December 14, 2017  |  Vol. 4 No. 50
Holiday Giving Celebration is This Sunday!
After you make your gift this Sunday, we invite you to add a piece of "food" to the Holiday Giving table display in the Social Hall! 
This Sunday, Dec. 17, our worship services will feature the ritual gathering in of our gifts for Marnita's Table. Marnita's Table is a local nonprofit that partners with neighborhood groups, government agencies, schools, and faith communities to bridge gaps across differences. They do this by hosting "tables" where guests gather to share food and engage in a process of deep conversation called Intentional Social Interaction (IZI). Our collective gift will enable them to work with under-resourced communities to expand the experience of radical hospitality and help build a society where all are welcome and all have a voice in critical decision-making processes.

Four years ago, Rev. Jen Crow introduced the biennial Holiday Giving project as a way to reimagine gift-giving and re-engage with the season's true meaning. The idea is simple: intentionally reduce your holiday spending and redirect your generosity to an organization that aligns with our church's vision. In 2013 we gave a substantial gift to Habitat for Humanity, and in 2015 we supported the Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative. Likened to "the shared offering on steroids," the Holiday Giving project strengthens our church's partnership with organizations that reflect our commitment to working for racial equity. We have been fortunate to have staff members of Marnita's Table, including co-founder Marnita Schroedl, join us at church the past few Sundays. Many congregants who have previously participated in tables or who have gotten to know the staff have come away deeply impressed by their knowledge and dedication. In addition to raising funds for them, we anticipate collaborating with Marnita's Table on other activities in the coming year.

If you can't be with us on Sunday, you may contribute by online payment or by check (payable to "First Universalist Church" with "Holiday Giving" on the memo line).  

Thank you!

Justin, Jen, and the Holiday Giving Team

December Worship Theme: Hope
Worship this Sunday
Sunday, Dec. 17, 9:30 & 11:15  a.m.
Sharing Sunday
Choir-led Worship:
"A New Work is Come"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Twice a year, the First Universalist Choir and Orchestra lead us in worship. This Sunday, they'll be performing four movements from William Mathias'  Ave Rex. The service will also include a ritual gathering of gifts for our holiday giving project, which you can learn more about  hereWhen asked why he chose Ave Rex, Director of Choral Arts Randy Buikema replied: "I wanted to push against 'mall' music."  Anyone who has heard Ave Rex will attest that it is music that celebrates Christmas with attitude.  Please join us for a powerful service of music, poetry, and telling the radical story of Christmas!
A Look Ahead
Upcoming Sunday Services
Sunday, Dec. 24, 
10 a.m. (one service only)
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
Christmas Eve morning worship
No Religious Education or childcare.
Sunday, Dec. 31, 
10 a.m. (one service only)
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Singing Sunday, Multigenerational Worship

Schedule of Holiday Services
Sundays, Dec. 17 & 24, 4 p.m. each day
Christmas Pageants
Thursday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. ritual
Winter Solstice Celebration
Sunday, Dec. 24, 9:30 p.m.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Recent Sermon Podcasts
December 10, 2017
"Stubborn Hope"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Listen to the podcast
December 3, 2017
"Hope Against Hope"
Rev. Jen Crow
November 26, 2017
"Is There Enough?"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
December Worship Theme: Hope
Barbara Kingsolver writes, "The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what to hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof." Some of us struggle to find hope. Some of us take hope for granted. Hope is what sends a student to school, an addict to a 12-step program, an activist out into the street. Theologian Julie Neraas writes, "While hope is a strengthening force, it also lays a person open to the vulnerabilities of love, desire, expectation, disappointment, loss." This month we wrestle with hope, what to hope for, with all its complexity, and how to live under its roof.
Christmas Pageants
Sundays, Dec. 17 & 24, 4 p.m.
Our annual Christmas Pageant is a beautiful telling of an ancient story. It is a tale of hope and hospitality, a reminder that every child is born a redeemer, a story that speaks to us all of what it means to be a seeker, a star, a wise one, a wanderer. The Pageant is held twice; on Sunday, Dec. 17 and Sunday, Dec. 24 at 4 p.m. each day.  There will be a  cookies and cocoa reception  immediately following the Dec. 17 pageant. O ptional drop-in childcare for ages 6 months to 3 years is available during the Dec. 17 pageant only. No childcare available on Dec. 24.
Daytime Connections
Thursday, Dec. 21, 11 a.m. (lunch at 1 p.m.)
Whatever your passion, First U has a way to live into it. Come and hear from Congregational Care, Environmental Justice, Beacon Housing, and Sanctuary/Resistance about how we live our values. Panelists will share stories about how being a part of their group has enriched their lives. W e will also have a White Elephant exchange. Bring a wrapped treasure to swap, and see what the elves have in store for you! Participation is voluntary, but promises to be good fun.
  Register by Dec. 17 with Sandy at 612-825-1701 or . $5-10 suggested lunch donation. 
Winter Solstice Celebration:  "Community ... Come Unity; We Have Light to Share"
Thursday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. (7 p.m. doors)
Gather with us as we celebrate the longest night of the year and rejoice in the returning of the sun.  There will be an Open Labyrinth Walk in the Social Hall beginning at 5:30 p.m., with the last walk beginning at 6:30 p.m.  The ritual celebration includes chants, solstice heritage and wisdom, a call to the directions, music, and celebrating the return of, and sharing of, light.  Children are welcome, but be aware that we will spend 12 minutes in complete darkness.  Following the ritual, join the merriment in the social hall with spiral dancing and light refreshments.  Childcare is available by advance request only; submit the childcare request form no later than Thursday, Dec. 14.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Sunday, Dec. 24, 9:30 p.m.
The Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at First Universalist is a time of mindfulness, meaning making and music. This service is a weaving of scripture readings, poems, musical offerings, silence, and lighting our hearts and spirit with the candlelight and hope.
Augsburg Fairview Academy Students and Staff Share Their Gratitude for Our Support
Thank you for your generous support of Augsburg Fairview Academy (AFA) on Sunday, Nov. 19. AFA is a public charter high school offering a welcoming and supportive environment for students who have faced educational, economic, and racial barriers to achieve in the past. AFA is one of our six Faithful Action Community Partners; this is our 6th year for partnership with AFA. Our offerings are used to support the Hope Food and Clothing Closets at AFA, and funds permitting, other projects like field trips. With gratitude, AFA staff and students made the following slideshow which tells about the school, its students and what our contributions mean to them. View the slideshow here.
"I don't have food at home, but I can get some before I leave school from the Hope Closet."
- AFA student
First Universalist is the primary support for the Hope and Food Closets; donations are needed throughout the school year.

Donations for Hope Clothing Closet: men's and women's winter jackets (black or dark colors preferred, size M, L, X-L); winter hats, scarves, and gloves; hoodies; jeans for men and women; men's and women's underwear and socks. Clothing should be clean, teen appropriate, and in good repair. 
Donations for Hope Food Closet: single serving microwavable soups, mac & cheese, stews; fruit cups (mandarins are favorite); granola bars; trail mix; nuts. Toiletries: toothpaste and toothbrushes; men's and women's deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner; lotions; chapstick; condoms; sanitary products. Ethnic hair products highly desired. 

Bring items to the information desk in the social hall on Sundays or leave them on the shelves labeled AFA by 34th St. entrance.
Holiday Stress: Mental Health Connect
Many of us approach the holiday season with anticipation of celebrations and renewed connections. This often includes a level of stress in preparing for an exhaustive pace, and some anxiety regarding expectations of the season. Here are some suggestions that could assist with self care and stress reduction, and hopefully enhance your experience.
  • Prioritize activities. Be willing to protect your schedule. Decide as a family/partner which activities you may add or eliminate.
  • Discuss how your family and personal traditions developed. Talk with those with whom you share traditions about the meaningfulness of these experiences. Be willing to evaluate.
  • Prepare for family and friend gatherings with realistic expectations. Relationships aren't likely to be transformed due to holiday atmospheres. Determine the amount of time you are comfortable devoting to a gathering, and plan when to arrive and depart.
  • If gift-giving is part of your tradition, predetermine limits of gift-giving. Decide with spouse/partner/family a budget for the season and support that decision. Simplify gift-giving and consider non-material gifts of time, support, and activities to share.
  • Self-care strategies to replenish are helpful to everyone. Monitor sleeping, nutrition, exercise, and be sure to schedule some quiet time!
First Universalist is now part of Bethlehem Lutheran's Mental Health Connect (MHC) program, which assists individuals and families in accessing and navigating mental health services. Each member church has Ambassadors dedicated to spreading awareness of the MHC program, starting conversations about mental health, bringing events and resources to the community, and more.
We are happy to continue our "Make It OK" initiative to de-stigmatize mental health conditions and to encourage us all to talk more openly about mental illness. Since the holiday season can be a difficult time for many of us, The Mental Health Collaborative kindly shared the above article with some helpful ideas we can use to reduce stress for our friends, family members and ourselves.
First Universalist Receives "Outstanding
Community Service Award" from EMERGE
First Universalist Church has been awarded EMERGE's 2017 "Outstanding Community Service Award: Organizational Partner" for our special service and contributions that allowed EMERGE to fulfill its mission and increase its community impact.

EMERGE became a partner organization in the inaugural year of our church's Faithful Action program. In fall 2015, our church began providing volunteers on the North side and in the Somali community for mock interviews, hiring fairs, resume workshops, and tax preparation.  

On several occasions over the past three years, EMERGE has partnered with us to provide van and bus tours so church congregants could understand our shared history, and how we as a church could better support the community of North Minneapolis.

During the past two years in our partnership with EMERGE, one of our church's most noteworthy volunteer contributions has been as tax preparers at their annual free tax clinic. Our assistance in 2017 with 6 preparers, accounted for an estimated refund of $180,000 to residents in North Minneapolis.

For three years, a First Universalist Foundation grant has supported EMERGE's "North 4 Project" which creates pathways of success for some of the most difficult-to-serve 16 to 21 old young men who have been involved with the juvenile justice system, are either delayed or have dropped out of school, and self-report gang/clique affiliation.  

The challenge of filling unique, and specialized volunteer opportunities at EMERGE highlighted a need to find a better way to link our volunteer needs with individual church congregant passions, skills, and availability. Our church database is now helping EMERGE fill volunteer needs from volunteer profile matches on multiple positions such as Elementary and Adult GED tutoring.  For more information on volunteer opportunities at EMERGE, contact Hal Schroer at
Newcomer Circles in January
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. As with all of our Circles, this group is grounded in attentive listening and open-hearted reflection.

Join us for our upcoming 4-session Newcomer Circles:
Wednesdays, Jan. 3, 10 ,17, 24 from 7-8:30 p.m. 
or T uesdays, Jan. 9, 16, 23 & 30, 7-8:30 p.m.

Registration is required; you can sign up at the Information table in the social hall, or by emailing We look forward to meeting you!
Thanks to Visual Arts for the Holiday Decor!
Photo by Janet Mills.
Thanks go to the Visual Arts Committee for creating this year's holiday decorations! Twenty-one committee members, led by holiday chairs Meredith Sims, Janet Mills and Pamela Balabuszko-Reay, spent time stringing and hanging stars, hanging fabric and gold net, decorating wreaths, and creating arrangements throughout the church. Some individuals also helped committee member Lena Vdakes with visuals for our Holiday Giving project, the recipient of which is Marnita's Table. Our church is now beautifully transformed for the congregation to enjoy this holiday season!  
Habitat for Humanity: Winter Work Days
First Universalist has three Habitat for Humanity work days coming up in early 2018, and we'd love to have you on the crew! The dates are Thursdays, Jan. 11Feb. 8 and March 8

Volunteers must be over sixteen years of age, and sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult. The work day is  from 8:15 a.m. until 4 p.m. , and lunch will be provided. 

Worried that you don't know much about building and using tools? No worries! Your fellow volunteers and the Habitat site supervisor are there to help you. 
Pastoral Visitor Application Deadline this Saturday
Are you someone who enjoys meeting members of our community, one on one, getting to know them, being able to offer support to shut-ins and to those with other physical and spiritual needs? If you are, please consider  joining the Pastoral Visitors Team under the direction of the Rev. Ruth MacKenzie. To do so, fill out an application here.

The team meets in the evening on the third Monday of each month for support and training.  Deadline for new applications is Saturday, Dec. 16, and all the Pastoral Visitors will have an extended training session in January.  
Plan Ahead for Year End Contributions
Calendar year 2017 is quickly coming to an end. If you would like to make a financial gift prior to the end of the year, donations must be transferred, postmarked, made online at My First U or dropped off at the church office no later than Sunday, Dec. 31. Please be aware that the church office will be closed starting Friday, Dec. 22 but contributions can be dropped off with a staff member at the information desk in the social hall before or after holiday services. 
If you have questions, contact Andrea Love at the church office by phone at 612-825-1701 ext. 100 or send an email to .
Thank you to all for your ongoing support and generosity to First Universalist Church. 
Holiday Office Hours & New Office Hours in 2018
The church office will be closed from  Friday, Dec. 22  through  Monday, Jan. 1.  When the office reopens in the new year, we will have slightly different hours. The new office hours for 2018 are as follows:
10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Mondays
8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. Tuesdays
10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Wednesdays
10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Thursdays
Closed Fridays and Saturdays
8 a.m. - 1 p.m. Sundays
December Board Meeting
The December meeting of the Board of Trustees will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 14. Board meeting materials for this month's meeting can be found here. Board meeting materials are archived on our website and can be accessed here.
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.
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Church Office Hours
Sundays  8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Monday-Thursday  8:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Closed Fridays and Saturdays
Closed Dec. 22 - Jan. 1
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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


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