This workshop is for pastors, chaplains, religious educators, and others who wish to
- invigorate theological conversation in their congregations and other ministry settings
- deepen personal attentiveness (including your own) to theological meaning and beliefs
A note from workshop leader Karen Hering:
As religious leaders, we are called to engage words in ways that deepen faith, strengthen community and open hearts to love. How do we equip those we serve to do the same? In a time of great polarization, how do we as people of faith reclaim language as a tool for building relationships and proclaiming love within and beyond our congregations and communities of faith?
In this workshop, we’ll experience a spiritual practice of writing that can awaken theological imagination and enrich theological conversation in our congregations, classrooms and other ministry settings. Each day, we’ll participate in guided writing sessions focused on a variety of theological themes, some chosen by the group as we go. We’ll learn a practice developed in congregations as a form of small group ministry and adaptable to many other settings. Suitable for writers and nonwriters alike, it uses imagery, objects, religious teachings, stories and poetry along with writing prompts to invite each of us into correspondence with our inner theological voice—robust or faint—and to help us explore matters of faith with one another. Theologian Mary Bednarowski has called this practice “a new form of ministry that transcends multiple traditional boundaries and [offers] profound evidence that the asking of unanswerable questions brings forth wide-open spiritual narratives of astonishing depth.”
If you would like to encourage and deepen theological conversations among those you serve, this workshop will both inspire and equip you, while also feeding your own writing and reflection. The Awakening Theological Imagination workshop is open to all interested in the topic at hand, not just those who define themselves as writers or who have a spiritual practice of writing.
Leading the workshop is Rev. Karen Hering, chaplain, consulting literary minister and author of Writing to Wake the Soul: Opening the Sacred Conversation Within, a book about the spiritual practice of writing presented in the workshop. In her ministry of words and story, Karen leads guided writing sessions, retreats and communications workshops for clergy and lay people in congregations, workplaces and community settings and teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. More information about her ministry and book are available online at karenhering.com. You can also watch our video interview with Karen.
Karen skillfully weaves into her facilitation the art of spiritual listening and guiding her learners to go deep into their souls and to God as a master. She did not waste any words or space—so all culminate in the experience. She is a remarkable and powerfully effective facilitator.
—participant in “Awakening Theological Imagination: A Spiritual Practice of Writing with Karen Hering,” Summer 2015
NOTE: There will be a modest amount of advance preparation for this workshop, which will include some reading (50 pages or less) and some reflection.
The program is limited to 12 participants and will be held at the Warren Conference Center and Inn in Ashland, Massachusetts, 25 miles east of downtown Boston. Accommodations include private rooms with baths, and all meals and snacks. Transportation to and from the facility are the responsibility of participants. The registration fee is $200, payable upon acceptance. The cost of the program is underwritten by the Pastoral Excellence Program of the Massachusetts Conference, UCC in partnership with the Collegeville Institute and the Lilly Endowment. Participants are expected to stay the full length of the workshop.
The application deadline for this workshop has passed.