Faithful Words Literary Ministry
Faithful Words is a community ministry of poetry, stories and words. Engaging writing as a spiritual practice and a tool for social action, Faithful Words offers guided writing and meditative reading sessions as well as social action communications workshops in congregational, community and retreat settings.
“Whether we are writers or not, words help us reach beyond ourselves to find and name and claim our greater wholeness. They help us summon our best possibilities, bridging between the world as it is today and the place of justice and peace that we long for it to be.”
~Rev. Karen Hering, consulting literary minister
Faithful Words increases our fluency in the languages of faith. An ecumenical and interfaith program, it enriches and deepens our conversations with one another. Its guided writing programs explore writing as a correspondence with the “still, small voice within,” inviting participants to mine their own inner truths and bring them to the page. Its communications workshops help participants understand how to use metaphor and story to better communicate across differences and diverse worldviews. Its lectio divina programs offer an opportunity to receive the meditative gifts of poetry.
Faithful Words Programs
Open Page Guided Writing Sessions
These 2-3 hour sessions are invitations to the creative spirit, opportunities to correspond with ourselves. No writing experience is required. Participants reflect on broad theological themes prompted by poetry, stories, teachings from world religions, visual images and physical objects. Over 25 themes are available, including Vocation, Blessing, Pilgrimage, Thresholds and many more. Length can be adjusted as needed.
“Very beautifully done. Very calming, focusing, joyful.”
“A great way to explore multiple dimensions of one’s life through writing. It opened doors of thoughts and feelings that have been beneath the surface.”
"I love these sessions! They give me time and a reason to sit in quiet intention around a table of faith - like a ropes course for my soul, building trust with people I know only a little but just enough to safely uncover my truths."
Lectio Divina (meditative reading)
In these 30- to 45-minute small group meditative reading sessions, participants read a given poem (or scripture passage) out loud, with each person listening for how it speaks to them on that day. A simple, reflective method for receiving poetry’s sacred gifts, based on the Benedictine practice of “lectio divina” or holy reading.
A Frame Is Worth a Thousand Words
This 2-hour workshop helps those working for social change to communicate more effectively. Whether we’re addressing legislators and newspaper editors, or our own neighbors, friends and family, sharing our message often requires first building the right frame to hold and carry it, especially when it runs counter to the thinking of the day. The workshop offers practical tips for using stories and metaphors as frames that can help get your message across.
Faithful Words is led by the Reverend Karen Hering, a literary minister who has been immersed in the work of words for over 30 years. In addition to her Faithful Words programs, she leads Nicaraguan literary tours, participating in a global conversation about the transformative power of poetry, literature and the imagination. She is a graduate of United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, and her writing has been published in numerous periodicals and meditation anthologies.
“Karen is a wonderful guide to discovering new ideas and words that had been lying dormant.
She provides thoughtful, interesting, and insightful suggestions for beginning to develop
these into language. I was surprised at the memories and associations that I found.”
-- Open Page participant
How to Participate
Open Page writing sessions, open to the public, are offered regularly at Unity Church-Unitarian and other locations and are announced on this web site and through e-mail notices. Programs can also be scheduled in your own community of faith or as part of personal or professional retreats. To add your name to the email list or to request information about scheduling a program, contact Karen Hering.
Support Faithful Words
Faithful Words is made possible by donations from individuals and foundations, including a grant from the Fund for Unitarian Universalism. Your tax-deductible contribution to Faithful Words can be made on-line or by mailing a check to Faithful Words, c/o Unity Church Unitarian, 732 Holly Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104. Donors are invited to receive a monthly email including a written reflection and writing prompt on a theological theme. Gifts from new donors in 2011 will be matched dollar for dollar by the Fund for Unitarian Universalism. Thank you for your support!
Open Page Writing Sessions
Led by Consulting Literary Minister Karen Hering, Open Page writing sessions are opportunities to correspond with the "still, small voice within." Using stories, poetry, images and objects as well as wisdom from religious teachings, science and history, participants reflect on the month's theme in their own words and on their own pages. No writing experience is necessary.
Offerings are held at Unity Church. Writing sessions are free, and an RSVP is required to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Claiming Our Courage
Wednesday, January 17 • 7:00-8:30 p.m.
“It is in the small things we see it,” writes Anne Sexton of courage. “The child’s first step, as awesome as an earthquake. The first time you rode a bike. . . .” But its reputation also rises from larger evidence of daring and defiance. This guided writing session explores the nature and sources of courage and its movement large and small within our lives.
Love’s Gifts and Demands
Wednesday, February 21 • 7:00-8:30 p.m.
“Love is our true destiny,” said Thomas Merton. “We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with one another.” We’ll move well beyond a greeting card understanding to consider love’s many faces, its many gifts and its many demands.
How the Light Gets In: Writing about Brokenness
Wednesday, March 14 • 7:00-8:30 p.m.
“There is a crack in everything,” observed Leonard Cohen. “That’s how the light gets in.” We’ll explore the places where we experience the world or ourselves as broken, and consider how we can find our way to wholeness. How is brokenness healed? And how does it sometimes open our lives and our world to the truth and the light we are seeking?
Wednesday, April 18 • 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Wendell Berry poetically pays homage to the continual transformation occurring in the natural world: “bud opening to flower / opening to fruit opening / to the sweet marrow / of the seed.” How might we too witness and pay homage to the transformation occurring within our lives? We’ll pause to notice the transformative forces moving within our hearts and within our world.
Wednesday, May 26 • 7:00-8:30 p.m.
“Hope is not merely an emotion that comes and goes. It is a virtue, resulting from a conscious, deliberate choice and long practice,” says writer Mary McDermott Shideler. Where do we find hope in the world today, and how might we choose it and practice it?
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