Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Faith Development Week for? Is it only for religious educators?
Faith Development Week is for all religious professionals and lay leaders who are looking to deepen their faith engagement and bring new tools and learning back to their congregations. We welcome religious educators, ministers, music directors, membership coordinators, office administrators, volunteer leadership, and their families.
Where is Star Island? Is it really a Unitarian Universalist island?
Star Island is within the waters of N’dakinna, the traditional lands and waterways of the Abenaki, Pennacook and other related Wabanaki Peoples past and present. We acknowledge and honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have stewarded it throughout the generations.
Star Island is in what we now call the Isle of Shoals off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. While Star Island is founded on the liberal spiritual ideals of Unitarian-Universalism and the United Church of Christ, people representing a variety of beliefs attend conferences regularly.
Learn more about the island's history and geography by visiting Star Island's website.
Are there any scholarships or discounts available for the conference?
What will this conference offer in terms of professional development opportunities?
We have workshops in the morning for two hours aimed to fit the currents needs of religious professionals and lay leadership. This has looked like environmental based curriculum, anti-racist/anti-oppression programming, and workshops offering new tools and resources to bring back to your congregation. Moreover, we also have a theme talk during the week as an opportunity for the whole conference to learn and grow together.
While the workshops provide formal professional development, many of our conferees highlight the value of being around colleagues and lay leaders collaborating and sharing ideas for a whole week. Whether it's chatting over a meal, at social hour, or during morning coffee on the porch, there are so many opportunities deepen your connection and share resources with colleagues.
What are the accommodations on Star Island like?
"Rustic charm" would be the key words. Most rooms have double twin beds. There are also some full beds and single bed rooms available. Hotel rooms in the main Oceanic Hotel and rooms in the smaller cottages have a shared gender neutral bathroom on each floor. The motel units have a small bathroom attached to each room. There are shower stalls in the Oceanic Hotel basement for everyone in the conference. There are also accessible showers available in Cottage A. For more information on accommodations, check out Star Island's website here.
What is accessibility on Star Island like?
While Star Island does its best to be as accessible as possible, some places can be reached only via stairs or a rocky path, and negotiating this terrain, even with assistance, might not always be possible. For more information about accessibility on the island, check out their website here.
What are the COVID conscious policies on Star Island?
Star Island keeps up to date with all available science and guidelines set by experts as the pandemics shifts and changes. Currently, all people who are eligible for vaccination must be vaccinated and all conferees must test negative before arriving. This can be either a rapid antigen (“at home”) test done within 24 hours or a PCR test done within 3 days.
Indoor mask-wearing policies will be determined on a weekly basis depending on current circumstances. Star Island will notify us a week or so prior to our arrival of the mask policy for your conference so you know what to expect.
For all up to date COVID conscious policies from Star Island, check out their website here.
What does a regular day look like during the conference?
Each morning begins with the option for a morning polar bear swim or waking up with coffee, tea, or hot cocoa sitting on a rocking chair on the porch. Programming begins after breakfast. Children and youth have their Young People's Program and adults can partake in the theme talks and/or morning workshops.
After lunch, there are tons of social activities every day, from ice cream socials to crafts in the Art Barn and more. You can take this time to relax and spend time with your family or to collaborate with colleagues.
One hour before dinner is social hour, a chance to have some snacks and alcoholic drinks. There is also a sober social hour happening concurrently. After dinner, there are social activities such as s'mores on the rocks, a variety show, and maybe even a concert. Then there is an evening chapel service to close out the night.
What is the Young People's Program like? What will my kids be doing while I'm in my workshop?
Our Young People's Program, also known as YPP, is a great opportunity for UU kids and youth to meet peers outside of their congregation. Our program is combined with our sibling conference which shares the week on Star Island with us, Building Bridges. Our youngest children are in the nursery, then elementary, junior youth group, and finally the oldest in our senior youth group. YPP meets in the morning during the adult morning programming. Along with fun activities with their volunteer leaders, each group will have island led activities, like environmental sustainability tours and visits with the island music director. Our senior youth put on a worship service at the end of the week.
What are some of the social activities during the conference? Are there any intergenerational activities?
There are so many intergenerational social activities all week long! Each summer, we have a softball game, an ice cream social, s'mores on the rocks, a variety show, morning polar bear swims, and more! The Art Barn is open every day with daily crafts so there's always a new project to try. In recent years, we've also added dance parties and karaoke. We have chapel services every night after dinner.
There's also a social hour every evening before dinner with snacks and alcoholic beverages. There is also a sober social hour that runs concurrently with snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
I want to volunteer to be a part of the conference in 2023 working with the Young People's Program/chapel services/etc. Who should I contact?
That's awesome! For smaller roles like ringing the chapel bell or singing with the Morning Wake Up Singers, there will be a volunteer form as a part of registration where you can indicate your interest. If you are looking to volunteer with the Young People's Program, please contact us to let us know.