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Dan Stern prepares videos for Men's Retreat

For decades men have gathered yearly at Pilgrim Firs Camp & Conference Center to sing, worship, take in the beautiful surroundings, and share honestly with one another.  This year’s Pacific NW Conference UCC Men’s Retreat program content is being facilitated by Dan Stern, spiritual director at Richmond Beach Congregational UCC in Shoreline.

Men's retreat in a previous year. Photo courtesy of Dan Stern

Dan has spent a good bit of preparation time in recent months interviewing men—persons socialized/identifying as male—of different generations about their evolving perceptions of “manhood.”

He has been asking what advantages and disadvantages they’ve experienced, what if any pressures to behave in stereotypically masculine ways, whether they’ve had good mentors/been role models to others and what their own generation may have uniquely contributed—or yet will contribute—to the greater good.

“I occasionally wonder if I missed my calling to be a journalist,” said Dan, but I never dreamed I’d learn how to make movies.’”
Although he describes himself as “a helpless baby-boomer Luddite.” through trial and error and a labor of love, what has emerged to provoke this year’s retreat conversation is a series of edited short video clips under the rubric of “Emerging Masculinities.”

These video clips touch on sub-themes such as “Is Being Male Lonely?” “Real Awareness vs. Putting on an Act,” “Male Privilege: On Straight White Males Not Showing Up” and “Missing Mentors and& Role Models That Weren’t.”   

Dan began attending secular-setting retreats for both gay and straight pro-feminist men in the late 1970s. In April 1995, in response to the then-prevalent hierarchical evangelical “Promise Keepers” men’s movement, Dan was one of 12 UCC men who presented “The Silverlake Challenge,” which proclaimed:

“We believe that there are many ways rather than one to live as men.
“There are pervasive systems in place that have fostered violence and granted power and privilege unjustly. We confess our participation in those systems and claim actions to transform them.
“We celebrate and invite diversity—of race, sexual orientation, age, ability, and social class.
“We claim the goodness of our bodies and celebrate healthy male energy. We reclaim the inseparability of sexuality and spirituality and seek the healing of this split in men’s lives.
“We are responsible for the health of our planet and committed to live in harmony with our environment.”

“This challenge to both church and society is still relevant today," Dan said.

This year’s Men’s Retreat is on Friday to Sunday, Feb. 2 to 4, with optional additional preceding day of silence on Thursday, Feb 1.

For information, visit the events page of



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