First Universalist Church
Weekly E-News: August 21, 2014

Blessing of the Backpacks

a note from Rev. Justin

The Rev. Jacqui Lewis, a prophetic voice of our time, recently wrote about the impact of racism on all of us, but in particular, the impact of racism on children and young men of color: "These are our children...and they are in danger. We have to fix this; we have to address the ways that racism in the United States is like a virus that mutates and continues to infect us. Children are not born to hate, nor are they born to fear. But adults who have the virus can harm them, and children can catch the virus, too. It can feel overwhelming to address racism, but we have to do it."


As the grief, turmoil, and protests continue in Ferguson, MO, and around the country, I remember that Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager who was shot six times after some sort of encounter with the police, was supposed to have started college this past Monday, August 18th.


If you have a child (or children) in school, you are familiar (or are preparing for the first time!) for this fall time ritual, the beginning of the new school year.  Our son starts kindergarten next Wednesday; he'll board the bus, wearing his backpack, carrying our hearts with him, as he begins his first day. This scene, in various communities, in various ways, repeats itself around the country; parents will drive a young adult to college; parents will prepare for life with a middle-schooler, or a high-schooler; and some parents will watch as their child boards the bus for the first time.


These are poignant, tender days; I am aware of those among us who have lost a child, a child who would now be in high school, college, or beginning a new job this fall. I am aware of the families, like Michael Brown's family, who have lost young men because of the virus of racism. And I am aware of all the living children - all of our children, of all colors - who are very much in need of our love, support, and blessing, so that they might thrive.  


This Sunday, I hope you will join us for our "Blessing of the Backpacks" service at 10:00 a.m. Children and youth are encouraged to wear their school backpacks to church, so that we can include them in the Backpack Blessing ritual. If you are able, please bring an extra backpack to donate for students of Augsburg Fairview Academy (here). We will bless these backpacks as well.


As we move toward this ritual, ready to bless the backpacks and the lives of those most precious to us, let us remember those children and young adults no longer with us. Let us remember Michael Brown, and the many others like him, who have no backpack to bless.  Let us remember the preciousness of all children, and let us continue to work for a world of equity, justice, and compassion.


This is the work of our church.  


In faith,



August 24th Order of Service and Bulletin
To view the August 24 Order of Service and Bulletin online, click below. 
Summer Worship Schedule, one service at 10:00AM.


Office/Front Desk Volunteer Opportunity! 


The front desk at First Universalist Church needs more cheerful volunteers to join our reception team. The first impression many visitors get of our church is from the smiling faces they see when they walk into our office.


We're looking for friendly and reliable folks who want to get more involved in our community. Hours and time commitments are flexible and can be as much as a few shifts per week or as little as one Sunday a month.


Represent First Universalist by greeting visitors, answering phones, monitoring doors and helping out with projects, all while spending time in a vibrant and welcoming office environment.


If you are interested in volunteering or learning more, please contact Chelsea Bertsch, Administrative Assistant, at 612-825-1701 or at 

(The) Knitting Our Lives Together (Circle)


"In the rhythm of the needles, there is music for the soul."


Join members and friends of First Universalist for knitting and crocheting on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, from 7 to 8:45 p.m.  Our first session will be on Tuesday, September 16.


"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit either."  Elizabeth Zimmerman


Knitters often feel a special bond for each other.  We hope that doing knitting as a community circle will give knitters an opportunity to share more deeply and discover the richness of their way of living.  Knitters pace themselves a little differently than most folks.  Many of them give away most of their work and focus on benefitting other folks.


Some of us will be doing knitting for charities, including the Mother Bear Project, the Hats for the Homeless Project, and the church's comfort shawl knitting.  We will have patterns, and will sometimes have yarn and needles available.


"What we do for ourselves dies with us; what we do for others is immortal"  Albert Pike.


Novice knitters are welcome.  The group should be able to answer questions you may have.


"It's not a hobby, it's a post-apocalyptic skill."


Summer Choir 


Your invitation to sing in Summer Choir:


Do you like to sing? Have you thought about being in a choir, but you can't make an extended commitment? Summer Choir may be just right for you. The Summer Choir is scheduled to sing on August 24.


Rehearsals are at 9:00 a.m. on the day of the service. Yes, only one rehearsal on the day of the service. Music is easy enough to learn in the 45 minute rehearsal. All are welcome! 


If you have any questions, please


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A Note From Rev. Justin
August 24 OOS & Bulletin
Office Volunteer Opportunity
Knitting Circle
Summer Choir
Share the Bounty
Backpacks for AFA Students
Join a Welcome Team!
Tilling the Soil for Racial Justice
First U Annual Family Campout
Mn UU Social Justice Alliance
'Share the Bounty' on September 7th




First Universalist has a tradition of collecting food for people facing life challenges.  Every fall we collect fresh garden vegetables to be delivered to Joyce Food Shelf.  If you are a gardener you no doubt have some surplus veggies to share....if you aren't a gardener, check out some of some of the neighborhood farmers' markets to obtain your contribution.  Often the fresh food donated to food shelves is "past it's prime".  Showing up at Joyce Food Shelf on Monday morning with garden fresh vegetables, the volunteers are thrilled.


We will be collecting fresh  vegetables on Sunday, September 7th.  Donation baskets will be on the front steps of the church.


Last year we collected over 200 pounds of fresh vegetables......let's see if we can surpass that amount this year.  Add a few butternut squash to the pile, the numbers add up fast!  If you have lots of cherry tomatoes to share, please put them in a plastic container.


We appreciate everybody's support of this community outreach project.

Backpacks For Augsburg Fairview Academy Students


New or gently used backpacks are needed for Augsburg Fairview Academy (AFA) high school students.  Students prefer black or neutral colors (and want to avoid gang colors like bright red, blue and green).  Bring your donations to the HUB on Sundays.


First Universalist Church supports AFA  as part of our racial justice and housing ministry.  We provide supplies for a Food and Clothing Closet as well as tutors and classroom assistants.  In addition, AFA received a grant from the First Universalist Church Foundation to develop student leadership.  Food donations will begin in September, and the tutoring will begin in October.  More information on how to get involved will be available in September.


Embody the Love at the Core of Our Faith: Join a Welcome Team


Every Sunday, a very special group of people gathers to perform one of the most essential ministries in our church: the act of welcoming. These kind souls greet visitors and members as they come through our doors, guide new families to religious education classes, and offer hospitality in the social hall after the service. Some adults choose to serve with the young people in their lives, which makes for special intergenerational welcome.


Welcome Team members serve during one service per month. We would love for you to join us!  To take part, contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at: or 612-825-1701 x124 or speak with Sandy DiNanni at the Information Table in the social hall after the Sunday service.


Tilling the Soil for Racial Justice


Monthly Discussions about Racial Justice

Join us for a meaningful discussion of "White Like Me," part-memoir and part-polemical essay by Tim Wise.  Wise examines what it means to be white in a nation created for the benefit of those who are "white like him," and how privilege seeps into every institutional arrangement, from education to employment to the justice system.

All are welcome!  

This book discussion will take place in room 203 at these times:

Sunday, September 14, 1:00-2:30pm

Tuesday, September 16, 6:30-8:00pm
For more information, contact Clemma Muller ( or Kayci Rush (  You can also email them to purchase this book for $8.99. Childcare is available free of charge by submitting this online form at least seven days in advance.

First Universalist Church Annual Family Campout


Labor Day Weekend
Saturday, Aug 30 - 

Monday, Sep 1

Our 3rd Annual Family Campout is a great way to start the church year! All families with children and youth enrolled in Religious Education at First Universalist are welcome.

Just 20-30 minutes from the cities, we spend three days and two nights tent camping, playing, and relaxing together in the beautiful, secluded woods of the  Camp Sacajawea Retreat Center.

More info and registration at:


MN Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance

The MN UU Social Justice Alliance presents the UU Youth Engaging Legislation Program, bringing youth together at the intersection of faith and social justice through legislative action. UU-YELP! will mobilize 50 UU youth around a 2015 legislative issue.


Participants will explore key issues through the lens of our faith, engage in public witness, and meet with legislators at UU Youth Lobby Day. Apply by 10/10!
MUUSJA is also seeking two paid Youth Interns to help plan and run UU-YELP. Apply by 9/15!

For details, visit or email:

First Universalist Church
3400 Dupont Ave South
Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55408


In the Universalist spirit of love and hope, we give, receive, and grow