UTO at Missional Voices

Raising Grateful Voices:

Spreading UTO and Gratitude in your World

June 12-13, 2019
Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans

The UTO Board and staff are thrilled to announce Raising Grateful Voices, a new opportunity to gather together to learn, share, and experience UTO Grant sites. This triennium, UTO will be offering annual regional gatherings in conjunction with other complementary gatherings in The Episcopal Church in different regions of the country. This year, we are partnering with Missional Voices and Christ Church Cathedral in New Orleans. Missional Voices was started by a group of seminarians a few years ago to provide a forum for important conversations about mission and the growing edge of the Church, making it a natural partner for UTO. (We are pleased to share that a representative of Jericho Road, a UTO Grant site, will be one of the featured speakers at Missional Voices.)

We’ve designed our time together to try to keep costs at a minimum. We’ll begin after lunch on Wednesday, June 12, and end at lunchtime on Thursday, June 13.

We’re pleased to announce that our keynote speaker for the UTO closing event is Kids Orchestra from Baton Rouge, Louisiana who will present some of the practices the group started thanks to a UTO Grant.

In between, we’re offering a ton of great workshops, from Introduction to Asset-Based Community Development, Gratitude and Faith Formation, and Grant Writing Best Practices to all of our usual UTO offerings on best financial practices and ways to promote UTO. Oh, and we’ll be sure to have traditional New Orleans snacks at break time in addition to giving you time to enjoy the city while you’re with us. We are so very excited about this event and all of the great workshop presenters and speakers.


Centering Gratitude in the Liturgy: Translating ‘Eucharist Means Thanks’ Into Our Lives

Wednesday, June 12, 2 – 3p

As Episcopalians, we often remark that everything we do in worship is an act of gratitude, but do we really understand how our liturgy helps direct us towards gratitude? This workshop is for anyone who is interested in learning about the historical and theological lineage of gratitude that runs through our current prayer book Eucharistic liturgy. We’ll also talk about ways the liturgy encourages individuals and the community gathered together for worship to pause and give thanks in addition to options within theBook of Common Prayer to expand or focus our worship onto gratitude. Finally, we’ll talk about how the experience of the Eucharist invites us into more grateful living between worship services as individuals and as a community. Together we’ll explore:

  • how gratitude shows up in our Eucharistic theology;
  • the historical implications of gratitude within the Anglican expression of the Eucharist;
  • how congregations or individuals can use the liturgy to help support practicing gratitude;
  • and how we can add to our liturgy prayers, litanies, etcetera to enhance or focus in on our experience of gratitude.


JK Melton (Diocese ofColorado) is a Doctoral Candidate and Teaching Fellow in the Department of Theology at Fordham University in New York City. He has studied at the General Theological Seminary, the Iliff School of Theology, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. In addition to being a priest in the Diocese of Colorado, he works as a high school social studies teacher in New Mexico, while teaching theology in the Bronx remotely. JK’s academic research focuses on how the Eucharist might serve as a model for Christian mission in a secularized and pluralistic world. His dissertation explores the ecclesiology of Rowan Williams. He enjoys spending time with his family exploring the vastness of the west, and he is convinced that his cat Bella can run circles around any soft coated wheaten terrier.

Caitlyn Darnell, Young Adult Member

Caitlyn Darnell (Diocese of North Carolina/Virginia) is the Director of Parish Life and Christian Education at St. James’ Episcopal Church in Leesburg, Virginia and a recent graduate of Berkeley Divinity School at Yale. She is a candidate for Holy Orders in the Diocese of North Carolina. She faithfully serves on the UTO Board as the first Young Adult Appointed member and she oversees the Young Adult and Seminarian grant process. She is the new, proud companion of Bentley, a soft coated wheaten terrier. In her spare time, Caitlyn enjoys rock climbing, brewing beer, and knitting very badly.

United Thank Offering Best Practices: Ingathering and Finances

Wednesday, June 12, 2 – 3p

This interactive workshop is especially for those who want to learn more about leading the UnitedThank Offering (UTO)asParish or Diocesan UTO Coordinators/Organizers.We’ll discuss all of the rules for safeguarding the Ingathering and those that count and collect it. We’ll also share ideas for how to integrate UTO into the life of the parish from an innovative approach to combining UTO with a stewardship campaign to using UTO as a part of parish meetings.We’ll also debut (and welcome feedback) on new videos covering best financial practices.

Together we’ll explore:

  • best financial practices for counting, reporting, and handling UTO Ingathering funds at the parish or diocesan level;
  • how to access annual reports on Ingathering amounts, how to acknowledge donations, and how to update UTO staff on parish participation;
  • the difference between giving to the Memorial Trust Fund and giving to Ingathering and what each supports; and
  • how teaching gratitude increases generosity and can change the dynamics of your congregational life.


Kathy Mank (Diocese of Southern Ohio) believes wholeheartedly that the implementation and adherence to internal controls will keep you out of trouble and preserve the assets that you manage. Collecting and counting is more than just math. Kathy holds a CPA, an MBA, a real estate sales license, and is an Ohio notary. She loves The Episcopal Church and has served at all levels in women’s ministries (including ECW and UTO).

Gail Donovan (Diocese of Western Michigan) worked for Michigan Bell and AT&T for 15 years as a customer service representative. When that position was phased out, she returned to college and graduated from Michigan State University with a major in accounting. She then worked 15 years for the State of Michigan as a bank examiner. Since retiring, Gail enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, traveling, and volunteer work. She is a life-long Episcopalian, has served on the church vestry and been Sr. Warden of St. David’s in Lansing, Michigan. She has been the church andDiocese of WesternMichigan United Thank Offering coordinator for many years and was honored to be elected to serve as the Province V UTO representative in 2018.

UTO Best Grant Application Practices: Screening Committees & Upcoming Focus

One of the pieces of feedback that we often get is the desire for help and support for Diocesan Screening Committees or an internal process for dioceses to use to determine which grant application to send forward in the process.This workshop will go over the focus for granting for the next two years and what you should be looking for in applications. We’ll also share some of the best practices happening in dioceses that you might want to implement in your own.We’ll also release here first the 2020 UTO Grant Application and go over it to answer any questions you might have.

Together we’ll explore:

  • 2020 Focus and 2021 Focus
    • What the Way of Love says about these topics;
    • What resources are available to learn more about why these are new priorities for the church;
    • And a reminder of what things are not allowed under UTO criteria.
  • best practices for leading a UTO screening committee at the diocesan level:
    • who should be on a screening committee;
    • internal deadlines and getting things signed;
    • how to get help;
    • and using the new grant application software.


Joyce Landers (Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast) currently serves as the Vice-President and chair of the grants committee on the UTO Board. She has served in many capacities in the church both at the parish and diocesan levels. She is deeply committed to the work of UTO as both gratitude promotors and supporters of the ministry of the church. She lives in Troy, Alabama with her husband of 35 years.

Sedona Jacobson (Diocese of Navajoland) is finishing up her freshman year at Diné College inArizona.Sedona is the second Young Adult Board Member and is supporting the Young Adult and Seminarian Grant Process.

Jane Jellison (Diocese of Rhode Island)is a new member on the UTO Board representing Province I. A preacher’s kid, she grew up with the ever-present blue box and an appreciation for the ministry of gratitude lead by Episcopal Church Women. She spent 18 years working in the US Senate before moving back home to manage several not for profit organizations. Now retired, Jane still lives in Providence, RI, where she is a member of Church of the Redeemer, an EfM mentor, and is active in social justice issues.

Empowering Grateful Voices in Children

Wednesday, June 12 3:15-4:15p

Join us for this workshop that begins with a discussion about the developmental need to teach our children gratitude and how to lay the foundation of practicing gratitude from an early age.This will be a hands-on workshop where we’ll participate in a sample faith formation lesson plan for kids…with kids. So, come prepared to play, create and give thanks.

Together we’ll explore:

  • why we need to teach our children to practice gratitude;
  • how to add gratitude to your daily routine;
  • and walk through a lesson plan to teach gratitude to elementary/preschool aged children.

We’ll also send you home with sample lesson plans for other age groups and answer questions about how to help young people, of any age, learn about and adopt their own spiritual discipline of gratitude.


The Melton Family

Heather Melton (Presiding Bishop’s Staff) is the Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering.Heather has served in this position for over six years and is grateful to work alongside the UTO Board and staff in helping to promote gratitude and generosity through participation in UTO. She holds anMA in Religion and Psychology from the Graduate Theological Union and an M.Div. from ChurchDivinity School of the Pacific in addition to her BS in Environmental Sciences from Kent StateUniversity. She lives with her husband and twin daughters in Farmington, New Mexico.

Carrie and Lucy Melton are the daughters of the UTO Staff Officer and are often the guinea pigs for their mother in art projects, lesson plans and adventures to teach gratitude. Carrie loves to write thank you notes while Lucy makes certain that the day doesn’t end without a chance to say what we are most thankful for. They love to play with UTO Blue Boxes and although they don’t quite get it yet, they love their moon jars for splitting their allowance into what they will share, save or spend.

Inspiring Gratitude through Preaching or Presenting

Thursday, June 13, 9:15-10:15a

Gratitude has become a phenomenon in popular culture and is written about in books ranging from self-help to the Harvard Business Review. If we know that gratitude is important,(improves our personal health, makes our relationships stronger and healthier and so forth) then how do we help encourage our congregations, dioceses, community groups to engage with gratitude? One way is to strengthen and get more comfortable with talking about why gratitude is important, how it is a theological imperative for us as Christians and ways to encourage others to join in. It is easy to get caught up in the details of why gratitude is important, or ways to practice gratitude and lose the focus on why gratitude as a practice is key to our faith and our lives.

Together we’ll explore:

  • tips and tricks on presenting or preaching to keep your audience engaged;
  • how not to get lost in detail in your preaching;
  • the power of narrative;
  • and how to share your message effectively and engagingly.

This workshop is for anyone interested in learning more about preaching and presenting, from those that have never done it before to those that have been preaching for a long time. We hope that you’ll leave this workshop inspired and excited to present in your context about the power of gratitude.


the Rev. Dr. Micah TJ Jackson

the Rev. Dr. Micah T.J. Jackson joined Bexley Seabury as president June 1,2018. Earlier, Dr.Jackson served as the Bishop John Hines associate professor of preaching and director of comprehensive wellness at Seminary of the Southwest.His academic interests include the spiritual discipline of preaching, homiletic form, the postmodern construction of the relationship between preacher and congregation, liturgical leadership, and clergy formation and wellness. Dr. Jackson holds an MTS in Preaching from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, an MDiv from Meadville Lombard Theological School, and a PhD in Homiletics/Liturgy from Graduate Theological Union. He is the author of a forthcoming book fromChurch Publishing, Preaching Face to Face: An Invitation to Conversational Preaching.

Practicing Gratitude: Ways to Incorporate a Spiritual Discipline of Gratitude

Thursday, June 13, 9:15-10:15a

This interactive workshop is for anyone who has seen the growing popularity and increasing scholarship on the importance of gratitude and wants to help share this information in an engaging and concise way.

Together we’ll explore:

  • What some of the leading scholars say about the importance of gratitude and how it affects our physical and mental health;
  • Some tools for practicing gratitude that are commercially available, from gratitude journals to one of Oprah’s favorites, a thank you note journal;
  • Where UTO came from and what it teaches today;
  • how to introduce UTO to someone unfamiliar with the spiritual discipline of gratitude:
    • discussing how gratitude is linked to the Jesus Movement-why gratitude matters, how to teach about gratitude, and leading others into a spiritual discipline of gratitude; and learning about the grassroots structure of UTO.
    • Ways to start UTO in your parish, or simple ways to get your parish focused on gratitude instead of griping.

This workshop is really meant to serve as a conversation about what practicing gratitude has meant in our lives and some of the tools that we have found helpful. Participants will leave with a variety of gratitude resources for supporting their own practice of gratitude or for use in the parish. Bring your stories of how gratitude has changed your life.


Sherri Dietrich (Diocese of Maine) was born and raised on a farm in Iowa along with 4 sisters and 2 brothers. She was brought up in a small Evangelical church, which gave her a thorough knowledge of the Bible and a strong sense of loving community, but her first encounter with the Episcopal Church immediately rang true in its openness to multiple perspectives, beautiful liturgy, and feeling of communal worship. She received a bachelor’s degree in music performance, and then a master’s degree in library science so she would have a job that actually paid the bills while she pursued a singing career in the Boston area. Since 1990 she has been a freelance indexer, proofreader, and copyeditor for various publishers around the world, which enabled her to take singing gigs as they arose and work from home.In 1995 she retired from professional singing and moved with her wife, Brenda Hamilton, to Midcoast Maine, where they still live with their two cats and 23 chickens (the chickens have their own house!), for which she is grateful every day.

Lorrainne Candelario (Diocese of Puerto Rico) is the newly appointed member of the UTO Board. She helps support the outreach of UTO into Spanish speaking and bilingual communities while furthering her theological education in Puerto Rico. She is committed to her family, her church and spreading gratitude in the church and the world.

The Rev. Canon Michelle Walker (Diocese of Northern Indiana) spends part of her work week as the UTO Associate Staff Officer and as the Missioner for Administration and Communications for the Diocese of Northern Indiana.In previous professional careers, Michelle was a computer systems consultant and a massage therapist, both of which she believes helped form her for ministry in very different ways. Michelle appreciates the variety of work she’s able to do in her current roles.She rarely misses an opportunity to see the world.

Introduction to Asset Based Community Development

Thursday, June 13, 10:30-11:30a

Join us for this workshop that gives an Introduction to Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and why it has become an important tool for congregations and dioceses in The Episcopal Church.We’ll talk about what has changed in congregations that utilizeABCD and what has changed for us as a denomination.

Together we’ll explore:

  • the basic tenets of ABCD, why it matters and how it can change the life of your congregation and community;
  • learn about the asset map, or how to find out if other congregations are doing similar ministries to your own and how to network;
  • and how you can sign up to attend an ABCD training weekend.


The Rev. Melanie Mullen, Director of Reconciliation, Justice, & Creation Care (Presiding Bishop’s Staff) As a member of the Presiding Bishop’s staff, Melanie is charged with bringing the Jesus Movement to the concerns of the world. Previously, she was the Downtown Missioner at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond, leading a historic southern congregation’s missional, civic, and reconciliation ministries. Melanie worked in campaign fundraising and development and she served as Development Associate for the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, with a focus on poverty advocacy. She is a graduate of Virginia Theological Seminary with a Masters of Divinity; and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a Bachelors in History.

Katelyn Kenney, Julia Chester Emery Intern (Diocese of Texas) Now in her second year of her term as the Julia ChesterEmery Intern for the United Thank Offering, Katelyn Kenney has been serving most of the year in the Episcopal Church Office of Government Relations. In the previous year of her internship, she participated in the Texas Episcopal Service Corps while also partnering with Missional Voices as a social media and communications coordinator. Katelyn graduated from the University of Houston with a B.A. in Print Journalism and a minor in Leadership Studies. During her time as the JCE Intern, she has helped organize the 2018 Missional Voices National Gathering, assisted in the planning of UTO General Convention events and activities, worked closely on developing church-facing content for the Episcopal Public Policy Network, attended the UnitedNations Commission on the Status of Women alongside the Presiding Bishop’s delegation, and so much more!

Grant Application Writing 101

Thursday, June 13, 10:30a-11:30a

Grant writing can be intimidating and the process for many non-profit granting agencies has become complicated and cumbersome to the point where many dioceses and organizations have resorted to hiring professional grant writers. Join us for this informative workshop to learn about some basic tips and tricks to applying for grants. Hear from staff who administer grant processes about best practices and approaches to applying and navigating grant process.

Together we’ll explore:

  • an overview of best practices for writing grants;
  • how to find a grant process and know if it fits your project;
  • and answer questions about how grant processes work and how best to apply for funding to support your projects or ideas.


Day Smith Pritchartt is Executive Director of the Episcopal Evangelism Society (www.ees1862.org), which supports the formation of innovative leaders through evangelism-based grants. She holds a Master’s Degree in Christian Formation from Virginia Theological Seminary and has coordinator formation ministry in several parishes. She lives in Durham, NC and is a member of The Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill. EES has sponsored Missional Voices since its inception in 2016.

Heather Melton (Presiding Bishop’s Staff) is the Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering.Heather has served in this position for over six years and is grateful to work alongside the UTO Boardand staff in helping to promote gratitude and generosity through participation in UTO. She holds anMA in Religion and Psychology from the Graduate Theological Union and an M.Div. from ChurchDivinity School of the Pacific in addition to her BS in Environmental Sciences from Kent StateUniversity. She lives with her husband and twin daughters in Farmington, New Mexico.

Key Note Presentations

Opening Speaker: Connie Uddo

Connie Uddo, Executive Director of NOLA Tree Project and the St. Paul’s Homecoming Center (UTO Grant Site) has been on the front lines of Hurricane Katrina recovery since 2006.She spearheaded the recovery of the Lakeview neighborhood of New Orleans by developing a command central hub where residents could come and get the resources and volunteers they needed to meet the many challenges that they faced in the rebuilding process. This model proved to be highly successful and critical to the recovery of our neighborhoods.Seeing the many challenges that the Gentilly neighborhood faced, Connie moved the Center in 2009 to Gentilly to assist that neighborhood in their recovery. Connie has coordinated over 90,000 volunteers and has helped thousands of New Orleans residents rebuild their shattered homes and lives.

NOLA Tree Project (formerly Hike for KaTREEna) is a tree planting non-profit organization dedicated to growing stronger, healthier communities through tree planting and community service projects. Hike for KaTREEna was founded by Monique Pilie’ in 2006 to replant the over 1000,000 trees lost to Hurricane Katrina.Connie took over the organization in 2011 and recently, relaunched it as NOLA Tree Project to continue there planting, and expanded into developing and planting Community and Schoolyard Orchards as well. To date we have replanted and given away nearly 50,000 trees.

Connie has won numerous awards, testified at the US Senate Hearing, has been featured on NBC NightlyNews “Making a Difference” with Brian Williams and has also been featured on the ABC Secret Millionaire TVShow where she was awarded $40,000 for her work. Connie has been a guest speaker to many groups, corporations and organizations throughout the country.

Closing Presentation: Kids’ Orchestra

In 2018, The United Thank Offering awarded $48,000 to Kids’ Orchestra for a project called Healing the Next Generation: Relationships, Resiliency, and Social/Emotional Learning.This grant allowed KO to implement a structured mentoring program as an intentional strategy to strengthen relationships and cultivate social/emotional training for 800 elementary aged children attending the after-school orchestra program. The students are from predominantly under-resourced and low-performing schools and so the orchestra offers not only exposure to the arts but provides a community of care and support.TheCollaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL)defines Social and Emotional learning (SEL) as the process through which children and adults understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. The music making and afterschool enrich mental already found at Kids’ Orchestra is fertile ground for social and emotional learning to occur. KO is seeking to be more intentional about our relationships with students, helping students process emotions, empathy, set goals, and make responsible decisions. Young musicians, community members, and our families will flourish from the opportunity to explore these competencies and framework of SEL.

Leaders from Kids’ Orchestra will join us for an interactive closing program. You’ll get to experience firsthand the work of Kids’ Orchestra, hear the impact that the UTO grant had for their project this past year and participate in one of the activities this grant provided for within the KO Community.


Registration for the full UTO event is just $40, and you can sign up here:

You do not need to attend the Missional Voices gathering (MV19) in order to attend Raising Grateful Voices; however, if you would like to attend MV19, the organizers are offering a special rate of $74 for UTO – simply use the code MVUTO at checkout. (You can register for MV19 here and find all of the hotel information and special rates on the Missional Voices page.) If you are attending Missional Voices and new to UTO, you can attend the Thursday portion of the event for free! Please register, as space is limited.