Tending The Fire

Human systems are complicated, and churches are no exception. At their best, they draw out excellence in their people. At their worst, they become stuck - undermining and sabotaging even the most well-designed plans for change. Tending the Fire helps clergy “think systems” in their congregations and their personal lives, so they can lead change that lasts.

The newly scheduled programs below are now part of the “Together We Thrive: Nurturing Pastoral Leadership” initiative, a collaboration of the TA1 Conferences of the United Church of Christ, The New England Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and The Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, that is funded by Lilly Endowment Inc.

Director / Retreat Leader

Barb LemmellRev. Barbara Lemmel is an ordained elder in the New England Conference of the UMC. She has served congregations in Vermont and upstate New York, facilitated conference re-structuring, and offers programming and spiritual guidance to churches and pastors.

Barbara studied Family Systems Theory with the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center in Chicago and the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness in New Orleans. In 2003, she and Rev. Alan Delamater established Tending the Fire, a clergy leadership development process.  Barbara continues to lead Tending the Fire retreats for clergy, laity and judicatory leadership in multiple denominations. She also offers one-on-one leadership coaching and coordinates the Parish Consultants of the New England Conference UMC.

Watch the video about Tending the Fire!

For more information, visit www.tending-the-fire.com or email barblemmel@mac.com.

The program helps clergy:

  • Understand anxiety's effects on churches and individuals
  • Be a healthy, non-anxious leader
  • Manage complicated emotional relationships
  • Avoid overwork and "underwork"
  • Recognize and handle sabotage
  • Discover the “next right steps” for their churches and themselves.

"Tending the Fire" is a three part program as noted below:
Participants must attend all three sessions.  Sessions begin on Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. and end on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.


2019-2020 Schedule  (Series II)   PLEASE CONTACT HEATHER RAMSEY MABROUK IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN REGISTERING.   ramsey-mabroukh@macucc.org or 617-645-9545​.

Session 1 - Opening Intensive:  November 5-7, 2019  (Irons Homestead, Glocester, RI )

Session 2 - Deepening Retreat: January 14-16, 2020 (Edwards House - MACUCC,  Framingham, MA)

Session 3  -Sending Retreat: March 10-12, 2020 (Silver Lake Conference Center- Sharon CT)


Cost per person (UCC clergy, ECLA and Western Diocese Episcopal Clerygy) for the three part retreat is $600.00.  

Lodging is additional at each location.

A deposit of $200.00 is required at the time of registration which can be paid online or mailed. 

Payment in full is due before the final session and checks should be mailed to the attention of Cindy Bolton, payable to MACUCC,
1 Badger Road, Framingham, MA  01702


CollaborationThis year's Tending the Fire is a collaborative effort of the Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island conferences of the United Church of Christ. Learn more.