaculture design including, what it is, the principles, why and how. You will be able to use these tools to look at assess and make your own basic designs! If possible we will all complete a sample design by the end of the week. It may only be the design of your own garden, so don’t be intimidated.

Participants are encouraged to bring materials to take notes, if desired.

David grew up gardening; learned to forage food for survivalism and naturalism.

Late Afternoon Workshops (3:15—4:45)

Water Play


Young children are welcome to participate in a magical experience of water play.

Theme Afternoon Discussion

Have questions for Dr Barnwell? Now is your chance to ask them.

Mixology 102

Lois Weir and Jennifer May

Back for a return engagement! Join your hosts, Jennifer and Lois, to learn how to make tasty and well-balanced libations worthy of a serious amateur bartender. Each day, a different aspect of drink-making will be highlighted – from terminology and equipment to techniques, ingredients, and garnishes. Your hosts will demonstrate how to prepare a featured cocktail, and then participants will have an opportunity to mix one for themselves. Learn useful new skills and enjoy a fine cocktail in the afternoon!

Participants are encouraged to bring a thirst for knowledge of all things cocktail.

Lois Weir and Jennifer May are foodies who love to garden, cook, entertain, host dinner parties, and drink. In their professional lives they are an engineer and a project manager, respectively; so expect the workshop to be both nerdy and well-organized, as well as delicious.

Folk Orchestra

Pat Lorei

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.

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.

Pat Lorei has lead the SI Folk Orchestra (circa 20 years) and is a 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).

Beginning Ballroom Dance

Ella Boyer

A fun, low stress, active workshop teaching the basics of Ballroom Dance! Over the course of the week we will go over Ballroom/Latin frame, leading and following, and how to dance a variety of American Smooth and Rhythm dances such as Waltz, Foxtrot, East Coast Swing, Cha Cha and Rumba. No previous experience, partner, or shoes required. Socks are highly recommended! Come for a little taste of the Ballroom Dancing World.

Ella Boyer is a student at Carleton College and a member of Carleton’s Ballroom and Latin Dance team. She has attended several collegiate competitions and teaches west coast swing and social dance alongside her peers. She truly wants nothing more than to dance with the SI community.

We’ve gone solar?

Cari Oris

Learn from the first-hand experiences of UU families and environmental advocates about bringing solar power to their homes and communities. Learn the ins and outs of bringing solar to your home and daily life. Love the idea of solar at your house but don’t know anyone who’s done it? This seminar is for you! Bring a copy of your electric bill. We’ll teach you what we know about using this clean energy source.

Participants should bring a copy of their electric bill.

Cari Oris is a member of the Kent UU Church. On July 31, 2018, she turned on the solar system to her home, one of the first in her community. She’s gathered people from other UU churches and the solar community in Ohio to share their first-hand experiences bringing solar to their homes and community.

Chalice Cross Stitch and More

Gina and Tucker Philips

Whether you have never seen a stitching needle in your life or are an advanced cross-stitcher,you are welcome at this workshop! We will provide supplies, instruction, and guidance to make simple or more advanced cross stitch chalices and other designs, suitable for jewelry or display. Here is an example of the kinds of things we will make:

Gina and Tucker are an experienced mother-son stitching duo and belong to First Church of Columbus.

Pool hours – TBA

Tie Dye


Tie is a Summer Institute tradition for as long as anyone can remember. This year is not different. Experience the joy wearable art.

Sacred Song Circle

Saunis Parsons

Why stand in line waiting for dinner to start when you can be singing in community? Join us for 30 minutes of Sacred Song singing at 5:00 every evening before heading over for dinner. All ages and voices are welcome. No singing experience or formal training required. We’re not performing. We are feeding our spirits. Sacred songs all have positive themes, are easy and often familiar and can be learned on the fly. You don’t need to bring anything but a bottle of water. The more voices the more amazing the experience. Come join us!

Participants are encouraged to bring water.

Saunis Parsons is a member of the UU Church of Kent, and has been singing her whole life. She has been leading Sacred Song Circles and other community singing groups for many years. She is invested in building community thru singing, and is especially interested in helping shy and insecure singers lift their voices with others.