Star Gathering 1 Family 2024

July 28 - August 4

The Wilderness Word: Finding our stories today in the ancient wilderness tales of the Bible

The Rev. Bert Marshall and Rev. Donna Schaper will help us explore faith-based ways to approach the wilderness we encounter in our own lives through the stories of biblical people who knew the wilderness intimately for themselves including Jacob, Moses, Ruth and Naomi, and Jesus.

Bert and Donna collaborate on worship and program to help us understand from what wilderness the biblical stories came from, how they were transmitted orally and in writing, and what difference that makes. How does recovering the sound of biblical stories from silent written texts change the way we interpret them? How do we speak a biblical text aloud and what decisions do we have to make in doing so?

Our gatherings will include introductory talks, interactive storytelling, creative reading by participants, group telling of some familiar biblical stories, searching for music in the text, scripting a gospel story for an ensemble performance, finding examples of humor in the stories, and opportunities for discussion, feedback, and FUN. Participants are asked to bring open minds and spirits, a willingness to step into unfamiliar territory in biblical interpretation, and a desire to learn some new skills in presenting our sacred texts in worship and wherever else in the world they might be needed.

Theme Speaker

Rev. Bert Marshall is an ordained pastor in the United Church of Christ, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, a musician, recording artist, and storyteller. He is a Nebraska native and an inducted member of the Nebraska Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame. He has driven 18-wheelers, worked with troubled youth in New York City, was New England Director for Church World Service, and has served several churches as pastor and teacher, in both settled and interim capacities. Since 2003 he has done storytelling performances of the entire Gospel of Mark from memory, all over the country. His music CDs are available at the usual music outlets. He lives in Plainfield, Massachusetts.

Minister of the Week

Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper is 50 years ordained in 2023 and now works as a bridge pastor and consultant with Bricks and Mortals. She is currently Interim Minister at Little Compton, Rhode Island. In the former work, she repurposes religious buildings to “live to pray another day another way.” She has written 39 books, most recently REMOVETHEPEWS.COM and I HEART YOU FRANCIS: LOVE LETTERS FROM A RELUCTANT ADMIRER, She has been Minister of the week several times before for UCC 1 and UCC 2. A mother of three and grandmother of six, she is passionate about preparing the next generations for all that they will face, love and experience

Program Fee

$160 per adult (age 12+)

$100 per child (age 0-11)

Room & Board

The rates below are per person for the full length of the conference.

Adults (18+) 

Standard Shared: $1,222 | Standard Single: $1,662

Motel Shared: $1,504 | Motel Single: $2,207 


Under 6: Free | 6-11 years: $565 | 12-17 years: $809 

Boat Schedule

Departure from Portsmouth July 28th 2:20 PM  

Departure from Star Island August 4th 8:50 AM  


If you have questions, please contact either the conference chairs, Shannon Lestan at or the registrar at