Morning Seminars for CERSI 2024

Morning seminars are classes designed for adults to learn a new skill, get creative, move and meditate or contemplate a deep topic in the company of others who share a similar interest.  Morning seminars run Monday – Friday after the theme talk and you attend the same seminar the entire week as each day builds upon the day prior.

Morning seminars fall into three categories, with lots of crossover: the thinking/religion/spiritual (dealing with Unitarian Universalist issues, historical matters, things around you, or social justice), movement (yoga, tai chi, dancing, or exercising), and the artistic/creative (collages, music, journaling, etc.). Each year’s seminars will differ depending on available teachers and interest.

Seminars available for 2024 are listed below. When you register you will enter your 1st & 2nd choices on the registration form. Seminars may be cancelled due to poor enrollment or a teacher cancellation so please have a backup selected.


Title Description Facilitator Bio
Nature at Play: Board Games and the Natural World Are you an avid board gamer? Maybe you’ve played Monopoly and think you *hate* board games? Either way, join us to play a range of board games with environmental themes.In this interactive session, we will briefly discuss and then mostly *play* lots of tabletop board games! Games that invite us to wonder what humanity might be like after climate crisis. Games that ask us how we can enjoy another’s stories without appropriating them. Games that highlight the beauty of the natural world.Games will include Wingspan, Canopy, Parks, Verdant, Floriferous, Tribes of the Wind, among others. No need to learn the rules – we will teach you how to play. Morgan Patten and Cara Greenberg play board games almost every day. They like games that aren’t too adversarial and that include beautiful art. When they aren’t busy with games, Morgan is Director of Religious Exploration at North UU Congregation, and Cara is a stay-at-home mom to their five children.
Big Ideas We’ll explore some Big Ideas that have shaped and are shaping our liberal faith. Enlightenment, Revolution, Neuroplasticity, Emergence, Attachment, and more are on the agenda. Each day will explore 1-2 Big Ideas, with lots of conversation and self-reflection about what these ideas mean to you. The Rev. Dr. Matthew Johnson has been the Senior Minister of The Unitarian Universalist Church, Rockford, IL, since 2008. He’s the author of Newborn Bards: A Theology of Preaching for Unitarian Universalists and a life-long nerd.
Waking Up To Your Dreams Whether or not you remember your dreams upon waking, these unopened letters from the unconscious come to us in service to our health and wholeness. Wouldn’t you like to know what they’re saying? Leave that big book of dream ‘meanings’ at home and learn how to discern what your dreams are telling you. In this workshop you’ll learn individual and group processes rooted in Jungian psychology. Participants need only a pen & journal and an open mind & heart. Limited to 16. Rev. Michelle Buhite is a UU minister, spiritual director, oracle, and certified dream worker. A lifelong student of spirituality and symbols, she bring curiosity, meaning-making, and humor to all she does.
Stitch Meditation Engage in an active meditation practice that combines mindfulness with creative expression in stitch. We will use the breath and the rhythm of the stitch to help anchor us to the present moment. The how and why of this practice will be shared and then we will create small stitched pieces using a variety of fabrics and threads. Each day there will be a focus theme and we will stitch in silence and with meditative music. You will come away with unique pieces as well as information and materials to continue after the week. Some experience with basic hand sewing will be helpful so we can focus on the stitching without frustration. Natalie Isvarin-Love is a quilter, fiber artist, book maker, dabbler in other artistic practices and a Certified Stitch Meditation instructor. She has a studio in her home and at Artful Cleveland in Cleveland Heights, OH, where she engages with the community. She has been a UU for 32 years and is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Cleveland.
Spirituality Beyond the Shoulds I often hear people say, “I know I should meditate, but I just can’t seem to make the time for it.” Do you have your own “shoulds” that get in your way? This interactive workshop will focus on spirituality as an invitation rather than an obligation. There are so many ways that spiritual practice invites us into depth of relationship with others, with the world, with ourselves. Together we will discover possible practices that include the body, the mind, and the spirit through silence, nature, art, and active imagination. Rev. Elaine Strawn is a Spiritual Director/Companion who practices in Akron, Ohio and the minister emeritus at the UU Fellowship of Wayne County in Wooster. Gardening, pickleball, and time with her spouse, Jane, and their Welsh Corgi, Evie. They have three adult children.
Everyone is an Artist Given the right supplies, tools, and instruction everyone can make beautiful art. You can make a variety of items including altered playing cards, wall art with wood, or a journal from a cereal box. Use inspirational words and quotes that speak to you. We will upcycle, alter and create without judgement and with joy. Cindy Williams lives in Ellicott City and am a long time UUMACer. “I have been doing mixed media art for years and love showing people who say they can’t do art that they can. I have two grown daughters and live with my husband Steve and dog Jimmy.”
Relational Communication as Spiritual Practice We will explore the power of communication to transform relationships and communities. How do we recognize different linguistic and cultural patterns in communication? How do we understand different conflict styles and needs? What are the roles of boundaries and consent? How can language help or hinder oppression? What tools can we engage to foster communication?Through presentation, group sharing, and occasional improv and group games, we will consider what it means to communicate in a world full of unique ways of engaging. Rev. Sunshine Wolfe is Congregational Life Field Staff for the Central East Region. They have more than 20 years of experience facilitating trainings on communication styles and group facilitation.
Self-Compassion and the Healing Strategy of Song In this course, seminarian Melissa Jeter will facilitate discussion on self-compassion. There will be genealogical activity that focuses on intergenerational trauma and resilience. Please bring paper or digital journals or something with which to record the activity for yourself. We will also create affirming songs and sing together, so bring your voice and an open heart. Melissa Jeter is a Seminarian at the Methodist Theological School in OHIO, where the UU House of Studies is located. MJ is a student minister at First Unitarian Church of Toledo-a congregation that has adopted the 8th principle. MJ is an avid gardener, a sewer and knitter with designing creativity, and the pet Mama of Miss Taffy, a spunky yorkie mix dog.
Mayan Theology and the Seven (Eight) Principles This seminar will explore the ancient Maya world and their theological similarities to the UU Seven Principles. We will read/view portions of the Popol Vuh, the scared book of the Maya as a means of discovering who they were and what the believed. Perhaps surprisingly, there are many similarities to UU “beliefs” and, of course, many differences as well. Teaching about ancient cultures is a passion of mine aside from being what I do for a living. Come delve into the ancient world of the Maya! Lori Mirkin-McGee is a Commissioned Lay Minister from the UU Church of Kent. She has served this congregation for 18 years. She is also a professor of Spanish and Latin-American Studies at Kent State University.
Get “F.L.Y.” Would you like to get FITTER? Be LEANER? Feel YOUNGER? In this classroom-based seminar we will:1. Review the science behind the powerful anti-aging effects of exercise.2. Learn basic nutritional guidelines to improve your everyday eating habits in ways that will build better long-term health.3. Practice simple exercises that can improve your posture, strengthen your movements, and increase your flexibility, while simultaneously reducing nagging aches & pains.and4. GET MOTIVATED TO GET “F.L.Y.” !!!!NOTE: Wear sneakers & loose comfortable clothing to class, and be prepared to stand up & move around a bit. Bring a notepad & pen to take notes. You will be creating your own workout plan you can follow at home—no gym membership or special clothing necessary! Christa Champion is an athlete, physical educator, and life-long learner who has taught and coached at the collegiate and scholastic levels for over thirty years. She currently teaches PE at Concord Academy in Massachusetts, where she also coaches the throwers and pole vaulters on the track & field team. Champion holds a Master of Science degree in Exercise and Sport Studies from Smith College, and occasionally works as a private health and fitness consultant.
Rejected Texts, Lost Gospels: Discovering the Surprising Diversity in Early Christianity Relatively recent discoveries have uncovered a wealth of extra-canonical writings from the roots of Christianity, which were either lost, suppressed, or destroyed. These fascinating texts reveal a surprising diversity and flexibility of religious thought, and may even lead us to re-define our concept of Christianity. In fact, a new New Testament has been crafted by scholars and includes several of these texts which were considered heretical by the early Church fathers. We will investigate the societal implications, especially regarding women, of these texts, and learn why and how they were rejected, resulting in a narrowed Christian doctrine. We will attempt to identify commonalities between these beliefs and Unitarian Universalism and other contemporary religions. Katie Grigg-Miller has been a lifelong student of the Bible and has taken classes in religion and Gnostic gospels. She has studied scholarly interpretations of newly discovered Christian texts with keen relish and open-mindedness, and finds the content of these texts to be not only historically fascinating, but spiritually uplifting and edifying.
Holocaust Stories: The Righteous Among the Nations We all know the horror stories of the Holocaust, but what about the stories of those who defied the Nazis and rose up to protect, hide, and save Jewish people during the war? The honorific of Righteous Among the Nations is used to describe non-Jews who risked their own lives to save Jews from extermination during the Holocaust. In this workshop, we will explore those stories and the stories of the many Unitarian Universalists who risked all to save others. Wendy Mirkin-McGee is a Holocaust Scholar, who has had the honor of studying at Yad Vashem, The World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem, Israel. She had survivors of this terrible human tragedy in her own family and grew up hearing their stories. She teaches about the Holocaust so that “we never forget the six million lives lost and that we don’t repeat this atrocity ever again.” She lives in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio with her wife Lori.
Yoga for Every Body Accessible Yoga considers the wide range of bodies, age, ability, size, experience, flexibility, and so on and works to remove barriers to equitable practice. All people move differently.Newcomers to yoga will find a place here as well as seasoned practitioners.We will hold space where we can learn about ourselves and take care of our needs through agency and self-empowerment, to make each practice our own. All instructions are mindful, giving lots of variations to personalize your practice.Let’s move together, breathe together and be together. Annie Lapidus is a lifelong UU, who began attending Summer Institute in 1990. She teaches yoga at Open Up Pittsburgh and with the von Hippel-Lindau Family Alliance. These programs of adaptive and accommodating yoga practice are in alignment with her belief that meeting people where they are and using open communication are the best methods for allowing people to feel welcomed, wanted, and included.