Annual Meeting Workshops

  • Building Your Storytelling Mojo

    Tuesday October 6, 12-1:30 pm

    At Earshot, we believe that telling true stories can save lives. We’re empowered by telling our own stories, rather than consuming the stories others create about us. We find out we’re not alone when we hear about the lives of others. We learn about the on-going work of God in the world when we hear and tell stories from the Body of Christ. – Rev. Rebecca Anderson

    In this active and interactive workshop, we’ll think outside our usual stories

    — thinking beyond what “counts” as a story worth telling in a faith community. 


    • Will strengthen our skills of crafting and telling stories
    • Learn how to better mine experience for, and then craft, personal narratives on a theme
    • Improve your style: presence, tone, pacing, presentation
    • May participate in story telling for the Friday evening Annual Meeting Program

    Leader: Rev. Rebecca Anderson: After hearing Rebecca on Monday evening, explore

    Storytelling more deeply during this 90-minute workshop. See Rebecca’s bio here.

  • Black Lives Matter Crosses The Ocean

    Wednesday October 7, 12-1 pm

    A picture of George Floyd and the words “I can’t breathe” can now be seen as graffiti on a wall in Berlin’s Mauerpark. His death at the hands of police reverberated around the world resulting in demonstrations, government resolutions, letters of solidarity and art as protest. In cities across Germany, including several cities in Baden, silent peaceful protests against racism entitled “no to racism” were held on Saturday, June 6. At the European level, on Juneteenth, the EU Parliament voted to declare “Black Lives Matter” in a resolution that denounces racism, condemns US President Donald Trump for his “inflammatory rhetoric” and also calls upon EU capitals to denounce “the disproportionate use of force and racist tendencies in law enforcement” sending a clear signal of support to anti-racism protests. So what does this mean for our church partnership? How does this affect our work together and what resources we share? How do we become, through and in partnership, an anti-racist Church?

    Leader: Rev. Eleanor McCormick: Eleanor's full bio is available in the Speakers Section. She was in the initial Kansas-Oklahoma class trained to facilitate the UCC White Privilege: Let’s Talk curriculum and last year, she began introducing the curriculum to congregations in Germany. Eleanor brings an interesting perspective to the similar if not identical questions that have been sparked in Germany by the killing of George Floyd.

  • Inclusivity Matters: open and affirming communities save lives

    Thursday October 8, 10-11 am

    What is the “the state of ONA” in the UCC and why is this such a difficult conversation in some places; especially in rural areas? How important is it to have clearly inclusive spaces and do we know the real impact inclusive spaces actually have? How do we know, is there some empirical data that provides this information? Is there a role for the pastor in a church when there are clearly strong differences of opinion? How to continue to be the pastor for all when there are clear divisions about this question? Is it best to just leave it alone?

    All are welcome to attend and participate; authorized minsters may find it particularly helpful to engage these questions with colleagues and other leaders who have experienced these questions.

    Leaders: Brian Bond Executive Director PFLAG; Andy Lang Executive Director, UCC Open and Affirming Coalition; Michael Vollbrecht, Pastor Peace UCC, Alma

    Brian Bond’s full bio is available in the Speakers Section. But, as Executive

    Director of PFLAG, Brian has heard plenty of stories. Brian is also from

    Nebraska, so he is no stranger to the questions faced in this part of the

    country. Which is why he knows how very important this conversation

    is. Read more about PFLAG and Brian Bond here

    Andy Lang has been the Executive Director of the Coalition since 2010. In that capacity, he leads the UCC’s Open and Affirming Program, the largest LGBTQ-affirming church movement in the world. His passion is to reach the nearly 3,500 congregations that have not yet adopted an ONA covenant. He is member of Plymouth United Church of Christ in Shaker Heights Ohio. Before becoming the Executive Director of the Coalition, Andy has years of experience as a communications professional in Washington, DC and on the national staff of the UCC communications staff team.

    Read more about the UCC ONA Coalition here:

    Michael Vollbrecht is newly ordained in KO and you can read his bio in the

    section on Morning Prayers. If you listen to his story, you will understand

    why he speaks with a degree of authenticity about this subject. Listen here.

  • Sacred Resistance

    Thursday October 8, 12-1:30 pm

    We recognize that each of us as individuals, and our faith traditions by themselves, cannot answer all of our questions, or address all of our needs. It is by coming together in mutual respect, cooperation and love that we model the kind of peaceful, compassionate, cooperative world we want to build – and begin to effect meaningful change. — Rabbi Moti Rieber

    What does “putting our faith into action” look like in states like Kansas and Oklahoma? We often think of activities like voting or volunteering, but at the state level, direct advocacy can have a stronger impact than you might imagine. This workshop will focus on elements of advocacy in Kansas, many of the processes and specific issues are common to both states. Led by Rabbi Moti Rieber and co-facilitated by Rev. Rachael Pryor (KIFA Board Chair and UCC pastor in Kansas), come discuss strategies for advocacy, learn about ways to get more involved, and ask questions. Rabbi Moti will also take a few minutes to introduce the issues KIFA expects to be engaged in with the 2021 Legislative Session in Kansas. Learn more about KIFA here https://

    Even if you’re brand-new to advocacy, this workshop is a great opportunity to:

    • learn the basics of state-level outreach to legislators and policymakers;
    • understand the unique value of progressive faith-based voices in Red State discourse;
    • explore the significance and the challenges of interfaith partnerships for advocacy;
    • and get to know KIFA, our partner for faith-rooted advocacy in Kansas.

    Leader: Rabbi Moti Rieber: Since 2011, Rabbi Moti has served as Executive Director of Kansas Interfaith Action and its predecessor organization, Kansas Interfaith Power & Light. He is a graduate of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, Pennsylvania. A life-long activist on peace, social justice, and environmental issues, Reb Moti brings a variety of pulpit, interfaith, and organizational experience to the work of Kansas Interfaith Action. Reb Moti and his wife, Suzy, live with their three

    children in Overland Park.

  • Keeping Connected During COVID-19 Beyond Worship

    Friday October 10, 12-1 pm

    COVID-19 brought online worship to almost all of our congregations, ready or not! Online worship no longer seems unattainable, and while worship is central to the life of all congregations, worship isn’t the ONLY thing that holds congregations together. There are  many other ways that congregations typically “connect” that have in the past revolved around gathering in the building. How are congregations keeping connected and continuing to build and nurture that sense of community in the virtual world? What have we learned that we may want to continue once COVID-19 isn’t the dictator of what we can and can’t do? Hear how two congregations are keeping their members connected virtually; what ideas do you have to share?

    Leaders: Dr. Liz Miller and Rev. David Wheeler

    Dr. Liz Miller is the Welcome & Care Coordinator at Plymouth Congregational Church, UCC in Lawrence, KS. She helps new folks navigate the membership process at Plymouth, works with the fellowship board to plan events, and oversees the various prayer and care groups of the congregation. In June of 2019, Liz finished her PhD in Communication Studies (emphasis in Rhetoric) at the University of Kansas, where she wrote a dissertation about Public Memory and the Golden Age of Islam. She also received an MA in Communication Studies from Illinois State University and a BA in Rhetoric and Linguistics from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Liz’s passion is helping people form connections with one another and is excited to be working in a position that allows her to create programs for just that purpose. 

    Rev. David Wheeler is the current pastor of the Federated Church of Weatherford, Oklahoma and Congregational Church of Norman in Norman, OK. David brings over twenty-five years of experience as pastor, musician, and church health consultant. He has served as pastor in a wide range of congregations — from rural to urban, from 13 to 7,500 members. David sensed God calling him to ministry during his sophomore year of college. David holds a Master of Arts in Spiritual Formation from Northwest Nazarene University and a Master of Divinity from Phillips Theological Seminary.