2017 Inspirational Keynotes


Register Now!


Monday, June 12, 2017   7:00 p.m.

Opening Celebrations with Rev. Karen Tudor

Rev Karen Tudor, ordained as a Unity minister in 1994, has been the Senior Minister of Unity of New Braunfels, Texas since 2004. Reverend Tudor has a 20 year background in healthcare and served as an associate minister with Unity of Houston, Texas for 7 years. Prior to joining Unity of New Braunfels, Rev. Karen served as a hospice chaplain and guest speaker and workshop leader throughout the state of Texas and beyond.

Karen is the current Chair of the Board for Unity Worldwide Ministries. She has devoted herself to her own personal development and spiritual growth and shares the ideas that have worked in her life with others.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017   1:30 p.m.

Keynote: Rev. Sylvia Sumter

Reverend Sylvia E. Sumter is currently the Senior Minister of Unity of Washington, DC and has served in this position since 1991. Prior to her tenure in Washington, DC, she served as the Chairperson of Communication Studies and Skills Department for the Unity School of Religious Studies, in Unity Village, Missouri.  She was licensed as a Minister in 1986 and ordained as a Unity Minister in 1987 as a graduate of the Unity School of Christianity. Reverend Sumter's academic accomplishments include: a Masters of Education, a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and an Associate of Arts in Business Administration.
She is a natural, gifted teacher who spent the early part of her career as a professional counselor in institutes of higher learning. She served as the Director of Higher Education Opportunity Program at Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, NY. Prior to that experience, she served as the Assistant Director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program at Syracuse University.

She has traveled extensively around the country conducting workshops and seminars, and has served as a guest speaker for many churches, institutions of higher learning, professional and business organizations.

Reverend Sumter is also noted for her uncanny ability to take the most fundamental teachings and principles of spirituality, and many of life's experiences to develop her messages. Her call is to inspire individuals to transform their lives through an awareness of their innate divine potential.


Tuesday, June 13, 2017  7:00pm

Keynote: Fr. Gregory Boyle

The Rev. Gregory J. Boyle, is the founder and executive director of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, the largest gang intervention, rehabilitation and re-entry program in the world.

A native Angeleno, Father Boyle entered the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) in 1972 and was ordained a Catholic priest in 1984.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English from Gonzaga University, a master’s degree in English from Loyola Marymount University, a Master of Divinity degree from the Weston School of Theology, and a Master of Sacred Theology degree from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

After theology studies, Father Boyle spent a year living and working with Christian base communities in Cochabamba, Bolivia.  Upon his return to Los Angeles in 1986, he was appointed pastor of Dolores Mission Church in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East LA. 

By 1988, having buried an ever growing number of young people killed in gang violence, Father Boyle and parish and community members sought to address the escalating problems and unmet needs of gang-involved youth by developing positive opportunities for them, including establishing an alternative school and day care program, and seeking out legitimate employment.  They called this initial effort Jobs for a Future.  “Gang violence is about a lethal absence of hope,” Father Boyle has said.  “Nobody has ever met a hopeful kid who joined a gang.”

In the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Jobs for a Future and Proyecto Pastoral, a community-organizing project begun at Dolores Mission, launched their first social enterprise business in an abandoned bakery that Hollywood producer Ray Stark helped them purchase.  They called it Homeboy Bakery. 

In the ensuing years after his return to Jobs for a Future in 1993, the success of Homeboy Bakery created the groundwork for additional social enterprise businesses, leading Jobs for a Future in 2001 to become an independent nonprofit organization, Homeboy Industries.

Today, Homeboy Industries employs and trains former gang members in a range of social enterprises, as well as provides critical services to 15,000 men and women who walk through its doors every year seeking a better life.


Thursday, June 15, 2017  9:00 a.m.

Keynote: Dr. Shariff Abdullah

Shariff Abdullah, is a consultant, speaker, author and advocate for societal transformation.   His mission is to bring currently dysfunctional systems and structures into alignment with our common human and spiritual values, to create a world that works for all living things.

Shariff consults with people and organizations on the leading edge of change, including government agencies, businesses and social service organizations. As Director of Commonway Institute, he has visited over 43 countries and over 100 distinct cultures, giving him a unique perspective on our global human and spiritual issues, and a vision which spans culture and class.  He has proven experience in working with all peoples and in many different situations, bringing harmony in conditions of actual or potential conflict and discord.

His books on leadership and societal change include the award-winning Creating a World That Works for All, and Seven Seeds for a New Society.

Shariff’s life vision and mission are simple:  we can create a world that works for all beings.  He  believes we must release the status quo and transform our dysfunctional political, economic and social/cultural systems and structures.  Shariff promotes heart-felt inclusivity, compassionate dialog, and a society based on visionary, localized and alternative economics and politics.


Friday, June 16, 2017  9:00 a.m.

Keynote: Rev. Paul Smith

Paul Smith is a mystic, author, pastor, and teacher of the Jesus Path. In his teens he founded a series of annual youth camps and college retreats that were attended by thousands of young people.  After receiving a Master’s degree in theology and biblical studies from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, he came to Broadway Church in midtown Kansas City, Missouri in 1963. In his forty-nine years there as pastor, the church experienced significant growth and on-going change, becoming nationally recognized as a pioneer in small groups, contemporary worship, team leadership, justice issues, progressive theology, and modern mysticism.

Smith has taught extensively around the country including Unity Ministerial School. He has written for publications such as Tikkun, and had numerous interviews on radio, television, and the internet.  He is a leading voice for Integral Christianity on Ken Wilber’s Integral Life website and author of Is It Okay to Call God Mother? Considering the feminine face of God and Integral Christianity—The Spirit’s Call to Evolve. His forthcoming book, Is Your God Big Enough? Close Enough? You Enough? Jesus and the Three Faces of God, will be released Sept. 1, 2017.



Related Material

Return to Unity People's Convention home page

Register for convention