UU Studies Network 2023 Convocation

About this event

The UU Studies Network Convocations bring together mutually supportive academic and independent scholars, students, religious professionals, and laypeople who contribute to the intellectual, ecclesial, imaginative, and liberatory study of Unitarian Universalism.

Convocation 2023 was held in March 2023 in Chicago, IL at Meadville Lombard Theological School.

Thank you to Meadville Lombard Theological School, Tomo Hillbo and the MLTS team,  the UU Funding Panel, Distinguished Speaker Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore, troubadour Amanda Thomas, all who presented, all who attended, the UU Studies Network Board, and the Convocation Team of Kathy Parker, Jay Atkinson, John Leeker and Patrice Curtis and webmaster Rob Packenham.

From the announcement for Convocation 2023:

Widening the Circle of UU Studies, the inaugural international gathering of the new Unitarian Universalist Studies Network, will encourage presenters and attendees to engage across multiple and intersecting disciplines with the 2020 Report of the Commission on Institutional Change, Widening the Circle of Concern (Boston: UUA, 2020) which analyzes structural and systemic racism in Unitarian Universalism.

Widening the Circle of UU Studies will include presentations from a variety of disciplines and perspectives that explore the imaginative, congregational, intellectual, and liberatory study of Unitarian Universalism. Beyond presentations, Widening the Circle of UU Studies will include an optional Thursday-afternoon field trip to Chicago area attractions, panels addressing a wide variety of topics, social hours and communal lunches and dinners, and a talk from our distinguished speaker, Rev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore.

View the program book for the 2023 Convocation:

UUSN Convocation 2023 Program Book


Keynote speaker

Rev. Dr. Natalie FenimoreRev. Dr. Natalie Fenimore is Lead Minister and Minister for Lifespan Religious Education at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, NY, past President of the Liberal Religious Educators Association, and a former member of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change and a former VP of the Board of Trustees for Starr King School for the Ministry, and member of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change. Rev. Dr. Fenimore is an author of Unitarian Universalist Religious Education Curriculum and Religious Education Renaissance Modules, meditations and readings. She is a contributing author in “Centering: Navigating Race, Authenticity and Power in Ministry” and “UUA Commission on Institutional Change: Widening the Circle of Concern.” Her Doctor of Ministry area of study is Narrative Theology with an emphasis on Story and Faith Development for African American Unitarian Universalists.

Sunday Service

Leader: The Reverend Dr. Jay Atkinson

Jay Atkinson retired in 2011 from 32 years in Unitarian Universalist parish ministry,while teaching occasionally on the adjunct faculties of Meadville and Starr King. He is now a research scholar at Starr King, with interests in UU history, process theology, and social/economic justice.


Music Ministry: Amanda Thomas – Mezzo soprano 

Amanda Thomas is a retired UU music director and a member of Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park, Illinois. She has been an active UU for 22 years, and has served on the Board of Trustees for the Association of UU Music Ministries and on the UUA’s Music Leadership Certification Committee. Amanda is now serving as a Troubadour and offering services as a freelance soloist, music/choir consultant, choral conductor, workshop facilitator, worship leader, vocal instructor and respite music director. Amanda believes we can each find our own joy through music, and as UU’s each travel their own path to a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, Amanda enjoys the monumental task of creating ways to inspire and feed the souls of all individuals through music.