July 6, 2017  |  Vol. 4 No. 27
Reflections from UUA General Assembly 2017
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
The Unitarian Universalist Association's 2017 General Assembly (GA) was held June 21-25 in New Orleans. Revs. Justin, Jen and I were able to attend, along with many congregants. It was a powerful and important gathering.

As many of you know, this GA was holding hard truths about the practice of our faith and navigating this critical time in our denominational and national history with truth-telling, kindness, calls to dig deep, make room, de-center whiteness, and embrace the promise of our faith . Earlier this year, the Rev. Peter Morales resigned as UUA president in response to challenges about hiring practices at the UUA . Led and shepherded by Liberal Religious Educators (LREDA), and the newly formed Black Lives UU (BLUU), our denomination was asked to step in and examine the ways in which white supremacist frameworks keep us from our best selves individually and collectively. 709 congregations participated in the White Supremacy Teach-Ins across the nation at the end of April/beginning of May. First Universalist whole-heartedly participated in the White Supremacy Teach In.

Times of crisis can be times of stridency, anger, and grief, and they can also be times of openings, important challenges, and opportunities to change for the good. All of these and more were present at General Assembly 2017. More often than not those gathered opted for the freshness of deep down things, for curiosity over recriminations, for calling in rather than calling out , and leaning into the community-forming power of love as commitment, rather than simply feeling good. It was a blessing to be present at this significant gathering of our churches.

The central call throughout GA was to dismantle the white supremacist frameworks that stand in the way of really living out our faith which invites us all into our full humanity and the power of vital community. Incredible workshops, business meetings (general sessions) and worship services challenged and comforted.

First Universalist member and president of BLUU, Lena K. Gardner, spoke at the second General Session about the important work of BLUU and her commitment to justice. Part of her speech is still ringing in my ears, and calls me in: "It's my faith as a Black Unitarian Universalist that helps me do the work to keep Black people alive. Don't thank me for my work. Join me."

You can hear Lena, and some other powerful moments at GA, in videos at the links below: 
Another important highlight was the election of our new president, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. Rev. Susan is the first woman to be elected president of our denomination, although she is not the first woman to serve as president. This honor goes to the powerful, Rev. Sofía Betancourt.

Rev. Susan's first public act of leadership came after the tragic robbery and beating of two UUA staff members as they strolled the French Quarter on Saturday night, near the end of GA. The UU World reported it this way: "Frederick-Gray informed the General Assembly about the attack at the start of the Sunday morning worship service on June 25, to audible gasps. She invited worshipers and UUs around the world to hold Byrne and Curran in prayer. [Frederick-Gray said:]  "Throughout the General Assembly, we reflected on the narratives and wider systems of oppression that perpetuate both systemic and personal violence. This week, those reflections became personal and proximate."  Frederick-Gray invoked defense attorney Bryan Stevenson's remarks in his Ware Lecture to the General Assembly that "simply punishing the broken - walking away from them or hiding them from sight - only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too. There is no wholeness outside of our reciprocal humanity." She invited Unitarian Universalists to hold the attackers "with the universal love" they also hold for Curran and Byrne."   - UU World 6/30/2017

There are many powerful moments captured on the UUA website. So nose around or ask questions of me, Rev. Justin, or Rev. Jen. We would be happy to share!

Rev. Ruth MacKenzie

Worship this Sunday
Sunday, July 9, 10 a.m.
"Have Mercy"
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink
Mercy - a theological concept that can be complicated for religious liberals. Yet we are living in a world with hard edges, systemic injustices, and deep divides: a world in desperate need of greater mercy. How might we re-imagine and authentically practice mercy? How might our own brokenness be healed in the process?
Music: First Universalist Summer Choir
Summer Sundays for Kids 

A Look Ahead
Sunday, July 16, 10 a.m.
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie

Recent Sermon Podcasts
July 2, 2017
"Transmogrify, Breathe, Repeat"
Rev. Jim Foti

June 25, 2017
"Truth Makes Love Possible"
Lauren Wyeth

June 18, 2017
Rev. Karen Hering and
Catherine Charles Hammond
Wellspring Info Session
Sunday, July 9, 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
Final info session!
Wellspring offers spiritual deepening within our UU tradition and is an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and our faith through a year-long small group experience. You're invited to join us at this info session to learn more! After a day-long opening retreat on August 26, Wellspring will meet every other week through May 2018. Attendance at an info session is required if you wish to participate next year. Learn more.
Racial Justice and Our UU Faith Workshop
Tuesdays, July 11 & 18, 6:30-9
Join us for a workshop exploring a framework and tools for understanding race, racism, and whiteness and the spiritual imperative that drives our racial justice work. 
This is a two-part workshop offered on Tuesdays, July 11 & 18, from 6:30-9 p.m., led by Channing McKinley and Jeff Sylvestre.
To register, contact Sandy at  Sandy@firstuniv.org or 612-825-1701.
Lake Harriet Bandshell Worship Service & Potluck

Join us for our annual outdoor worship service and potluck picnic at the Lake Harriet Bandshell on Sunday, Aug. 20 at 10 a.m.!

We'll enjoy music, an inspiring message from Rev. Justin, and a delicious potluck picnic together afterwards.  Please note: this will be our only worship service on Sunday, Aug. 20.

For the potluck, please bring a dish and/or beverage to share, as well as chairs or blankets to sit on. Bring plates, cups and eating utensils for everyone in your party. 

The service will take place rain or shine (except in the case of severe weather). Sunglasses and/or hats are recommended for your comfort.

Get complete details, RSVP, and share on Facebook here!
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie Welcomed into Final Fellowship
Congratulations to Rev. Ruth MacKenzie, who was welcomed into final fellowship with the UUA at General Assembly this year!

For Unitarian Universalist ministers, final fellowship is like becoming "tenured." Rev. Ruth was ordained at First Universalist in 2013. After completing her three years of preliminary fellowship last fall, she participated in a denominational ceremony at General Assembly in June welcoming her into final fellowship.
First Universalist Stories: Leon Paris Greene
Each week throughout the summer, we're featuring one or two stories submitted by members about what First Universalist means to them.  Leon Paris Greene writes:

Leon Paris Greene
"I was asked to make this short, so I'll do just that. I have said previously that I attended Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts and that I studied Bible (Theology). I was Minster of Education at a Church of Christ in Oklahoma City. I resigned at the age of twenty-eight and haven't been a member of any organized religious, or otherwise, body since.  I decided it was time to go on "An Unexpected Journey," (one of my favorite movies). I arrived at the doors of First Universalist because you guys had already invented the All Inclusive Wheel. I did not see the need to reinvent it. Personally, I believe that if I go anywhere after this life, that is how it is composed. I certainly don't wish to be anywhere near most/all of the televangelists or that bible God (my opinion). The social justice, anti-discrimination platform is an added plus. I, personally, don't see how any black man could, with a straight face, discriminate against anyone. I find strength in the thoughts, words and deeds of the ministers, including the choir and that awesome piano-playing doctor. (My pop played piano with those hard-worked railroad hands.) My values were forged into me by African and Irish grandfathers. My WWII college-educated father and uncles never spoke a disparaging remark of any white person that I can recall. My mom taught white kids how to read and they had to teach their parents. Their parents could vote in South Carolina, my mom could not. First Universalist exemplifies those same values. The right of every person, regardless of their position in life, to be allowed to worship without accusation. I have seen the evil of discrimination and segregation first hand from my grandmother's porch on Secession Hill in Abbeville, South Carolina, flying across the street in the form of the Confederate Flag. A monument to the location that Calhoun and Davis signed the documents to leave the Union; basically, because they were too damn lazy and trifling to pick their own cotton. I continually attend First Universalist because in this imperfect world of impermanence, First Universalist is what I consider The Best of All Possible Worlds. Or, at least WE should attempt to be."
Thank You to Volunteers!
We'd like to say a big thank you to the crew of volunteers who spent this past Saturday morning making our grounds look beautiful! 

A group of ten spent three hours weeding everything, raking out old mulch and replacing it, trenching the back border line and sidewalk border and sweeping all the steps and sidewalks.  In addition, the three trees adjacent to Dupont Avenue were made weed-free, trenched and mulched. The hostas to the south of the Peace Garden were also weeded and mulched. It took 21 bags of mulch to complete the work! We appreciate the hard work of all of the volunteers and we are very grateful. 

Thank you to the crew:  Bob Friedman,  Dick Rueter,  Karen Parson,  Bill McTeer,  Ann Kay,  Gary Melom,  Barb Melom,  Carol Cochran,  Ron Lee, and  Rita Franchett.
Habitat for Humanity Summer Work Week Update
In partnership with the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity launched two projects this spring that use innovative technologies to improve energy-efficiency and sustainability. During the summer work week, volunteers from First Universalist will participate in one of these projects, helping to build a Monopath home, which is designed to be more energy-efficient, affordable, durable and environmentally friendly than a standard house. 

The Monopath home is energy-efficient, in part, because its design incorporates a moisture barrier and insulation system applied to the exterior of the structure, which eliminates "thermal bridges" and results in a more air-tight building. It's cost-effective because, instead of being assembled piece by piece out of hundreds of small components like a standard house, a Monopath home is made of 8 x 24 foot engineered wood panels that can be put into place in a single day. 

The project is being done in collaboration with the University of Minnesota's Cold Climate Housing Program and Center for Sustainable Building Research. It's funded, in part, by a grant from the Department of Energy. 

If you're interested in volunteering for the Habitat for Humanity summer work week - Monday, Aug. 14 through Friday, Aug. 18 - please sign up here:
Seeking Racial Justice Leaders
Exciting changes are underway to create an even more effective leadership structure for our racial justice work. The current Racial Justice Leadership Team (RJLT) will morph into two new teams: 
  • Racial Justice Change Team that will serve as a committee of the Board of Trustees. This Change Team will give our racial justice work the structural authority it needs to effectively review institutional racism and white supremacy culture as it lives in the work of our church. The Racial Justice Change Team will develop, implement, and monitor a process to set clear standards and accountability for our commitment to racial justice at all levels of the organization. This will involve reviewing our mission, visionary goals, policies, procedures, budgets, board agreements, and more. It is expected that the membership will be made up of Board members, members from the current RJLT, and other interested congregational members.
  • A Racial Justice Education Team made up of congregational members and friends committed to ensuring high quality training, programming and coaching in service to the Church's racial justice education commitment. This team is an expansion of a team already working to offer trainings, guest speakers/panel discussions, and book/movie discussions. The Racial Justice Education Team will work closely with the staff to help ensure all programming and faithful action efforts of the church are done with a racial justice lens.
Church members and friends interested in leading the racial justice work of the church are encouraged to apply to join one of these teams! 

Please fill out the online application here by Tuesday, August 1.

Thanks to the current members of the RJLT (Brian Eshult, Bryana French, Fawzia Khan, Channing McKinley, Kristen Mengelkoch, Ben Miles, Lillie Pang, Emma Paskewitz, Rev. Justin Schroeder, Richard Spratt and Polly Talen) who worked in partnership with the Board of Trustees on these changes.

Religious Education Registration Open for 2017-18
From September through May, First Universalist Church offers Sunday morning childcare for children ages 6 months to 2 years, and Religious Education classes for preschool through high school. We are home to more than 500 children and youth!

There is no fee for Religious Education or childcare. Registration is now open online for the upcoming 2017-2018 church year. 
Learn more about our classes and register children of all ages, from nursery through senior high school, at 1stureligiouseducation.weebly.com.
SHEtalks WEtalk 2017 RaceTalks for Women  with Catrice M. Jackson
August 5 & 6 in Minneapolis
During this two-day retreat, take a deep, honest and truthful dive into the issues of race, racism, whiteness, white supremacy and Intersectionality. This workshop will include diverse modes of learning such as presentation, small and large group activities, video, and experiential exercises. You will be actively engaged for two days requiring you to stretch outside of your comfort zone and examine your own beliefs, thoughts and behaviors that perpetuate racism.    Learn more.
  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 sandy@firstuniv.org or 612-825-1701. If you would like support, call the office at 612-825-1701 or contact any member of our Pastoral Care 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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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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