$297 – $663

INTERCESSION: A winter retreat for religious professionals

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Guest House Retreat & Conference Center

318 West Main Street

Chester, CT 06412

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Intercession is a different kind of experience. Together, we will create a container for transformative growth with ample time for integration and reflection, socializing, or being in nature built into each day.

We will be doing deep work together. In recognition and support of that work, two chaplains will be available onsite for the entire retreat. One of the chaplains will be a person of color.

Our venue, The Guest House Center, is beautiful and spacious. Most of the areas are accessible. Included with registration is two nights’ stay and six healthy delicious meals with gluten free and vegan options.

Choose one of three tracks:

Flipping the Paradigm: Casting a Vision for the Future of Faith Formation

Kim Sweeney

If we are to take parental influence, whole congregation worship, and religious education as 3 areas that have an impact on the faith formation of our children and youth, we now know, that of the three, parental influence is the primary indicator of whether or not a child will remain connected to their faith in adulthood. What might it look like if we focused our efforts and started putting the bulk of our resources towards equipping and supporting families in their faith practices at home and in the world?

This intensive workshop experience will move us from understanding WHY it matters to HOW we do it. Participants will engage in a small group project and presentation to be shared. Additionally, participants should expect to leave this workshop with:

  • Talking points and communication tools for use within staff teams and congregations

  • Goals and strategies for centering family ministry

  • A personalized draft two year strategic plan

Open to religious professionals and lay leaders in progressive traditions.

Preemptive Radical Inclusion: Privilege and Power

CB (Cindy) Beal

What would happen if you chose to be in a Safe[r] Brave[r] space of deep exploration and trust to wrestle with your privilege and power? Would it change the way you move in the world and do justice?

This will be a retreat within which we examine how and when we wield, leverage, or let go of unearned privilege. If you are familiar with PRI, you know Preemptive Radical Inclusion is a verb. It is an activity, a process.

The outcome of practicing Preemptive Radical Inclusion is not PRI itself, that’s just a framework through which we do the work. If we truly practice PRI we must change. The outcome of PRI is Justice and Equity. The practice of Preemptive Radical Inclusion requires reflection and exploration, and it leads us to make decisions about what our next moves will be to meaningfully include and involve everyone within those areas where we have leadership responsibility. Engaging this work is not a purely cognitive experience; it requires curiosity, humility, and an unflinching encounter with the unearned privilege we bear and how it interferes with creating a just and equitable society. It also requires that we notice emotional context and impact of our learning and take generous care with ourselves and others. Together we recognize that while we are all on a path we are not in the same place on that path and we have responsibility as community members to provide challenge balanced with care.

We will explore through interactive workshops, private reflection, video, small group conversations of deep listening, and optional exploratory activities involving art or music. CB will create and sustain an environment of honest exploration that will hold space for hard feelings, notice shame and set it aside as unhelpful while holding accountability, as we also seek opportunities for AH-HA moments and growth and celebrate them along the journey.

The space will be a Saf[er] Brav[er] space, where we will bear witness to one another and bring forward among one another the very practices of PRI we want to bring forward in our home, work, and religious/social environments.

Everyone will be accountable to make their own next move in this journey, and others in the group will applaud movement and growth without holding out the “how much farther I/you have to go.” Because of course we have farther to go. That’s the point of growth and change and justice making.

There will be strongly recommended, (but ultimately optional) reading recommendations and a free webinar-gathering-space prior to the workshop. This will allow participants to virtually meet one another and to provide everyone with a basic introduction to what Preemptive Radical Inclusion is whether or not they have taken a PRI workshop before.

This track is limited to 26 participants. 20 of these spots are open to all religious professionals in progressive traditions. 6 spots are specifically set aside for BIPOC and will remain unavailable to others whether or not they are filled.

Unbroken: Accessing (Y)Our Resilience

Halcyon Westall

What would you do if you knew no failure could stop you?

Anyone can be resilient. Evaluate what you've learned from risk, build your resources, and move forward with your ministry in this experiential and relationship based learning community for healing after adversity.

As society shifts into new ways of relating to religion, education, and social justice, religious leaders are challenged to create effective practices relevant to 21st. century culture. Religious Professionals are expected to innovate and take risks in public, high emotional investment experiments. Unsuccessful experiments are part of successful innovation, and faithfully managing failure requires us to move past lingering shame and isolation.

Many of us may feel flawed, that we lack an ability to succeed that others seem to naturally possess. Unbroken incorporates arts, spirit, and evidence based positive psychology techniques that draw on people’s innate healing tendencies. If you have experienced failure and are struggling to manage disappointment and shame, resilience can be accessed and developed through learning skills and practicing in beloved community. No one is broken, no one is left behind.

Development of community is central to this workshop, and is reflected in the name of the group by using a combination of “your” and “our”, highlighting that this group breaks beyond an individual focus. Professional ministry can be lonely work. Resilience depends on having a network of connection. This space will be bound in professional covenant.

This track is limited to 15 Participants, open to religious professionals in progressive traditions.

Our Venue:

The Guest House is a beautifully renovated country inn that combines functionality with comfort. We selected this location because it has wonderful features not often found at professional retreats:

  • Facility-Wide High Speed WiFi

  • Private baths in each guest room

  • A fitness center featuring aerobic exercise equipment, free and fixed weights, a ping pong table, and a sauna

  • A meditation labyrinth

  • Wooded walking trails and hiking trails

  • Healthy, expertly prepared meals each day

  • Meeting rooms with windows and generous space capacity

  • The nearby town of Chester, CT features several fine cafés, art galleries, and boutiques.

  • Additional nights before/after the program dates may be available through special arrangement


Housing includes two nights accommodation, six meals, all day coffee/tea, and use of all Guest House facilities:

  • Single Room: $420
  • Double Room: $328
  • Triple Room (limited availability): $290
  • Commuter: $152

Program includes your choice of any one program track, morning/evening worship, arts space, and chaplains.

  • Early Bird Registration BEFORE 9/21: $192
  • Registration AFTER 9/21: $243
  • Reduced Program fee for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color Participants: $145


Body work appointments by local licensed practitioners are available at an additional fee. More information will be included with your registration packet.


Are there ID or minimum age requirements to enter the event?

Intercession is open to adults in religious leadership from progressive faith traditions. Two tracks are open only to Religious Professionals: people who have overt and clear authority such as ministers, religious educators, and music professionals, whether ordained or lay.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

There is ample parking at The Guest House Center. An Amtrak station and Hartford's Bradley Airport are within easy distance for a car service. We encourage carpooling! You can arrange rides together on our Facebook page. More information on getting to the Guest House is here.

What can I bring into the event?

Intercession is an immersive experience where we intentionally include body and spirit as well as mind.

  • Dress comfortably - however you will feel at ease and ready be with colleagues.

  • We will have art supplies available as part of the program and free time activities. Bring your journals or other reflective activity tools.

  • The Guest House is a beautiful and welcoming venue that is adjacent to hundreds of acres of woodlands. We will have ample time for enjoying the beauty of nature, which in January means bring waterproof shoes, warm hat, and coat!

  • In your bedroom at Guest House you will find a comfortable bed, a set of towels, a clock, soap, and a cup. Extra blankets and pillows are available in each closet. Hair dryers and irons are available. As part of The Guest House commitment to reducing waste, they do not supply toiletries, so bring your own. Check their website for more information about their facility.

  • If you are traveling from outside of New England - January can be very cold! Wear clothing to support your enjoyment of the surroundings. There may be snow or many other forms of moisture coming down from the sky. Check the weather and plan accordingly.

What should I not bring into the event?

Intercession is an immersive experience where we intentionally include body and spirit as well as mind. To be as accessible as possible, please leave these at home:

  • Scented perfumes/personal care products including natural products or essential oils.

  • Pets

  • Alcohol or other recreational drugs

What about accessibility?

The dining room and some meeting rooms are fully accessible, located on the first floor. We will assign meeting spaces after determining accessibility needs. There is elevator service to all residential floors. The first floor and several bedrooms have wheelchair-accessible toilets and safety handles in the bathtub. The venue can offer a wheelchair, a walker, or a motorized scooter for your convenience. The retreat is in an historic Inn. The structure has some floors that are offset and some of the rooms, including fitness and sauna, require a couple/few stairs to access.

Microphones will be used in large spaces.

People with significant food allergies will be invited to pass through the buffet first, and all will be advised to avoid cross contamination. Unscented soap and hand sanitizer will be available for regular use in common spaces so we can help keep one another healthy. Note that snow/mud will impact the accessibility of the labyrinth and walking trails, which are otherwise wide and flat. Please let us know if you have an accessibility need that is unaddressed in this brief statement.

Who is INTERCESSION? What organization are you?

INTERCESSION is CB, Halcyon, and Kim. Literally. Three friends and Unitarian Universalist colleagues who joined together to create a different kind of personal/professional development experience. More about us individually below.

Tell me more about the discount for BIPOC participants.

Transparency: There are two basic sets of costs for this retreat. The costs of the venue, and the costs of the program. There is no institutional underwriting of this event, so all of our costs are real-to-us costs. We have no control over the venue costs, however we do have choices about how we structure our program fees. Everyone pays the same venue costs, We are offering a discount to the regular program fee for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color particpants as a very small token of our commitment to justice and equity for historically marginalized and oppressed people in our society and religious tradition[s].

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Contact us via email: intercessionretreat@gmail.com

Tell me more about the leaders.

CB (Cindy) Beal is a dynamic facilitator, educator, consultant, writer, activist and storyteller. CB has worked with Unitarian Universalist congregations, schools, and non-profit organizations as a religious educator, sexuality and consent educator, and anti-racism/diversity educator, as well as consultant to organizations around making meaningful systems change. CB grew up on a small farm in rural northern New York, got their BA in from Eastern College in PA, and a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in NY. They have been a Unitarian Universalist for most of their adult life, have served as a LREDA Good Officer, and is deeply committed to creating spaces in which people can risk and trust for growth. Read more about CB’s work at Justice and Peace Consulting.

Kim Sweeney is a credentialed Religious Educator and independent consultant who worked for seven years as the Lead for Faith Formation and Safe Congregations on the UUA’s New England Regional staff team. She is the author of The Death of Sunday School and The Future of Faith Formation. Kim is a sought after presenter and workshop leader and has led programs coast to coast in 15 states....and counting! Read more about Kim's work at Courageous Faith Consulting.

Halcyon Westall is a Unitarian Universalist Association Credentialed Religious Educator who has been facilitating groups for 12 years including congregational consulting and three years as Assistant Director of The Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard Theological Theological School. She currently is Project Manager of FAITHIFY.org, and a LREDA Good Officer. She holds a Master's degree in Holistic Leadership and is passionate about building covenanted communities. Read more about Halcyon's work at Fractal Faith Formation.

What is the refund policy?

  • Full refund given before September 21, 2018
  • 50% refund given before October 14, 2018
  • 25% refund given before November 14, 2018
  • No refunds will be given after Dec 14, 2018

What is the smoking policy?

No smoking. Smoking is prohibited in the facility and outdoors within twenty (20) feet of the facility, as well as at any other designated No Smoking areas. This includes all Vapor cigarettes and products.

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Guest House Retreat & Conference Center

318 West Main Street

Chester, CT 06412

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