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Anxious To Talk About It

January 22-24, 2019


Anxious To Talk About It

“Wait, we’re talking about what? I’m not so sure I want to do that…”

Professor and pastor Carolyn Helsel draws on her successful experiences with white congregations to offer us tools and practices to explore the anxious feelings that can come up when talking about racism. Move through the anxiety and learn to join the hard conversations with less fear, more compassion, and more knowledge of self, others and the important issues at stake. This retreat will draw on the wisdom and insight shared in her two books, “Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk About Racism” and “Preaching About Racism: A Guide for White Faith Leaders.”

All are welcome and encouraged to attend—laypersons as well as clergy!

A word to our friends who are persons of color or of non-white ethnicities/identities:

While the retreat will focus on the work that white congregations and people of faith need to do to address issues of racism, you are heartily encouraged and welcome to attend. Retreat leaders promise, though, not to expect you to speak for “all” people or to do the work that white Christians are uniquely called to do in the face of racism. Your presence, friendship, wisdom and experience will be a gift to all.

Register now, space is limited. Questions? We’re happy to help! Contact us at 1.800.460.4401 ext. 246 or

Keynote – Rev. Dr. Carolyn Browning Helsel

Assistant Professor of Homiletics

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Carolyn Browning Helsel - KeynoteCarolyn Browning Helsel joined the faculty of Austin Seminary in 2015. Prior to her appointment, she was a transitional pastor for The Presbyterian Church in Sudbury (Massachusetts). She also served as visiting professor at both the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and Wartburg Theological Seminary. She was a teaching assistant for Professors Tom Long, Teresa Fry Brown and Luke Timothy Johnson; the title of her dissertation is “The Hermeneutics of Recognition: A Ricoeurian Interpretative Framework for Whites Preaching about Racism.”

Helsel was ordained to the Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and served as associate pastor at John Calvin Presbyterian Church (2005-2007) in San Antonio, Texas. While in Boston, she served on the Synod Work Group on Race for the Synod of the Northeast and on the Committee on Preparation for Ministry for Boston Presbytery.

Carolyn Helsel is the author of “Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully About Race (Chalice Press, 2018).” Get to know more about Carolyn HERE.

Worship, Music & Song – Eric Wall

Assistant Professor of Sacred Music & Dean of the Chapel

Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Eric Wall - Music, Worship, SongAustin Presbyterian Theological Seminary called Eric Wall as assistant professor of sacred music and dean of the chapel, effective January 1, 2016. Since 1998, he has been director of music at First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, North Carolina. Prior to this position, he was director of music at the Ashville School (1994-1998). He has served as the conference center musician at Montreat Conference Center since 2011.

In his role at First Presbyterian Church, Asheville, he directed the planning of worship, lead congregational song, played the organ and directed the choirs as part of the regular worshiping life of the congregation. Wall also shared in the education of a music intern, recently helped lead them through a campaign to remodel the church’s gothic sanctuary, to renovate the church’s pipe organ and participated in the commissioning of two new hymns. At Montreat Conference Center, he is responsible for providing musical direction for summer worship, directing a choir of college-age summer staff, offering music for spring and fall adult conferences, participating in planning worship and arts conferences, being available as a resource musician for summer events and engaging in the life of the conference center as a music and worship consultant.

Wall is a frequent contributor to Call to Worship, the journal of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Theology and Worship. He regularly serves the larger church by providing music and planning leadership for a variety of conferences and gatherings and by serving as a music and worship consultant for other Presbyterian churches. He has taught at Columbia Theological Seminary and served as a music and worship consultant in various congregational settings.

He holds memberships in the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada and the American Guild of Organists (Dean of Western North Carolina Chapter, 2009 – 2011).

Cost and Housing

Single Occupancy Hotel accommodations: $350
Double Occupancy Hotel accommodations: $250
Commuter Rate: $75 (includes lunches, dinners, and tuition; excludes housing & breakfasts)


A $75.00 deposit must accompany registration. The balance of all fees will be due 45 days prior to the start of the event, or upon registration if within 45 days full payment is required at the time of registration.

Full refund minus $75.00 administrative fee per person will be made if cancellation is received more than 30 days prior to the conference. There are generally no refunds for cancellations received on or after 30 days prior to the start of the event nor any applying of the deposit toward other charges or future deposits.

Scholarships are available! Click here to learn more.

What to Bring

Bring a Bible, notebook/journal, flashlight, hair dryer, rain gear, and clothes suitable for unpredictable Texas January weather (layers are best). Linens are provided. Bring shoes suitable for Mo-Ranch’s rocky, uneven terrain.


Mo-Ranch is 90 miles one-way, or a 2-hour drive from the nearest airport (SAT), allow 3 hours travel/check-in time for departures. We recommend generally scheduling arriving flights before 3 p.m. and departing flights after 3 p.m. to be sure you do not miss any of your event.

If you are in need of shuttle service to Mo-Ranch, call Kars for Hire in Kerrville at (830) 890-8200 at least 15 days in advance to arrange transportation from San Antonio International Airport.

Click here for directions to Mo.

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