Fund Four Scholarships for Minister in Crisis to attend The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing

Fund Four Scholarships for Minister in Crisis to attend The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing

Crowdfunding Completed: March 13, 2016

Amount Funded: $0

Project Owner: The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing

Short Description of Project

The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing is a groundbreaking 8-day healing experience for clergy in crisis or transition. Because 20% of ministers are either in crisis or are approaching one, we seek funds to launch our pilot program in Spring 2016 to serve ministers with integrated therapeutic counseling and spiritual retreat. We hope funding will allow us to provide scholarships for up to 4 ministers to participate in the pilot.

How was this project connected to UU?

Both the UU Department of Ministry and the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association affirm that The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing meets a long-standing need. There is widespread agreement among UU ministers that the therapeutic ministry Sanctuary provides is a much-needed and long overdue service. In fact, this project was awarded a small planning grant from The UU Funding Program. That Program confirmed that the needs the Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope & Healing provides aligns with their requirement that the project supports UU values.
This project embraces our Unitarian principles of justice and the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Unlike many other mainline denominations, our Unitarian Universalist Association does not have a location where UU ministers may go for intense support when they enter crisis. There is no identified resource for our ministers who need care within our association of congregations. The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing will meet this important need. The Sanctuary calls forth our moral vision to reach out to our spiritual leaders who find themselves in need of the same compassion and love for which they have committed their entire professional lives. Loving our clergy in crisis back to a place where they may once again find restored lives through the safety and support of a caring community is the purpose of The Sanctuary. Living the principles of our faith by ministering to our beloved leaders in crisis is as important as reaching out to the world beyond our walls. At The Sanctuary, we welcome clergy of any denomination, theological position, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, age and gender.

Full Description of Project


Are you a minister in crisis who needs ministry? Are you a member of a congregation who knows a minister that needs support? The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing is an innovative program whose mission strives to provide clergy in crisis with an exceptionally integrated therapeutic experience. Nestled in a charming historic Maine farmhouse near tranquil woodlands, The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing is a unique, 8-day experience that aims to help ministers become more fulfilled and proactive in their personal or pastoral lives. Our goal is for ministers to emerge with renewed hope, eneDSCF0029rgy, leadership, well-being, self-discovery and assurance.

Participants are welcomed into a safe, confidential and intentional haven for transformation and life-giving hopefulness. From the moment you arrive at The Sanctuary, and throughout your stay, you will be actively engaged in an interdisciplinary balance of professional individual and group counseling, spiritual reflection, recreation and rest.

Our vision is to unpack the unspoken losses that happen when ministers enter crisis by addressing shame, fear and all steps that led them to this place of pain. We believe that healthy ministers will result in healthy congregations, healthy denominations and ultimately, healthier societies.


Empirical research finds that across all religious traditions, 20% of ministers are either in crisis or are nearing one. In their leadership roles, ministers may often be viewed by the public in unrealistically high standards. However, ministers are human, too. Many who enter crisis try to hide their pain alone in shame and silence, depleting themselves and their congregations of their full talent and gifts of compassionate service that first led them into ministry. Sadly, our Unitarian Universalist Association has had no place where UU ministers in crisis can attend to obtain the kind of intensive and confidential support they need. Until now. When ministers need ministry, The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing awaits to meet this urgent and growing need, with faith, skill, confidentiality and compassion.


The Sanctuary welcomes up to eight participants to a concentrated, carefully designed 8-day stay in a charming and quiet “bed & breakfast” country setting of a 200-year old Maine farmhouse. Surrounded by nature’s beautiful landscape, accommodations are elegantly and casually appointed to nurture a sense of warmth, safety, creativity and spiritual reflection in a holistic immersion of refuge, confidentiality and support. During the 8-day intensive, each participant will have three, one-hour sessions of individual counseling and 24 hours of group counseling, all in a confidential environment with highly qualified counselors. Initial hours will be spent in assessing the individual minister’s history and needs. Based on issues identified, subsequent counseling will be designed to address those concerns.

Three basic goals will be pursued:

Allow each participant to safely unburden the hurts and pressures of life and ministry.
Assist each person to understand herself/himself more completely (inter-personally and spiritually) as their life patterns have developed.
Encourage and enable development of new levels of self-acceptance as well as more effective relational skills. This often includes evaluation of expectations, reordering of priorities, improving communication skills and bringing balance into life.DSCF0039
There will also be time for fun and relaxation. When addressing painful life issues, there is often need to take breaks from the process. The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing will provide opportunities for attendees to step away from their focused process and breathe spiritually by finding ways to laugh, create and feel physically refreshed.

For more information on The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing, we invite you to please visit our website: where you can also contact us directly with any questions.


Rev. Al Boyce, PhD, (abd) Executive Director and Founder: The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing began with Al’s personal experience and vision. Having “walked the walk” Al feels he is called to provide clergy from various faiths the opportunity to experience the level of support in crisis that benefited him. As a Unitarian Universalist minister and member of the UU Minister’s Association, Al has over 30 years of successful professional life in Ministry. He currently serves as Chaplain for non-profit agencies while speaking regularly at UU, Congregational, and Episcopal churches. At The Sanctuary of Pastoral Hope and Healing, Al will facilitate times of spiritual reflection and individual pastoral support for clergy. Al earned a D. Min from Faith School of Theology and a BA from Goddard College. He completed Harvard Divinity School and holds a Masters of Psychology/Counseling from Goddard College, and PhD (abd) in Psychology from Capella University.

Richard Chammings, LCSW, MHRT, CSP: Richard will lead and facilitate individual and group counseling. He has over 30 years of experience in behavioral health and serves as Director of Mental Health, Crisis and Counseling at an Augusta, Maine agency. His skill-set includes inpatient, residential and outpatient psychotherapy, and crisis intervention with diverse populations and diagnoses. He received his BA in Psychology from the University of Maine at Orono, and Master’s in Social Work from the University of New England.

Moira Whalen, LCSW: Moira will leverage 30 years of clinical experience to provide counseling services based on individualized participant assessments. Her specialties include addressing shame and addiction among leaders and service professionals, whose service to others “is often accompanied by the imposition of higher standards of personal conduct that dismiss common personal flaws and vulnerabilities shared by every human being. Hindered by shame and possibly censure at having failed to meet these naive standards, they all too often find themselves isolated and adrift.” Recognizing their humanity and providing support for healing presents a distinct opportunity to combat stigma, deliver hope and facilitate growth with dignity. Moira earned a Master’s Degree in Human Development from Harvard University and an MSSW in Social Work from Columbia University.

Rev. Jack Fles, Episcopal Priest (retired): Jack will lead group discussions regarding negotiated resignations as needed. Having found his own way through a negotiated resignation and restoration, Jack's faith journey offers hope to many clergy who find themselves searching for renewed hope. His undergraduate degree was with Oral Roberts University and American Institute of Holy Land Studies (Jerusalem.) Jack earned his M.Div from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He completed Anglican Studies and CPE at the Episcopal Seminary of the Southwest, and a Sabbatical with Princeton University.