2–4 November 2018, Cologne, Germany

with Reverend Chris Hudson

This retreat has happened. Click here to read reports from the retreat. 

Whatever our political persuasion or country of residence, we are likely to see evidence that trust between groups of people is declining. With this in mind, we are pleased to announce our fall retreat speaker, a man who has devoted a great deal of his life to helping build bridges between people and broker peace, the Reverend Chris Hudson of All Souls Church in Belfast.

Unitarian Universalists, along with friends of all ages, will gather from all over Europe on Friday evening the 2nd of November for our two-day retreat, in the beautiful and easily reachable city of Cologne (Köln), Germany, to celebrate in community during our Fall 2018 Retreat. Our theme this fall is “Building Trust.”

The weekend

On offer is a weekend of learning, discussion, worship, contemplation, singing, socializing, and friendship for all ages. EUU retreats are not weekends of silent contemplation; though, we make time for that too. We gather on Friday afternoon, dine together, make new friendships and renew old ones. Members and guests take part in our in-gathering ceremony and group icebreaker, before we break for the evening and retire or stay up late and make music or mix at the bar for coffee or just relax with new friends and old. If you are a musician, bring your instrument for the informal jam sessions; professionals and amateurs are welcome!

On Saturday morning we come together for the theme talk by our invited speaker, the Reverend Chris Hudson, on “Building Trust.” After the included lunch on Saturday afternoon, (the new kitchen is highly regarded), we have the option of participating in smaller group workshops which include indoor discussions and presentations by members on relevant topics and outdoor excursions such as a city tour or a walk in the woods.

Saturday night is our Open Stage, featuring all kinds of talent shared by people of all ages. Start working on your act now or decide spontaneously to share your talent. We jokingly say that no talent is required but are frequently amazed and always entertained!

Sunday morning we hold our worship service in the main hall, followed by lunch, before saying goodbye.

Young people

Children and teenagers have their own RE (Religious Education) program. As we write this, a team consisting of several veteran EUU RE teachers, an RE teacher with extensive US RE experience, and some of our Fellowship RE leaders are working together to bring the same caliber of experience to the children as we adults enjoy. Teens will enjoy a hybrid experience where they have their own programming overlap and get to experience our speaker.

For specific information about the RE program at this retreat, click here.

Sharing your talents

How can the EUU offer so much at a low cost? We are powered by dedicated volunteers, and we invite you to offer your talents to make the weekend special. Can you lead a workshop, help with the children’s RE program, entertain us on the Open Stage, sing in the choir, play or sing along in the evening? Or in other ways? You will have an opportunity to tell us when you register.

More about OUR SPEAKER, the Reverend Chris Hudson

Originally from Dublin, Chris Hudson is known for his role in the peace process in Northern Ireland and his leadership in bringing both parties to the negotiating table.

Hudson has addressed the International Association for Religious Freedom about his work and has been the subject of a British Documentary.

He has been awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a British order of chivalry, which rewards contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organizations, and public service.

Reverend Hudson didn’t set out as a young adult to be a peacemaker. In his early working life he played in a band and was a writer, a hairdresser and an actor before settling into a career with the Irish Post Office. It was there that he became active with the Communication Workers Union, forging the skills that continue to inform his work.

He agreed to become an unofficial negotiator for Protestant paramilitaries in talks with the Irish government after establishing a close personal friendship with Unionist politician David Ervine. His involvement was key in bringing them to the table. He remains firmly committed to supporting the Protestant community to negotiate the new landscape of post-conflict Northern Ireland.

At All Souls’ during Hudson’s tenure as a minister, the previously dwindling congregation has revived itself by embracing the LGBT community and welcoming members of different faiths, nationalities and creeds. “Because we have quite an eclectic mix here, we use the term that we are a beloved community. We can disagree with each other with loving kindness.”

Given his background, it should come as no surprise that this minister doesn’t shy away from controversy. “Whether it’s abortion or euthanasia, all those things should be discussed. If we run away from them, we leave that territory to other people. We’re not afraid; our faith is firm enough,” says Hudson.

The Retreat Site

Jugendherberge Köln-Riehl     Youth Hostel Cologne-Riehl

An der Schanz 14
50735 Cologne   (click address to see map)


The hostel, which was completely modernized a few years ago, is located on the banks of the Rhine. When you are not busy with retreat activities or relaxing in the coffee bar or bar, you can take a stroll to the river. There’s plenty of on-site free parking, and the hostel is also easily accessible by U-bahn (underground train) from the main train station.


The hostel has single, double and multiple-bed rooms, all with sinks, shower and toilet. All meals are included, from dinner on Friday the 2nd through lunch on Sunday the 4th.

Registration Closed

Registration closed on September 30th.

Click here for more information, including prices in Euros for all ages and room types, and to register.

For an adult EUU member in a shared double room, the price is 215€. Retreat prices are for the entire cost of the retreat per person, including meals.

Register early to ensure that you get the type of room you want. Double and single rooms are limited. Payment must be received before the end of September.

EUU Retreat Grants

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 our treasurer, Tom Sievers treasurer@europeanuu.org, by August 31 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. Update: We are no longer accepting grant applications for the 2018 Cologne retreat.

Helping the RE Program

One way to give back to our community is to volunteer to work with the children or teens during the retreat. Whether you are a parent or not, please consider this option! Our RE Director, Cynthia Clare, is able to use some backup help. Teachers have their registration fee waived and get travel compensation as well. If you are interested, please contact: retreatcommittee@europeanuu.org.


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.


Music is a featured part of this retreat, but 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.


The retreat site is easily accessible by car, train and plane. The U-bahn line #18 stops across the street, and it is just 4 stops from the main railroad station.

For more information, click Getting to the retreat in Cologne

A Weekend Getaway or a Complete Vacation?

The retreat ends on Sunday after lunch. If you want to stay at the hostel on Sunday evening, or come a day early, you may contact the hostel directly. https://www.jugendherberge.de/en/youth-hostels/koeln-riehl-451/portrait/

Cologne has much to offer on its own, and you may want to check out the Cologne Tourist Office website for extensive information about the local attractions, restaurants, and other practical information.


Registration Closed 

We Look Forward to Seeing You!

If you have questions, contact the Retreat Committee.