First Universalist Church
January 8, 2015
Issue No. 1, Volume 2
In This Issue
Sunday Worship for January 11, 2015

Minister of Program Life, Rev. Jen Crow, will be preaching "Endings, Beginnings, and the Neutral Zone" at both services. To view the Order of Service online, click here.


Service is at 9:30 and 11:15 AM


Change is a constant, something that all of us are experiencing all of the time. Yet change can make us uncomfortable in a way that few other things can. What are the elements of change, and how can our spiritual practices help us to be fully present as we shape a new way?

This sermon will highlight a new partnership with Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative - and the Families Moving Forward program.


Young Adults Racial Justice Conversation

Following the 11:15 service on Sunday, Jan 11, young adults are invited to an open conversation about continued action and life changes in relation to the racial justice movement. Hosted at Brie Jonna's apartment on Emerson Ave. Meet Brie outside of the social hall after the service. Latecomers can call 248-444-9289 with questions or to get the address.

Did You Miss Last Sunday's Service?

We have podcasts available online of all of our sermons!  

Here is a snapshot from Rev. Justin Schroeder's sermon this past Sunday, "Arc of Change":

"The great end of these New Year's hopes and intentions is to help ensure that when we reach the end of the year, and by extension, the end of our lives, we aren't filled with argument, anger, regret, and bitterness, but rather a sense that we lived and loved and truly engaged with our own lives and with those around us." 

To listen to Rev. Justin's sermon in its entirety, click here.

January Worship Theme:

"Arc of Change"

In his poem, "The Layers," Stanley Kunitz looks back on his life of changes, "the milestones" and "abandoned campsites," of his journey. All of us leave a trail of hopes that have fallen along the wayside, or burning embers of insight that light the way forward in our changing patterns. Change is. That is the nature of things. In a beautiful turn of phrase the poet writes, "a nimbus-clouded voice directed me: "Live in the layers, not on the litter." 


This month we live in the layers of change, exploring the arcs of our own lives, the arc of this faith community, and the arc of history and change. To paraphrase Kunitz's final line: We are not done with our changes.

First Universalist Foundation Accepting Nominations

The Foundation Board--a grant-giving arm of the church focused on non-profit organizations who are doing work to ameliorate the root causes of injustice--has once again opened up nominations.  We are asking the congregation for suggestions of non-profits to whom we might send a Letter of Interest, asking them to apply for a grant during our Spring Round.  

In recent rounds, the First Universalist Foundation funded congregant-suggested organizations/projects including: Augsburg Fairview Academy, courageous heARTS, EMERGE North 4 Program, Latina Women Agripreneur Project, MUUSJA, and Peta Wakan Tipi. 


We're energized by and eager to fund projects which align with our mission and with whom our congregants are currently engaged.


The nomination window will close on January 21st, so don't delay!  If you are interested in making a nomination or in learning more, please email:

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. If you'd like to be included in our Cycle of Life each Sunday in worship, please contact Sandy DiNanni at ( or (612) 825-1701. If you would like support, please contact Rev. Jen Crow ( or 825-1701) or any member of our Pastoral Care Team.

Environmental Justice Meeting

Does your faith compel you to act to preserve and care for our earth?

Are you concerned that environmental damage disproportionately impacts people of color and the poor? 

Do you want to work with others at church to learn, inspire others, and act for change? 

If so, join us on: 
Thursday, January 22nd 
from 7-8:30pm as we continue to map out our work for environmental justice.

Upcoming Events

Sunday, 1/11
Race: The Power of an Illusion, Part I, 1:00 PM, Room 203

Tuesday, 1/13
Race: The Power of an Illusion, Part 1,  7:00 PM, Room 203

Thursday, 1/15
Board of Trustees Meeting, 
6:30 PM, Cummins Room

Saturday, 1/17
Racial Justice and Our UU Faith Workshop, 9:00 AM, 
Cummins Room

Led by Brian Eshult, Lark Weller, and Margaret Manderfeld.  Please contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at for more information, and to register. 

Note: Office and Building Closed January 19

The church office and building will be closed all day Monday, January 19 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There will be no office or facilities staff available during this time. 


For more information about events at First Universalist, check out our website by clicking here! 

Augsburg Fairview Academy
We did it! Thanks to all who contributed to the Target gift card drive for AFA students! You helped us achieve the goal of having a gift card for each student! We know there will be some very happy students when the cards are distributed this week at AFA! Extra cards will be given to the social work staff to use for student emergencies and other student needs. Thank you for your generosity!

Donations for the Hope Food and Clothing Closets can be brought to the Hub on Sundays or left in the AFA storage area in the Welcome Center at any time. Pick up shopping lists at the Hub on Sundays for a list of needed items. Clothing needs include hooded sweat shirts, knit hats, warm scarves, black knit gloves, winter ski-type jackets and lined warm up jackets - black and dark colors preferred.
Habitat for Humanity Crews Needed in 2015

There are exciting opportunities for new and veteran Habitat for Humanity volunteers in 2015! Don't worry about your skill level--Habitat welcomes all volunteers and will make sure you have meaningful work. 

We need 10-13 people for each of the following dates: February 12, March 14, April 9, May 14 and a week in August (dates TBD). You can sign up by visiting the information table in the social hall after services or online at the following link:

Do you have news, information, an announcement, a photo, or an article that you would like to see published in The Weekly Liberal?

Click here to fill out our online submission form!  Please note that edits for length and/or content may occur.

The deadline for submission is always Tuesday at 10:00 AM.  The Weekly Liberal is published Thursday afternoon.

Would you like to join our mailing list?

Click here to receive
The Weekly Liberal from First Universalist Church in your inbox every Thursday!

2014-15 Annual Events

Our 2014-2015 schedule of Annual Events is available online!  

Winter Worship Schedule
The 2014-2015 Winter worship schedule is now included in this document. Click here to view.

Connect With First U


Church Office Hours
8:00 AM-1:00 PM

8:30 AM-8:00 PM

8:30 AM-8:00 PM

8:30 AM-8:00 PM

8:30 AM-8:00 PM

The church office is closed Fridays and Saturdays.  You can reach the office by dialing: 612-825-1701.


In December, the office will be closed from December 22 - January 3.  It will reopen for regular hours Sunday, January 4.

The building will be closed on December 25, December 26, half of December 31 and all of January 1.
Senior Minister
Rev. Justin Schroeder

Minister of Program Life
Rev. Jen Crow

Minister of Worship Arts and Coming of Age
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie

Minister of Membership and Adult Ministries 
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink

Director of Operations
Diane Gavere

Director of Children, Youth, & Family Ministries
Lauren Wyeth

For additional staff contact information, click here.

The Weekly Liberal is compiled and edited by Communications Manager Heidi Johnson. To submit an article or announcement for publication in The Weekly Liberal, please fill out the online submission form here

Please note that edits for content and/or length may occur. Additional information about publication deadlines, submission requirements, and policies can be found in the communications section of our website.  

Any questions, comments, or concerns about The Weekly Liberal or church communications in general can be directed to:  
A Note About
The Weekly Liberal

As you might have noticed, we rotate news and feature articles in and out of the Weekly Liberal via one week, two week, and one month cycles, depending on the content.  While we always provide new & updated content in every edition, we also cycle in important pieces that run multiple times (usually twice) to ensure that members and friends of First Universalist have the opportunity to view this information.

News for the New Year
A Message From Rev. Justin Schroeder


Happy New Year! I begin the year filled with gratitude to serve this community and to be giving, receiving, and growing with all of you. I'm excited for all that this year will bring.
Here are some things I'm looking forward to:

1) The expansion of our Circle Ministry program. Circles, as you may know, are groups of 8 to 10 people who meet every two weeks to build relationships with one another and to engage in the spiritual practice of deep, attentive listening. Circles are one of the ways we build community at First Universalist - a place where we are known and truly know others. I'm leading a Circle this semester, and we'll be offering Racial Justice Learning Circles, a variety of Sermon Based Circles, Circles for Newcomers and many more. Circle Signups begin online and at church on Sunday, January 11th. Sign up before they fill up!

2) The deepening of our faithful action ministry, which includes a variety Racial Justice learning opportunities.

3) Continuing to work with our amazing and talented staff and church leaders. I am experiencing a renewed energy in many areas of church life and I can't wait to see what it brings in 2015. 

4) Growing our family. I'm excited to share that Juliana, Tucker, and I are expecting a new member of our family at the end of May. We feel so lucky that we're raising Tucker (and soon, our baby!) in this faith community. We are grateful for how welcoming and kind you've been to our family over these past five and a half years. 

May 2015 bring you unexpected gifts and a renewed sense of hope and possibility.

In faith,


PS - I want to make sure you stay informed of all the happenings around First Universalist. Here's our worship and events calendar. Print it out and stick it on your fridge!

News & Announcements
The Winter Warm-Up

Saturday, January 31st
Live Music, Appetizers, Beverages, Dancing!

Join us Saturday night, January 31, 2015 for the Winter Warm-up!  This is a live-music event featuring First UU's own Rock Band.  We'll have dancing and light appetizers with beverages, featuring beer from Lake Monster Brewery and wine from Hennepin Lake Liquors, available for purchase.    Dancing starts at 8pm.  

Stop by on your way home from the Loppet and help warm-up the social hall at 2015's first congregational fundraiser of the year!

Suggested donation for admission is $10-$20 but no one will be turned away based on ability to pay.  If your budget allows it, consider paying more to support others.  Visit this URL to buy your tickets in advance:

Starting January 11th, tickets will also be available for purchase on Sundays in the Social Hall between services.

Connect with Circles in 2015!

Community Circles Logo
Our Circles are groups of 8-10 committed participants who come together with a trained leader to nurture spiritual growth in community. These groups are grounded in the spiritual practices of deep listening and open-hearted reflection.

Which circle might be right for you?

*Community Circles offer an opportunity to reflect more deeply on our Sunday services and monthly worship themes.

*Spiritual Deepening Circles gather for in-depth study of a particular topic or spiritual practice, such as UU History: Our American Roots, Listening to the Soul Through Poetry and Examining Whiteness.

*Newcomer Circles offer an opportunity to learn more about our liberal faith tradition and connect with others who are getting to know First Universalist.

*Care Circles offer participants support and encouragement during a particularly challenging period of their lives.

Online registration begins this Sunday, January 11 and runs through Sunday, January 25. 

Sign up at For more information, contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at or 612-825-1701 x124.

Learn to Curl

January 24, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM 
at the Four Seasons Curling Club in Blaine, MN

It's not too late to sign up for this Great Gathering! 

Learn how to curl at a beautiful state-of-the art indoor curling arena. You will get instruction on how to deliver the stone, how to sweep and basic strategy. Sean Brown and other experienced Curlers, including our own Jeff Lee, Sean Gaither, and David Krewinghous, will be your coaches! Children twelve and older are welcome to participate, too! Have fun with other UU's while getting in touch with your inner Olympian! There is an adjoining restaurant, Gabe's, for those who just want to watch or eat and socialize afterward. 
Hosted by Sean Brown and Denise Konen.

$15 per person. Call 612-825-1701 and ask for Brad or Bree if you'd like to sign up!

Daytime Connections:
Listening to the Soul Through Poetry with 
Rev. Justin Schroeder


Thursday, January 15

11:00am-12:30pm, Chalice Room


Join our Senior Minister, the Rev. Justin Schroeder, for an exploration of the contemplative practice of Lectio Divina. Using modern-day poetry, we will listen deeply to how the text speaks to our lives and share our reflections with one another.

Lunch is served at 12:30pm. A $5 donation for lunch is appreciated.

For more information, contact Hal Schroer at or 763-595-9515.

To RSVP, contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at or 612-825-1701 x124.

My Church:
A Religious Education Snapshot


By Lauren Wyeth,

Director of Children, Youth, & Family Ministries


While adults worship in the sanctuary each week, children and youth fill our Religious Education wing. Throughout the year, we'll provide periodic snapshots from our classrooms in this ongoing series, titled My Church.  


From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend through Spring Break, Religious Education classes from grades K-4th grade focus on racial and social justice and family diversity. As UUs, we seek "to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another." And so we explore with our children: What does it mean to welcome every person as a blessing and a member of the whole human family? How can we grow our hearts and spirits by appreciating differences and similarities between us and others? What we are called to do when we encounter intolerance, prejudice, and injustice in our world?

For many years, our Kindergarteners and 1st graders have spent several weeks each winter with the Families All Matter curriculum, which introduces the rich diversity of families through beautiful picture books. This year, our kids in 2nd-4th grades will have the same opportunity, using more advanced books and nuanced discussions. Themes include racial and ethnic diversity, socioeconomic diversity, immigration, adoption, disabilities, and LGBT family members. The poetic words, compelling stories, and evocative images in the children's books we read together offer critical information, encourage accurate empathy, and promote an attitude of respect and compassion for all. 

This year's books for K-1st grades will include The Other Side, Understanding Sam, and King and King. 2nd and 3rd grade books will include Unspoken, The Story of Ruby Bridges, and If a Bus Could Talk, while 4th graders read at Nadia's Hands, Boundless Grace, and In Our Mothers' House.



This Winter, First Universalist will offer a special circle for parents and Religious Education teachers. We will come together as parents and teachers seeking to build our capacity for talking with our children and youth about race, racism, whiteness and racial justice in ways that are supportive, grounded in the realities of the world, and hopeful. As we grow our souls through weekly reading assignments, sharing our stories and reflecting on our journeys, we will become better able to guide and accompany our kids on their journeys. 

Parents and teachers in the circle will connect and reflect in small groups of 8-10 people grounded in attentive listening and open-hearted reflection. Depending on the response, we may offer one more than one circle, running concurrently, with parents grouped according to their children's ages.

Many thanks are due those congregants who have been deeply engaged in racial justice work, and who are leading the way. Denise Konen and Kayci Rush are working closely with Lauren Wyeth, Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries, to develop and deliver racial justice training to our Religious Education volunteers, while Sacha Muller, Suzanne Hay and Ben Sunderlin have stepped forward to co-facilitate Talking About Race with Kids circles. 

Talking About Race with Kids
Five Monday evenings, 6:30-8pm
Jan 26, Feb 9 & 23, Mar 9 & 23

Depending upon response, a circle may also be offered on alternate Mondays.

Online registration for circles begins January 11.


Race: The Power of an Illusion


Join us this winter in Room 203 for drop-in screenings and discussions of this acclaimed three-part series.  In January we will view the first chapter, which shows us that, despite what we've always believed, the world's people simply don't come bundled in distinct biological groups.  Join us for one of these two showings: 

Sunday, January 11 at 1:00pm


Tuesday, January 13 at 7:00pm


For more information, contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at

Get To Know Your First U Staff!  
 Five Questions with Randy Buikema

Every few weeks, we will be featuring a staff member in this section answering a few questions about their job (and a few fun questions, too!)

Tell us about your job. What do you do here at First Universalist Church?

My job title is "Director of Choral Arts," which basically means that I choose repertoire and rehearse it with the choir in preparation for Sunday worship services. In actuality the job is more involved than that. The worship team, which I am a part of, chooses themes. Then, I look for pieces to support those themes. It is important to me that what we offer musically helps to create a unified whole. As worship leaders, we have been given a great responsibility to take the congregation on a spiritual journey. I take that responsibility seriously.

One of the biggest unwritten parts of my job is recruitment. I am ALWAYS in recruitment mode. There is so much talent in this congregation, and I wish to get all possible singers and instrumentalists involved. To that end, I have formed an orchestra to accompany larger works.

What are some things that you enjoy about working at First U?

I LOVE LOVE LOVE working with the choir. They are an energetic and highly talented bunch of singers, who week after week say "yes" to the musical challenges put before them. The singers do a lot of work in and out of rehearsals to bring their best to the worship experience. The long-time members of the choir have been open and welcoming to new members. It is inspiring to observe choir members who have a great deal of experience helping those who are new.

One of my passions is conducting large-scaled choral/orchestral works. The newly formed orchestra has enabled us to some very interesting pieces. It's so exciting to have members of the congregation come up to me and say, "do you know I play such and such an instrument?" We have only begun to tap the possibilities in this area.

The overwhelming positive response of the congregation has been energizing to me, the singers and the instrumentalists. Your words of appreciation and encouragement spur us on to become better and push our boundaries.

Tell us a little unknown fact about yourself that people might be surprised to learn. 

I was in a television pilot with Robert Conrad.

What are a few of you favorite books? 

"A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle, "How to Know God" by Depak Chopra, "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo, "Freedom, Glorious Freedom" by John McNeill

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?

To be myself. In a critique my first conducting teacher said,"Randy your face is blank when you conduct. Usually your face is very expressive. Be yourself when you conduct." It wasn't until I "came out" many years later, that I realized how valuable that advice was. The more I know myself and the more I allow myself the freedom to be me, the more effective I become as conductor.


"Generosity Calculator" 
Now on First U Website!

"Stewardship is acknowledging that we have a shared responsibility toward the Earth - including our lives, our possessions and the communities of which we are a part - and that we are called to express our gratitude by being generous with these blessings." 
- David Potyondy

We express our gratitude by being generous with our blessings. Soon we will have tools on our website to help you explore your own feelings and goals regarding generosity, both here at First Universalist and in the larger world.

It will give you the opportunity to anonymously input why you give, your aspirations of giving and how you wish allocate your giving. You can see how your monthly contributions would change in order to reach your aspirational goal over three years. I hope you enjoy playing with this new generosity tool and we would welcome your feedback.


NEW! Click here to visit our Generosity Calculator online!


Free Arts Minnesota 

"Through My Lens" Photography Exhibit

January 11- February 15



"Through My Lens" is a  photography exhibit created by 65 teens from local social service agencies as a part of Free Arts Minnesota's summer 2014 Teaching Artist Series. This eight-week program, led by photographer Wing Young Huie in partnership with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, used the medium of photography to help youth engage more deeply with their community. Using Huie's chalkboard interview method, teens interviewed and photographed their peers, mentors and members of the community. The program culminated in an exhibit of the teens' photographs at the MIA in August.


Free Arts Minnesota inspires hope and builds self-esteem for youth who have experienced poverty, homelessness, abuse and mental illness, using the healing powers of artistic expression and caring adult mentors. Their Weekly Mentorship and other educational art programs annually reach over 4,000 youth at homeless shelters, treatment centers, domestic violence shelters, and community centers across the Twin Cities metro.


For more information, visit


First Universalist Church
3400 Dupont Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN, 55408