December 7, 2017  |  Vol. 4 No. 49
Holiday Giving with Intention and Thoughtfulness
A note from our Holiday Giving Team & Rev. Justin:

Holiday Giving Team members Jacoby Daniels, Sue Searing, and Lukas Udstuen
(not pictured: Lena Vdakes)

We invite everyone, young and old, to celebrate the holiday season as we deepen our church's commitment to racial equity and community building. Your generous contribution to the Holiday Giving project will support Marnita's Table, a nonprofit organization that partners with neighborhood groups, government agencies, schools, and faith communities to bridge gaps across differences.  

On December 17 our worship services will feature the ritual gathering in of our gifts. If you can't be with us on the 17th, you may contribute by online payment, by check (payable to "First Universalist Church" with "Holiday Giving" on the memo line), or by dropping a donation into the jar in the social hall after services. 

Many of you heard Marnita Schroedl at services on November 26, when Rev. Justin Schroeder shared his sermon time with her (listen to the podcast). Describing her personal journey and the principles that drive the organization, Marnita gave examples of Intentional Social Interaction (IZI) that led directly to policy changes with practical outcomes. In response to Justin's provocative questions, including "What is love's vision for this world?" she talked about Marnita's Table's mission to make IZI the new pattern for society. She envisioned a society where people of color, the disenfranchised, the poor, the unheard, the fragile, the LGBTQ+, the traditionally unheard and excluded are all actively and intentionally included and valued at the policy-making and resource-sharing table. She explained how the tools and techniques that Marnita's Table has developed and tested are already moving us toward that future.

Many listeners were exhilarated by Marnita's vision. The Holiday Giving Team also heard feedback from a few church members that her remarks seemed to dismiss or shame other approaches to social change, particularly active forms of resistance and protest. We are grateful for this feedback and asked Marnita to clarify her comments. She responded, "We know that direct action is critical to the success of moving forward into a more just future," and confirmed her support for active means of protest.  

"To engage in direct action or not does not feel like something that is optional for me and my [mostly POC] staff," Marnita told us. "It has been a matter of survival literally since our births. But we envision a future in which our voices and inherent humanity are valued and included without having to risk our lives." Marnita's Table is intently focused on decreasing disparities and increasing equality by practicing and promoting Intentional Social Interaction. As they carry on this important work, Marnita and her colleagues acknowledge that only when many dedicated people work in myriad ways to inspire widespread social change will we achieve a just society that welcomes everyone to the table.  

Want to learn more? Representatives of Marnita's Table will be available in the social hall after the December 10 worship services. In addition, you'll find information about the Holiday Giving project on the church website. We've just posted brief recordings by three Holiday Giving team members, each offering a unique perspective (scroll down to find the audio links by each of their photos). If you have questions or want to help out, please contact us at

In faith,

The Holiday Giving Team
Sue Searing, Lukas Udstuen, Jacoby Daniels, and Lena Vdakes

Rev. Justin Schroeder
Calling All Ages to Make a Holiday Gift
The selection committee chose Marnita's Table as our Holiday Giving recipient in part because it successfully engages young people as well as adults in conversations that lead to powerful, difference-spanning, interpersonal connections. Our Religious Education program is actively participating in the project. Last Sunday, Marnita Schroedl spoke to children in RE grades 2 to 5, while Lauren Williams, the organization's communications coordinator, met with the 6th graders. Marnita also visited with our senior high students, and both she and Lauren fielded many questions from enthusiastic youth in the social hall after services. Marnita's Table's vision of radical hospitality resonates for young people whose views are often overlooked or excluded by decision-makers. 
"What makes you feel welcome?"
The children are also supporting the Holiday Giving project in creative, tangible ways. Some are making cards which can be given to family members and friends to let them know that a donation has been made in their name in lieu of a present. Others are decorating placemats for Marnita's Table to use at their events. The youngsters are also helping with the wall-sized display in the social hall that will chart our generosity. Created with the assistance of the Visual Arts Team, the display depicts empty tables and chairs. The chairs will gradually fill up with representations of people to symbolize the value of our gifts, and the tables will be covered with images of tasty, healthy food. When you make a contribution to the Holiday Giving fund, please choose a colorful paper food item, write on it your answer to, "What makes you feel welcome?," and place it on the wall.
Parents and caregivers can magnify the impact of the RE lessons by encouraging everyone to reduce seasonal expenses. Discuss and create a plan that will work for your family. Ideas include: setting dollar limits; limiting the number of gifts; making homemade gifts; re-gifting unused items; giving time or services to each other instead of material objects. As Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli wrote in their 1982 classic, Unplug the Christmas Machine, "at Christmas people want to reach down inside themselves and come up with feelings that are better, bigger, more joyful, more loving, and more lasting that their everyday ones." Keeping this in mind, we invite you to explore your holiday expectations with those closest to you and to re-claim the spiritual meaning of the season, while helping Marnita's Table extend its reach to communities that hunger for connection.  

Again, learn more in the Social Hall after services on Sunday, Dec. 10, and on our website!

December Worship Theme: Hope
Worship this Sunday
Sunday, Dec. 10, 9:30 & 11:15  a.m.
"Stubborn Hope"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
As Rev. Jen preached last Sunday, there's a fine line between hope and despair. Sometimes the world seems hopeless and change impossible. Hope feels like a cruel joke. Despair seems to move through every fiber of our being. But what if, as Emily Dickinson writes, "Hope is the thing with feathers - That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all." What if hope is this stubborn? What if, unbeknownst to us, and regardless of circumstances, hope is singing away in the deepest parts of our souls?
A Look Ahead
Sunday, Dec. 17, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Choir-led worship: First Universalist Choir & Orchestra perform "Ave Rex"

Recent Sermon Podcasts
December 3, 2017
"Hope Against Hope"
Rev. Jen Crow

November 26, 2017
"Is There Enough?"
Rev. Justin Schroeder

November 19, 2017
"Inscribed on Your Heart"
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie

November 12, 2017
"An Honest Look"
Rev. Jen Crow
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.
Open Labyrinth Walk
Thursday, Dec. 14, 6:30-8 p.m.
Did you know that there is a labyrinth in our social hall? Each month from September through May, we offer an Open Labyrinth Walk from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on the second Thursday of the month. Arrive when you wish, walk at your own pace, and stay as long or short as you like. Allow at least 15 minutes minimum for a full fast walk. A member of the Labyrinth Circle will be available to answer questions and offer guidance. For more information, contact: Ann Hobbs, 763-546-3337 or .
Choir-led Worship: "Ave Rex"
Sunday, Dec. 17, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
When asked why he chose Ave Rex for our upcoming choir-led worship, Director of Choral Arts Randy Buikema replied: "I wanted push against 'mall' music." Ave Rex is music that celebrates Christmas with attitude. It is in your face. It will make you sit up and listen. It is refreshing, jubilant, uproarious, complex, and joyful!  Welsh composer  William Mathias has written a sequence of carols using traditional medieval texts - but the harmonies and sonic impact are anything but traditional. Mathias' uproarious harmonies say: this is a story about reversals, dissonance, and the world being stood on its head, where single mothers are powerful, where wise ones can be found in undocumented travelers, and bravery, adventure, and kindness win.  Join us for a powerful service of music, poetry, and telling the radical story of Christmas.
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.)
UUs are making a difference and enriching their own lives with powerful volunteer work through church initiatives like Families Moving Forward , Congregational Care, Environmental Justice, and Sanctuary & Resistance. Come hear their stories and enjoy a special holiday meal and white elephant exchange! Register by December 17 with Sandy at 612-825-1701 or . $5-10 suggested lunch donation. And bring a wrapped treasure to swap for  the optional exchange. 
Winter Solstice Celebration
Thursday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. (7 p.m. doors)
For 37 years, First Universalist has honored the longest night of the year, and joyously celebrated the return of the Sun! Join us as we observe another turning of the year. Sanctuary doors open at 7 p.m., and the ritual begins at 7:30 p.m. The ritual includes a 12-minute period of darkness, and we will move through the evening with beautiful music, a story for all ages, and spreading of the light. 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.
Remembering Loved Ones:
Help Us by Delivering a Poinsettia
We need your help delivering poinsettias to our members and friends who have lost loved ones in the past year, who are struggling with ongoing, serious illness, or who are living in nursing homes. Caring for each other, offering support and comfort in times of illness and loss, and remembering those times as the year moves on are essential to what we do as a religious community.

On Sunday, Dec. 10, poinsettias ready for delivery will be in the foyer outside the sanctuary doors with the cards and addresses of recipients. Please help us by picking up a poinsettia and card to deliver to a member of our church community.
Some of you will find your name on the list. Please take your poinsettia as a remembrance of your loss and of the love and caring that surround you. This is how we give, receive, and grow together with love and compassion.
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!  
End of Year Giving
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
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!
Our Continued Collaboration with Mental Health Connect
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. If you'd like to participate in a short interactive learning experience, see Make it OK's "Introduction to Mental Illness." Together by learning more we can increase our understanding of mental health, open our minds and hearts and take steps to Make it OK.
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. 
Call for Pastoral Visitor Applications
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.  

While our ministers continue to be with members of the congregation in crisis situations, this team is able to provide continuing spiritual care to our growing community and enhance the practical support offered by our Congregational Care team. Our goal is to offer compassionate presence to our fellow congregants and to deepen our own spiritual lives.

If this sounds like a good fit, consider being a Pastoral Visitor and make an application.
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.
Trans Solidarity Day 
Monday, Dec. 11, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. at University of St. Thomas
View details

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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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