December 15, 2016  |  Vol. 3 No. 50
The Birth of Hope Amidst Despair
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Christmas, and the holiday season, is complicated, and not just because of family dynamics and memories of loved ones no longer with us. This season is complicated because the original story is complicated. Mary, Joseph, and their newborn child live in a world turned upside down, where the Roman Empire is exerting its might over the poor and powerless, executing dissidents, and expanding its reach. In this sense, the Christmas story - the birth of hope amidst despair - is always with us, and perhaps more so, right now.

It hasn't been easy going, but one of the gifts of this post election time is that many of us have dropped the trivial and non-essentials from our conversations, and we have dropped into the depth dimension immediately, reflecting on how we can "stay woke," show up, and engage across difference in these turbulent times. Another gift has been the awareness that our faith is holding and instructing us in profound ways. Our faith calls us to welcome, affirm, and protect the light in each human heart, to listen to where love is calling us, and to work for justice, with humility and compassion. These are not "nice things to do," but central mandates of our Unitarian Universalist faith. Our faith also calls us to provide sanctuary and to resist - with words, action, and our very bodies - the forces that threaten and diminish life. This is not a drill. Members of First Universalist are exploring what it means for us to become a "Sanctuary Church," housing families or individuals threatened with deportation. We continue to work with SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice) and offer them space in our building. We continue to deepen our relationships with our seven Faithful Action Partners, and are planning to partner with other faith communities and joining millions of others for the Women's March on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. And amidst of this, we continue the spiritual work of deep listening, of mindfulness, of prayer - so that we can stay centered and grounded.

It is a true gift to serve this faith community, and to give, receive, and grow with all of you.

Every blessing,
December worship theme: Presence

Worship this Sunday
Sunday, Dec. 18, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
Rev. Justin Schroeder 
My colleague, the Rev. Phil Lund, recently wrote an Advent blog post, entitled, "Advent: The Season of With-ness." In the Christian calendar, Advent is observed during the four Sundays leading up to Christmas. Advent is a time of waiting and anticipating the birth of hope and the birth of light, in a world in which the days have shortened and darkness reigns. Advent is a time of being present, of showing up. Who, and what, are we showing up for? And how do we show up, exactly? 

Christmas Pageant
Sunday, Dec. 18 at 4 p.m.
(details below)
A Look Ahead
Upcoming Sunday Services
Sunday, Dec. 25, 10 a.m. only
Contemplative Christmas w/ Music & Poetry
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
Sunday, Jan. 1, 10 a.m. only
Singing Sunday
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink

Schedule of Holiday Services
Sunday, Dec. 18 & Saturday, Dec. 24, 4 p.m.
Christmas Pageants
Wednesday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. (7pm doors)
Winter Solstice Service
Saturday, Dec. 24, 9:30 p.m.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Recent Sermon Podcasts
December 11, 2016
"Joy in the Midst of It All"
Rev. Justin Schroeder & Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
December 4, 2016
"Everything We Need is Here"
Rev. Jen Crow
November 27, 2016
"The Long Haul"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Listen to the podcast
Christmas Pageants
Sunday, Dec. 18 at 4 p.m. and
 Saturday, Dec. 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. 18 (reception follows the program) and Saturday, Dec. 24 at 4 p.m. each day. Drop-in childcare for ages 6mos-3yrs is available on Dec. 18 only. There will be no childcare on Dec. 24.
Winter Solstice Celebration
Wednesday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m.
  For 36 years, First Universalist has honored the longest night of the year, and joyously celebrated the return of the Sun! Join us on Dec. 21 as we observe another turning of the year. Sanctuary doors open at 7 p.m., and the service begins at 7:30 p.m. The evening includes a 12-minute period of darkness. As always, we will move through the evening with beautiful music, participation for all ages, and spreading of the light.  Before the service, all are welcome to come walk the Labyrinth in the Social Hall between 5 and 7 p.m. The last walk begins at 6:45 p.m.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Saturday, Dec. 24, 9:30 p.m.
The 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.
Winter Warm-Up Dance Party
Saturday, Jan. 21, 7:30-10 p.m.
  Our third annual Winter Warm Up Dance Party is set for Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Mark your calendar and plan to join us that evening for music and dancing, drinks (available for purchase) and snacks, fun and good company! Tickets are available at:
Meet the Racial Justice Leadership Team
Greetings First Universalist members and friends!

We are the Racial Justice Leadership Team. Our purpose is multifaceted. We foster First Universalist's commitment to being a racial justice church and help to ground this work in our faith and religious practices. We help strategically engage the congregation in this learning, as we talk about race, racism, power, and privilege. And, finally, we help embed racial justice policies, practices and identity throughout the church. If you have questions about the racial justice mission or activities of the church, have feedback you'd like to share, or want to get more involved, please contact us at

We hope to hear from you.


Polly Talen, Fawzia Khan, Bryana French, Kristen Mengelkoch, Brian Eshult, Channing McKinley, Justin Schroeder, Emma Paskewitz, Richard Spratt, and Ben Miles (in order of pictured from left to right. Not pictured: Lillie Pang) 

Plan Ahead for Year End Contributions
With the end of the year quickly approaching, the financial team at First Universalist wants to remind you about the deadline for giving for the calendar yearIf you want your financial gifts counted toward 2016, your checks need to be postmarked or dropped off at the church office no later than December 31, 2016. Please be aware that the office will be closed between December 26 and 31. The church will be open for holiday services (Dec. 24 & 25), and contributions can be dropped off at the hub/information desk during those services. 

You are also welcome to give online if you'd like, either at MyFirstU or via Square Cash. These gifts will need to be made by December 31 as well to count toward 2016.

Thank you for your generosity!

If you have questions, contact Andrea at 612-825-1701 x100 or
Collecting "Guest At Your Table" Boxes this Sunday
This December, First Universalist Church is supporting UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee) through the Guest At Your Table campaign. If you've picked up a Guest At Your Table box on a recent Sunday, remember to bring your box with you to worship this Sunday, Dec. 18! You can also look for the link on our website to make your tax-deductible donation online or donate in the social hall using a credit card after both services on Dec. 18.

Thanks to the generosity of the UU Congregation at Shelter Rock (New York), your donation of $125 or more will be matched dollar-for-dollar!
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is OUR human rights organization, reflecting UU values in the world. UUSC advances human rights through grassroots collaboration. In more than a dozen countries throughout the world, UUSC fosters social justice and works toward a world free from oppression. UUSC's innovative approaches and measurable impact - in promoting economic justice, bolstering environmental justice, and protecting rights at risk - are grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power, dignity, and rights.
Women's March on Washington and in Minnesota
"We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families - recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country."
-Mission Statement of the Women's March on Washington and in Minnesota
On January 21, the day after the inauguration, Revs. Jen Crow and Ruth MacKenzie will be heading to Washington to join the Women's March on Washington. Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink will be joining the march here in Minnesota. March organizers write: "In the spirit of democracy and honoring the champions of human rights, dignity, and justice who have come before us, we join in diversity to show our presence in numbers too great to ignore. The Women's March on Washington will send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women's rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us."
Unitarian Universalist Twin Cities churches are combining efforts to offer ways for people to participate as well as continue to deepen our racial justice work and calling.
One bus has been secured to go to Washington by Unity Church Unitarian in St. Paul. All congregations are welcome to join in, but seating is limited. (They are hoping to secure more but at this point there is only one available.) The cost is $235 for travel and $109 for lodging. All registrants are asked to contribute to a fund to provide scholarships for women of color. For details please go to: Bus Registration
Pre-training sessions. People who are intending to go to either march are asked to attend one pre-training session that will offer context and breakout sessions on self-defense and de-escalation/interruption.
Thursday, Jan. 5 at First Universalist: potluck at 6 p.m., meeting from 7-9 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 10 at Unity: potluck at 6 p.m., meeting from 7-9 p.m.
March: Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. A designated meeting place will be announced soon, so we can march together in DC and Minneapolis.
Post-March De-brief. We strongly encourage people to attend the Post-March De-brief and Mobilization Meeting. This meeting will help us extend our efforts beyond the march and challenge us to continue to lean into our racial justice work.
First Universalist Social Hall: Thursday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m. potluck, 7-9 p.m. meeting 
Hosted by Rev. Ashley Horan and Lena Gardner
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie and Meg Reid are organizing our First Universalist efforts for the March on Washington, and Rev. Elaine will organize our Minnesota March efforts. Please feel free to email with questions at or More articles will be forthcoming after the holidays.
More information about the marches: 
Church Office Closed Between Christmas & New Year's
Please note that the Church office will be closed the week between Christmas and New Year's (Monday, Dec. 26 - Friday, Dec. 30). The office will reopen on Monday, Jan. 2.

Regular church office hours are: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m.-9 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
  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 Care Team.
Congregational Care: New Baby Welcome
Having a baby? Want to help welcome a new baby? Contact co-chairs of our new baby welcome team, Ann Terlizzi at 612-728-7232 or, or Jody Beresford at 952-828-9977 or
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.
Show Up Next Week for Racial Justice
If you're able, here is one way to make a difference. Attend:
Sentencing Guideline Commission Hearing
Weds., 12/21 at 2:00 p.m.
MN Senate Building, Room 1100, 95 University Ave. W. in St. Paul
Meet in the church parking lot to carpool at 1:15, if desired.

As you may know, people of color are imprisoned for minor drug offenses at a rate that far outpaces their representation in the MN population due to numerous criminal justice system biases. This year legislation was passed to distinguish between non-violent offenders motivated by addiction vs. dangerous offenders motivated by greed. On Wednesday, the commission will be considering a proposal by the MN County Attorneys Assoc. to have former offenses judged by the former  harsher  statutes when calculating a person's criminal history score. This would make it harder for people to get help with their addiction by sending them to prison instead of treatment.
Your appearance at this hearing matters!
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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. 26-30
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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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