It Matters What We Believe

How many times have we heard someone say, “Oh, UUs can believe whatever we want.”? Not true! We cannot be racists or disrespect the beliefs of others, and we do a disservice to our faith when we lead people to think we could. What do UUs believe in common? What are the ethical guidelines that are always relevant for us, and how can we live our lives in better alignment with what we really believe?

Our conference theme comes from a favorite reading in our hymnal, “It Matters What We Believe” (#657) by a beloved UU religious educator, Sophia Lyon Fahs. It begins, “Some beliefs are like walled gardens. They encourage exclusiveness and the feeling of being especially privileged. Other beliefs are expansive and lead the way into wider and deeper sympathies.”

What kind of believers are we? We are our best selves when we achieve understanding and empathy. We are at our worst when we can only proclaim what we are against. How do we challenge ourselves to be our best, while avoiding the trap of being exclusive ourselves?

Come and explore this theme with us. How do we articulate our individual beliefs? How do we help our children form their own moral compass? And how do we, as a church, take a public stand on ethical issues? Our conversations together promise to be enriching and rewarding.

Keynote Speakers

Brian Eslinger and Kendyl Gibbons

Please join us in Des Moines!

To support this theme, let us actively seek workshops that respond directly to the title. For instance:
How can we effectively distill our UU Principles and Purposes down to the two-minute “elevator speech”?
How do we get along with people who believe differently from ourselves? (Even when they are on the same committee as us?)
How do we encourage critical thinking in our religious education?
How do we act on our beliefs to attract new members?
How do we “nurture self-confidence and enrich the feeling of personal worth?”
How do we keep our beliefs “pliable…ever growing with the upward thrust of life?” How do we encourage each other on our own spiritual paths?
Getting everyone on board: taking a public stand on moral issues.

PDF Flyer

Annual Report

Important Information

Here is information about some of the things you need to know before you register. Also, be sure to look at the workshop selections and scholarships.

It is possible to register for a just the pre-conference social justice workshop, or purchase an additional lunch ticket, or make a scholarship donation without Conference registration.

The Conference begins Friday, April 13, at 7:00 PM, but there are some pre-conference activities earlier on Friday. Conference Check-In will open at 4:00 PM on Friday. The Conference concludes Sunday, April 15, at 10:30 AM. See Schedule for the times of all activities.


Conference registration (received by April 4) includes four meals - breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday, and breakfast on Sunday.  Registrations after April 4 will NOT include any meals. When you register, you will be asked to select your entree choices for the Saturday lunch and supper. See below for the choices.

Saturday Breakfast

7:00 to 9:00 AM

Buffet of scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage links, & breakfast potatoes, assorted muffins & breakfast breads, coffee, iced tea, hot tea, or milk.  Vegetarian and gluten free choices are included in this buffet. Children will be served from the same buffet.

Awards Luncheon

12:30 to 1:30 PM

During the conference luncheon on Saturday, individuals and congregations who have been selected to receive this year's Prairie Star District awards will be recognized. See Awards for information about the awards and how to nominate for them.

When you register, additional tickets for this lunch can be purchased  for guests who would like to be there to honor an award recipient. It is also possible to purchase tickets for this lunch without registering. Additional lunch tickets are $30.

Entree choices (to be selected at time of registration)

    Herb roasted chicken
    Beef pot roast, pan gravy
    Mushroom ravioli, mushroom cream sauce (vegetarian option)
    Gluten free option

Children's meal choices are listed on the Children's page.

Saturday Dinner

6:00 to 7:00 PM

Entree choices (to be selected at time of registration)

    Pork medallion romano, tomato romano sauce
    Roasted turkey, sage dressing with pan gravy
    Garden herb polenta cake, roasted squash, sweet pepper salsa with pesto cream sauce (vegetarian option).  
    Gluten free option

Children's meal choices are listed on the Children's page.

Sunday Breakfast

7:00 to 9:00 AM

Buffet of scrambled eggs, biscuits & sausage gravy, breakfast potatoes, assorted muffins & breakfast breads, coffee, iced tea, hot tea or milk.  Vegetarian and gluten free choices are included in this buffet. Children will be served from the same buffet.

Table Topics

At breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, you will have the opportunity to engage in conversation with others interested in whatever issue of congregational life most challenges or intrigues you. If there is a topic you want to discuss, please include it in the appropriate spot on your registration form. Then, at conference breakfasts, look for the topic “tents” on the tables to find a group congenial to your interests. If you are interested in being the discussion leader, please indicate that on your registration form.
Special Needs

The registration form contains space to indicate any special accommodations you may need while at the conference. This would include:

    Special food
    Assistance in hearing and seeing conference activities, etc.
    Assistance in climbing steps or a ramp to a low stage (if you anticipate doing so).
    Any other assistance you might need.

Please be very specific about your needs, so that we can be of the greatest help to you.

Conference Choir

All conference participants are invited to join the Conference Choir. Experienced singers of any age, including young people, are welcome!

The choir will rehearse on Saturday during Workshop C and again after breakfast on Sunday morning. It will perform during the Sunday morning service.

On the registration form, please indicate both your interest in singing and the part you normally sing. If you are registered on or before March 18, we will mail your music to you.

Banner Parade

Remember to bring your church banner!

    We will hold our traditional Banner Parade on Friday evening. Please bring your congregation’s banner and pole for the parade!
    We will not be displaying banners during the rest of the conference this year. Please take your banner with you after the parade.
    To learn more about creating a banner and pole, visit
    Please indicate on the registation form if your congregation is bringing a banner and who will carry it in the parade.

Photo Release

By registering for the conference you are agreeing to be photographed. Videos and photos may be used on our web site and in District print publications. If you have serious concerns about your picture being used, please contact the Conference Registrar at registrar [at] psduua [dot] org prior to the conference. You will need to let us know some way to identify you (perhaps a distinctive jacket or hat) during the conference so that we will know not to use your picture.

Bookstore and Exhibits

The Annual Conference will host a UU Bookstore with books recommended by conference presenters and a selection of other books.

This is a great place to spend some of your book and media budget for the year. Great books. Great prices. Great support for the district and the local church. Bring your check book or cash.

The Annual Conference includes a display area with exhibits on topics of interest to UUs. Past conferences have had free informational brochures, pamphlets, CD's, and DVD's as well as  items to purchase such as chalice theme items, tote bags, scarves, books, etc. If you or your congregation would like to display information or items at an exhibit table, see Exhibit Space.


4:00 pm Registration opens
7:00 pm Opening Celebration (multigenerational)
· Begin with Banner Parade - Nancy Heege announces "Let the Conference Begin"
· Opening Welcome & Chalice Lighting - Nancy Heege
· President's Welcome - Kathy Burek, introduction of PSD Board
· Local Arrangements Welcome and Music - Rev Mark Stringer, Susan Jellinger
· Keynote Speaker - Rev Dr Brian Eslinger
· Announcements - Xenda Lindel
9:00 pm Family Pool Time, Social Hour, Meet and Greet


7:00 am Breakfast with table topics (breakfast ends 9:30 a.m.), bookstore & exhibits set up time
7:45 am Childcare provided for infant - PreK until 4:45 pm
8:00 am Bookstore & exhibits open
Chalice Lighting
Business Meeting
Provide K-6 children's activity 8-9:30 am
9:30 am Arthur M. Judy Lecture: Rev Dr Kendyl Gibbons - Rev Lisa Friedman will introduce Kendyl
Children's programming and youth con activity 9:30 am - 12:30 pm)
10:45 am Break
11:00 am Workshop A
Social Justice Project - Youth Con offsite
12:30 pm Music & Chalice Lighting and Reading
Awards and Luncheon - Awards Committee
Recognition of Workshop Presenters & Conference Planning Committees
Announcements - Local Arrangements
Childrens Lunch
1:45 pm Workshop B
Minister's Meeting
3:00 pm Break
3:15 pm Workshop C: Multigenerational Focus
Choir rehearsal - provide childcare
5:00 pm Music & Chalice Lighting
Supper - multigenerational
Youth Award, Recognition of Youth, and Announcements - Sherry Warren & Sara Karbeling
7:00 pm Entertainment (multigenerational) - Bruce Martin
9:15 pm Youth Led Worship (multigenerational)


7:00 am Breakfast (breakfast until 9:00 am)
8:00 am Choir rehearsal - provide childcare 7:45 - 9:15 am
9:30 am Closing Worship (multigenerational) - Rev Mark Stringer
11:00 am Annual Conference Debrief for Program Committee with Local Arrangements Des Moines & White Bear Lake