The Fahs Fellows
Who are the Fahs Fellows?
The Fahs Research Fellows are educational entrepreneurs in the practice of religious education. Each year, they conduct research and propose innovative solutions that are relevant across the landscape of religious life. Fellows are professional religious educators, seminarians, ministers, musicians and lay people—all of whom are eager to break through the crust of conventional thought and practice. Fellows receive a stipend, attend professional conferences, and are expected to share what they learn at conferences and through social media.
Want to Learn More About Becoming a Fahs Fellow?
The Fahs Collaborative selects fellows each year to research and develop innovations in faith development.
Fahs Collaborative Director, Dr. Mark A. Hicks, describes the program and the 2014 Fahs Fellows: 
2016 Fahs Fellows
Selected out of an impressive group of religious professionals, this cohort of Fahs Research Fellows began a year-long journey into sticky-problems in faith formation that tend to befuddle liberal religious professionals. From left to right: Melissa James, director of Children and Family Ministry in San Diego, CA; David Messner, minister of our congregation in Savannah, GA; and Tracy Beck, director of Religious Education at our Des Moines, IA congregation. The Fellows will give presentations on their research at 2017 UUA General Assembly in New Orleans.
Fahs Fellows Research Project Presentations

Youth Ministry Awakenings 

Roberta Altamari

It is widely recognized that our high school youth have unique developmental needs, but how can a congregation build a program where the youth get the kind of spiritual nurturance they so desperately need.  As a seasoned director of religious education and youth advocate, Roberta Altamari’s programmatic offerings help congregations awaken their understanding of effective youth ministry as they meet the developmental needs of youth.


UU Tween Spirituality Toolkit

Tracy Beck

While creating a weeknight church event, Beck decided to create covenant groups for tweens. She sought to support their emerging faith identity with story and ritual, as well as a strong social group. She included a feedback process that centered tweens’ experiences and perspectives in her evaluation of the project. Beck adds to our understanding of this underserved demographic and offers resources to support their unique needs, for both parents and educators. Visit UU Tween Spirituality Toolkit.


Multigenerational Faith Development: Full Week Faith

Karen Bellavance-Grace

Karen sparks our creative imagination by re-visioning traditional RE programs through the lens of Faith Formation. By harnessing tools that transcend RE classes, she provides an image of how to invite families into what she calls “Full Week Faith.”  Karen is the regional staff person for the UUA, and an experienced director of religious education. 


Kinesthetic Faith Formation 

Matt Davis

How can we teach theological ideas to our children and youth?  How can we help them see the benefits our UU principles offer to their lives?  As a theater director and public school teacher, Matt creates and introduces "Divine Theater and Dance," a tool for using movement in the service of faith formation. The project includes a website that features templates for leading classes, teaching videos that model how to use the ideas in workshop and classrooms, and musical playlists to support all the above. Matt's website:


Communities of Welcome: Supporting Trans/Gender Non-Conforming Children, Youth, and Families 

Melissa James

The needs of trans/non-gender-conforming children (NGC) and their families are often seen as separate; this narrative limits our ability to support them. James developed online and in-person networks to connect families, and articulated gender-inclusivity as justice work; a powerful call for UUs. Want to learn more? GENDER-JUST FAITH: COMMUNITIES OF RESILIENCE AND WELCOME offers resources for kids, families, congregations, and communities on their own gender journeys.


Multi-Faith Cross-Cultural Engagement

Kat Liu

Kat calls upon our tradition of theological diversity, her wisdom as a scientist, and insights as a Chinese-American Unitarian Universalist to the creation of a multicultural UU liturgical calendar.  Her calendar helps us creatively reframe how we think about sacred holidays in our traditions. Kat uses the changing seasons of the year and our ties to ancestors and children as educational/worship material.  Kat is a lay person, living and working in the San Francisco.  


Mosaic Communities: Re-Imagining Religious Communities for Emerging Adults

Kevin Lowry

Kevin Lowry explores the tender years of young adult spiritual formation. As a college adviser, Kevin creates intentional communities that meet the needs of young people as they find their way in life.  The project deftly defines the landscape of these years, and offers a specific strategy, what he calls, “A Mosiac Community” as a landing pad for support, connection, and affirmation of their journey.


Innovation in Technology 

Phil Lund

As a minister and spiritual director, Phil has spent years developing insights about the use of digital media and web technology in service to faith formation.  During his fellowship, Phil piloted a web-based process for discerning matters of spiritual formation, continuing education, collegiality, and spiritual growth.  He research outlines the benefits of challenges of web-based spiritual formation.


Creative Models of Congregation-based Pilgrimage 

David Messner

Pilgrimage is an ancient spiritual practice; it retains transformative power today. In a time defined by alienation and dislocation, a shared journey opens hearts, while creating and deepening connections between travelers and to the wider world. Pilgrimage creates a “thickened context” that supports community-building, and offers new possibilities in collaborative faith development. Learn more about Messner’s pilgrimage ministry here.

Contemplative Practice and Social Engagement 

M. Jamil Scott

As an ordained Buddhist minister, Jamil introduces "Mutuality Movement” as a Unitarian Universalist meditation training for Millennial activists working for racial justice. Here, he uses his practice to help religious workers spiritually reconcile the murder and harassment of Black and brown people.  The project and the website of training resources can be found at


Living Words: Devotional Practice for Unitarian Universalists

Erica Shadowsong

Erica Shadowsong invites us to explore the benefits of daily devotionals.  By calling us back to the wisdom of ancient texts across cultural traditions, she charts a way to navigate through the noise of everyday life. As a religious educator, Erica shows us how to find both intellectual and spiritual anchors that steady us during the ebb and flow of life.


Rituals for Grieving and Death

Taryn Strauss

As a religious educator and life-long UU, Rev. Taryn has longed for ways to incorporate the wisdom of Unitarian Universalism into the seasons of life. Here, she offers ways for UUs to honor the death of a beloved person in our lives, using the six UU sources as a thematic reference.  Taryn’s work helps us learn how to mourn our people, celebrate their lives, and work out our own theological questions at the same time.  Explore her curricular ideas at