First Universalist Church
February 26, 2015
Issue No. 8, Volume 2
In This Issue
Sunday Worship for March 1, 2015

Join Rev. Justin Schroeder for his sermon, "Amazing Grace?"

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

In March, we begin our new sermon series, "Grace." 

"Grace" goes by many names - it is a moment of wholeness, a sense of unconditional love, a feeling of solidarity, in a world in which we so often feel fragmented, broken, isolated, and alone. When have you known grace in your life? How might we, together, be creators of grace? And what about the moments, when grace doesn't feel like enough?


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" this past Sunday, February 22nd, click here.

Is Unitarian Universalism a 'safe' or a 'dangerous faith?' Over the centuries, we have been called heretics, dissenters, and free thinkers. In other words, we were often seen as 'dangerous people,' in a dangerous faith. But what about now? Are you still dangerous? 

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'


Heritage Circle
By Peg Meier,
Member of the Planned Giving Committee

Not everyone has substantial assets to pass along someday to First Universalist. But perhaps you would like your will to include a legacy to help build the church's future. Any amount, no matter how small, is appreciated. As a retired Minnesota teacher put it, "My estate will never be large enough to build libraries, but it may be large enough to buy books for a library."

To learn how to structure such a legacy - or if the church is already in your will and you haven't NOTIFIED the office - please contact one of the ministers or Diane Gavere, the congregation's Director of Operations, at or 612-825-1701. Thank you for considering a gift, "for days you will never see."

Art Exhibit in Social Hall This Sunday

A new art exhibit is now 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. She will be available to talk about her work after both services on Sunday, March 8.

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
Sunday, 3/8
Race: The Power of An Illusion, Part III, 1:00 PM, Cummins Room

Sunday, 3/8
Artist Reception for Ann Papadiuk Larson, after both services, 
Social Hall

Tuesday, 3/10
Race: The Power of An Illusion, Part III, 7:00 PM, Cummins Room

Wednesday, 3/11
Pledge Day, 7:00 AM - 9:00 PM, Social Hall


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


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

Housing Advocacy at First Universalist 
We are leveraging First Universalist's Faithful Action energy and HTLB success by advocating for affordable housing and fighting homelessness in 2015. Housing and supportive services are critical needs in Minnesota. 

The Homes for All Coalition coordinates housing advocacy strategy for many organizations across Minnesota, including First Universalist partners Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity and Beacon. More than 600,000 households in Minnesota pay more than they can afford for housing, and more than 14,000 Minnesotans are homeless on a given day. Nearly half of the homeless are children or young adults. There are 3-4 times as many applications for affordable housing as there are housing units available. The 2015 Homes For All legislative agenda requests a $39 million increase in state funding for affordable housing and supportive services for the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency and Minnesota Department of Human Services. Read more by clicking 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.

Would you like to join our mailing list?

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

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 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.

Next up for The Weekly Liberal:

~ AFA (Augsburg Fairview Academy News & Update)

~ Board of Trustees Covenant of Right Relations

~ Restore the Vote on March 15

...and more!

Music, Energy, & Vitality at First Universalist Church!

A Message From Rev. Ruth MacKenzie,
Minister of Worship Arts 
& Coming of Age

Music at First Universalist Church is exploding with energy and vitality. We are making our way into a new era of worship accompaniment with Jerrod Wendland at the keyboard, and First Universalist Choir is growing under Randy Buikema, providing the musical backbone on which we are building.

The Children's Choir has been reestablished under the direction of Colleen Schaefle. Look for their collaboration with the adult choir this coming Sunday, March 1. The Folk Band came out swinging for the fences with new compositions, and lively instrumentals under the direction of the multi-instrumentalist, Dick Hensold. They will be gracing our sanctuary on May 10th, Mother's Day.

Our community of musicians is growing from within:
First Universalist Jazz Band opened our Pledge Drive last Sunday and we reconnected with our beloved John Jensen. David and Lisa Carnes will be performing on March 8th with their band. Ellis Delaney is performing on Earth Day, April 19. And our beloved Universal Rock Band will be rockin' it on March 22nd.

And we are continuing to invite the broader community of artists and performers into our music making community, making our worship life even richer: 

Tenor Dom Wooten performed on Feb 15, and Kendra Wheeler (saxophonist) and Frank Sentwali (spoken word artist), from the Black Lives Matter Vigil, will grace our sanctuary on April 12.

I for one am excited by the vibrancy of our worship. 

Don't miss a single Sunday!

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

PS: to view our SPRING Worship Schedule, click here to view online


News & Announcements
Pledge Day is Like Election Day

By Richard Jaeger, 
Pledge Team Chair

Election day is a day that we exercise our civic responsibility by voting in our elected officials. It is a day to celebrate our democracy.

Pledge Day is a day that we exercise our shared responsibility of pledging to financially support our church. Pledge Day is a day to celebrate our church. Pledge early if you'd like but remember the day we celebrate is Pledge Day. Come in any time between 7 am and 9 pm and join the fun.

Pledge Day - Wednesday, March 11th
7:00 am - 9:00 pm

Click HERE  to learn more!

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner will be served by congregants from various groups in our church.  Learn more about our schedule of events for PLEDGE DAY by checking out the schedule of events online!

Don't Forget to Pick up your Pledge Packet

Pick up your Pledge Packet after the services on March 1st. Tables are set up outside the sanctuary where you will find your packet. Picking up your Pledge Packet gives us a chance to say hello while reducing our costs by not having to pay for US mail.

Thank you!


Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light and Honor the Earth 
to Host Events at First Universalist--

Friday, March 20: Indigenous Feast 

Join us in the Social Hall for a 4-course Indigenous feast by The Sioux Chef, featuring local native foods in pre-colonial recipes, themed to the current moon of the Dakota lunar calendar and celebrating the cuisine of the people indigenous to this region. Native craft fair and silent auction begin at 4pm. Dinner, celebration, and Native traditional music begin at 5:30pm. Cost is $60 per person, with all proceeds to support campaigns to protect our land, water, and health in the face of extreme energy extraction. 

Saturday, March 21: What's the Plan? 
A Teach-In on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

Join us in the Sanctuary bright and early for "What's the Plan? A Teach-In on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in MN," co-sponsored by MN350 and the International Forum on Globalization. 

Speakers include Winona LaDuke, Rep. Frank Hornstein, Victor Menotti, and regional leaders in movements to stop frac-sand mining, bomb trains, and oil pipelines. Minnesota is being besieged with new fossil fuel infrastructure that violates the treaty rights of indigenous people and endangers the health of our communities, and we are not prepared. 

We are becoming a superhighway for oil that we neither produce or consume, yet we assume all the risk. Meanwhile, our water and sewer mains are crumbling. Let's come together and find common spiritual ground from which to address this public policy crisis and protect ourselves and the earth. FREE and open to the public. Teach-In begins at 9:00am, lunch by the Sioux Chef (for a small fee) at 12:30pm.

Upcoming Budget Discussions and Annual Meeting of Members
By David Bach,
President, Board of Trustees

Thanks to everyone who attended the State of the Church meeting on February 1. The staff and board had the opportunity to update church members and friends on progress toward this year's goals and answer questions about the exciting work we are undertaking. 

I want to alert you to two budget meetings the board is holding on Wednesday, April 29 at 6 - 7 p.m. and on Sunday May 3, at 12:45 - 1:45 p.m. We are holding two meetings this year to allow more of you to fit this into your schedules. The Annual Meeting will be on May 31 this year. We will have one service that morning at 10 a.m., our annual Flower Service. The Annual Meeting of the Membership will follow at 11:30 a.m.

We look forward to seeing you at these upcoming meetings. Until then, please feel free to send me an email at if you have any questions about the work of the board or catch one of us in the social hall.

David Bach

Introducing ACS:
A Snapshot of Our 3-Part Series

Highlighted below are all three parts of the series exploring our new online ACS membership database. Part one was "Setting Up Your Profile", part two was "Accessing the Online Calendar", and part three was "Pledging & Setting Up Electronic Giving Online."  If you have questions about ACS or problems logging in, contact Administrative Assistant Chelsea Bertsch at or call the church office  at 612-825-1701.

How to Set Up Your Online ACS Profile

By Diane Gavere
Director of Operations

Are you a member or friend of First Universalist Church?  Learn about how to set up your online profile by clicking here.

Accessing the Online Calendar through ACS

By Bree Mattson,
Office & Events Manager

To learn how to access the church's master events calendar online, click here.

Pledging & Setting Up Electronic Giving Online

By Brad Schmidt,
Assistant Finance Administrator 

To learn more about pledging online and setting up your electronic payment method, click here.

The 2015 Minnesota UU Justice Forum
Saturday, February 28, from 1:00-5:00 PM
Hosted by First Universalist Church

In these turbulent times, as we watch people's movements for justice rise up powerfully around the country, people of faith are called to ask, "How can we be architects of the Beloved Community here on earth?" This spring, in the midst of this "movement moment" in the United States, MUUSJA invites you to join us as we build relationships beyond our congregations, deepen the spiritual grounding of our work for justice, and increase our capacity to live out our mission to "unleash courageous leadership and collective power to build a just and loving world."

The centerpiece of the first-annual 2015 Minnesota UU Justice Forum will be interactive workshop by author, educator and movement organizer Chris Crass:


WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION: We want to change the world. We want to live into the fullness of our purpose, build loving community, take effective action for social justice, and be part of people's movements that make history. We also know that we live in a deeply unequal society and that oppression, privilege and power profoundly impact our lives, faith work, and the world around us. This participatory workshop will focus on how we can help create supportive and healthy culture that enables more and more of us to be effective anti-oppression leaders in our congregations and communities.

Registration is FREE!  Click here to register.

Association  of Universalist Women Spring Retreat:
Sign-Up Online Today!

Sign up now for the AUW Spring Retreat! Friday, April 10 4:00 pm - Sunday, April 12 2:00 pm, at Koinonia Retreat Center west of Annandale. You can register Sundays at the AUW table in the Social Hall or online at

Cost is $190 for AUW members or $240 for nonmembers. Some partial scholarships are available.

Our keynote speaker will be Wendy Knox, Artistic Director of Frank Theatre in Minneapolis. As a self- styled "progressive trouble maker," she will be both inspiring and entertaining.

Habitat OFF The Hill
March 3, 6:00-8:00 pm

By Joan Naymark    


Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity is offering a twist to their annual advocacy event. Please join us for Habitat OFF the Hill - MN 2015! At this family friendly event, you will learn specifics about what is going on at the Capitol and how Twin Cities Habitat is working in partnership with Homes for All to support $39M for safe, stable, and affordable housing across the state. You will also be able to take action at that moment to contact your legislators.

Tuesday, MARCH 3, 2015
6:00PM - 8:30PM

Register to attend this event! Space is limited, so please register now. Appetizers will be served. Contact if you'd like to carpool to St. Paul for this event.

March and April
Meet with your Legislator. A Twin Cities Habitat staff member will join you in a meeting with your legislator at your preferred date and time. Together, you will address Affordable Housing, Homelessness, and share your experience as a member of First Universalist or with any of our partners: Twin Cities Habitat, Augsburg Fairview Academy, or Simpson Housing. The personal stories of constituents are powerful in St. Paul. 
Together, we will make a difference. Faithful Action is the work of our church - congregants of all ages are welcome to join us in advocacy.
Questions? Contact 612-305-7136 or Joan at 

Spring Book Reads: 
Upcoming Learning Opportunities
By Elaine Aron-Tenbrink
Minister of Membership & Adult Ministries

Listed below are a number of upcoming learning opportunities at First Universalist Church.  

First Universalist Spring Book Reads
This Spring, we are offer two opportunities to read and reflect on what it means to be human together. Now is the time to get your hands on these books so that you can join us for rich conversations in March and April!

Being Mortal
By Atul Gawande
Thursday, March 19, 11am
Chalice Room

Join Daytime Connections, a community of people in the second half of life, as we reflect on the realities and limitations of modern medicine's approach to end-of-life care and consider Gawande's vision of how we could do better. This interactive presentation will run from 11am-12:30pm. All are warmly invited to share lunch afterwards; a $5 freewill donation is appreciated. RSVP to Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at or 612-825-1701 x124.


What Does Justice Look Like?: 
The Struggle for Liberation in Dakota Homeland
By Waziyatawin
Sunday, April 12, 1pm OR Tuesday, April 14, 6:30pm
Cummins Room

During the past 150 years, the majority of Minnesotans have not acknowledged the immense and ongoing harms suffered by the Dakota People ever since their homelands were invaded over 200 years ago. Many Dakota people say that the wounds incurred have never healed, and it is clear that the injustices: genocide, ethnic cleansing, mass executions, death marches, broken treaties, and land theft; have not been made right. The Dakota People paid and continue to pay the ultimate price for Minnesota's statehood. What can we do to reverse the patterns of genocide and oppression, and instead to do justice with a depth of good faith, commitment, and action that would be genuinely new for Native and non-Native relations? Led by Suzanne Hay, Kayci Rush, and Rev. Justin Schroeder, racial justice facilitators trained by Dr. Heather Hackman.

General Assembly 2015

General Assembly (GA) is the annual meeting of our Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Attendees worship, witness, learn, connect, and make policy for the Association through democratic process. Anyone may attend but to be a delegate you must be a member of the church. 

General Assembly 2015
June 24-28, Portland, OR

The theme for GA 2015 is Building a New Way. Most events will be held in the Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Portland, OR 97232.

2015 schedule of events
Housing for General Assembly
Registration and Financial Aid
2015 Ware Lecturer Dr. Cornel West

If you have questions, or to sign up as a delegate, email:

Get To Know Your First U Staff!  
 Five Questions with Heidi Johnson

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?

I am the Communications Manager, and my job covers a little bit of everything.  It is never a dull moment, that is for sure!  I work closely with Ruth and the Worship Team on creating the Order of Service for Sunday's services, design and coordinate the publication of The Weekly Liberal, maintain and update the First Universalist Church website and social media accounts, post daily blog entries on the News & Updates section of the website, design and create content for various collateral materials of the church (new member brochures, annual report, etc.) and work closely with Justin and other staff members and lay leaders of the congregation on the communication aspects of various campaigns and programs (such as the Pledge Drive, AFA and Habitat for Humanity partnerships, etc.)

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

Like so many other staff members have said before me, the best thing about working at First Universalist really is the people: the passion, dedication, and creativity of the congregants, volunteers, and staff here is truly amazing.  I also like working at an organization where my personal morals and values are mirrored by and aligned with the mission and work of the staff and membership; I consider myself lucky to have a job where that exists.  

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

When I lived in Hawai'i and worked as an events production manager, I literally joined the circus for a five-day period. One of the circus performers cut her foot on a beach in Waikiki, and her backup was one of the I then became the stagehand.

What fantastic music--songs, bands, albums, musicians, etc.--
do you think should be on everybody's playlist?

Oh no. How can I possibly keep this answer short, and prevent myself from rambling on? I guess I'll list my top five albums that have been in my Spotify rotation for the month of February: 1) Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones (a classic that I constantly return to); 2) Hail to the Thief by Radiohead (also one of the best concert tours I have ever seen live!); 3) This is All Yours by Alt-J (a fantastic sophomore album by a fantastic band); 4) ...Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age (a 2013 release that I still can't get enough of), and 5) the entire David Bowie catalogue (because...Bowie. Enough said).

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

One of my rhetoric professors in grad school always used to say, "human beings are not rational...they are rationalizing", which has always stuck with me.