First COR West Retreat for Young Professionals

August 31-September 2, 2018 - Santa cruz, CA

“Great way to connect with everyone, easy/fun ice breakers, good discussions with no pressure to share. Definitely opportunities to think deeply about one’s life.”

“The…[discussion] about faith, community, and career… was amazing. I think small group discussions like these are very healthy and beneficial to exchange and challenge thoughts and beliefs.”

“Thank you COR staff for giving me the opportunity to grow and clarify my values. Also to evaluate this to implement those values in my job and family.”


From August 31st through September 2, 2018, 37 young Unificationist professionals from varied career backgrounds, gathered together in redwoods of Ben Lomond, near Santa Cruz, CA for the first Connecting Our Roots (COR) retreat on the West Coast. COR is a grassroots program that was founded in 2015 to create an experience to meet the needs of those in the Unification community under the age of 40. It was originally created on the Northeast and has run for several years establishing the foundation to be replicated in other communities throughout the nation. This weekend marked the first retreat that was adapted by a team on the West Coast to form “COR West.” Attendees came from the Bay Area and LA regions from California, from Reno, Nevada and from as far as Pennsylvania.

The intention for the weekend was to provide an opportunity to revitalize our lives through:

  • Identity: How to grow one’s spiritual life in the business of career, family, and day-to-day routines

  • Connections: how to grow in relationships with family, friends, and co-workers

  • Legacy: how to add value to and leave a legacy in this world


The weekend was facilitated by three main speakers: Kai Schmittat, Gene Huneycutt, and Lara Voelker Shaw. They each addressed how to fulfill the three blessings in the busy life of a young professional. In discussing the three blessings, they were adapted and interpreted as: Identity, Connections, and Legacy. The facilitators led the participants in a series of self-reflective exercises and discussions designed to help each participant reflect on how to develop the three blessings in the areas of faith, community, and career. The main themes included finding and aligning with one’s “north star,” connecting to others as a global family, and determining one’s values and sphere of influence in order to leave a legacy in this world. The participants discussed challenges and best practices and had a chance to share their visions for the future and connect with one another on a deeper level.

The weekend also included moving testimonies, interactive activities, sports, and a time to relax and reflect. Components such as the Saturday evening program of small group sharing were a highlight for many.