August 24, 2017  |  Vol. 4 No. 34
Get Proximate
Rev. Justin Schroeder
This past June, at the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly in New Orleans, Bryan Stevenson, author of Just Mercy, and the creator of the Equal Justice Initiative, spoke to the gathered assembly.

One of Stevenson's primary points was if we want to change any kind of injustice around us, we have to "get proximate." In other words, we have to get close to the issue we're trying to address, to the people impacted, that we're trying to empower, whose voices need to be heard and lifted up. "Get proximate," he said. At First Universalist, we're learning to "get proximate," and it's happening in a variety of ways.

We're building a relationship with Masjid An-Nur, the Mosque of Light, on North Lyndale Ave, connecting with our Muslim neighbors. We've spent two years listening to and learning from our indigenous neighbors, as well, coming to understand the significance of the body of water called Mde Maka Ska, and more deeply understanding indigenous issues and concerns.

"Getting proximate," getting close to others outside of our normal circles, helps us expand our sense of who we share this metro community with and what their lives are like. It helps us reflect critically on our own lives, as well, and how we might work to create a more just community.

This week, I want to celebrate and thank two groups at First Universalist who are heeding this advice to "get proximate:" our Habitat for Humanity Team, and our Families Moving Forward Team.

Last week, dozens of church folks showed up every day to help build a house with Habitat for Humanity, getting proximate to new neighbors, a new homeowner, and to one another, sharing housing stories, making connections, and putting their faith into action. And this last Sunday, August 20, our Families Moving Forward Team helped turn the church into a home for four families, once again "getting proximate" to neighbors we are just beginning to know. We will host these families through September 3, and there are volunteer shifts still available - sign up here.

If we are open to it, these experiences (and many others), these moments of "getting proximate," can help us see that our well-being is wrapped up in the well-being of everyone. Sensing this, we strive to give life the shape of justice, as we serve immediate needs, while never losing sight of the systems and structures that must be changed as well.

This is the work of our church.

In faith,

Worship this Sunday
Sunday, Aug. 27, 10 a.m.
Backpack Blessing Sunday
Rev. Jen Crow, Lauren Wyeth
How can something so delicate and nearly weightless carry us skyward?  Feathers are our inspiration as we prepare to take flight at this Sunday's Backpack Blessing service.  In this season of returning and restarting, we affirm the boundless worth of each and every person, and encourage one another to act with courage and compassion. The multigenerational service offers children, youth, and adults of all ages the opportunity to reflect upon how we might carry the love of our church community and the tools of our faith with us wherever we go. Expect some fun and surprises!  Children and youth are invited to wear their school backpacks to church so that we can include them in the Backpack Blessing ritual.
A Look Ahead
Sunday, Sept. 3, 10 a.m.
Pastor Danny Givens, Jr., Laurie Pound-Feille

Sunday, Sept. 10, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
Water Communion Sunday
Return to two services

Recent Sermon Podcasts
August 13, 2017
"Song of My Song"
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie

August 6, 2017
"Making Honey from Failure"
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink

July 30, 2017
"Capturing the Moment"
Rev. Karen Gustafson 

July 23, 2017
"Threads of Faith"
Arif Mamdani
Newcomer Circle 
Sundays, Sept. 10, 17, 24 & Oct. 1,
1-2:30 p.m., Room 203
Are you new to First Universalist? Whether you are a recent visitor or a new member, you're invited to join a Newcomer Circle. These four-session gatherings of 6-10 newcomers offer a chance to explore core Unitarian Universalist values, reflect on our spiritual journeys, and connect with other folks who are new to church. This group is grounded in attentive listening and open-hearted reflection. Registration is required; sign up by emailing
Water Communion Sunday
Sunday, Sept. 10, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
Water is a gift. On Water Communion Sunday, we celebrate the many rivers, eddies and waterways of our life experiences. We embody this truth by bringing water from our homes, our travels, and our walks, and combine them in a ritual called Water Communion during this multigenerational service on the first Sunday of the church year. Please bring a small jar of water to the service.
Young People's (20s & 30s) Brunch 
Sunday, Sept. 10, 12:30 p.m. (offsite)
Meet and connect with other folks in their 20s and 30s at our Young People's Brunch.  On Sunday, Sept. 10 at 12:30 p.m., the group will gather at Abbie Finger's home for good food and conversation. Please bring something to share if you're able. To RSVP and get the address, email  or talk to Sandy at the Info Table in the social hall. 
"25 by 25" Workshop
Sunday, Sept. 17, 12:45 p.m., Cummins Rm
The Environmental Justice team is hosting a " 25 by 25" workshop on Sunday, Sept. 17 at  12:45 p.m. in the Cummins Room. Refreshments will be provided.  What is 25 by 25?  Governor Dayton is asking Minnesotans to set a goal of 25% water quality improvement by 2025. His has supplied packets and discussion guides so that communities can meet and set goals to accept the challenge.  The Governor wants citizens to discuss and agree upon tasks that make sense for their region. 
Sabbatical Planning 
There is a long tradition in our church and in our denomination of providing ministers with sabbatical leaves to allow uninterrupted time for reflection and renewal from the demands of serving as ministers. Although our senior and executive ministers maintain certain office hours, it is not unusual for them to be on-call continuously, including evenings, weekends, and late at night.

Rev. Schroeder and Rev. Crow each accrue one month of sabbatical leave for each year they serve us. Justin took a two-month leave in the spring of 2014. Several years ago the Board of Trustees agreed that Jen could use her one-month of sabbatical leave each year in conjunction with vacation time in the summer to enjoy time with her young family.

Justin has accrued quite a few months of sabbatical leave and had intended to take a two month leave next winter. After discussions with the ministry team, it was clear that an earlier timeframe would work better. So, Justin has decided, with the Board's approval, to take two months of leave in September and October 2017. Justin will likely take a somewhat longer sabbatical several years from now but that is only a rough proposal at this point.

These sabbaticals are part of a cycle of building strong ministries. Justin and Jen give so much of themselves to our Church and community. In turn we, with joy and gratitude, support their sabbaticals. They return rejuvenated and full of new energy. Together, we all grow.
First Universalist Stories: Drew Rosielle & Sarah Thompson

" We started coming to First Universalist for our kids, but stayed for ourselves."
Each week throughout the summer, we're featuring one or two stories submitted by members about what First Universalist means to them. Drew Rosielle and Sarah Thompson  share:

Drew Rosielle, Sarah Thompson & family
"We started coming to First Universalist for our kids, but stayed for ourselves. 

"We're non-religious humanists, and never thought we'd end up at church! However we had some friends who come to 1st U and who started telling us about the religious education programming. We weren't too sure about the term 'religious,' but we loved the idea of having a community help us raise our 2 grade school aged boys morally and ethically, so it just wasn't us talking with them about justice, love, peace, curiosity, generosity, and wonder. So we decided to give it a chance, and were really impressed, and instantly felt connected.  

"Somewhat to our surprise, we also really liked the 'adult' service. It seems silly now, but apparently we didn't know being in a group of hundreds of like-minded people, singing, meditating, talking, listening about things which really, deeply matter to us as individuals, members of this community, part of our human family, was profound, nourishing, and challenging - and so different than kvetching about politics with friends. We had been trying to live out our humanist values in a pretty isolated way, and frankly didn't really know what to do with ourselves. We also realized we carry with us tremendous grief - for our country and world, for the racism, greed, exploitation, and injustice that permeates our society. Being part of 1st Universalist is helping us express that grief (which is a huge gift to us), and also challenges us to more deliberately and effectively work in our community for true justice and peace. We are really grateful we're here.

"Oh and OWL is amazing. The whole world needs OWL."
"He has a heart of gold..." 
Submitted by Jessica Lyons, First U's Families Moving Forward volunteer coordinator

I want to tell you a story about Mike. He's 13. He towers over me, somewhere above 6 ft tall. He's funny, engaging, turning to talk to adults about his new job (they've been in Minneapolis for just over 3 weeks!) and that he's excited for school to start next week. In the next moment, he'll turn to his little sister to wipe her face or roll a ball to one of our volunteer kiddos. Mike  is a gem of a human.  

One day earlier this week, every volunteer adult that was present during dinner and evening activities came up to me to ask how old Mike is. Each of them used different words to speak about his heart. 

He's amazing. 
He's so warm and kind. 
He has a heart of gold.

At the end of the evening, after we waved good bye to the volunteers, (even our meal preparers had stayed later to play in the games) I walked him and another one of our kiddos up to bed. 

"Mike, did you get any compliments today?" I asked. 


"Well, everyone came up to me to tell me about your heart. How much they enjoyed you."

"Oh, they say that at every church," he said.

"They say it because it's true," I said. "It's a pleasure to be around you, to have a conversation with you, you make it fun."

"I just try to keep a positive attitude," he said, "because of our situation."

Mike is teaching me about resilience, and living with an open heart and it's more of a gift than I could ever hope to return in service. 

We have three additional families joining the three already staying with us for our second week (Aug. 27 - Sept. 3) of hosting Families Moving Forward, and we want to welcome them with open arms. We have a number of open volunteer slots for evening activities, and we're finding with this group that the kids from our congregation are having so much fun. 

Please go to our volunteer sign up page at and consider joining us for this last week!
New Exhibit: Woven Baskets & More by Martha Bird 
A new exhibit of work by Martha Bird, "Finding Focus: Returning to a First Love," is now on view in the social hall through October 1, 2017. 

Martha Bird's first love is basket weaving. In 1994, she enrolled in a basket class and fell in love with the materials and wove her way into activity and health, after a back injury. Her art-making has expanded over the years into a personal exploration that utilizes a variety of mediums. Her basket weaving, though, has brought her many new opportunities, including traveling to Ireland and exhibiting across the U.S. 

"Finding Focus" is an exhibit that features her work with willow from her travels and will be on display in the Social Hall at church from Aug. 15-Oct. 1, 2017. Attend an artist's reception on Sunday, Oct.1, after both services for an opportunity to meet the artist and see more of her history in basketry. Martha is a long-time member of First Universalist Church.
Donations for AFA Hope Food & Clothing Closets 
First Universalist is beginning our sixth year of partnership with Augsburg Fairview Academy (AFA), one of our six faithful action Community Partners. Young adults from diverse communities who face educational barriers to achievement in traditional schools are welcomed into AFA, a charter high school that prepares them for college, career and life. The 125+ students come from diverse backgrounds including African American, Somali, and Native American. Many are homeless or marginally housed during the school year.
The Hope Food and Clothing Closets were developed by AFA students in a class on leadership and organization development; they chose this project to meet their needs and to provide hope. First Universalist is the primary contributor to the Hope Food and Clothing Closets.
Donations needed include: 
  • School Supplies: Backpacks (in dark colors), spiral notebooks, pens and pencils, pocket folders.
  • Clothing: hoodies; t-shirts; skinny jeans for men and women; men's and women's underwear and socks; fall jackets. Clothing should be clean, teen appropriate and in good repair.
  • Food and Toiletries: Single serving microwavable meals; fruit cups; granola bars; toothpaste and toothbrushes, men's and women's deodorant, lotions, condoms, and tampons and sanitary products.   
Bring items to the Hub on Sundays or drop off during the week at the shelves labeled for AFA by the 34th Street entrance. Thank you for your generosity!
Save the Date: Circle Supper Kick-Off Potluck
Looking for a way to meet new people in our congregation?  Circle Suppers may be the answer!  The group meets at a different person's home for an evening of good conversation and good food on the first Saturday of the month from December to April. These gatherings are for adults only - singles and couples are welcome! The kick-off potluck will be at church on Saturday, Nov. 11 in the social hall. Come join us! Contact Colleen Cavell at 612-323-4486 or for more details. 
  Cycle of Life and Pastoral Care

Let Us Keep You in Our Thoughts and Prayers
If you are experiencing a crisis or transition, or celebrating a joy, please let us know. To be included in our Cycle of Life each Sunday in worship, contact Sandy DiNanni at or 612-825-1701. If you would like support, call the office at 612-825-1701 or contact any member of our Pastoral Visitors Team.
Congregational Care: Caring Corner
Write a note to a congregant who could use support! There are cards available in the library, which is located off of the Social Hall. You are welcome to stop by and write a card at any time. Just leave it in the basket and the church will mail it for you. Learn more about congregational care on our website
Planned Giving & the Heritage Circle
Please let us know  when you designate First Universalist Church as a beneficiary in your will or estate plan so we can thank you for your generous commitment and welcome you to the Heritage Circle. The church office and the Planned Giving Committee can help you. Learn more on our website.
Join Our Mailing List
Subscribe to The Weekly Liberal here
Sign up to receive our weekly Children Youth & Family Ministries news here
Church Office Hours
Sundays  8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Monday-Thursday  8:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Closed Fridays and Saturdays
Closed Monday, Sept. 4
Weekly Liberal Submissions
We encourage you to submit news!
Do you have an announcement that you'd like published in  The Weekly Liberal? Please fill out our  online submission form. Edits for length and/or content may occur.
The Weekly Liberal is compiled and edited by Communications Manager Jenn Stromberg. Past issues, publication deadlines, and policies can be found on our  website
Contact Us
First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
3400 Dupont Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
For staff contact information, please visit our Ministers and Staff page.
First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
3400 Dupont Avenue S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408


Copyright © 2017. All Rights Reserved.