MICHAEL DOWD and CONNIE BARLOW
presentations for
UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS

Contact Us  •  Publicity Photos

    This married couple have been living on the road (thanks to the generosity of others) since 2002. Their message, grounded in The Great Story, focuses on the intersection of science, inspiration, and sustainability.

They have presented in more than 500 UU congregations, UU summer camps, and minister retreats since they began their traveling ministry in 2002.

Barlow and Dowd were honored as Religious Humanists of the Year in 2016, alongside UU General Assembly in Columbus, Ohio.

Barlow and Dowd are both are on the advisory board of the Religious Naturalist Association.

  

Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow have also been featured speakers at continuing education programs for UU ministers and directors of religious education at The Meadville-Lombard Winter Institute (2005), for annual retreats of the Mountain Desert UU District (2004), NH/VT-Maine District (2006), Ballou-Channing District (2006, 2007), Southeast UU District (at The Mountain in 2006), UU Washington Area Religious Education Council (2007), SW Chapter of UU Minister's Assoc. (2008), SW UU Summer Institute (2008), Stebbins UU Summer Camp , Asilomar CA (2005), UU Summer Camp at Ghost Ranch NM (2006), Four Corners UU District Summer Camp (2006), Elliot Institute Summer Camp (2009), which serves UU organizations in BC, WA, and OR; Murray Grove Retreat (UU Homecoming) NJ (2010); Mid South District UU weekend retreat (2011); PSWIRL Summer Camp (2011) Camp DeBenneville Pines CA; Religious Humanist Association at UU General Assembly (2016); Southwest UU Ministers Retreat (2019)


2019 VIDEOS of UU sermons and VIDEO COURSE by Dowd

  • VIDEO: Reality 101 - Widening Our Circle of Compassion

        Rev. Dowd offers three main points in this Sunday morning sermon:
      • The shape of time and the nature of joy and fullfillment
      • The color of God and the purpose of religion and science
      • The way of life and the necessity of humility and gratitude

    Also, the malady of "cultural acedia", in which social conditions are no longer fulfilling 8 basic human needs beyond physical survival.

    Presented at Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North, GA.
    30 minutes • (February 2019)

  • 8 SESSION VIDEO DISCUSSION COURSE: "ProFuture Faith" - Rev. Michael Dowd

        Earth Day 2019 marked the launch of an 8-session course for religious and secular groups — the core of each session being a 20-minute DVD segment, accompanied by a pre-session reading, facilitator guidelines for group discussion, and participant resources for "going deeper." Michael Dowd was filmed by 3 cameras at a cathedral church in Houston, TX November 2018: St. Paul's United Methodist. Living the Questions (progressive Christian ministers and staff based in Phoenix AZ) has previously produced educational videos series featuring Marcus Borg, John Shelby Spong, and others.

    PHOTOS BELOW: Michael Dowd, November 2018, during course filming in Houston

     


    2018 VIDEOS of UU sermons (by Dowd or Barlow)

  • VIDEO: Expanding Our Circle of Compassion

        "If the word compassion means to suffer with," begins Rev. Dowd, we're going to have no shortage of opportunities in the coming years to expand our circle of compassion." Attention goes to the "8 basic needs" of cultural fulfillment. If these needs go unmet, "cultural acedia" (increasing today) sets in. Dowd explores "how to be progressives when the idea of perpetual progress is no longer credible."

    Presented at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, NC.

    19 minutes • (October 2018)

  • VIDEO: Confessions of a Recovering Progressive (version 2)

        Same title, same core message as the sermon presented a few weeks earlier at the Ludington MI UU church (linked below). Delivered extemporaneously, this rendering is about 80% different. Dowd's message entails three guideposts: (1) Remember who you are; (2) Remember what matters most; (3) Resolve to sweeten your legacy.

    Presented at Community Unitarian Universalists of Brighton, MI.

    30 minutes • (September 2018)


  • VIDEO: Confessions of a Recovering Progressive (version 1)

        Rev. Michael Dowd delivers his most vulnerable sermon to date.

    He begins, "Progress is the de facto religion of the industrial world. But something has changed in America, and beyond. What happens when we progressives 'lose the faith'?"

    Presented at People's Church (Unitarian Universalist), Ludington Michigan.

    27 minutes • (September 2018)


  • VIDEO: Grief and Gratitude in a Time of Climate Change (Barlow)

        Connie Barlow's guest sermon for a Unitarian Universalist audience in Michigan conveys the anxiety and suffering of UU friends in Colorado, California, and Washington who experience yet another summer of forest fire danger, smoke, and flash flood warnings. Her message: Environmental damage (and consequent fear and anxiety) out West is clearly "21st Century." But climate change is mostly an abstract understanding in Michigan — where environmental concerns and calamities are still "20th Century".

    Presented at People's Church (Unitarian Universalist), Ludington Michigan. 22 minutes • (August 2018)


    2017 VIDEOS of UU sermons (by Dowd)

       

  • "Not the Future We Ordered — Staying Sane in Crazy Times"
        at UU Church of Sarasota FL, December 2017

  • "Not the Future We Ordered — Honoring Our Grief"
        at UU Church of Ventura CA April 2017

  • "Intergenerational Justice: Does any vision matter more?"
        at Conejo Valley UU Fellowship CA, March 2017

  • "Ecology Is the New
        at Long Beach UU Church CA February 2017


  • 2016 VIDEOS of UU sermons (by Dowd)

       

  • "Ecology Is the New Theology"
        at Tahoma UU Congregation, Tacoma, WA, Dec 2016

  • "Prophetic Inspiration for Chaotic, Challenging Times"
        at UU Congregation of Whidbey Island (WA), Nov 2016

  • "Ecological Wisdom for Chaotic, Challenging Times"
        at Olympic UU Fellowship of Port Angeles, WA, Oct 2016

  • "From Techno-Utopian to Apocaloptimist"
        at UU Fellowship of Durango (CO), Aug 2016

  • 2015 UU: Michael Dowd's 3-part guest sermon series at People's Church, Ludington MI
        Rev. Dowd presented a series of 3 Sunday sermons at the Unitarian Universalist church in Ludington MI, summer 2015. His presentations occurred during a 4-month period of sabbatical study on ecological and civilization history and the increasing toll of climate change on our hopes for the future. All sermons are now on youtube.

  • Sermon 1: "When Religion Fails, Economics Becomes Demonic"
  • Sermon 2: "Embrace Death To Live Life Fully"
  • Sermon 3: "Inspired on Dark Mountain: The Big Picture"

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  • The cover story of the Spring 2006 issue of the national magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association features the work of Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd — "itinerant evolutionary evangelists" — in bringing a sacred understanding of evolution into Unitarian Universalist circles, where it powerfully bridges the spiritual and philosophical diversity inherent in this liberal faith tradition. (written by Amy Hassinger)

  • In addition, Connie Barlow's 1997 book, Green Space, Green Time: The Way of Science, was excerpted for the cover story of the Nov/Dec 1998 UU World.
  •   

     


  • Michael Dowd's biography and publications list

  • Connie Barlow's biography and publications list

  • PUBLICITY PHOTOS


    Scheduling Presentations

    Contact us

  • For GUEST SERMONS at Sunday morning congregational services, we gratefully accept whatever compensation a congregation typically offers guest ministers or speakers.

  • For church SUMMER CAMPS, DISTRICT MEETINGS, AND OTHER GATHERINGS, we are happy to negotiate fees that will work for your group.

    Note: In 2017 Connie pretty much retired from presenting guest sermons or other programs, though Michael is still very active in writing and presenting new material.

    We try to schedule appearances on a region-by-region basis to minimize transportation time, costs, and energy. Because our ministry also depends on earnings from selling our books and DVDs, we will appreciate access to one or two LONG TABLES in your lobby or Fellowship Hall for setting up our wares.

    Michael likes to schedule with each UU church a FREE multimedia evening talk following the Sunday service (not the Saturday prior to it). We carry our own portable screen and high-lumen digital projector to use for the evening follow-up program, so the only thing you need to provide is an adequate room and voice amplification. Because book and DVD sales following the presentation are usually substantial (Connie usually is present to run the book table), we suggest you publicize the event as FREE (or donations) and consider it as an opportunity to attract newcomers from the wider community.

    Depending on whether we are also presenting for other organizations in your town or city, we may ask you to locate HOME HOSPITALITY for us for the night preceding a morning service and (sometimes) through the morning following the evening workshop. Click here for a handy list of information on our HOME HOSPITALITY needs. We intend this list to supply prospective hosts with all the information they need to feel comfortable in extending us an invitation.


    Suggested ORDER OF SERVICE components

    UU Hymns We Prefer:

  • #021 For the Beauty of the Earth
  • #331 Life Is the Greatest Gift of All
  • #360 Here We Have Gathered
  • #309 Earth Is Our Homeland
  • #301 Touch the Earth, Reach the Sky (especially for "Death" program)
  • #163 For Earth Forever Turning
  • #123 Spirit of Life (our preferred way to end a service)
  • #203 All Creatures of the Earth & Sky (only verses 1 - 3)
  • #343 A Firemist and a Planet
  • #298 Wake Now My Senses
  • #175 We Celebrate the Web of Life
  • #6  Just As Long As I Have Breath (to accompany the "Death" sermon)
  • #331 Life Is the Greatest Gift of All (to accompany the "Death" sermon)
  •   

    Hymns NOT to choose: Other hymns are perfectly serviceable with our programs, so if none of these work with your congregation, feel free to choose others. However, please do NOT choose Hymn #207, "Earth Was Given As a Garden", as it is very earthy but jars with an evolutionary framework. Also, do not select Hymn #174, "O Earth, You Are Surpassing Fair," as it is a very pessimistic dirge.

    Suggested CHALICE LIGHTINGS: (choose among them)

  • We light this chalice as a symbol
    of our connection to the stars in the sky,
    to the warmth and light of the Sun
    and of our own bright place in the Universe.
      — by Sarah Skovlund and Cindy Johnson, Redwood City CA UU Fellowship

  • We light this chalice in deep respect
    for the mystery and holiness of life;
    in honor and gratitude for those who have gone before;
    with love and compassion for those who dwell among us;
    and with hope and faith for the generations to come
      — by Rev. Ken Jones

  • We call upon the power which sustains the planets in their orbits, that wheels our Milky Way in its 200 million year spiral. We call upon this power to imbue our personalities and our relationships with harmony, endurance, and joy. Fill us with a sense of immense time so that our brief, flickering lives may truly reflect the work of vast ages past and also the millions of years of evolution whose potential lies in our trembling hands."
      — by John Seed, Australian deep ecologist

  • May the fire that has illumined the Universe since the beginning, and lit up the stars, ignite a flame of possibility in our hearts and minds today.
      — by Connie Barlow

  • Other Elements of the Order of Service

  • Because we prefer to be formally introduced before appearing at the podium or pulpit, we suggest the service leader read the Opening Words. Click here for our suggestions for Opening Words, categorized by each of our sermon titles.

  • If your congregation includes the children for the first part of the service, please know that each of us enjoys doing a 5-minute STORY FOR ALL AGES while the kids are still there.

  • We like to do a "Reading" (a very short quotation) of our choice just before the sermon (or sometime after opening words). Just list "Reading" in the order of service, and we will decide on one to match whichever sermon topic is used.

  • We enjoy doing the Closing Words.
  • Generally, whoever in your congregation is in charge of that day's service handles the announcements, "Joys and Concerns" candle lighting ritual, and Offertory — rather than us. Here is a possible way to lead into the Offertory:
    "Unitarian Universalists know that the story of evolution/creation is not yet over. Evolutionary change at all levels — cosmos, planetary, life, culture — will continue into the future, and we humans bear a responsibility for how the story will continue on Earth. In support of our own evolving [fellowship/church/congregation], the offering will now be given and received."



         
    Home Hospitality Request

    Click here for a handy list of information on our HOME HOSPITALITY NEEDS. We intend this list to supply prospective hosts with all the information they need to feel comfortable in extending us an invitation.

      



    PUBLICITY PHOTOS


         Click here for a list of
    UU BEST PRACTICES
    that Connie & Michael have come upon
    during their visits to
    UU churches and fellowships.

      



  • Click here to view an annotated list of popular & academic WRITINGS BY CONNIE BARLOW.
  • Click here to view an annotated list of popular & academic WRITINGS BY MICHAEL DOWD.

  • UU Congregations We Have Presented At

    Since 2002 Michael and Connie have been guest speakers at Sunday services (sermons, and often the children's component as well) and/or offered evening workshops at UU fellowships and churches in:

  • Alabama - Tuscaloosa, Montgomery, Auburn, Huntsville, Birmingham
  • Arizona - Flagstaff, Green Valley, Sierra Vista, NW Tucson, Tucson, Sedona, Chandler, Phoenix, Surprise, Prescott (Granite Peak)
  • Arkansas - Little Rock, Hot Springs, Fayetteville
  • California - Anaheim, Asilomar Summer Camp, Bayside, Berkeley, Carmel, Conejo Valley, Davis, Escondido, Fremont, Fullerton, Goleta, Grass Valley, Kelseyville, Laguna Beach, Long Beach, Los Gatos, La Mesa, Mission Viejo, Modesto, Napa, Newbury Park, North Hills, Oakland, Palos Verdes Estates, Pasadena, Rancho Palos Verde, Redwood City, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, East San Diego, San Dieguito, San Jose, San Mateo, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, Santa Rosa, Santee, Stockton, Ventura, Visalia, Vista
  • Colorado - Alamosa, Boulder, Denver, Pueblo, Littleton, Colorado Springs (All Souls and High Plains), Glenwood Springs, Durango, Grand Junction, Durango, Bayfield, Golden
  • Connecticut - Hartford, W. Hartford, Danbury, Manchester, Westport, New Haven, Woodbury
  • Delaware - Mill Creek, Newark
  • Florida - Bradenton, Miami, Vero Beach, Fort Myers, Odessa, Orlando, Valparaiso, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Ft. Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Palm Beaches, Plantation, Lakeland, Greater Naples, Sarasota, Valpariso, Pensacola, Panama City, Bonita Springs, Tampa, Venice, Sun City Center, Rockledge, Citrus Springs, Summerfield, Eustice, Ormond Beach, St. Augustine
  • Georgia - Lawrenceville, Augusta, Atlanta, Hilton Head, Athens, Savannah, Statesboro, Metro Atlanta North, Gwinnet, Sandy Springs, Marietta
  • Idaho - Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Moscow
  • Illinois - Chicago (1st UU), Oak Park (Unity Temple), Evanston, Naperville, Palatine, Peoria, Rockford, Springfield
  • Indiana - Fort Wayne, Hobart, Muncie, Lafayette, Bloomington, Indianapolis
  • Iowa- Ames, Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Des Moines
  • Kansas - Lawrence, Manhattan, Salina, Topeka
  • Kentucky - Louisville, Lexington
  • Louisiana - New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lacombe, Shreveport
  • Maine - Ellsworth, Portland, Sanford, Rockland, Milford, Damariscotta, Yarmouth
  • Maryland - Columbia, Easton, Frederick, Adelphi, Lutherville, Bethesda
  • Massachusetts - Springfield, Needham, Worcester, Belmont, Northborough, Concord, North Andover, Reading, Greenfield, Littleton, Brookline, Winchester
  • Michigan - Flint, Birmingham, Lansing, Traverse City, Ann Arbor, St. Joseph's, Midland, Clark Lake, Kalamazoo, Brighton, Farmington Hills, Muskegon, Sarnia (Port Huron), Ludington, Grand Traverse, Keeweenaw, Midland
  • Minnesota - Minneapolis (1st Universalist), Minneapolis (M Servetus), St. Paul (Unity), White Bear (Mahtomedi), Duluth
  • Mississippi - Jackson
  • Missouri - Springfield, Kansas City, Ellisville, St. Louis
  • Montana - Billings, Missoula
  • Nebraska - Omaha (2nd UU), Lincoln
  • Nevada - N. Nevada (Reno)
  • New Hampshire - Franklin, Peterborough, Milford, Exeter, Tamworth, Portsmouth South, Plymouth, Manchester
  • New Jersey - East Brunswick, Hunterdon County, Englewood, Murray Grove, Ridgewood, Lincroft, Galloway County, Titusville, Summit, Montclair, Plainfield, Cherry Hill, Princeton, Paramus
  • New Mexico - Las Cruces, Albuquerque, Rio Rancho, Ghost Ranch, Los Alamos, Taos, Gallup, Santa Fe
  • New York - Rockland County, Sussex County, Long Island, White Plains, Binghamton, Orange County, Poughkeepsie, Kingston, Manhasset, Albany, Washingtonville, Canandaigua, Syracuse, Syracuse (May Memorial), NYC (All Souls), Staten Island, Briarcliff/Croton/Ossining/, Rochester, N. Westchester
  • North Carolina - Asheville, Brevard, Hendersonville, Kitty Hawk, New Bern, Greenville, Greensboro (Jamestown), Durham, Raleigh, Wilmington, Black Mountain (Swannanoa Valley), Charlotte, Morehead City, Tryon
  • North Dakota - Fargo-Morehead
  • Ohio - Cincinnati, Columbus, Kent, Cleveland (+ Westfield Twnshp), Hopedale, Dayton, Berea, Canto, Miami Valley, Marietta, Youngstown
  • Oklahoma - Tulsa, Tulsa (Hope), Ardmore (SWUUSI 2008), Stillwater, Oklahoma City, Norman
  • Oregon - Hillsboro, Newport, Portland, West Hills of Portland, Hood River, Bend, Klamath Falls, Eugene, Ashland
  • Pennsylvania - Berks County (Reading), Pittsburgh (1st UU; North Hills; South Hills, Meadville, Harrisburg
  • South Carolina - Greenville, Clemson, Beaufort, Columbia
  • Tennessee - Nashville, Greater Nashville, Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Pleasant Hill, Cordova, Memphis, Gray, Chattanooga, Murfreesboro
  • Texas - Dallas, Galveston, Houston (both), North Houston, Stafford, College Station, Denton, Austin, S. Austin, Plano, Fort Worth, San Antonio, Midland, Pasadena, The Woodlands, Huntsville, Waco
  • Utah - Salt Lake City, Springville, Cottonwood Heights, Ogden, St. George
  • Vermont - Woodstock, Burlington, Norwich
  • Virginia - Arlington, Newport News, Loudoun County, Sterling, Easton, Norfolk, Reston, Fairfax, Manassas
  • Washington - E. Wenatchee, Whidbey Island, Port Townsend, Bellingham, Kirkland, Olympia, Seattle, S. Seattle, W. Seattle, U District of Seattle, Forest Park, Bellevue, Des Moines, Yakima, Edmonds, Vancouver, Woodinville, Bainbridge Island
  • Washington D.C. - (All Souls)
  • Wisconsin - Madison (First + James Reeb), Ripon, Racine, Kenosha, Wales, Mukwonago, Milwaukee, Wausau, Appleton
  • Wyoming - Cheyenne, Laramie
  • Eastern Canada - Montreal, North Hatley, Halifax
  • Western Canada - Victoria, Naramata, Vancouver, Vancouver Island
  • NOTE: This list may be incomplete. For a complete record of where we have spoken and when, see PAST ITINERARY and ITINERARY.

            

    Click here for a list of UU BEST PRACTICES
    that Connie & Michael have come upon during
    their visits to UU churches and fellowships.




    WWW www.TheGreatStory.org

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