Schedule of Activities for
Monday, October 3rd

10:00 AM

Extended Prayer and Musical Meditation

Gary Hardnett

Sharing a unique blend of multi-cultural instruments from around the world, creating gentle rhythms and soothing soundscapes.

10:20AM Comfort Break / Movement Break

10:30 AM

Conscious Connections & Coffee

Facilitated by Revs. Cherie Ruffo and Sandy Boyer

Conscious Connections and Coffee is an opportunity early in our conference week to begin to get to know (or know better) those who are in the Zoom room with us.  We will have time for breakouts around “Tell Me More;” sharing our healing journeys during “Myrtle Moments;” giveaways and more.  This session will set the tone for our whole week together.  Please join us.


Reverend Cherie Ruffo is the co-founder and Minister of Unity Radiant Light. Her journey with Unity began when she was 23 at the Unity Church of Honolulu. When she walked in, she felt complete unconditional love and acceptance and knew she was home. She soon found the Unity Ministries to be an open-minded, accepting spiritual community that honors all paths to God.

Leaving Hawaii several years later to return to the mainland, Cherie found herself settled in New England. In 2008, she made the decision to embark on a new career with Unity Worldwide Ministries and co-founded Unity Radiant Light in Providence, Rhode Island.

Cherie’s appetite for learning about spirituality is voracious. She is an ordained Unity Minister and is currently studying at Damanhur in Italy and with Universal Life Tools with Master Teacher, Simone Matthews, and many other schools of thought.

Cherie has a Bachelor’s Degree from Old Dominion University, is an ordained Unity Minister. She lives in Norwich, CT with her husband, Daniel, and three dogs.


I grew up in a Presbyterian church, where I would count how many yawns I had during the sermon. I’m grateful for that experience, though as the Sunday School gave me a pretty good background in biblical stories. In my teens, I had a ‘born again’ experience and played in the fundamental Baptist fields for a while.  I loved the sense of purpose and spirit in the services, but I soon began to question some of the doctrines.  I eventually left the church altogether and learned to see nature as my church. Hiking outside on Sunday mornings, I felt the connection to Spirit all around me, with every step and every breath. I dappled with more earth-based traditions and eastern philosophies, as I studied, and eventually received my degree in world religions. I continue to be influenced by different faith traditions, not only in my private practice but in creating Sunday talks as well.

As a young mother in my thirties, I found myself missing a spiritual community, really looking for the support, sense of purpose and connection one finds.  I didn’t know what I wanted exactly, just knew that I had to look. Ideally, I wanted something where the people were welcoming, where I could make a difference, a church that was all-inclusive and a place where I could grow spiritually.  I visited many churches, before finding Unity, none of them feeling quite right for me. Upon visiting Unity for the first time, I knew I had found what I was searching for…. like-minded folks coming together to create a world that works for all. And unknowing, I had put one of Unity’s basic teachings into place, as I visualized what I wanted, it soon came on my radar.

I continue to study Unity, as well as other New Thought and world traditions. I see the common thread of love and strive to live from this place. I became a LUT in 2006, then went on to become an ordained Unity minister in 2015, pioneering Unity of Hagerstown in 2007, where I continue to joyfully serve.  I am also honored to serve on the Eastern Region Board of Trustees, serve as the Interfaith Coordinator for the Hagerstown Area Council, as adjunct professor with Unity Urban Ministerial School and Minister of Record for Unity in Frederick.

2:30 PM

Leadership Affinity Group
Does Unity Have Dogma and Doctrine? 

Facilitated by Rev. Pat Bessey UWMER Ministry Consultant and Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselbeck

Does Unity Have Dogma and Doctrine?  Whether you answer yes or no, are you willing to question your answer? As long as we have conscious and unconscious dogma and doctrine rooted in the past it is difficult to manifest a thriving present.  This can also inhibit our ability to unleash the infinite potential of our future. This session is designed for ministers, spiritual directors and leaders, licensed Unity teachers and others involved in lay leadership.  Join Revs Pat and Paul and your colleagues as we explore together “dogma and doctrine.” This will be a very interactive session and we look forward to engaging in open-ended discussions where all points of view are honored.. You will not want to miss it!  

Rev. Pat Bessey UWMER Ministry Consultant

Rev. Pat Bessey is the Unity Eastern Region Ministry Consultant, was ordained as a Unity Minister in 1965, and currently is the Senior Minister at Unity Center for Spiritual Growth in Windham, Maine.

Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselbeck 

Rev. Dr. Paul Hasselbeck is the former Dean of Spiritual Education and Enrichment at Unity World Headquarters, Unity Village, MO. He is an ordained Unity minister, metaphysician, author, and presenter, with a passion for expressing metaphysics in current and practical ways.

Rev. Dr. Hasselbeck has written numberous books focucsed on metaphysics, including “Heart-Centered Metaphysics: A Deeper Look at Unity Teachings”.

Heart-centered metaphysicians ask: “What is the nature of God?” “What is the nature of humankind?” and “What is the relationship between God and humankind?” Their exploration is aimed at discerning the fundamental Truths, or Divine Ideas, that ring true for every human being, regardless of time, place and circumstance. As you expand your understanding of these principles, you will begin to experience the world differently, ultimately creating change in your outer life and circumstances. Through the understanding and compassionate application of heart-centered metaphysics, you can raise your own consicousness and at the same time contribute to an elevated consciousness in the world. This new level of awareness is our best tool for creating loving, fulfilling lives in a peaceful world.

6:30 PM

Conscious Compassionate Living

Facilitated by Kristin Neff with musical support from Rickie Byars

“Compassion isn’t just hearts and flowers.  It is empirically proven practice.” Keynote presenter Kristin Neff is joining us to share on ways to experience Conscious Compassionate Living in the past, present and future. Our society can teach and reinforce that self-compassion is the enemy of productivity; that to be kind to ourselves is to invite complacency. Dr. Kristin Neff says, in fact, the opposite is true.  A pioneer in the field of inner strength training and compassion, Neff is the first person to empirically study the concepts and create a simple, actionable guide proven to increase motivation, boost resilience and improve mental health. As we emerge from the pandemic, when burnout is threatening the happiness, and productivity of us all, she shows us why we need compassion for oneself and others more than ever.  Using solid research, personal anecdotes, practical exercises, and humor, Dr. Neff can help us understand how to rewrite our own destructive scripts so we can be healthier, happier, and more productive.   Dr. Neff will share compassion practices such as affectionate breathing, the compassionate friend visualization and tips on caring for others without losing yourself.

“A transformative read.”  Brene Brown said about Dr. Kristin Neff’s first book

Dr. Kristin Neff

Kristin Neff received her doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, and is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.

During Kristin’s last year of graduate school she became interested in Buddhism and has been practicing meditation in the Insight Meditation tradition ever since. While doing her post-doctoral work she decided to conduct research on self-compassion – a central construct in Buddhist psychology and one that had not yet been examined empirically. Kristin is a pioneer in the field of self-compassion research, creating a scale to measure the construct almost 20 years ago. In addition to writing numerous academic articles and book chapters on the topic, she is author of the book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, and in June 2021 she will be releasing her new book Fierce Self-Compassion: How Women Can Harness Kindness to Speak Up, Claim Their Power and Thrive.

In conjunction with her colleague Dr. Chris Germer, she has developed an empirically supported training program called Mindful Self-Compassion, which is taught by thousands of teachers worldwide. They co-authored The Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook as well as Teaching the Mindful Self-Compassion Program: A Guide for Professionals. She is also co-founder of the nonprofit Center for Mindful Self-Compassion.

Rickie Byars

Rickie Byars is one of the most acclaimed and beloved singer-songwriters there is in the genre of inspirational/New Thought music. Through her three decade career as both a solo artist, Music & Arts Director  and as Founder /Director of the world-renowned Agape International Choir, Byars’ deeply soulful and heart-felt songs of spiritual renewal, uplift and empower and have struck a powerful chord with audiences around the globe. She has built an impressive international following as well. Indeed, the vibrations of “realness” in her music are so strong that they resonate with everyone from residents of L.A.’s SkidRow to South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, all of whom she has had the honor of performing for,the latter on five different occasions.Byars’ charismatic joy and authenticity on stage ensure that she is in high demand to speak and appear in concert at festivals and conferences. But she has amassed such an impressive catalog of compositions — writing and co-writing over 200 original songs and chants — that even when she’s not physically on hand to present her work her message of transcendent love is still being delivered by the many individual singers and choirs that regularly perform her material at New Thought churches and spiritual gatherings across the country every Sunday.

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