2016 MidAmerica Regional Assembly

Regional Assembly 2016 - The WHO in the New Era of Unitarian Universalism
MidAmerica Regional Assembly 2016 Keynotes: Elizabeth Nguyen, Jeremy Nickel, Kenny Wiley

It is with great excitement that we announce our keynote presenters to help us explore these questions.

  • Rev. Elizabeth NguyenLeadership Development Associate for Youth and Young Adults of Color at the UUA
    Rev. Nguyen roots for the Wisconsin Badgers, lives in Boston, and is a Unitarian Universalist minister. She is the Leadership Development Associate for Youth and Young Adults of Color at the Unitarian Universalist Association. She is affiliated as a community minister with First Parish in Cambridge, UU and graduated from Harvard Divinity School. She was a founding member of the Lucy Stone Cooperative and serves on the board of Unitarian Universalist Community Cooperatives. Singing at the Lucy Stone Co-op and remembering to pray are some of her spiritual practices.

  • Rev. Jeremy D. NickelMinister of the Mission Peak UU congregation in Fremont, CA
    Rev. Nickel is Minister of Mission Peak UU Congregation in Fremont CA. He went to Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana and earned a Master's of Divinity at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley CA. That included a year-long internship with the world's oldest faith-based human rights organization, the Fellowship of Reconciliation. He has a passion for creating worship experiences and added a Master of Arts in Liturgics (the study of the art of worship). During two years with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, he worked on anti-torture, and to stop the genocide in Darfur.

  • Kenny Wiley, UU World senior editor and Director of Faith Formation at Prairie UU Church in Parker, CO
    Mr. Wiley, a UU World senior editor, also serves the faith as Prairie Unitarian Universalist Church's (Parker, Colorado) director of faith formation. He lives in Denver, Colorado, and is an active member of Black Lives Matter 5280. His writing has been featured in the Boston Globe and the Houston Chronicle. A native Texan, Kenny is a graduate of the University of Missouri, and loves college football, women's college basketball, and regularly plays competitive ultimate frisbee.

They will each present highlights of their own work as they look forward to the future of Unitarian Universalism. There will be conversations with each other, and they will take questions from participants.

And, as always at Regional Assembly, we will have worship services to inspire us and workshops to stimulate our thinking, along with plenty of opportunities to have fun with new and old UU friends.

We hope to see you there!

Please download and print to help us spread the word! Your congregation was mailed a large poster in mid-October. RA poster - 8.5x11

Location and Lodging

We'll be at the InterContinental St. Paul Riverfront
11 East Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55101

Our special rate is $129 per night. If you are asked for a special code, it would be "Mid-America Unitaria." If you use the BOOK NOW link above, it will automatically take you to the correct page.

The InterContinental Hotel in St. Paul has informed us that they are almost sold out of overnight rooms during our Regional Assembly. If you are unable to book a room there, we are terribly sorry for the inconvenience. According to www.hotels.com, there are many other hotels with rooms in all price ranges within a few miles of our hotel.


We've negotiated a special rate of $12 a day at a nearby parking ramp. Valet parking is also available at the hotel for $18 a day.

Fees and Deadlines

Early bird registration until March 31

Children must register before the Early bird date

Scholarship requests must be in by the Early bird date

Conference discounted rate for a room at the hotel will be available until April 11

Final registration deadline Friday, April 22

Registration will be possible at the door at the regular price -- with no meals. The hotel restaurant and coffee shop will be available.

Regional Assembly Registration Fees

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

* There will be a family maximum rate for childcare.

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.

Children’s Programming

Our Children’s Programming theme for the MidAmerica Regional Assembly 2016 is “UUWHOVILLE!”

The age range is 3-12 years.

In holding with our RA theme, the children will explore “who” they are as Unitarian Universalists. There will be a host of multi-media creative opportunities for the children to express themselves for their day in “UUWHOVILLE.”

During the assembly lunch time families are asked to have lunch with their children in the main eating area. We will have two trained childcare providers with the participants for the entire day.

  • The Child registration fee includes all four conference meals plus the child care.
  • The deadline for Child registration is March 31.
  • Childcare is from 9:00 am - noon and 1:00 - 5:00 pm on Saturday, April 30.


1st Child: $100
2nd Child: $75
3rd and more: no additional charge

Child Permission Form
Youth Permission Form
Youth Conduct Agreement


As with our Association's General Assembly, the goal for attending youth is that they are a part of the whole experience. Our worship, keynoters, and workshops will have something that will hopefully speak to their hearts and minds. I am confident that youth will find our panel of keynoters very, very engaging and thought provoking.

We also are partnering with the Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA) in creating a super add-on experience, called, "Prophetic Partners." This will be on Friday afternoon, 4/29/16, at Unity-Unitarian in St. Paul. There will be talented youth, who have been taking part in a 6-month social justice experience with MUUSJA who will be leading workshops and taking part in the keynote panel. I will be offering a track for religious educators, and Rev. Ashley Horan, the Executive Director for MUUSJA will have programming designed specifically with youth in mind. Registration for "Prophetic Partners," is separate from our Regional Assembly registration.

Finally, some of the Regional Assembly workshops that we are confident will resonate with youth include an engaging workshop with Jill Schwendeman, the Youth Coordinator from White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, along with youth from her congregation, who will be leading a workshop on, "Resilient Youth." For the youth attending the regional assembly, they are most welcome to take part in some wonderful music and dinner on Saturday evening. Also, I will be holding a day's end youth session early Saturday evening to debrief with the youth who took part in the regional assembly.

-- Nancy Combs-Morgan

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 29, from 3:00 to 9:00 PM and Saturday, April 30, 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. If evicted, the exhibitor will not be eligible for any refund of registration fees.

What is Provided for Exhibits

Exhibits will be located in the MINNESOTA COURT near the Registration area. 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. Exhibitors requiring electricity will need to provide their own power strips, and any cords running across a walk-way area will need to be fully taped down by the exhibitor.

Staffing Your Table

Meals are not provided for exhibitor table staff unless they are registered. Folks not registered may want to bring their own lunch or consider trying the hotel coffee shop or restaurant.

Please note the PARKING Details.

Set Up and Tear Down

Exhibitors can set up any time after 1 pm Friday. Exhibits should be taken down by 7 PM on Saturday. If you anticipate difficulty with any of these time frames, please contact us at ra-exhibitors@midamericauua.org to discuss.

Map to 11 East Kellogg Boulevard St. Paul, Minnesota, 55101

Floor plan

The hotel has a Loading Dock on Cedar Street. You may park there while unloading, or you may use the front or side entrance. The exhibitor tables will be up one level, in the Minnesota Court. The floor plan linked above shows where the elevators and escalators are.

Each table will have a sign to indicate where you are assigned. Tables that need be situated next to each other can be accommodated. I will be in the area before and during exhibitor hours, tending my own table and assisting with Registration. If you have any questions in the meantime, please contact me at ra-exhibitors@midamericauua.org. - Gretchen

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.
  • 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: the MidAmerica Region office at ra-exhibitors@midamericauua.org

Sign Up!

2016 Workshops

We have some amazing workshops selected for you!

Session A

The Spiritual Discipline of Followership: UUs and #BlackLivesMatter: Rev. Ashley Horan, Lena K. Gardner and Kenny Wiley

What is the role of UUs in supporting Black-led struggles for liberation? Through case studies, theological reflection, and tales from the front lines, we ask, ”How can we nurture the spiritual lives of Black UUs among us, and show up as effective, accountable allies to Black communities beyond our walls?”

Rev. Ashley Horan is the Executive Director of Minnesota UU Justice Alliance, and Lena K. Gardner is the Development Director for Church of the Larger Fellowship; both are actively involved in the Black Lives Matter movement in Minneapolis. Kenny Wiley is UU World senior editor and director of faith formation at Prairie UU Church in Parker, Colorado.

Circle of Belonging - Corie Jason, and Tina Lewis

In this workshop, members of the UU Association of Membership Professionals will help attendees explore the circle of belonging in a congregation. We will present information on how to welcome a newcomer, engage a regular attendee, and nurture a long-term member throughout their journey in the circle of belonging. We will bring some best practices from the Association of Membership Professional, and leave ample time for questions and discussion about your congregation's particular journey in the circle of belonging.

Corie Jason is Connections Coordinator at UU Congregation of Greater Lansing, Michigan, and Tina Lewis is Membership Director of Unity Temple, Oak Park. They are both members of UU Association of Membership Professionals.

Congregational Chaplains - Rev. Karen Hutt

Does your congregation have a spiritual care giving team? Would you like to develop one? What training is needed? What skills should we develop? Who should be a caregiver? This workshop will provide a theoretical context for care and process for congregations to develop the practical tools needed to resource and maintain a healthy community of caregivers.

Rev. Karen Hutt is a Board Certified Chaplain with the Association of Professional Chaplains and a Clinical Pastoral Educator at University of Minnesota Medical Center. She is editor of a soon to be released Skinner House book, UU Chaplains: Theory and Practice.

Escalating Inequality: Our Current Congregational Study-Action Issue and an Election Year Issue - Bruce Wiggins, et al.

Escalating Inequality is the current UUA Congregational Study Action Issue and it is becoming an important issue in the 2016 elections. We will discuss this problem and explore what congregations are doing along with ideas for future actions.

Bruce Wiggins, Escalating Inequality Action Group co-chair, First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee * Ann Heidkamp, Social Action Council Chair, Unitarian Universalist Church West, Brookfield, WI * Carl Etter, Facilitator Escalating Inequality Team, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth * Sue Dailey, Escalating Inequality Team UU Congregation of Duluth and Board member Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance

Generosity and Wi$dom - Rev. Mary Katherine Morn

Generosity and Wi$dom will be an overview of stewardship as a spiritual practice with emphasis on tools that congregational leaders can use to improve annual giving and special fundraising.

Mary Katherine Morn is the Director of Stewardship and Development and Special Advisor to the President of the UUA.

Global Interfaith Connection: The Parliament of the World’s Religions - Rev. Michael Brown and Rev. Lynnda White

Learn about a cutting edge global interfaith movement and Unitarian involvement in its beginning. We will give you a taste of the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City and the latest news on the 2017 Parliament coming soon.

Michael Brown is the minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church in Peoria, IL, and Lynnda White is a minister member of the same congregation.

Heresy in the Heartland: Humanism in the Second Century - Rev. David Breeden

There is little doubt that the US religious landscape is changing. Atheists, agnostics, and nones now make up 23% of the population. In order to be relevant in a post-religious future, Unitarian Universalism must appeal to this group. As a religion-neutral zone, Humanist liturgy is ideally suited.

David Breeden is minister of the First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis.

Planned Giving 201: Stepping Up From the Basics - Rev. Laura Randall

Many congregations have a basic planned giving program and wonder how they might improve it. Come to this workshop and find out from fellow congregants and professionals how to make your program sing!

Laura Randall is the UUA Legacy Gifts Manager.

Transforming the UUA - MidAmerica Board

MidAmerica Board Members present information about how other regions/districts are organizing and reorganizing, and what that means for MidAmerica.

MidAmerica Board members are members of MA congregations, and volunteer their time to serve on the Board.

UU Adult Faith Development: Enhancing Spiritual Growth - Nancy Combs-Morgan, CRE-ML and Rev. Phillip B. Lund

We often overlook the importance of Adult Faith Development in our congregations, and then we wonder why there remains a critical need for engaged adult leaders. The focus of this workshop will include: 10 good ideas for Adult Faith Development; practices to enhance spiritual deepening; new helpful resources on AFD, and practical ways to sustain RE teacher's spiritual development.

Nancy and Phil are MidAmerica Congregational Life Consultants.

Walking Together into MidAmerica’s New Era of Unitarian Universalism - Rev. Bill Sasso and Members of the Learning Network Covenant Task Force

How will our congregations partner together to envision a New Era for Unitarian Universalism? MidAmerica stands upon the legacy of an innovative, bold past. What legacy are we building today? In 2015, the Learning Network Covenant Task Force was charged with creating a process to articulate this vision. Join us to discuss this vital work and bring stories from your communities.

Bill Sasso is the Past President of the MidAmerica Region, and a member of Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship; he is joined by members of the Task Force.

Session B

The End-of-Life Conversation: Rev. Janne Eller-Isaacs

Participants will be invited to take part in small group conversations reflecting the model that Unity has explored; a congregational based effort to engage people in end-of-life choices about death and dying.

Janne Eller-Isaacs is co-minister of Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, MN.

Everyday Theology: UU Wellspring as Multifaith Work within Congregations - Rev. Laura Smidzik and Rev. Jen Crow

How do we go beyond the humanist vs theist debate to experience broader theological diversity within our congregations? UU Wellspring, a 10-month adult program, offers one way: we become more intentionally UU. This workshop describes the new Wellspring Sources program and how it deepens UU identity and strengthens congregational connections.

Laura Smidzik is Minister of Membership at White Bear UU Church, Mahtomedi, MN, and Jen Crow is Executive Minister at First Universalist Society, Minneapolis.

Fruitful Governance Practices for a New Era - Laura Park

What role does governance play in congregations looking for vibrant answers to the question, “Who are we as a faith community?” This workshop explores the governance practices that enable congregations to find their powerful, relevant mission and then liberate and empower leadership to fulfill it.

Laura Park is Managing Partner of Unity Consulting, associated with Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, MN.

The MidWest Leadership School Experience and Registration - MWLS Staff Tony Sweazy and Trena Winans

MidWest Leadership School (MWLS) develops lay leaders in the Unitarian Universalist community. The week-long intense program includes leadership, group and system dynamics, UU history and theology, and elements of worship. The program is designed to provide insights, confidence, and enrichment for each participant’s congregation, work, and personal life.

Tony Sweazy from Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Church, Louisville, KY, and Trena Winans from UU Fellowship of Midland, MI, are MWLS alums and volunteer staff for MWLS.

Navigating the Theist-Humanist Gap with Creativity and Grace - Patricia D’Auria

This workshop will focus on the often challenging issue of finding shared identity in UU fellowships and congregations. We celebrate diversity, and draw on an abundance of riches in our discernment of private beliefs. Yet, when we attempt to establish clear statements of purpose, as in Mission and Vision, we may find that members of our faith community are deeply at odds with one another. Finding our way to true acceptance and inclusiveness is not an easy journey. We'll embark together on this bumpy road.

Patricia D’Auria is a member of UU Church West, in Brookfield, WI, and is one of MidAmerica’s adjunct consultants.

Positioning Small Congregations for the New Era and Millennials - Ellen Germann

With the majority of our congregations having under 150 members, this workshop will directly address strengths and challenges our small congregations face in adapting to the New Era of Unitarian Universalism and attracting the younger generations. The workshop will explore some recommended ideas that bring younger people through your doors. There will also be considerable opportunity to share ideas with each other through small group dialogue. A resource list will be made available.

Ellen Germann is an expert in small congregations, having worked with them for years as consultant and former UUA staff person. She is a member of UU Church of Tippecanoe County.

Resilient Youth - Jill Schwendeman and White Bear UU Youth

A sea-change has occurred in our understanding of what young people need to thrive. Learn what it means to leave behind the framework of pathology/risk. Hear how youth and adults work together to help young people navigate their world and lead with growing nuance, spirit, and skill.

Jill Schwendeman is the Director of Youth Programs at White Bear UU Church in Mahtomedi, MN, and she is joined by youth from the congregation.

A Reverence for Diversity: Group Spiritual Direction in Congregations - Rev. Phillip B. Lund and Sarah Cledwyn

By creating spaces where individuals can regularly share their faith journeys, group spiritual direction takes full advantage of the theological and spiritual diversity that is a hallmark of our faith. Come experience how this process is transforming the way we listen to and learn from one another in our congregations.

Rev. Phillip Lund is a MidAmerica Region Congregational Life Consultant. Sarah Cledwyn is the spiritual director at Unity Church Unitarian.

Taking Regional Assembly Back to Your Congregation - MidAmerica Board

Sometimes the hardest part of Regional Assembly or General Assembly is going back to your congregation with the excitement and energy that you've gained from the experience. You want to keep that sense of connection to the denomination going, and you're faced with trying to translate it to the people in your church who didn't go. This workshop will give you tools and concrete actions to help you do that.

Eric Huffer, a member of UU Church of Lexington, KY, is President of the MidAmerica Board.

Who is Your Congregation On the Web? - Gretchen Ohmann

People are finding UU congregations primarily online. A congregation's presence on the web can be enhanced with a good looking and well-functioning website. To this end, a team from the UUA has developed a WordPress theme and functions for UU congregations. We'll go through it and answer questions on how to implement the theme for your congregation.

Gretchen Ohmann is the Technical Director for the MidAmerica Region.

Class Stories: Sharing Our Whole Selves - Kellie Kelly, Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen and Suzanne Zilber, Ph.D.

This interactive workshop explores how classism limits your congregation’s ability to thrive. Together we will identify new ways to address classism and create a more inclusive and cohesive social-justice focused faith community that uses and celebrates the gifts of all its members.

Kellie C. Kelly is a theological student and a member of the Steering Committee of UU Class Conversations; Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen is the Leadership Development Associate for Youth and Young Adults of Color at the UUA. Suzanne Zilber developed the free curriculum, Class Conscious: Class and Classism in UU Life.


Here are the times and locations for Regional Assembly events. Scroll down for workshop locations.

Schedule is subject to change.

Friday, April 29, 2016

4:00-7:30 pm Registration & Delegate Credentialing Open Minnesota Event Office
6:45 pm e-Banner Parade Minnesota Ballroom
7:00 pm Worship Service Minnesota Ballroom
7:30-9:30 pm First Keynote Session Minnesota Ballroom

Saturday, April 30, 2016

7:00-8:30 am Breakfast Great River Ballroom
7:30-10:15 am Registration & Delegate Credentialing Open Minnesota Event Office
9:00-10:30 am Second Keynote Session Minnesota Ballroom
10:30-10:45 am Break  
10:45 am-12:15 pm MidAmerica Annual Meeting Minnesota Ballroom
12:15-1:30 pm Lunch Great River Ballroom
1:30-2:45 pm Workshop Session A various
2:45-3:00 pm Break  
3:00-4:15 pm Workshop Session B various
4:15-4:30 pm Break  
4:30-5:00 pm Afternoon Worship Minnesota Ballroom
5:30-6:00 pm Social Hour Great River Ballroom
6:00-7:45 pm Dinner Great River Ballroom
7:45-8:30 pm Entertainment Great River Ballroom

Sunday, May 1, 2016

7:45-9:15 am Breakfast Great River Ballroom
9:30-10:45 am Worship Minnesota Ballroom

Workshop Locations

Session A: 1:30 - 2:45 pm Location
Circle of Belonging - Corie Jason and Tina Lewis State 1
Congregational Chaplains - Rev. Karen Hutt Governor's Boardroom
Escalating Inequality: Congregational Study-Action Issue and an Election Year Issue - Bruce Wiggins, et al. Governors 2
Further BLM Conversations with Kenny Wiley - Kenny Wiley (combined with #BLM workshop) Kellogg 1
Generosity and Wi$dom - Rev. Mary Katherine Morn State 3
Global Interfaith Connection: The Parliament of the World's Religions: - Rev. Michael Brown and Rev. Lynnda White State 2
Heresy in the Heartland: Humanism in the Second Century - Rev. David Breeden Governors 3
Planned Giving 201: Stepping Up From the Basics - Mark Ewert and Rev. Laura Randall Kellogg 2
Spiritual Discipline of Followership: UUs and #BlackLivesMatter - Rev. Ashley Horan and Lena K. Gardner (combined with Kenny Wiley workshop) Kellogg 1
Transforming the UUA - MidAmerica Board Kellogg 3
UU Adult Faith Development: Enhancing Spiritual Growth - Nancy Combs-Morgan, CRE-ML, Rev. Phillip B. Lund Governors 1
Walking Together into MidAmerica's New Era of Unitarian Universalism - Rev. Bill Sasso and Learning Network Covenant Task Force Governors 4
Session B: 3:00 - 4:15 pm Location
Class Stories: Sharing Our Whole Selves - Kellie Kelly, Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen and Suzanne Zilber, PhD Governors 1
End-of-Life Conversation - Rev. Janne Eller-Isaacs State 2
Everyday Theology: UU Wellspring as Multifaith Work within Congregations - Rev. Laura Smidzik and Rev. Jen Crow Governors 2
Fruitful Governance Practices for a New Era - Laura Park State 1
MidWest Leadership School Experience and Registration - MWLS Staff Tony Sweazy and Trena Winans State 3
Navigating the Theist-Humanist Gap with Creativity and Grace - Patricia D'Auria Governors 3
Positioning Small Congregations for the New Era and Millennials - Ellen Germann Kellogg 1
Resilient Youth - Jill Schwendeman and White Bear UU Youth Kellogg 2
Reverence for Diversity: Group Spiritual Direction in Congregations - Rev. Phillip B. Lund Governors 4
Taking Regional Assembly Back to Your Congregation - MidAmerica Board Kellogg 3
Who is Your Congregation On the Web? - Gretchen Ohmann Governors Boardroom

2016 Photos

We invite you to share your photos and impressions on social media: #UUNewEra2016

Send photos to: RA16photos@midamericauua.org

Or upload to our DROPBOX:

By posting or sending photos, you are giving permission for MidAmerica Region to use these on our website and in other media. Thank you!

View photos on Google Drive

Friday Night Keynote

Saturday Morning Keynote

2016 Annual Meeting

Regional Assembly 2016 Photos