EUU Spring Retreat 2020 in Prague
Early Bird Deadline Extended to Midnight January 27
Apr 3–5 2020
Nature and Wonder: The Emerson Legacy
Theme Speaker: the Rev. Dr. Nicole Kirk
The International Unitarian Church of Prague (IUCP) are delighted to be hosting the spring retreat in the beautiful city of Prague, Czechia — the first time that the EUU has held a retreat here.
There actually was a small UU weekend gathering (not a full EUU retreat) in Prague in 2017. Here’s an enthusiastic report from that event.
As usual, this will be a great chance to meet with old and new friends and to have the time to come together as a community for spiritual exploration. There will be the usual opportunities to attend workshops, to enjoy worship services and to reflect. Alongside that, there will certainly be time for relaxation and fun, with our usual musical evenings and social gatherings — as well as the chance to explore one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. We plan to run some guided tours of the City on Saturday. We hope that you will join us and share in the experience.
The Rev. Dr. Nicole Kirk is a Unitarian Universalist Minister and the first ‘Rev. Dr. J. Frank and Alice Schulman Chair of Unitarian Universalist History’ at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. Rev. Kirk is a historian of American religious history, and her current research focuses on American religious history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her first book, Wanamaker’s Temple: The Business of Religion in an American Department Store, was published by New York University Press in October 2018. She is a regular visitor to Prague, working closely with our Prague Unitarians (IUCP), the Czech national Unitarian Organization and the Czech Unitarian Academy.
The theme of Rev. Kirk’s talk, and the retreat, will be Nature and Wonder: The Emerson Legacy. A reverence for nature threads its way through Unitarian Universalism in our history, theology, spiritual practice, architecture, ritual and in the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson and others. In this interactive retreat, we will work together on how nature informs our theology, spiritual practice and worship today.
As part of this first EUU Retreat in Prague, the Sunday Service will be a Flower Communion Service. 2020 sees the 150th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the Czech Unitarian Church in Czechoslovakia (since 1993 the Czech Republic and Slovakia) Rev Dr Norbert Čapek, who created the Flower Communion service in 1923.
During the days of the First Republic, Čapek saw the need to create a service that would unite people who attended the Unitarian Church in Prague that would not alienate them from their mother faiths and traditions. For this reason, he developed a celebration of the universal beauty of nature by having a communion of flowers instead of the Eucharist. The Flower Communion service fits beautifully with the theme of our retreat, and, don’t worry, you don’t need to bring flowers with you, as the IUCP (Prague Unitarians) will be providing flowers for everyone attending.
The ritual was brought to the United States in 1940 by the Rev. Maja Čapek, Norbert’s wife, and was widely adopted by the American Unitarian and Unitarian Universalist congregations.
As usual we will be running a theme-related RE program for children and teens, and we will provide a baby-sitting service if you request it at registration.
While the Czech Republic doesn’t have the great youth hostels we regularly use in France and Germany, we have found a comfortable hotel and conference center near the core of beautiful Prague. The retreat will be held in the Congress & Wellness Hotel Olšanka, Táboritská 23/1000, Prague 3, 13000 — www.hotelolsanka.cz. The hotel is located in the very center of Prague, in the district called Žižkov, from where you can get into the historical heart of Prague in just 9 minutes with excellent links on the tram from just outside the hotel. The hotel is on several tram routes: 1, 2, 5, 9, 13, 15, and 26.
It is very easy to get between the airport and the Hotel via the Airport Bus, which drops you at its final stop where you can catch a Tram 26 which goes directly to the Tram Stop immediately outside the hotel:
Tram Stop ‘Olšanské náměstí.’
The Retreat Committee will have members at both the Airport and the Tram Stops to direct you to the hotel.
The hotel is only a 10 to 12 minute Tram journey to Prague’s famous Old Town by Tram.
It is a large hotel which can host over 600 guests, so we won’t have it to ourselves. However, the Conference facilities we will be using for the retreat will be ours alone, and we will have our own bar in the evenings. We will also have a private breakfast room. Lunch will be provided in the hotel dining room (though few guests use it), and the evening meal will only be offered to people at the retreat.
The hotel also has a sauna, swimming pool and gym facilities which guests can pay a small charge to use.
The hotel has agreed to offer extra nights at the same price – €50 per night for a single room, €64 per night for a double and €92 for a family room for 4. These will be dependent on availability and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Unfortunately we have to book these directly with the hotel, so if you want to stay extra nights, you need to let Simon or Mark know directly, and they will confirm the registration with the hotel. Payment can be made at the hotel on arrival.
Unfortunately Prague is not the most ‘disabled friendly’ city, and the hotel accommodation is not wheelchair friendly. All rooms are accessible by lift, and there are public disabled toilets on the ground and second floors, but there are no wheelchair accessible rooms.
Information on more accessible and wheelchair friendly hotels can be found here: https://wheelchairtravel.org/prague/hotels/. This website also provides information on accessibility of public transport and other services.
There is an option to eat lunch and dinner at the retreat site, even if you are staying in another hotel.
The retreat will be held in the conference center which is more accessible, with lift and stair access, and meeting rooms are all on the same floor. The main congress room is split over three levels, though, with the middle level having step free access from the other meeting rooms.
If you have any questions about accessibility, please contact the retreat committee: firstname.lastname@example.org
For an adult EUU member in a shared double room, the price is 260€. Retreat prices are for the entire cost of the retreat per person, including meals.
Early bird registration and payment (20€ discount) deadline: Early Bird Deadline Extended to Midnight January 27
Standard registration and payment deadline: February 23.
February 24–29: waiting list for people who fail to register or pay by February 23.
EUU Retreat Grants – Application Deadline January 24
We try to keep prices for our retreats within reach of most people, but we understand that some people still may not be able to pay the full cost. That is why EUU has a grant fund.
When you register, please consider adding a little extra for the grant fund.
To apply for a grant, write to email@example.com by January 24 at the latest (earlier is better); we help as many EUU members as we can. All requests are treated confidentially. We understand that there are many reasons you may need some help to attend – please don’t be shy.
Saturday afternoon activities center around workshops led by volunteers attending the retreat. Can you offer a 1 to 1.5 hour workshop? Is there some topic related to the theme talk that you would like to discuss or explore with others? Do you want to bring an instrument or your voice and get together to make music? Workshop topics and formats are always diverse; past workshops have involved activities like dancing, art, writing, yoga, wine and beer tasting, walks to explore local sights, as well as discussion on a myriad of topics. Send us your proposal when you register, and we’ll contact you in advance to confirm and make sure you are supported by the facility.
EUU retreats always offer a variety of musical opportunities, for both performance and listening, over the course of the weekend. Bring your instrument and/or your voice and join in the EUU Choir, instrumental music for the Sunday Service, the Saturday Open Stage, or the late-night singing and playing sessions.
Plane The quickest way to get to Prague is by plane, going to the Vaclav Havel International Airport. Many budget airlines, such as EasyJet, offer reasonably priced flights if you book in advance. A taxi from the airport to the hotel will cost about €25 and take about 30 minutes. However, for about €1.50 you can get the airport bus from directly outside the terminal and then change on to a tram directly to the hotel. This option takes about 45 minutes.
Train Rail services operate across Europe to Praha hl n.. the main station. The station is about a 20 minute walk from the hotel or a 5 minute tram ride (3 stops).
Car Parking in Prague is very expensive, and the hotel only has very limited parking space, which can’t be reserved. For those driving in, it may be easiest to use the Park and Ride services which can be found at most of the stations at the ends of the metro line. These are secure parking sites which only cost about €5 per day.
We will be very happy to help with any of your travel inquiries.
We look forward to welcoming you to Prague.
The Retreat Committee
To register, click here.