Central East Region: Better Together
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Summer Institute Celebrates 40 Years

By Amy Kent

For 40 years a group of dedicated volunteers, leaders and staff have created Summer Institute, an intentional intergenerational community. Those responsible for Summer Institute have come and gone through out the years but what remains is the legacy that people want to carry-on in creating the magic of dozens, even hundreds of UU’s living together for one week each summer.

The first Summer Institute was in 1979 and the theme was “I am…We Are All in This Together” lead by the Rev. Dorothy Spoerl. Rev. Spoerl was 73 and had retired from a fabulous career of parish ministry and religious education. Nancy Lee led the planning that year.  

It is a vacation week to grow, relax, play, and connect. It is a time to experience workshops and new ideas. It is a place for relaxed conversations with old friends and friends you do not yet know. It is a time to recharge and live fully.

That first Summer Institute was around 50 attendees at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.  Word of mouth grew the event from dozens to hundreds over the years.   After a few years at Kenyon we moved to Bethany College and West Liberty College before returning to Kenyon College in 2000.  In 2014 we moved to our current home, Oberlin College.  

Over the 40 years we have had UUA Presidents and Moderators, Ministers, Storytellers, Musicians and Religious Educators.  Not every speaker has even been UU.  A Rabbi, Buddhist Monk and Environmental Professor walked into SI…..(truth not the beginning of a joke)   Each theme speaker brought their own special touch to the week.    For a complete list of past theme speakers visit our history page on the SI website.

What makes each Summer Institute the same is that there are like minded individuals who gather to talk, play and sing together.  But, what makes each Summer Institute unique is the theme of the week. That is the SI magic. The result is something quite spectacular.

Come join us this year for the 40th Summer Institute with Dr. Ysaye Barnwell as she leads us into Building a Vocal Community®.  Registration deadline is June 15th.  

About the Author

Amy Kent

Amy lives in the City of Champions, Pittsburgh, PA with her daughter and dog. She has been a member of the UU Church of the South Hills (Sunnyhill) for twenty years. Amy most recently was working in workforce development – helping people with barriers receive free training that would lead to jobs...

For more information contact cer@uua.org.

CER Summer Institute 40 year poster

This poster shows the posters and themes from the past Summer Institutes. Summer Institute is celebrating 40 years in 2019.

Dr. Ysaye Barnwell

Join us with theme speaker, Dr. Ysaye Barnwell. Registration closes June 15, 2019.

Central East Region Summer Institute Logo