First Universalist Church
March 26, 2015
Issue No. 12, Volume 2
In This Issue
Sunday Worship for March 29, 2015

Join guest minister, Pastor Danny Givens, for his sermon,  "The Grace to Be Me", this Sunday.

For additional information, and to access the Sunday Order of Service online, click here .

Oftentimes when grace is taught and/or spoke of in faith communities the notion of being your authentic self is seldom discussed. Come and explore ways in which grace grants you permission to be your authentic self.

Pastor Danny Givens, Jr. is one of the cutting edge Faith Leaders in the Twin Cities who is committed to social justice and equity for People of Color throughout Minnesota and abroad. As Senior Pastor & Founder of Above Every Name Ministries, he spends his time engaging in community activism with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and Unity Church Unitarian.

The First Universalist Choir will be performing this Sunday as well!


Service is at 9:30 and 11:15 AM


Did You Miss Last Sunday's Service?
We have podcasts available online of all of our sermons!  

To listen to Rev. Justin Schroeder preach "A Dangerous Faith Part II" this past Sunday, March 22nd, click here.

I marvel at Dr. King's faith, because it was his faith, his belief in non-violent, radical, redemptive love, that led the U.S. Government and the FBI to call Dr. King "The most dangerous man in America."

Can we live into a faith like this?

Upcoming Worship
Sunday March 29
9:30 - 11:15am  
Pastor Danny Givens
Music: First Universalist Choir singing We Found Love by Rihanna

Easter Sunday, April 5 
9:30 - 11:15am 
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Music: First Universalist Choir singing Locus Iste by Bruckner

Sunday, April 12 
9:30 - 11:15am 
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
Music: Kendra Wheeler playing Fuzzy Bird and Spoken Word Artist Frank Sentawali

March Worship Theme:


The great theologian, Paul Tillich, once described grace, as that thing which breaks into our lives and surprises us into wholeness. We are struck alive like a bell awakened with sound and purpose. We ring with a new pattern emanating from the experience of grace. Grace communicates a sense of assurance, grounding, and hope: "You are accepted." Tillich continues: "Grace transforms fate into a meaningful destiny; it changes guilt into confidence and courage." This month we explore the nature and movements of grace.




Resources by Rev. Ruth



Catching Song 

with Bobby McFerrin



An incredible interview between Krista Tippet and Bobby McFerrin as he speaks about the elemental force of music and the human voice, a place where grace can come in.


Ordinary Grace

by William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger's "Ordinary Grace" is set during the summer of 1961. It is a touching coming-of-age novel about family, faith and the empathy that can come from a violent loss.



This treasury of quotes and passages on leading a centered, purposeful, and spiritual life offers the advice and observations of leaders from all walks of life. Included are Gandhi, Lao-Tzu, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, and hundreds of other unique and inspiring voices on subjects like compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and purpose.


The Shaking of the Foundations 

by Paul Tillich (online)
Click on Chapter 19 

'You Are Accepted'

Art Exhibit 
in  Social Hall 
Last week for the current art exhibit in the Social Hall!  A collection of work inspired by nature-some influenced by Russian or Mexican icons-oil on wood or canvas and some tooled metal pieces is now on display.

Artist Ann Popadiuk Larson will have her exhibit up 
Feb 22--March 29.

Ann has been drawing since she was two and working on creative pursuits ever since. A few years ago she decided she needed to focus on one medium. She has been involved in several artists' groups including the WARM Mentor program, Project Art for Nature (PAN), and the St. Paul Art Collective.

Ann was previously a member of First Universalist, so she looks forward to reconnecting with church friends. 

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.

Upcoming Events
Saturday, 4/4
Young Families Easter Party, 
9:00 AM, Social Hall

Sunday, 4/12
Racial Justice Book Discussion
1:00 PM, Room 203

Tuesday, 4/14
Racial Justice Book Discussion
6:30 PM, Room 203


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


To view the online space-use calendar, click here.

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.

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If you have limited access to email/internet and would like to be on our hard copy mailing list, contact the church office at 612-825-1701 and ask to speak to Chelsea, our Administrative Assistant.

2014-15 Annual Events

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

New! SPRING 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.

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 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.

By Heart...
By  Rev. Justin Schroeder,
Senior Minister

If you've been to First Universalist a few times, you probably know these words by heart: "In the Universalist spirit of love and hope, we are a faith community that practices giving, receiving, and growing ever more deeply into love's people."

If you're like me, the words can become old and stale, known, and ignored, familiar objects that lose their life. The same thing is true as it relates to the miracle of being alive. Amidst routine, or struggle, or great abundance, we can cease to pay attention, and we can feel distant and separated from our own life. 

So my invitation today is to let the words you know by heart speak to you:

* What will you give today, with no strings attached? Your attention? A kind word? Something tangible?

* What will you receive today? What gift, or gesture, or offer of help, will you let in today?

* And how might you grow today, as your increase your capacity to be present, to experience grace, to extend compassion toward those around you?

On the spiritual path, there's no fanfare or trumpets, there are just small steps, small practices - giving, receiving, and growing - as we tune our lives to greater compassion and awareness. The path unfolds in front of you. May you find the gifts that await there.

I'll see you in church,

What an amazing pledge drive! This year we didn't just have a pledge drive, we had a celebration. We gathered together on one day, Pledge Day, for the purpose of celebrating First Universalist Church and what it means to us. What a day it was. We ate, we played, we talked, we laughed and we worked together.

We made such a huge leap on Pledge Day that we jumped ahead of all previous pledge drives by more than a month. By the end of that one day we raised more than $800,000. You may not have made it to Pledge Day but you certainly felt the energy.


(The Pledge Team: Rich, Zack, Rev. Justin, & Marcia)

The energy of this year's pledge drive continued after Pledge Day. Pledges from members and friends kept coming at a very fast pace. By the official end of the pledge drive last Sunday, March 22 we had:

 496 pledges (of 620 projected)

$1,035,407 pledged (of $1.2M goal) 

We still have a little way to go to reach our $1.2 million goal.

The 2015-2016 church year promises to be a year where we align our values, grow our mission and celebrate the Universalist spirit of love and hope. We continue our mission because of your support. Thank you

News & Announcements
Opportunity for Input:
Covenant of Right Relations

As our congregation - ministers, staff, lay leaders, members and friends - works together to fulfill our mission and achieve our visionary goals, it is essential that we interact in ways that exemplify our spiritual values and honor our Unitarian Universalist principles. The UUA recommends developing a "Covenant of Right Relations" as an important step in clarifying expectations and creating a safe, respectful, and trusting environment for congregations and staff. Covenant is Latin for "come together" and means a "solemn agreement" or "promise from the heart" regarding a course of action between parties.    Covenant is Latin for "come together" and means a "solemn agreement" or "promise from the heart" regarding a course of action between parties.

The Board of Trustees developed a draft Covenant that is intended to apply to relationships within our congregation - ministers, staff, lay leaders, members and friends. It is also designed to be a framework for our relationships with our partners and others as we work outside our walls in the larger community.

We believe that, most of the time, we act in ways outlined in the Covenant. Yet we recognize that differences or misunderstandings can arise as we tackle difficult issues, and conflict may occur between various individuals, groups, and lay and staff leaders. It is especially at these times that we may look to the Covenant to inspire us to be our best selves.

We present this document to you for your information and review. We hope that you agree it reflects our beliefs and values about right relationships congruent with our mission, principles and visionary goals. If you have comments and/or suggestions please address them to the Board of Trustees at by April 15. Your suggestions will be considered as we prepare the final version of the Covenant, which will be voted on at the Annual Meeting on May 31.

Coming of Age Youth Volunteer at Cold Water Spring

Thanks to all who volunteered on Saturday! Removing buckthorn is the first step in creating a healthy oak savanna. The seed bombs you threw will support native wildlife like monarch butterflies and migratory birds. With a healthy ecosystem on the Mississippi River's banks, we'll improve the quality of the river's water and create a better place for people to enjoy too! We hope that you'll come back for a future event!

Caregivers Support Group

The Caregivers Support Group meets at church on the second Wednesday of every month from 6:45-8:15 p.m. All of us are providing varying degrees of support and care for a parent. Sharing our stories with each other and getting support and feedback from the members and our facilitator has been very helpful to us in our caregiving journey. If you are currently caring for an aging parent, we invite you to join us.

For more information, contact Anne Frenchick:


SPIFF Committee Needs Carpet Scrap

We're seeking neutral colored scrap (unused)to re-carpet stairs to the stage in our Social Hall. We need two pieces @ 32" x 48" each. Please send photos to Kristen Mengelkoch at

Donations Needed for Augsburg Fairview Academy 
Donations needed for Hope Food and Clothing Closets

Desired food and toiletry items include: single serving microwavable soups, mac and cheese, and stews; snacks: fruit cups, granola bars or cracker and cheese packages; chapstick, toothpaste and toothbrushes, men's and women's deodorant, and tampons (we don't need travel size items).

Needed clothing items include: Spring items like men and women's windbreakers, hoodies, t-shirts and jeans. Clothing should be clean and in good condition; keep in mind AFA students desire clothes that teens like and typically prefer dark colors. Men and women's socks, men's medium and small briefs are also needed.

Bring items to the Hub on Sundays or leave in the cupboard marked AFA in the Welcome Center. Thanks for your generosity!

Families Moving Forward
By Tracy Jones, 
Co-chair of our Families Moving Forward partnership

Years ago I was invited to help members of First Universalist Church serve dinner at a shelter for people experiencing homelessness. I didn't realize that on that very cold, winter night a new door of compassion was going to be opened to me. For the following weeks I talked about my experience serving that meal to anyone who would listen. I talked to my church community. I talked to my work community. I talked to my friends. I talked until I woke up and realized that talking wasn't enough for me. That if I was going to talk the talk, I had to walk that talk, so I became an overnight volunteer at that shelter.

In those beginning days, I would enter the shelter happy for the opportunity to help, but I would leave the next morning angry. Not because I wan't able to give what I could, but because I was seeing the unfairness of economic injustice at its worst. I became a self-righteous, angry volunteer until a very wise UU minister explained to me that if I was angry, I wasn't helping with a pure heart. And if I didn't help with a pure heart, I wasn't helping with my whole self.

I still volunteer at the shelter where I served that meal many years ago. Now, when I walk through that door at the start of my shift, I walk through with no anger, but just a sliver of hope that I'll be able to give joy to someone whose life is so very hard. I walk through the door hoping that "Oscar" will be coming in for dinner because, even though he has housing now, he has become my dinner companion. He's from Mexico. I walk through the door hoping that "Clifford" will be there, because he always has great stories about how he spent his day. He's a veteran. I hope that "Abdullah-Noir" will be there because he tries to teach me words in his language. He's from Ethiopia. And I know, walking through that door that I will be given the gift of a new and wonderful person who I have yet to meet. And I know that my heart will be kissed by their hope.

With the help of Beacon Housing's "Families Moving Forward" program, under the church direction of the Rev. Jen Crow, and co-chairs Tracy Jones and Peg Mitchell, you now have the opportunity to walk your talk. Starting in September, we will be hosting families experiencing homelessness here in our church for a week at a time, and we'll need many volunteers to help make this new partnership a success.

Up to 4 families, with up to a total of 16 people, will come stay with us. We'll convert the upstairs classrooms to bedrooms, and the social hall and other spaces will become places to eat meals, relax, make art, and sit and talk. We'll need volunteers of all ages to cook meals, make beds, play games, and stay overnight.

Through this program - we are being given the gift of meeting people whose circumstances may be different than ours. We are being invited to walk through a new life-door giving our whole selves to families experiencing homelessness. So come. Let us walk the talk together. Let us serve and be changed together. Let us love together .

Congregational Care Chore Team

By Kathy Coskran


Can you help with simple chores? Do you need help with simple chores? Congregational Care is creating a group to help congregants with simple household tasks, most of them seasonal, such as removing an air conditioner in the fall, putting it back in in the spring; draining garden hoses in the fall, changing furnace filters; changing lightbulbs, changing faucet washers. These are chores that most of us do easily until we can't. With a little help from our friends, though, we can stay in our own home longer.

Simple chores are just that-simple and, for the most part, quick. Simple chores do not include painting, plumbing, electrical work or other household repairs, snow shoveling, raking leaves-although we may be able to offer referrals to professionals for those services.

Contact Bob Friedman at or 612-722-4705if you would like to be part of the team or if you need help with a simple chore. 


Thank You from AFA Students

Dear First Universalist Members,

Thank you so much for your financial support in offering the opportunity for interested Augsburg Fairview Academy students to attend a field trip to the University of Minnesota. We had 21 students in attendance. We started the day off at the admissions office to learn more about the admissions process and the colleges and programs at the U of M. Next we broke into smaller groups to do a walking tour of the East Bank campus, including a residence hall, followed by a session at the Health Careers Center. After lunch we were able to ask questions during a student panel comprised of students from the GLBTA Programs Office, the Women's Center and the Multcultural Center for Academic Excellence. We ended the day at Coffman Memorial Union where students were able to pick out an aluminum U of M water bottle at the school bookstore (with the generosity of your donation). As we waited for the bus, some of the students joined in a pick-up football game happening on the front lawn. It was a full day with lots of smiles :)

Thanks again,

Michelle Fournier
School Social Worker

Brandon Baity
School Social Worker

The Nominating Committee is Actively Recruiting

The Nominating Committee is actively recruiting candidates for leadership positions:

Board of Trustees: Trustees partner with the congregation and professional staff in shaping the vision and long-term goals of the church. They articulate these aspirations through policy and collaborate with the Senior Minister to see they are fulfilled.

Foundation Board: Board members serve as the stewards of our Foundation endowment. Members screen and select grant requests to non-profit organizations.

Nominating Committee: Committee members screen and recommend candidates to the congregation for vacant positions on the Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, and Nominating Committee.

Requirements: To qualify for any of these positions, you must be a member in good standing of the church. Elections occur at the Annual Meeting in June. Click on any of the links posted above to view more detailed position descriptions.  Click here to download an application!

Contact any Nominating Committee member to find out more: Ginny McAninch (chair), Deborah Talen, Doug Smalley, Bob Albrecht, David Lauth, Greg Hoelzer, and Lark Weller, Board of Trustees representative. Email