Tending the Fire

Three Retreats. One Goal: A More Effective You!

Current Series (Series III)
November 10-12 (2020), January 12-14 (2021), March 9-11 (2021)

Registration is now closed!   
Please contact Heather Ramsey-Mabrouk for information.


What is Tending the Fire?

Tending the Fire is a Retreat Series focused on understanding church & organizations through the lens of Systems Theory. Human systems are complicated and churches are no exception.  At their best, they draw out excellence in their people.  At their worst, they become stuck--undermining and sabotaging even the most well-designed plans for change.  Tending the Fire helps clergy "think systems" in their congregations and their personal lives, so they can lead change that lasts.

Why participate?

Clergy who attend this retreat series become better leaders: less worried, more engaged, and renewed in their call to ministry.  They are better equipped to be able to:

  • Understand anxiety's effect on churches and individuals
  • Be a healthy, non-anxious leader
  • Manage complicated emotional relationships
  • Avoid overwork and “underwork”
  • Recognize and handle sabotage
  • Discover the “next right steps” for their churches and themselves.

Watch the Video


For more information, visit www.tending-the-fire.com or email barblemmel@mac.com.


Program Format 

Tending the Fire is a three part program. Each retreat begins at 1:00pm on Tuesday and ends on Thursday at 4:00pm. Participants must attend all three retreats in their entirety.

Opening Intensive

Nov. 10-12, 2020


The Opening Intensive explores Family Systems Theory as it applies to congregations and families. In particular, it looks at the effects of anxiety on individuals and institutions.


Deepening Retreat

January 12-14, 2021 


The Deepening Retreat reveals how to maintain one’s self in an anxious system, and offers tools for healthy leadership. Participants share case studies from their ministry settings.


Sending Retreat

March 9-11, 2021

Online or at Silver Lake Conference Center, Sharon, CT

The Sending Retreat emphasizes managing sabotage and creating collegial support. Participants share case studies and focus on their call and vision for ministry.

The on-site lodging option is dorm style with double or triple occupancy rooms or retreat house style depending on facility availability. More info about the lodging facilities can be found here


Director/Retreat Leader

Rev. Barbara Lemmel is an ordained elder in the New England Conference of the UMC. She has served congregations in Vermont and upstate New York, facilitated conference re-structuring, and offers programming and spiritual guidance to churches and pastors.  Barbara studied Family Systems Theory with the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center in Chicago and the Center for Pastoral Effectiveness in New Orleans. In 2003, she and Rev. Alan Delamater established Tending the Fire, a clergy leadership development process.  Barbara continues to lead Tending the Fire retreats for clergy, laity and judicatory leadership in multiple denominations. She also offers one-on-one leadership coaching and coordinates the Parish Consultants of the New England Conference UMC.


Program Costs

Cost per person (UCC clergy, ECLA and Western Diocese Episcopal Clerygy) for the three part retreat is $600.00.  A deposit of $200.00 is required at the time of registration, which can be paid online or mailed. Payment in full is due before the final session.  Checks should be mailed to the attention of Cindy Bolton, payable to  SNEUCC, 1 Badger Road, Framingham, MA  01702.