On the Island

It Is Time Now by Rev. Chris Jablonski

This piece is an excerpt from It Is Time Now: Offerings from the Beloved Community Project, an educational resource produced in 2019 as part of Star Island’s Beloved Community Project. The Star Island Beloved Community Project is a journey SIC has begun as an organization to create a more inclusive and intentional community, to help spread more empathy and understanding in the world, and to become a more welcoming place for all people. We recognize and affirm that many have been on this journey for a long time, and we are excited to listen and learn as we continue on this important journey.


For you.

For your community, for your family, your conference, your neighborhood.

There is always something that you can do to help aid and abet love and justice, liberation and thriving.

Sometimes I think we can get stuck because we get too attached to an idea of what a mobilized, energetic, anti-oppressive community should do.

For instance, years ago I had a friend and colleague who had just started her first ministry. She and I had worked closely together in some anti-oppression initiatives and so when we first connected, months into her work there I asked whether or not she had been looking to do any anti-racism work with them.

“Please,” she said. “First I need them to start liking one another.”

We laughed and I heard about how fractured and disconnected her community felt. Her first step there along with her leaders was to help the community connect and weave real relationships with one another.

Every community will have a different next step.

Finding the enthusiasm and openness helps. Finding positive and generative energy to build on helps.

In my most recent ministry, along with some wonderful leaders, we were discussing ways in which we could introduce some anti-racism work and activism in the congregation. Without prompting, one of my most respected and wise leaders asked if she could lead a class with her daughter, a book reflection and discussion book around racism. I joined her in the effort, and it was a wonderful class. And it was born of her passion and enthusiasm. It also happened to fit perfectly with a desired strategic priority.

Sometimes we who are blessed with the sacred task of leadership can be impatient. Sometimes we can try to force an initiative, a class, a strategy, we can push and push because we are convinced we know what is needed. But there is a next step, an organic, life giving, generative, appropriate next step. Sometimes we just might need help to see what it may be.

Seek out wise counsel. Find similar communities who have experienced successes. The work for liberation and love has been going on for a long time. Find ways in which your community has experienced similar successes and build on those.

The Beloved Community longs to be. Whatever context, whatever community you love, it longs to be healthy and thriving, liberated and free. And so the task of leadership is together to discern, in what ways might we set this community free. And then to go and do that.

On the Island

Gratitude – a Testimonial By Joyce Pickel

(edited for brevity)

Getting the official notification that Star would not be opening this year was not a surprise, but we were so sad when it arrived. I thought of all the preparations all the incoming conference chairs, registrars, and youth leaders had done, all the Star staff and incoming Pelican staff had planned for this summer, and I thought of all the disappointed conferees that had already registered. I am especially sad for my high school junior granddaughter Mandy, whose last summer as part of the youth program was not going to happen.
In this difficult, scary time, it would have been wonderful to be in the huge embrace that is Star for many of us, but this just isn’t feasible now. I keep reading that one technique for dealing with the anxiety is to make a gratitude list and so here some are the Star things I am grateful for:

  • As a 16 year old, I came to Star without my family and experienced a life changing week.
  • When I came to Star with my boyfriend a few years later, he fell in love with it too.
  • It is where we met our dearest, closest friends, who have become family to us, that same year.
  • Where in 1969 that same boyfriend proposed to me beside the chapel looking at the moon and its reflection on the water.
  • That my parents also started coming to Star and that it became their favorite place for the next 30+ years.
  • Returning as a conferee with my teenage children for their first time and experiencing all the traditions with them.
  • Introducing our first grandchild, the first of the 4th generation of our family of Shoalers to Star.
  • Becoming chairs for our conference in 1998, a rewarding and exciting honor.
  • Being Registrar for our conference for two years which not only expanded my circle of conferee friends but also introduced me to wonderful, dedicated, capable Star staff members I wouldn’t have gotten to know otherwise.
  • Making wonderful friendships, making music, sharing meals, listening, learning.
  • Watching our grandchildren enjoy and thrive at Star.
  • And, perhaps, most importantly, participating in our chapel services, both lay and clergy led, some of the most meaningful services I have been privileged to be part of, as an attendee, a singer, and twice as one of the leaders.

As I look over my list what I realize is that what I have been so lucky to have experienced over the years is friendship, fun, spiritual uplifting, love, and joy.
I am sure that all Old Shoalers can create their own Star gratitude lists and I hope they will. How lucky we have been to have had this opportunity in our lives. This is what I will remember on these difficult days and especially when August rolls around. Star.
S – T – A – R

(Thank you to Bob Levine for the photograph.)

On the Island

A message from the leaders of the Young Adults Conference

About the Young Adults Conference (YAC)

In young adulthood, we may struggle through droughts of creativity, question our spiritual direction, and realign our core concepts of self-identity. Some of us pursue degrees, others careers, and still others pursue alternative paths, all of which afford us powerful and formative experiences. Young adulthood is a transition period of great opportunity: a time to share experience; learn from one another; create and destroy; debate and reflect; laugh and cry and be your true self. YAC explores this life in transition.

YAC challenges us to speak to each other and listen and participate without judgment. Deeply tied to Unitarian Universalist Association’s core principles, YAC is dedicated to the belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all people and the empowerment of young adults to affect real change in their lives and the world. YAC plays a unique role in the Star Island community by acting as a bridge between the Star Island youth groups, the Pelican community, and the family conferences.

YAC’s mission is to cultivate deep personal and spiritual relationships while providing an experience that is a unique combination of a summer camp, an experimental community and a spiritual retreat. YAC also offers respite at Star Island where one may enjoy a quiet sunset, be lulled by the ocean, or take part in one of our group activities. You can join the softball team, jam with fellow musicians, take a yoga class, or sing your heart out at karaoke night. You can also use the week to take time to yourself, relax with a good book, and catch up with old friends. YAC invites you to experience our community and Star Island and experience self-discovery and connection.

Shoaler Voices

Star Island Calling by Rev. Wendy Bartel

This piece is an excerpt from It Is Time Now: Offerings from the Beloved Community Project, an educational resource produced in 2019 as part of Star Island’s Beloved Community Project. The Star Island Beloved Community Project is a journey SIC has begun as an organization to create a more inclusive and intentional community, to help spread more empathy and understanding in the world, and to become a more welcoming place for all people. We recognize and affirm that many have been on this journey for a long time, and we are excited to listen and learn as we continue on this important journey.


“We hold these truths to be self-evident,”
Excuse me, who, is ‘we’?
and what do you mean when you say truths…and these…?

Ministry and majesty

condoning supremacy

throughout millennia, see,

in manifest destiny

and colonizing from the redwoods

to the gulf stream

whose land can this really be?

Unlearning centuries of practices of domination
invading and making ministrations
with lots of condemnation of those who otherwise
may make an oblation to the ancestors and the Earth
and the rhythm nation,
for generations and so-called civilizations.

g and f
n            a
i                   l
s                      l
i                          i
R                             n
.                                      g

so rarely calling us
to our better selves
even as we sought a better life.

Instead, a replication
of systems of subjugation
leading to the ruination of all.
As if we had to ration
all our sources rather than set a new course for the
distribution of soul force where they are actually needed.

Our norms are not normal if they leave some out.
If our aim is to normalize honesty and integrity,
sustainability and voluntary complexity,
island or mainland multiplicity,
covenants of accountability,
let’s make explicit our agreements
so we might all get free.
The delicacy of the taste of fresh joy on our lips
dripping with beloved community.

Speaking our heart’s deepest longings,
received by ears and hearts that
inspire a sense of belonging;
packing up our sorrows, not to hide them
rather to move with and through them
for we are not only our grief
or the hard things that happen to us.

Our habit may be to weaponize
long held habits that demonize
Perhaps this changing could be part of the resistance

the persistence
and insistence
for interdependence.

Practices and rituals building resilience.
Each of our gifts used to make a difference,
that we might just choose, once and for all,
to answer Love’s call,
offer a faithful hand when we fall,
especially if we’re in it for the long haul.

It is time now that we thrive.
Let us choose to pick up the best of our hearts.

Conference Updates

We Will Come Back in 2021!

Here’s a special message from Star Island’s 2020 Conference Leaders. We will come back! Thank you to The Oshy Annas for providing the music with their first public release of their song “Northbound”.

On the Island

A Process of Beloved Community by Rev. Lynn Gardner

We gathered in a circle and spoke of our tender, brave, and painful truths, with faith in the Holy to help us find the words, and with a growing trust in one another. The rocks, the sea, the sunlight and rain, and even the gulls helped shape a container to hold the experiences of relationships and communities constricted and shredded by a culture of white supremacy.

And, rising up through our songs, tears, prayers, laughter, sharing and yearning was the sweet smell of hope, whispers of possibility, and the grounding strength of our commitments.

In process theology the Divine and all existence is always becoming. Our collective attention, actions, and thoughts impact the present, and what is possible in the next moment. Poet and professor Christina Hutchins describes how she chooses a broad vocabulary, not just because it makes current language more interesting and specific, but because she wants to expand, rather than limit, word choices in the future. Our living is a series of potential endings and beginnings, and our choices affect what will and can unfold.

Oppression constricts, silences, and destroys, not just humanity, not just all ecosystems on Earth, but the Mystery that moves in and among us.

As we gathered on that rocky island, I imagined the possibilities of God expanding. I felt connected to all those who have yearned and worked for collective liberation.

Buoyed by the inspiration and strength of our time together, I move through my small fears and self-doubt. Who am I to keep God smaller than God is possible of becoming?

The Beloved Community Project is a journey Star Island has begun as an organization, to open minds and hearts, to be deeply inclusive, and to bring more justice and peace into the world. We recognize and affirm that others have been on this journey for a long time, and we are excited to learn from them as we continue on this important journey. We hope to inspire readers to be part of our journey toward becoming a more welcoming and intentional community, and to help spread more empathy and understanding in the world.

On the Island

Island Historian Ann Beattie Returns

If you’ve ever run into Ann Beattie on Star Island, you’ll know she’s got a lot to share. Last year, Ann took up residency on Star Island as Island Historian, and we’re excited to announce that she’ll be returning for summer 2020. Here’s a look at the programming she’ll be offering this season:

Wondrous Isles: Explore four centuries of life on the nine stark and hauntingly beautiful Isles of Shoals through a series of fascinating historical images.

Infamous Isles of Shoals: Investigate the lore and legends of Shoals and determine the truth behind stories of pirates, treasure, ghosts and murder just 10 miles off the coasts of Maine and New Hampshire.

Notorious Shoals Dunfish: Discover how cod fueled the settlement of New England and go back in time to the era when the Isles of Shoals was the busiest spot in the New World.

Isles of Shoals Resorts: Find out why hundreds of people packed their trucks and spent the summer at one of the Isles of Shoals resort hotels in the 19th century and why hundreds of people continue to explore the natural beauty of the Shoals today

The Oceanic – 140 Years at Sea: Investigate the legacy of the Isles of Shoals’ grand Oceanic Hotel, one of New England’s few remaining Victorian resort hotels. Discover how flames destroyed the hotels, and learn of the ingenious effort in creating a second grand Oceanic Hotel.

Oceanic Regatta: One-hundred and fifty years ago, Gosport Harbor was filled with hundreds of sails unfurled in the wind as the Oceanic Regatta drew national attention to the Shoals. Hear about the yachts, the races, the amazing prizes and the characters that dominated the contests.

Celia Thaxter’s Salon: The Isles of Shoals have inspired writers, musicians and artists for centuries. Explore the lives and work of the famous visitors to poet Celia Thaxter’s salon and discover how they collaborated to produce some of their finest pieces.

Poetic Isles: Living on the storm-tossed Isles of Shoals inspired poet Celia Thaxter to write countless poems, some of them surprisingly relevant today. Explore Thaxter’s experiences at the Isles and discover the meaning behind her work.

Murder at the Shoals: Over 125 years ago, two women were murdered on an isolated island at the Isles of Shoals. One woman survived and the story she told scandalized the nation. Revisit the crime and decide for yourself who was really responsible for the tragic deaths on Smuttynose Island.

We hope you’ll get to hear one of Ann’s famous talks during your visit this summer. By the way, it’s time to register!

On the Island

A Whale of a Tale: 7th Annual Veterans Raffle Winner

Have you heard the news? Our 7th annual veterans raffle winner has been chosen! 32 year old Travis Moss became fascinated with Star Island from afar – all the way from Alaska, where he lives with his adorable family (see photo below). Travis was honorably discharged last year after serving eight years in the Marines and the Army and has since been working on a degree in environmental science, which involved a research project on whale migration. Reading about whales led to reading about islands in New England, and one special island in particular… Travis seems to have immediately captured the magic of Star Island, without having ever experienced it in person:

“…I had fallen in love with Star Island from a distance and began regularly following events online. I imagined myself standing there apart from the world yet somehow more deeply connected than ever. I promised myself that I would someday take my family there. I am so grateful that the Veterans’ Raffle is enabling me to take the first step in what I hope will become a continuing journey to Star.”

We’re so grateful for the dedicated service Travis has given our country, and we are thrilled with the opportunity to give him and his family the experience of a lifetime on Star Island. We hope they will experience the deep connection with nature the island offers as well as the connections with other people and themselves. And, we hope they might even catch a glimpse of a whale on the way!

On the Island

Star Island Registration Opens

Your first steps on Star Island this summer are one step closer now that registration is open. From those first moments of conversation on the boat, to workshop discussions budging into lunch — your favorite Star Island moments are a handful of months away. We invite you to register now to help those volunteers planning and leading conferences prepare for you.

Our season opens in June with opportunities for people looking to deepen their knowledge about topics like natural history and the arts. You’ll find time to learn coupled with time to connect. All the while you’ll discover, maybe for the first time or the fiftieth time, that the simplicity of the island’s time, kept by lapping waves, provides the warmth you need to recharge.

As we move further into summer our traditional family conferences blossom on the island with playful energy. Theme talks about world issues entertain the minds of those gathered in rooms like Elliott Hall, while youth groups engage with Island staff to learn about history, the environment, and sustainability. The island community comes together for intergenerational activities like softball games on the front lawn, meals in the dining hall, and chapel services.

When September arrives with its earlier setting sun, Star Island plays host to a large number of conferences with varied topics. You can find yourself learning a new yoga position, or uncovering a new historical fact about New England, or delighting in the simple pleasures of a musical performance.

No matter your connection to the island, you belong here. We have a few months to get ready, but know that your arrival is meaningful to us. Registering today helps make our community stronger because you will be part of it.

Discover for yourself what conferences to attend by visiting our program list. We look forward to seeing you on Star Island this summer.

On the Island

Star Island Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season to get all flustered by wrapping gifts and matching tissue paper to gift bags. Such a pain, right? Problem solved. ‘Tis the gift of Star Island.

This exquisitely curated gift catalog highlights the most sought after and hard to find gifts alongside classic gifts suitable for nearly anyone.

Once you’ve viewed the catalog, you can purchase your gift here.

Star Island Holiday Gift Guide

Click on the cover below to see the Star Island Gift Guide.


Purchase a Star Island Gift Certificate

There’s no need to wrap this piece of magic for the holiday season. Star Island is bursting with so much energy we’re surprised we can even contain that energy within a gift certificate. Yet contain it we have.

Need help purchasing a gift certificate? Here are some pointers:

With a Computer

  • Open your preferred web browser (even if you’re still using a dial-up connection — we don’t judge)
  • Type the following link into the address bar: https://starisland.thankyou4caring.org/star-island-corporation-gift-certificates (or copy and paste the link depending on your computer skill level). Alternatively, you may also click here and skip the next step.
  • Click enter
  • When the page loads type in the number of gift certificates you would like in the boxes next to the value(s) you would like.
  • Click on the “continue” button.
  • Enter your information into the appropriate boxes.
  • Click on the “continue” button.
  • Enter your credit card infomration into the appropriate boxes.
  • Click on the “pay now” button.
  • Wait by your mailbox until the gift certificate arrives (make sure to bring some hot coco or mulled cider with you, though).

With a Homing Pigeon

  • Acquire a homing pigeon if you do not already have one and provide it with directions to 30 Middle Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801
  • Write a note on parchment in your finest handwriting expressing your desire to procure a gift certificate. Please include the amount the gift certificate should be. Notes should be written in iambic pentameter.
  • The note should also include your credit card information including expiration date and the 3-digit number on the reverse of the card. You can alternatively write a phone number down for us to call you to receive the credit card information.
  • Place the note in the pigeon’s carrying case.
  • Set the pigeon on its course to the Star Island office.
  • Wait for the homing pigeon to return with the requested gift certificate.

Gift certifcates should be ordered by December 18 to be in the mail before Christmas.