2017 Conference Schedule

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Conference registration opens on April 1, 2017. Registration is available for the full weekend, September 22nd through September 24th, or for Saturday, September 23rd alone. Registration includes access to all scheduled events and presentations, as well as dinner on the 22nd, breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the 23rd, and breakfast and lunch on the 24th.

Attendees are responsible for reserving rooms at the Pearlstone Center, or at other nearby hotels.

Here’s a map of Pearlstone Center. All meetings are in the Main Building. 


Friday, September 22



Registration Opens — Main Lobby

Drop off Silent Auction items — Vineyard Room


Open Reception — Deck

Before I Die Wall — Orchard Room

Movement — Orchard Room

Altar Art Projects — Vineyard Room

Meditation Space — Tribes Lounge

6:00p – 7:00p

Dinner — Dining Room

Silent Auction opens — Vineyard Room

7:00p – 7:30p

Opening Ceremony, Sharon Moore — Jubilee Room

Welcome, Lee Webster — Jubilee Room

Introduction of the Board — Jubilee Room

7:30p – 9:00p

The Unbroken Circle — Jubilee Room

Panel discussion followed by open audience forum Q&A. How to advocate from an historical and spiritual perspective; how we can support these communities and how they can support us; what we can learn from their unbroken traditional funeral practices.

Featuring David Zinner, Kavod V’nichum; NoorudDean Abu Ibraheem, the Janazah Project; and Lucinda Herring, Thresholds Consulting & Ministry; facilitated by Nina Thompson. Learn more about the speakers.

Message: We are one in our advocacy for people of all faiths and walks of life


Saturday, September 23


6:30a – 7:15a

Movement — Orchard Room

With Zalene Corey

7:30a – 8:30a Breakfast — Dining Room
8:00a – 9:00a Registration Open — Main Lobby
8:45a – 9:00a

Centering, Sharon Moore

Housekeeping and Check-In, Lee Webster

9:00a – 10:15a

Everybody Can Be an Advocate: Here’s How — Jubilee Room

How to advocate for funeral laws that protect and expand families’ rights to care for their own dead; why constitutional reform is required in relation to state funeral laws.

With Renee Flaherty, Institute for Justice and Tanya Marsh, Professor of Law, Wake Forest School of Law; facilitated by Nina Thompson. Learn more about the speakers.

Message: We are personally and collectively responsible as members of this movement for ensuring the security for fundamental legal and human rights

Next Steps Q&A: What 3 things can each of us do in our own practices and communities to ensure the preservation or acquisition of laws and policies that protect our right to care for our own after death?

10:15a – 10:45a Break
10:45a – 12:00p

Building Bridges: Advocating to Hospices & Hospitals — Jubilee Room

How to work with hospices and hospitals to create understanding and write policies that meet family needs; learning how to approach institutional leaders; overcoming obstacles and finding common ground.

With Lee Webster, NHFA; Fabio Lomelino, Gilchrist Hospice; Sarah Quinn; facilitated by Nina Thompson. Learn more about the speakers.

Message: We can and must build stronger bridges and allies between agencies of end of life and after death care

Next Steps Q&A: What 3 things can we do in our own communities to build bridges with existing end-of-life organizations and agencies?

12:00p – 1:00p Lunch — Dining Room
1:00p – 2:15p

Everybody Wins: Working With Authorities — Jubilee Room

Speakers address how to work within their systems to complete family-directed home care —autopsy, body and organ donation, working with funeral directors, filing requirements and much more.

Featuring Ruth Ann Arty, MD Mortuary Board; Char Barrett, Funeral Director; Bruce Goldfarb, Maryland Office of the Medical Examiner; facilitated by Nina Thompson. Learn more about the speakers.

Message: We can and must learn more, and share it with others

Next Steps Q&A: What 3 things can each of us do in our own communities to be ready to advocate for home funeral families?

2:15p – 2:30p Break
2:30p – 4:00p

NHFA Biennial Meeting & 2 Year Progress Report — Jubilee Room

Committee sign ups; board recognitions; introduction of the new president

4:15p – 5:45p

In The Parlor Film Screening — Jubilee Room

Rejecting the mainstream tradition of hiring funeral professionals to care for the deceased, families in search of a more personal and fulfilling way to say goodbye are taking an active role in caring for relatives who have died. Both a critical look at the American relationship with death and an inquiry into the home death care movement, In The Parlor: The Final Goodbye takes viewers on a journey where very few have gone, and challenges us to reflect on this uncomfortable subject, which so often is hidden away and ignored.

With Heidi Boucher, filmmaker. Be sure to join us in the Jubilee Room at 8:45p for the Filmmakers’ Reception. Learn more about Heidi Boucher.

4:15p – 5:45p

Nature Walk — Main Lobby

2.2 Mile Loop around the grounds of the Pearlstone Center. Meet on the front porch of the Main Lobby.

6:00p – 7:00p Dinner — Dining Room
7:15p – 8:45p

Zen and the Art of Dying Film Screening — Jubilee Room

From her origins as a young mother in the UK, to her present day identity as a lesbian, activist and self-described deathwalker in the idyllic seaside town of Byron Bay, Australia, Zenith (Zen) Virago’s personal and professional experiences quietly challenge our core assumptions about life and dissolve our fears around death. The film documenting her work invites each of us to reexamine and reclaim a more active role in how we live, love, and die.

With Zenith Virago. Be sure to join us in the Jubilee Room at 8:45p for the Filmmakers’ Reception. Learn more about Zenith Virago.

7:15p – 11:00p


Open home funeral story sharing and music

8:45p – 10:00p  Filmmakers’ Reception — Jubilee Room


Sunday, September 24


6:30a – 7:15a

Movement — Orchard Room

With Zalene Corey

7:30a – 8:30a Breakfast — Dining Room
8:30a – 9:00a

Vacate Rooms

Bring all luggage to storage room off of Main Lobby.

9:00a – 10:15a

Skills Session A: Home Funeral 101 – Body Care Basics — Jubilee Room

With Claire Turnham of Only With Love and the Home Funeral Network

Skills Session B: Creating Ceremonies for Home Vigils, Funerals, & Memorials — Orchard Room

With Kateyanne Unullisi, Director, The Emerge Foundation, NHFA board Communications Director

10:15a – 10:45a Break
10:45a Silent Auction ends.
10:45a – 12:00p

Skills Session C: The Power of Home Funeral Storytelling — Jubilee Room

With Steve Waldman, author and founder of LifePosts, and Amy Cunningham, writer and funeral director, owner of Fitting Tributes Funerals

Skills Session D: How to Start a Threshold Care Group — Orchard Room

With Lee Hoyt, and Kelly Whited-Ford.

12:00p – 1:00p Lunch — Dining Room
1:00p – 2:15p

Skills Session E: Pet Home Funerals — Jubilee Room

With Jerrigrace Lyons, Minister, Death Midwife, Reiki Master, founder of Final Passages Institute for Conscious Dying, Home Funeral and Green Burial Education

Skills Session F:  Taking Care of Yourself While Helping Others — Orchard Room

With Merilynne Rush, RN, BSN, Home Funeral Guide

2:25p – 2:45p

Open Mic / Closing Ceremony — Jubilee Room

Lead by Sharon Moore.

2:45p – 3:00p Silent Auction Pickup & Pay — Vineyard Room

Need more help?

If you have general questions about the conference, please email us at: NHFA.information@gmail.com.