groupPot of Gold

Join us for the 5th Annual PCD-LREDA Pot of Gold Conference, Saturday, October 1st at the UU Church in Palo Alto. The Pot of Gold Conference is open to religious education (RE) volunteers, RE staff, Directors of Religious Education, and Ministers. Come learn, share, connect, get support, and be inspired.


Our keynote speaker this year is Dr. Mark Hicks, Angus MacLean Professor of Religious Education and Director of the Fahs Collaborative Laboratory for Innovation in Faith Formation at Meadville Lombard Seminary.

Dr. Hicks’ address is entitled “Teaching As Spiritual Practice.” His presentation aims to help teachers see themselves as capable of opening up spiritual spaces for their children and youth. A workshop will follow the keynote in which Dr. Hicks will use the notion of “teaching race/ethnicity” to children as an object lesson. Participants will get to put into practice ideas from the morning’s keynote.

In addition Dr. Hicks’ keynote address, we will have wide-ranging workshops designed to help strengthen your children and youth ministries, and support your staff and volunteers. A listing of workshops and programs will be made available later in the summer.

Schedule for the day

8:30-9:15 — Registration and light breakfast/coffee/tea
9:15-9:45 — Worship
9:45-10:45 — Keynote Address: Dr. Mark Hicks
10:45-11:00 — Break
11:00-12:15 — Workshops
12:15-12:45 — Lunch Break
12:45-2:00 — Workshops
2:00-2:15 — Break
2:15-3:30 — Workshops
3:30-4:00 — Closing/Evaluations
(schedule updated 25 Aug. 2016)



This list will be updated as we get more information. Latest update: Aug. 30, 2016.

Teaching as a Spiritual Practice — Dr. Mark A. Hicks

This workshop is a follow-up to Dr. Hicks’ keynote address. Dr. Hicks is the Angus MacLean Professor of Religious Education at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago

UU History — Rev. Dr. Jay Atkinson

UU identity is most deeply understood through telling our collective story — the history of our liberal religious tradition — where we came from, what kind of deep concerns guided our evolution over the centuries, what we’ve argued over, what we’ve discarded, what we’ve revised, what we’ve preserved, and the new insights that have illuminated our search for religious understanding of human existence and our place in the cosmos. This workshop will include a brief review of major ideas, theologies, values, events, people, and transformative eras in Unitarian and Universalist history, but will focus primarily on asking what aspects of that history are most important for deepening the understanding of our children and youth. What background knowledge is most needed by you, as a DRE or RE teacher, as you strive to inspire young people to develop their own understandings of UU heritage? Workshop content will be tailored to address the specific questions and interests of the participants. Dr. Atkinson is a retired UU minister and independent scholar.

Becoming a Trauma-Informed Religious Educator — Rev. Michelle Favreault

Trauma shows up in all sorts of ways in Sunday School and congregational life. We hear the stories of distant tragedies and see front page news week after week. And we know that the painful realities of violence, abuse and natural disasters impact leaders and the individuals/families we serve day in and day out, too. This workshop will introduce research on adverse childhood experiences (ACES) and the impact of trauma on the spiritual formation of children and youth. In our time together we will share how techniques with calming, community building and communication can help congregations counter adversity with healing and hope. Rev. Favreault is Assistant Professor of Liberal Religious Education and Liturgy at Starr King School for the Ministry.

Youth Spirituality — Rev. Sarah Millspaugh

Grades 6-12 are times of incredible spiritual growth. Learn about the ways that faith develops in youth and discover ways that you can create an environment that nurtures youths’ spirituality whether it’s in a classroom, a worship space, a campground, a service trip, or at home. Rev. Millspaugh joined the Pacific Western Region’s Congregational Life staff in July 2016.

UU Theology and Religious Education — Rev. Dr. Sheri Prud’homme

While Unitarian Universalist theology changes through time, we do inhabit a theological framework that informs our position in the world of religions. Theologian Rebecca Parker has called this framework our theological house. In this workshop Sheri Prud’homme will share the basics of this theological heritage and together participants will explore its implications for the way we understand and practice religious education. This workshop is ideal for people seeking more theological grounding in their philosophy of and approach to religious education as well as those simply curious about Unitarian Universalist theology. Dr. Prud’homme is Adjunct Faculty at Starr King School for the Ministry.

Effective Strategies for RE Teacher Recruitment — Kathy Van Leuwen & Merrin Clough and Kristin Famula

Workshop description coming.

Prayer and Meditation with Children – Laila Ibrahim

Spiritual practices are a treasured part of most faith traditions.  Through spiritual practices we get the opportunity to reflect, give thanks and ask for help.  We learn to listen to that still small voice that is so hard to find in the frantic pace of 21 century living.  Laila Ibrahim will bring practical tools for teaching meditation, prayer, grace and other spiritual practices to people of all ages.

Storytelling and Movement with Children — Katie Hymans

Improve your storytelling skills and learn how to get kids to share their own stories in class. Using storytelling games and movement exercises, we’ll all get into our storytelling groove and practice some ways to liven up the stories we tell. You will pick up skills to improve your own storytelling in the classroom or in service, as well as gaining practices you can use to get class members moving and connecting.

Cost for the conference is $50.00 for individuals and $40.00 per person for teams of 4 or more. We encourage congregations to send teams. Registration includes a light breakfast and lunch.


Checks (made payable to PCD-LREDA) should be sent to:

Jeffrey Melcher
1139 Addison St. #4
Berkeley, CA 94702

In addition to checks, we can accept Paypal. If you use Paypal, you will find the Paypal link provided in your confirmation of registration. This confirmation appears after you submit your form. Each participant must register individually, but a group payment can be made check or Paypal.

See you in October!

The 2016 Pot of Gold Planning Team:

Alyson Jacks, UUSF
Merrin Clough, UUCB
Sheri Prud’homme, UU Oakland
Jeff Melcher, UU Marin
Deborah Mason, UU Santa Rosa
Kathy van Luwen, UU San Mateo
Dan Harper, UU Palo Alto
Derby Davidson, UU Redwood City

For information about Pot of Gold 2015, click here.