2015 MidAmerica Regional Assembly

Regional Assembly 2015 logo
MidAmerica Regional Assembly 2015 Keynotes: Rosemary Bray McNatt, Marlin Lavanhar

Religious life in our country is undergoing significant change. Unitarian Universalism, with our heritage of working for justice, is also changing – especially as we observe and engage in the movements sweeping our country for racial equity. This is a liminal moment for us as a religious people – we have an opportunity to shape our future right now if we are willing to support and join those on the front lines; if we are open to the changes that will follow. The foundations for our “New Era” are being laid as you read this. With the well-publicized trends of “spiritual but not religious” and the different needs of younger generations in their embrace of faith and spirituality, how can we make our congregations ready to welcome, embrace and engage all who seek us out? What do we need to pay attention to, to prepare for it? Our keynote presenters will tell their stories and share their experiences in ministry, ministerial formation, and congregational life as they explore possibilities for the future.

The two keynote speakers will be intertwining their comments, presenting together in the two time slots (Friday night and Saturday morning).

The Reverend Rosemary Bray McNatt is the new president at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, California. She is a UU World contributing editor and until June 2014, was senior minister of the Fourth Universalist Society in New York City. A skilled writer and editor, she's a former editor for the New York Times Book Review, and the author of three books, including a memoir, Unafraid of the Dark (Turtleback, 1999). Read some of her essays.

The Reverend Dr. Marlin Lavanhar is Senior Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A lifelong UU, he began his religious life at the North Shore Unitarian Church in Deerfield, Illinois. In 2008, All Souls became the largest UU congregation in the United States, with over 1800 adult members. All Souls offers three worship services on Sunday mornings - a humanist service, a traditional service, and a contemporary service - plus services on some Friday evenings. Read about them. Read one of Marlin's essays. Video from The Leading Edge Conference 2014: Heal the Soul, Heal the World. Read some of the All Souls story.

Location and Lodging

Regional Assembly will be held at the Marriott Hotel in Naperville, Illinois (near Chicago).

1801 North Naper Boulevard
Naperville, IL 60563

Guest rooms are available at a special group rate of $89 per night. This rate is good as long as the hotel has space available, but they are almost full.

To reserve a room for Friday and Saturday with the discounted rate

Call (630) 505-4900 and use code Unitarian Universalist for the group rate.

Online hotel reservations are no longer available.

Rooms for earlier in the week are no longer available.

Fees and Deadlines


  • EarlyBird registration discount applies until March 16
  • Children must register by March 16
  • Guest rooms at the Marriott Hotel at the conference rate are available until April 1
  • Regular registration closes April 8

Registration will be possible at the door with no meals

Regional Assembly Registration Fees:

Age group Earlybird Regular
Adult $175 $200
Young Adult 150 175
(age 13-18)
100 100
Children (age 3-12)
with child care
100 n/a
2 and under (no child care) 0 0
Volunteers (work 2 hours) 155 n/a

What is included in the registration fee?

  • The adult, young adult and youth registration fees include all programming and four meals.
  • The children's registration fee includes childcare and the same four meals.
  • The four meals are breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.

2015 Workshops

Regional Assembly workshop tracks will include: Stewardship, Multicultural/Inclusion, Social Justice, Deepening UU, Worship, and New Era. We'll have two sessions for workshops on Saturday afternoon. Mark your calendar now and plan to attend!



Stewardship for Your Congregation: A Survey of New Resources

Mark Ewert, Congregational Stewardship Network Consultant, UUA

What is new in the world of congregational stewardship? Where do you find the information and support to keep your programs fresh and current? We have some answers! And we will tap your knowledge of support in all forms: books, videos, gatherings, workshops, online resources, consultants, etcetera!


Bending the Arc toward Multicultural Community

Annette Marquis, LGBTQ and Multicultural Programs Director, UUA

The multicultural journey is, in the words of Sister Simone Campbell, a "walk toward trouble." It requires compromise, conciliation, and comfort with being uncomfortable. And yet, when we embrace the multicultural journey, we move closer to Beloved Community. In this workshop, we'll explore how to move together toward trouble.


The "New" in Models of Young Adult Ministry

Rev. Annie Gonzalez Milliken, Young Adult and Campus Ministry Associate, UUA; Nancy Combs-Morgan, MidAmerica Congregational Life Consultant

New models, including "Next Gen" possibilities of young adult ministry will be shared in a panel discussion.

Social Justice

Income Inequality: How to navigate the new Congregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI)

Terry Lowman, Jane Bannor

Current Study/Action Issue, CSAI, Escalating Inequality. Organizing the curriculum and actually getting this off the ground can be challenging. UUs for a Just Economic Community want to help you overcome these obstacles. Two UUJEC board members will be presenting.

Social Justice

Making Connections for Meaningful Change

Rev. Alan Taylor, Minister, Unity Temple UU Congregation, Oak Park, IL; Lori Radder

Sharing the successes and struggles of how Unity Temple (Oak Park, IL) has put into practice the principles of relational faith-based community organizing. UTUUC has four years experience building UTCAN (UT Congregational Action Network) and building relationships that strengthen our congregation and expand our power to effect social change.

Deepening UU

Transformational Faith Formation - an Introduction to the Wellspring Program of Spiritual Deepening

Rev. Jennifer Crow, Minister of Program Life, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, MN

What does an engaging, challenging, and inspiring Unitarian Universalist faith require of us? What components create a balanced spiritual life? Join us to learn more about the Wellspring Program of Unitarian Universalist Spiritual Deepening - a 10-month curriculum that combines spiritual practice, spiritual direction, participation in a small group, engagement with Unitarian Universalist theology and history, and the imperative to put our faith into action.


Theme-Based Church: Bringing Alignment, Depth and Sanity to a Church Near You!

Rev. Scott Tayler, Director Congregational Life Staff Group, UUA

It is often assumed that bigger menus and more programs equal greater impact. Turns out this just leads to member confusion, spiritual shallowness and leadership burn-out! The theme-based church approach simplifies our worship and small group ministries and makes them more compelling at the same time. This workshop shares practical suggestions for bringing this alignment and depth to your congregation.

New Era

Further Conversations with Marlin Lavanhar

Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar, Senior Minister All Souls Unitarian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Keynote Speaker

Come and deepen the conversation about the ideas that Marlin shared during his portions of the keynote presentations.

New Era

Further Conversations with Rosemary Bray McNatt

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, President Starr King School for the Ministry, Berkeley, California, and Keynote Speaker

Come and deepen the conversation about the ideas that Rosemary shared during her portions of the keynote presentations.

New Era

What has the MidAmerica Board learned from you in our first 18 months?

Rev. Bill Sasso, Board President MidAmerica Region

Throughout 2014, MidAmerica Board members have been reaching out to congregations and other collaborative groups to learn about how our UU faith is being made manifest locally. Professional religious leaders and actively engage UUs have given us stories of glad tidings from UU groups that are impacting our 13 state region.

New Era

Midwest Leadership School - a Lay Leadership Transformation

Emily Hill Lewis, Quinn Bennett

(How You Can Contribute & Create our New UU Era!) MidWest Leadership School (MWLS) is a 30 year old school that keeps evolving. This workshop explores how MWLS has impacted lives of leaders in our congregations, and thereby impacted our congregations in powerful ways.

New Era

Igniting Growth through Professional Membership Ministry

Lori Emison Clair, Marie Blohowiak, Tina Lewis, and Kathy Porter

Having a Membership Professional helps vitalize hospitality programs, creates a true path to membership and deepens the connections members have to each other. Come learn more about these and the wide variety of ways that a Membership Professional can engage your congregation through numerical growth and depth.



Millennials, Gen Xs, Boomers: Stewardship for All Generations

Mark Ewert, All Souls Church, Unitarian, Washington, DC

Congregations have people in different phases of their lives, economically. Financial stewardship will be different for each generation; a stewardship program should accommodate those preferences. Includes ideas and tools for reaching people according to their life-stage with electronic giving, social-based giving, legacy planning, and others.


Unfortunately, UU Military Ministry Toolkit & Great Lakes Military Ministry workshop has been cancelled.


MyHAT: Becoming a Caring Congregation

Janet Holden, Bonnie Jordan, Unity Temple UU Congregation, Oak Park, IL

Those with mental disabilities often turn to the faith community. Unfortunately, many congregations are not equipped to welcome them. UTUUC has adapted and implemented the Rev. Barbara Meyers curriculum "Becoming a Caring Congregation." We will present our ongoing experiences with the development of our Mental Health Awareness Team, known as MyHAT.

Social Justice

Ecological Land Ministries Offer Hope for a Resilient and Equitable Future

Timothy Kercheville, Meagan Harris

In this workshop, we will discuss how our congregations can address issues of climate change, food insecurity, and global injustices that result from both poor land management and consumer practices by introducing a model for Ecological Land Ministries. We will talk about how we can transform church campuses in such a way as regenerates the land and offers hope for a resilient, abundant, and more equitable future.

Social Justice

A New Era for Justice: New Directions in UU State Action Networks

Rev. Ashley Horan, Executive Director Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance; Randy Block, Director Michigan UU Social Justice Network; Rev. Scott Aaseng, UU Advocacy Network of Illinois

The number of UU statewide advocacy networks (SANs) has increased exponentially over the past decade. How are SANs amplifying our UU voice, and partnering with other faith-based and secular movements for justice? Learn about best practices, key questions, and future visions for this model of UU social action.

Deepening UU

A Summer UU Experience for the New Era: Camps in the MidAmerica Region

Fred Hulting, Camp UniStar Foundation President; Mike Schwab, Michelle Richards, ChaliceSparx

Summer is a time to rest, re-create, and renew within the power of a natural setting. Our regional summer camps offer a special out-of-doors, communal, and experiential variety of Unitarian Universalism. We'll share the faith experience of UU camps, including stories from UniStar and ChaliceSparx in MidAmerica.


Alternative Worship: Chucking the Sermon Sandwich

Meredith Plummer, DRE First Unitarian, Cincinnati, Ohio

Are you tired of the sermon sandwich? Yearning for a more holistic worship experience -- something that is more engaging, communal, personal and interactive? Learn what can happen when you chuck the sermon sandwich and embrace Alternative Worship, a completely different type of worship experience.

New Era

What Do You and Your Community Desire From the MidAmerica Board?

Rev. Bill Sasso, President MidAmerica Region; Charlotte Preston, Vice President MidAmerica Region

The MidAmerica Region launched in 2013. Necessary start-up concerns filled the work of Staff and Board throughout 2013 - 2014. With most infrastructure set now, we'd like to learn how our new Region is fostering a New Era of Unitarian Universalism. What hopes and dreams, fears or frustrations, opportunities and initiatives are you experiencing?

New Era

Next Generation Views of the Future of Our Ministries

Rev. Ian Evison, MidAmerica Congregational Life Consultant; Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister UU Church of Columbia, MO

Emergence of new generations into our leadership will carry with it profound changes of perspective. In particular, increasingly Gen-Xers and Millennials will move into leadership and Baby Boomers will step back. This will be a conversation about some of the changes emerging.

New Era

Good Governance Grounds the New

Laura Park, Unity Church-Unitarian, St. Paul, MN; Rev. Roger Bertschausen, Senior Minister Fox Valley UU Fellowship, Appleton, WI

In this workshop, we'll explore the foundational questions fruitful governance asks and answers and how the process of clarifying the answers to those questions can cultivate fertile soil for congregational transformation.

New Era

21st Century Church Administration: Social Media, Risk Management, and Sharing Our Space

Carol Marks, Kirsten Eckert-Smith, Administrators at Bloomington, IN, and Fort Wayne, IN, respectively

Open to all those interested in or working in UU church administration. Exploring new ways to communicate in congregations using web, social media, email. Resources for risk management to keep people and property safe, including when we share our facilities for non-church events. Time for questions and answers.

New Era

What is Multi-Site and How Could it Help Your Congregation Grow?

Rev. Scott Tayler, Director Congregational Life Staff Group, UUA; Dori Davenport Thexton, MidAmerica Congregational Life Consultant

Two members of the UUA's team on Multi-Site Congregations, along with some congregational staff members who are living it, will describe their experiences and explore ideas on how congregations of all sizes might benefit from considering one of many multi-site options in their setting.
New Era

One Foot in the Door: GROWTH through Community Outreach JUST ADDED

Jim Coppoc, Ames, Iowa

Unitarian Universalism has a lot to offer, but an ongoing struggle with limited reach. Sometimes the best way to advertise our faith community is simply to get potential members/attendees in the door, and to let them see for themselves who we are. This workshop offers strategies for filling your building with music, dialogue and activities intended to reach out to the larger community, to build interest through social media, and to get the larger community excited about the good work you are doing!

2015 Worship Services

Worship services at Regional Assembly will be celebrated by members of the three Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association chapters in MidAmerica.

There will be three worship services - one Friday evening, one late afternoon on Saturday, and a closing worship on Sunday.

FAQ - Regional Assembly

Q: How will the keynote addresses work this year?

A: This year, we have two keynote speakers: the Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt, president of Starr King School for the Ministry, and the Rev. Dr. Marlin Lavanhar, senior minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in Tulsa, OK. Rosemary and Marlin will be intertwining their comments, presenting together in the two time slots (Friday night and Saturday morning).

Q: Will the Sunday Morning Worship service be open to everyone?

A: Yes it will—we will be holding worship at the Marriott Hotel at 9:30 am Central time. Members of the public, members of UU congregations, and Assembly registrants are all welcome to attend.

Q: Will any part of the Regional Assembly be live-streamed?

A: Yes, we will be live streaming the keynote event on both Friday night and Saturday morning, as well as the Annual Business Meeting. Details and confirmation of times will be posted on the MidAmerica Region website closer to the date.

Q: What about programming for youth and children?

A: We will be offering child care for those 3-12 years of age, provided that the registration fee is paid by March 16. There will be no childcare for those registering after this time. Youth 13 and up are welcome to attend all events (keynote, worship, workshops) during Regional Assembly, and we will help them find each other during meal times for interaction. We will not be offering child care or programming for those under 3.

Q: Can I register just for Saturday at a reduced rate?

A: Registration will be for the whole weekend, and we hope that you will be able to come for the whole time, as the two keynote times build off each other, and we have a great line-up of workshops. We have kept the registration rates the same as last year’s for the full weekend registration in Topeka, with discounts for young adults, youth and children. The most expensive part of any meeting is the food — our adult registration fees just cover the cost of food, space, technology, and all other expenses of Regional Assembly.

Q: What does the registration fee include?

A: The adult, young adult and youth registration fees include all programming and four meals. The children's registration fee includes childcare and the same four meals. The four meals are breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday.

Q: Will there be a choir?

A: Unfortunately, we were NOT able to make this happen this year.

Q: How will we register our delegates?

A: We will be sending each congregation the appropriate delegate cards, like we did last year. Delegates simply bring their delegate card with them — no need to notify us in advance. All those registered for Regional Assembly will be sent the link to the business documents once they are available.

Q: Will there be any pre-conference activities?

A: There are some already planned, specifically for our UU Ministers Association Chapters. There may also be meetings of other religious professionals, and perhaps the Illinois State Advocacy Network. We will provide contact information for these events on our website, once we know what is planned.

Q: How do I get updates on this information?

A. Our Regional Assembly page always has the latest: http://www.uua.org/midamerica/ra.

2015 Children’s Programming

“UU and Art” is the theme of children’s programming for the Regional Assembly. Children ages 3-12 will engage in a variety of art activities which reflect UU values.

Two childcare providers will be on site at the conference hotel to make sure children have an engaging and fun experience. Children will join their parents for lunch, as part of the conference dining experience. Be sure to fill out the permission forms below!

  • The Child registration fee of $100 includes all four conference meals plus the child care.
  • The deadline for Child registration is March 16.
  • Childcare is from 8:45 am – 5:00 pm on Saturday, April 18.

Child Permission Form
Youth Permission Form
Youth Conduct Agreement

Exhibitor Info

We welcome individuals, groups, and businesses who would like to exhibit at Regional Assembly

If you are interested in having an exhibit table, you need to complete this application form and pay the appropriate exhibit fee.

Exhibits will be open Friday, April 17, from 3:00 to 9:00 PM and Saturday, April 18, from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

MidAmerica Region reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to dismiss, prohibit, or evict any exhibit or exhibitor that does not conform to the dignity and general business character of the MidAmerica Regional Assembly or to the stated principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association.

What is Provided for Exhibits

Exhibits will be located in the Grand Ballroom Pre-function area of the Naperville Marriott Hotel. Each exhibitor will be provided one 6-foot long table that will be skirted. Electricity is available for a limited number of tables. If you need electricity, please indicate that on the application so that can be taken into consideration when placing your exhibit.

Set Up and Tear Down

Exhibitors can set up any time after 3 pm Friday. Exhibits should be taken down by 7 PM on Saturday. If you anticipate difficulty with any of these time frames, please contact Michelle Richards at ra-exhibitors@midamericauua.org to discuss.

NOTE: The exhibits will be located in an unsecured area. If you have concerns about leaving your exhibit or items out on the table overnight, you may want to consider setting up on Saturday morning. A small locked room will be available for all exhibitors to share.

Application Deadline

Applications will be accepted until March 10.

Exhibitors will be notified after March 16, whether their application has been accepted. If the application is not accepted, the fee will be refunded.


  • Price per table is $35.
  • Lunch can be purchased for $45 additional.
  • Exhibitors who want to participate in any part of the Conference (such as listen to a speaker, attend a workshop) must register for the Conference in addition to the Exhibit fee.

Questions about Exhibits

Contact: ra-exhibitors@midamericauua.org

Apply now!

Who is a Delegate?

The MidAmerica Region Bylaws set out who is eligible to have delegate status at the region’s Annual Business meeting. Here’s a summary:

Only congregations in “good standing” with MidAmerica will be granted voting privileges (congregational and/or professional delegates). “Good standing” means that the congregation made an identified contribution to MidAmerica (or one of the three predecessor districts) in the prior fiscal year.

Congregations are then given member delegates in the same ratio as to that which they receive for General Assembly, as set out in the UUA Bylaws and Rules. Basically, that’s 2 for up to 100 members, and then 1 more for every 50 members or part thereof.

Professional delegates receive delegate status based on their relationship with a congregation in good standing. These are defined as: ministers in fellowship serving the congregation, ministers emeritus and ministers emerita in fellowship appointed such by the congregation, ministers in fellowship and in official affiliation with a congregation, credentialed religious educators masters level or above, credentialed musicians, and directors of religious education.

Should you have questions about this, or believe that we made an error in calculating the number of your delegates, please contact Lisa Presley (lpresley@uua.org).

Schedule 2015

This preliminary schedule is a work in progress and is subject to change!

All times are local (Central time) Activity Leader Location


  UUMA (UU Ministers Association) (Wednesday afternoon through Friday lunch)   church
11:45 am to 4 pm Congregational Administrators Gathering   hotel
1:00 to 6 pm UU Advocacy Network Illinois Gathering (limited to UUs from Illinois congregations) Scott Aaseng church
  Possible MA Board planning session Bill Sasso to be determined
3:00 to 7:00 pm Registration and delegate sign-in   hotel
4:00 to 5:30 pm Friends of MidAmerica reception (by invitation only)   to be determined
6:45 to 7:30 Worship and Banner Parade (live streamed)   hotel
7:30 to 9:00 Keynote 1 (live streamed)   hotel


7:00 to 8:30 am Breakfast   hotel
7:00 to 9:00 Registration and delegate sign-in   hotel
8:45 am to 5:00 pm Childcare provided (ages 3-12)    
9:00 to 10:30 Keynote 2 (live streamed)    hotel
10:30 to 10:45 Break    hotel
10:45 to 12:15 MidAmerica Annual Meeting (live streamed)    hotel
12:15 to 1:30 pm Lunch and break    hotel
1:30 to 2:45 Workshops Session I    hotel
2:45 to 3:00 Break    hotel
3:00 to 4:15 Workshops Session II    hotel
4:15 to 4:30 Break    hotel
4:30 to 5:00 Worship    hotel
5:30 to 9:00 Social hour, dinner, entertainment    hotel


to be determined Breakfast   hotel
9:30 to 11:00 am Closing worship (open to public)   hotel

2015 Agenda

Preliminary Agenda of the 2015 Annual Business Meeting
of the MidAmerica Region of the Unitarian Universalist Association

Saturday, April 18, 2015

This meeting will be held as part of the 2015 MidAmerica Regional Assembly at the Marriott Hotel in Naperville, Illinois.

Please note that the following reports are included in Annual Business Meeting Delegate Packet:

  • Report of the MidAmerica Region President
  • Report of the MidAmerica Regional Lead
  • Report from MidAmerica Directors of the Midwest Unitarian Universalist Conference (MUUC)
  • Report from the Camp UniStar Foundation
  • Report from the MidAmerica Region Nominating Committee
  • MidAmerica Region FY2014 Financial Reports
  • MidAmerica Region FY2015 Financial Reports (through 12/31/2014)
  • MidAmerica Region FY2016 Budget (as approved by the MidAmerica Board)
  • MidAmerica Region Transition Budget Report

Annual Business Meeting Preliminary Agenda MidAmerica Region, UUA

The Purpose of the MidAmerica Region is "... to support, enrich, and extend Unitarian Universalism in the defined geographic area. The Region shall work in collaboration with the Unitarian Universalist Association." (Bylaws, Article II, Section 1)


1. Call to Order and Opening Words

3. Introduction to MidAmerica Region

4. Credentials Report and Certification of a Quorum

5. Approval of the Rules of Order

6. Report of the Nominating Committee and Election of MidAmerica Trustees, MidAmerica Nominating Committee members, and MUUC Directors

7. An Expression of Appreciation from our Unitarian Universalist Association

8. The MidAmerica Region Learning Network Covenant

9. Business Submitted by Congregational Action (if any)

10. Recognition of St. Louis Area Congregations

11. Recognition of Those Completing Their Service to the MidAmerica Region This Year

12. Closing Words (MidAmerica Expression of Appreciation)

13. Adjournment

2015 Photos


Sunday Morning


Gathering for Administrators

Friday Night Keynote

Rev. Marlin Lavanhar and Rev. Dr. Rosemary Bray McNatt

Saturday Morning Keynote

Rev. Dr. Rosemary Bray McNatt and Rev. Marlin Lavanhar

2015 Annual Meeting

Regional Assembly 2015 Photos