December 21, 2017  |  Vol. 4 No. 51

December Worship Theme: Hope

Worship this Sunday
Sunday, Dec. 24, 10  a.m. (one service only)
"Wisdom of the Four-Leggeds"
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
Begin your Christmas Eve morning with beauty and a sense of grounding. This will be a morning of poetry, music, and the imaginative stories of Christmas told through the voices of the beasts who were the first witnesses to the birth of the Babe.
Please note: there will be no childcare or Religious Education this Sunday.
A Look Ahead
Next Sunday
Sunday, Dec. 31, 
10 a.m. (one service only)
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Singing Sunday, Multigenerational Worship

Schedule of Holiday Services
Thursday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. ritual
Winter Solstice Celebration
Sunday, Dec. 24, 4 p.m. 
Christmas Pageant
Sunday, Dec. 24, 9:30 p.m.
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service

Recent Sermon Podcasts
December 17, 2017
"A New Work Is Come"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
December 10, 2017
"Stubborn Hope"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Listen to the podcast
December 3, 2017
"Hope Against Hope"
Rev. Jen Crow
December Worship Theme: Hope
Barbara Kingsolver writes, "The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what to hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof." Some of us struggle to find hope. Some of us take hope for granted. Hope is what sends a student to school, an addict to a 12-step program, an activist out into the street. Theologian Julie Neraas writes, "While hope is a strengthening force, it also lays a person open to the vulnerabilities of love, desire, expectation, disappointment, loss." This month we wrestle with hope, what to hope for, with all its complexity, and how to live under its roof.
Winter Solstice Celebration: "Community... Come Unity; We Have Light to Share"
Thursday, Dec. 21, 7:30 p.m. (7 p.m. doors)
Tonight! Celebrate the longest night of the year and rejoice in the returning of the sun! The ritual includes chants, solstice heritage and wisdom, a call to the directions, music, and sharing of the light. 
Christmas Pageant
Sunday, 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. 
Christmas Eve Candlelight Service
Sunday, Dec. 24, 9:30 p.m.
The Christmas Eve Candlelight Service 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.
Newcomer Circles
Wednesdays, Jan. 3, 10, 17 & 24, 7-8:30 p.m.
OR Tuesdays, Jan. 9, 16, 23 & 30, 7-8:30 p.m.
Recent visitors and new members are invited to join a Newcomer Circle! These 4-session gatherings of 6-10 newcomers offer a chance to explore core Unitarian Universalist values, reflect on our spiritual journeys, and connect with other folks who are new to church.  Sign up by emailing . We look forward to meeting you!
Heartfelt Thanks from the Holiday Giving Team
The Holiday Giving project peaked last Sunday as we streamed down the aisles during worship to present monetary gifts to Marnita's Table. It was a powerful ritual of communal generosity, one we enact only every other year. The Holiday Giving project created opportunities for individuals and families to discover a deeper meaning in this sometimes hectic season of gift-giving, and for all of us collectively to put our faith into action by supporting an organization that works for racial justice. 

There's still time to make a donation! During the morning service on December 24, the shared offering will go to Marnita's Table. You may also give by online payment or by check (payable to "First Universalist Church" with "Holiday Giving" on the memo line).  We'll announce the cumulative value of our gift after the holidays. 

As we wind down the Holiday Giving project (while looking forward to developing new collaborations with Marnita's Table), we want to acknowledge the many people who helped to make the project a success. The Holiday Giving Team consisted of Jacoby Daniels, Sue Searing, Lukas Udstuen, and Lena Vdakes. Brian Ellis also participated in the review of applicants. Rev. Justin Schroeder and Communications Manager Jenn Stromberg provided valuable administrative guidance and encouragement. The Visual Arts Team helped to create the striking visual display in the Social Hall - a special thank you to Bette DeMars and Jody Beresford for their contributions. Religious Education students provided colorful pictures of food for the display, decorated placemats, and made hallway posters to promote the project; thank you to Lauren Wyeth, Director of Children, Youth and Family Ministries, and Meera Kannan, Young Children's Program Assistant, for coordinating the children's involvement. Finally, we give special thanks to Amelie Vdakes and Skyler Vdakes who cheerfully provided logistical support.

We are especially grateful to Marnita Schroedl, Lauren Williams, and other members of Marnita's Table staff and board including Lars, Elijah and Mary Sue, who took time to join us during services and afterwards in the social hall. They answered a steady stream of questions about the organization's work and invited church members to experience IZI training. We are exceedingly grateful for their dedication to the difficult ongoing work of building bridges across differences. We look forward to future collaborations!

Finally, we thank the generous, open-hearted members of our church, adults and youth, who selflessly re-directed a portion of their seasonal spending to participate in the Holiday Giving project. We wish you all a very happy and fulfilling holiday season and new year!

- Jacoby, Lena, Lukas, and Sue
Holiday Stress: Mental Health Connect
Many of us approach the holiday season with anticipation of celebrations and renewed connections. This often includes a level of stress in preparing for an exhaustive pace, and some anxiety regarding expectations of the season. Here are some suggestions that could assist with self care and stress reduction, and hopefully enhance your experience.
  • Prioritize activities. Be willing to protect your schedule. Decide as a family/partner which activities you may add or eliminate.
  • Discuss how your family and personal traditions developed. Talk with those with whom you share traditions about the meaningfulness of these experiences. Be willing to evaluate.
  • Prepare for family and friend gatherings with realistic expectations. Relationships aren't likely to be transformed due to holiday atmospheres. Determine the amount of time you are comfortable devoting to a gathering, and plan when to arrive and depart.
  • If gift-giving is part of your tradition, predetermine limits of gift-giving. Decide with spouse/partner/family a budget for the season and support that decision. Simplify gift-giving and consider non-material gifts of time, support, and activities to share.
  • Self-care strategies to replenish are helpful to everyone. Monitor sleeping, nutrition, exercise, and be sure to schedule some quiet time!
First Universalist is now part of Bethlehem Lutheran's Mental Health Connect (MHC) program, which assists individuals and families in accessing and navigating mental health services. Each member church has Ambassadors dedicated to spreading awareness of the MHC program, starting conversations about mental health, bringing events and resources to the community, and more.
We are happy to continue our "Make It OK" initiative to de-stigmatize mental health conditions and to encourage us all to talk more openly about mental illness. Since the holiday season can be a difficult time for many of us, The Mental Health Collaborative kindly shared the above article with some helpful ideas we can use to reduce stress for our friends, family members and ourselves.
Augsburg Fairview Academy Students and Staff Share Their Gratitude for Our Support
Thank you for your generous support of Augsburg Fairview Academy (AFA) on Sunday, Nov. 19. AFA is a public charter high school offering a welcoming and supportive environment for students who have faced educational, economic, and racial barriers to achieve in the past. AFA is one of our six Faithful Action Community Partners; this is our 6th year for partnership with AFA. Our offerings are used to support the Hope Food and Clothing Closets at AFA, and funds permitting, other projects like field trips. With gratitude, AFA staff and students made the following slideshow which tells about the school, its students and what our contributions mean to them. View the slideshow here.
"I don't have food at home, but I can get some before I leave school from the Hope Closet."
- AFA student
First Universalist is the primary support for the Hope and Food Closets; donations are needed throughout the school year.

Donations for Hope Clothing Closet: men's and women's winter jackets (black or dark colors preferred, size M, L, X-L); winter hats, scarves, and gloves; hoodies; jeans for men and women; men's and women's underwear and socks. Clothing should be clean, teen appropriate, and in good repair. 
Donations for Hope Food Closet: single serving microwavable soups, mac & cheese, stews; fruit cups (mandarins are favorite); granola bars; trail mix; nuts. Toiletries: toothpaste and toothbrushes; men's and women's deodorant, shampoo, and conditioner; lotions; chapstick; condoms; sanitary products. Ethnic hair products highly desired. 

Bring items to the information desk in the social hall on Sundays or leave them on the shelves labeled AFA by 34th St. entrance.
Habitat for Humanity: Winter Work Days
First Universalist has three Habitat for Humanity work days coming up in early 2018, and we'd love to have you on the crew! The dates are Thursdays, Jan. 11Feb. 8 and March 8

Volunteers must be over sixteen years of age, and sixteen- and seventeen-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult. The work day is  from 8:15 a.m. until 4 p.m. , and lunch will be provided. 

Worried that you don't know much about building and using tools? No worries! Your fellow volunteers and the Habitat site supervisor are there to help you. 
Thanks to Visual Arts for the Holiday Decor!
Pamela Balabuszko-Reay putting final touches on a holiday arrangement.
Photo by Janet Mills.
Thanks go to the Visual Arts Committee for creating this year's holiday decorations! Twenty-one committee members, led by holiday chairs Meredith Sims, Janet Mills and Pamela Balabuszko-Reay, spent time stringing and hanging stars, hanging fabric and gold net, decorating wreaths, and creating arrangements throughout the church. Some individuals also helped committee member Lena Vdakes with visuals for our Holiday Giving project, the recipient of which is Marnita's Table. Our church is now beautifully transformed for the congregation to enjoy this holiday season!  
Plan Ahead for Year End Contributions
Calendar year 2017 is quickly coming to an end. If you would like to make a financial gift prior to the end of the year, donations must be transferred, postmarked, made online at My First U or dropped off at the church office no later than Sunday, Dec. 31. Please be aware that the church office will be closed starting Friday, Dec. 22 but contributions can be dropped off with a staff member at the information desk in the social hall before or after holiday services. 
If you have questions, contact Andrea Love at the church office by phone at 612-825-1701 ext. 100 or send an email to .
Thank you to all for your ongoing support and generosity to First Universalist Church. 
Holiday Office Hours & New Office Hours in 2018
The church office will be closed from Friday, Dec. 22 through Monday, Jan. 1. 

When the office reopens in the new year, we will have slightly different hours. The new office hours for 2018 are as follows:
10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Mondays
8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. Tuesdays
10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Wednesdays
10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Thursdays
Closed Fridays and Saturdays
8 a.m. - 1 p.m. Sundays
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 Visitors Team.
Congregational Care: Caring Corner
Write a note to a congregant who could use support! There are cards available in the library, which is located off of the Social Hall. You are welcome to stop by and write a card at any time. Just leave it in the basket and the church will mail it for you. Learn more about congregational care on our website
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.
Seeing All God's Children: An Interfaith Service Embracing Immigrants and Refugees
Sunday, January 7, 1-2 p.m. at Basilica of St. Mary (88 N 17th St, Minneapolis)

Please join ISAIAH, Ascension Catholic Church and The Basilica of Saint Mary for an interfaith service embracing immigrants and refugees. Through our testimony, prayer and music we will recognize our common bond and dignity as beloved children of God. We will celebrate a year of sanctuary, repent for the times we've failed to see each other as children of God, and pledge to see and talk about each other as a united community in both our personal conversations and in public discourse.

Special music will be provided by Mundus, the Basilica's resident world music ensemble (guest singers welcome) and community singing will be led by Ahmed Anzaldua from Border CrosSing. 
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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. 22 - Jan. 1
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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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