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The Chronicle
A semi-monthly e-newsletter of
First United Church of Christ, Northfield
An Open and Affirming, Just Peace Church
In This Issue... (Quick Links)
April Worship Helpers
April Bell Ringers
4/7: Shawn/Dylan Nuebel
4/14: Frank Sheehy
4/12: Steve Wilmot
4/28: Bill Poehlmann
April Sound Techs
4/7: William Beimers
4/14: Henry Beimers
4/21: John Severson
4/28: Alex Battiste
April Counters
Leota Goodney
Ed Langerak
April 11, 2013 
From the Interim Associate Pastor


With the call of The Rev. Abigail Henderson as associate pastor, a call which Sue and I join in celebrating, my work among you is coming to an end. June 2 will be my farewell Sunday. Between now and then, I will do all I can to ensure good closure of my work here and a smooth transition to Abby's ministry among you.


Before June 2, I have the bittersweet task of saying good byes - bitter because it's good bye, sweet because there are so many good memories to enjoy. After June 2, I will punctiliously honor the code of ethics for United Church of Christ clergy, which mandates that a pastor who leaves resigns completely from the pastoral office. Doing this here is made much easier by my confidence in how well Todd and Abby will minister among you in the future.


Since this is a very caring congregation, a number of people have already asked what is next for Sue and me. Well, we plan on watching lots of Twins games as we cheer them on to a World Series victory. (Could be, it's only April.)   And there's always that para-sailing class. Of course, I look forward to many wild evenings spent sorting through dusty files of worn out sermons. I will also be sifting carefully through enormous stacks of random committee minutes hoping to find an uncashed paycheck, or two, or three.


More seriously, Sue and I intend to keep commuting to see our son, his wife, and her family, now our family, in Colombia.   Wherever his political career takes our other son and his wife, we will be there for them.   Personally, I want to learn enough Hebrew to read the Psalms with the aid of a dictionary and grammar. I also have some writing and editing to do for a book project. And, who knows, I love what I do and another interim that fits us may come along. In which case, I'll just dust off those old sermons and get back to work.


Whatever is next for us, it has been a blessing for Sue and me to have spent part of our lives with you.


Bob Griggs

Moderator's Minute


It has been said that change is good but transitions can be difficult. On March 17th the congregation voted 128-2 to call the Reverend Abigail Henderson as the new Associate Minister. It is with great anticipation that we wait for June 4th to receive Abby's gifts of ministry. At the same time many of us have melancholy feelings as we begin to say goodbye to pastor Bob. He has spoken to many of us of how he will guide us through this transition and allow us to begin the next chapter. This is the role of an interim minister and Bob is the very best at what he does. I give thanks for his gifts.


But what of the search committee? Yes, there is a sense of relief to have completed a task, but the work was more than traditional committee work. Bonding together in a small group to do an important job, knowing that the job would be completed with a sense of accomplishment was rewarding in ways that are difficult to express. In the new governance model, we are looking to create more of these small groups, with concrete tasks and finite timelines. These groups can accomplish both the work of church ministries to feed the congregation and wider community while also feeding the individual. Inspirational leadership is always welcome. Do you have your finger on the pulse of an issue? Consider taking action, form a small group and make an impact. Do you feel called to be the Open and Affirming Coordinator? Just Peace Coordinator? These defined positions within our congregation work to bring important issues to the attention of the congregation. If you feel you are being called, please let me know.


Based on your input, a new task force is being appointed to study the audio/visual needs of the sanctuary. This small group will work closely with Pastor Todd to investigate the technical, physical and spiritual options to make worship more fulfilling. The group will bring a recommendation to council in about six months. I will keep you posted as to their progress.




Greg Muth

Fighting Apostles News

French Toast Breakfast


french toast

The Fighting Apostles are assembling an all-star lineup for the annual French Toast Breakfast Sunday, April 28, immediately following worship.


Fans will have an opportunity to meet the players, admire their culinary skills and sit down to  a nourishing, league-leading breakfast of champions. We'll be serving French toast, made with Brick Oven's famous Children's Pleasure bread; wild rice sausages; fruit; and beverage. The cost is $5 for adults, $3 for kids 12 and under, or $12 per family.


Proceeds from the breakfast will help underwrite the team's entry fee for the Northfield Church Softball League.

Apostle Tryouts


church softball league

Everyone is welcome to try out for the Fighting  Apostles. We are an open and affirming softball team. Church league play begins in early May. We play most Sunday evenings into August.


Our tryouts are done largely over the phone. Be prepared to answer three questions: 1) Do you hit with power? 2) Do you know someone who hits with power? 3) Can you cook?


So, if you are interested and have a glove, call Scott Richardson at 507-646-8475 or e-mail 

Church Governance Task Force Update

As you may already be aware, Pastor Todd and last year's moderator Sarah Forster put together a small task force to examine the church's governance structure and recommend possible changes to Council and the congregation. The task force includes: Pastor Todd, Brad Hoff, Jane McWilliams, Scott Richardson and Mary Savina.


We began our work by dipping into Dan Hotchkiss' book "Governance and Ministry" and by talking with church committees and their members. Each committee was asked to consider these questions:


1) What gives life to you while serving on this committee?

2) What takes energy from you while serving on this committee?

3) What is the essential work of this committee?

4) Is there work you do that isn't necessary?

5) What in our structure is an impediment to your work?

6) What could be done differently?


We want to thank all of the people who helped us by taking meeting time for reflection and discussion, and also those who took time to answer these questions individually. We have a very good start, thanks to all of you!


We have just started reflecting ourselves about the next steps. As a teaser, though, here are six things we heard more than once from committee members:


1)      Many people find church work particularly satisfying because of the mix of practical and spiritual. In other words, the purpose of the work makes a difference.

2)      People who have served on nominating committees say it's hard work each year to fill committee slots.

3)      Committee members think that three-year terms are long and challenging for many people.

4)      For some people, the meetings - not the committee work itself - are the aspects of church work they find most frustrating.

5)      Everyone understands that First UCC has sets of tasks that must be done regularly and also has needs for strategic thinking and for (months long) focused work on specific issues.

6)      Many people are unclear about how decisions get made in our church.


Our next steps as a committee include a) drafting one or more plans for alternative governance structures to give us all something concrete to discuss and compare with the current structure; b) scheduling discussions with members of the church about these plans in larger (Adult Forum) and smaller groups; c) meeting with some consultants who have experience guiding churches and other organizations through structural change. Watch in The Chronicle and Sunday bulletins for updates and invitations to participate; the first set of formal discussion opportunities will probably be in late April and early May. If you're intrigued by anything you see here and now, we'd like you to feel free to contact us. Our email addresses are:


Pastor Todd:

Brad Hoff:

Jane McWilliams:

Scott Richardson:

Mary Savina:



Sewing Enthusiasts/Recyclers Wanted
earth day We are looking for volunteers who could help with portable sewing machines and sewing lunch bags and grocery bags for Earth Day activities on April 20th.
Classes will meet in the Just Food Coop Community Room from 12 - 2:30pm and 2:45 - 5:15pm.   Also, donations of old jeans or other sturdy materials would be appreciated. There will be a box inside the South entrance (off Parking Lot) to the Church for donations. If you have questions or to volunteer, contact Mary Jo at
or 651-208-8301.

Grief Group for Parents
(Grieving the Loss of a Child)
Northfield United Methodist will host this group, beginning Tuesday evenings:
April 23 to May 28 from 6:30 - 8:00 pm in the church library.  Please call Sherri Bunch Quaas, the facilitator, at 507-645-4300 to register.  Feel free to pass this information on to anyone you think could be helped by this support group.

Join Us for WFFF
Wednesdays for Fun, Food and Faith (WFFF) will continue on Wednesday evenings at 5:30 p.m., through April 24. 

We need volunteers to help out each Wednesday: shopping for the groceries for the meal, coming about 4:00 p.m. to help prepare the food, making a dessert, helping with clean up of the kitchen and assembly room.

Contact Lynne Severson for more information.

Restore, Replenish, Renew: A Service of Renewal for Caregivers
Music, Meditation and Anointing of Caregivers
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
7:00 p.m.
St. John's Lutheran Church
Sponsored by: Northfield Retirement Community,
Three Links, Northfield Hospitals & Clinics, and
Northfield Area Interfaith Association

Annual Open and Affirming (ONA) Worship Celebration - "Widening the Circle"


Union Congregational Church, United Church of Christ

118 4th St., Elk River

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Workshops at 2:30 p.m.

Worship at 4 p.m.

Reception following.



This year, our Conference Open and Affirming (ONA) Celebration will be something new! The success of the "Vote NO on the Marriage Amendment" campaign last fall gives our 39 churches an additional reason to gather and celebrate being in community with together. We need to see and embrace each other; worship, sing, pray, study, eat and vision together; and for some this year to lodge and travel together.

The worship this year will be led by Rev. Dr. J. Bennet Guess, Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries of the UCC. Guess has written more than 500 articles on all aspects of the church, earning him more than 60 awards. His writing demonstrates his broad knowledge of the UCC and local-church life and demonstrates his capacity to think critically as well as creatively. He is a member of numerous ecumenical organizations and is a member of the UCC's five-member national Collegium of Officers.


Music will be provided by the St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ sanctuary choir.  


Two workshops are offered at 2:30 p.m.: "A New Way of Doing Church" presented by Shift UCC - a brand new ministry setting within the Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ, led by Lawrence T. Richardson, and "Sing Out" led by Gigi Nauer, co-director at Pilgrim Point Camp and Music Director for Pilgrims' UCC in Maple Grove.


For those who would like to be present for the Celebration but find constraints due to the distance, some members of ONA churches in the metro area are offering their homes for overnight lodging on the weekend of the celebration.


Accommodation for those nights will also be available in Alexandria for those who would like to break up a trip from the North and carpool from Alexandria to Elk River on Sunday the 14th of April.


An accommodation form will be available in your church office or from your clergy.

Mission 4/1 Earth Tally

Mission 4/1 Earth

The UCC's Mission 4/1/Earth has begun.  50 great days of greening up, powering down and shouting out for the environment.  UCC goals: 1 million Earth Care hours, 100,000 trees planted, and 100,000 letters of environmental advocacy. Record your earth care hours, trees planted, and letters written here.


First UCC Mission 4/1/Earth Activities:

  • Planting Trees: Saturday April 20th First UCC will be planting 450 trees at the River Bend Nature Center from 10 a.m. - 3:00p.m.  Stay for the whole time or come when you are available.    
  • Writing Letters: We'll be writing letters of Environmental Advocacy after worship on Sunday April 21st. 
  • Read Eaarth by Bill McKibben: Our book for April and May is Eaarth by Bill McKibben.  This is a serious book for serious times.  Climate activist McKibben (a Methodist Sunday School teacher on the side) states what is going on with climate on our changing planet, and gives us his recommendations for how to go forward.  The book is available in the Assembly Room for $12, sign up for a discussion group too.  Discussion groups will begin the week of April 21st. 
  • WFFF- At WFFF on Wednesdays we'll be watching short films about churches and other faith communities that are taking action to care for God's creation. 
  • Adult Forums:  The Adult Forums April 14, May 5, and May 19 will be focused on the issue of Climate Change and what we as a congregation are called to do in response.
Intergenerational Mission Trip

Wanting to swing a hammer, throw some paint, get to know First Habitat for Humanity logo

UCC friends, and make a difference? Announcing the first UCC Intergenerational Mission Trip. From July 7-14 up to 20 First UCCers will work with Habitat for Humanity in Eagle Butte, SD on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.  Work will include rehabilitation of existing homes, painting houses, and basic landscaping.  Participants will also experience a Sweat Lodge Ceremony and the summer Sun Dances. 



Total cost for adults is $275.  High school youth are already signing up.  To reserve a spot, a $75 deposit is due to the church office by April 30.  Click here if you are interested.

Pilgrim Point Camp
 Join us July 19-21, 2013
for the 3rd Annual First UCC
Pilgrim Point Camp
Retreat Weekend!

Not only is this a lot of fun with a great group of all ages from our congregation, but it is a sacred place to commune with God and nature, and you will emerge refreshed and renewed!


Pilgrim Point Camp is our Minnesota Conference UCC Church Camp on Lake Ida, near Alexandria, MN. The camp is on a prominent point extending from the east shore into the middle off the lake, with many waterfront activities (including lifeguards) and a large recreational area.


We will arrive for Friday dinner (either by coach bus or on your own) and stay through Sunday morning.  This is open to everyone of all ages and family types, and you may invite others from your community to join us. We welcome everyone to join for an intergenerational gathering in a beautiful and spiritual lakefront setting. This has helped build community among camp participants, and equipped us with tools to continue practicing our faith and recognize the interconnectedness between all and with nature.

Registration forms are availabe by clicking here, and are also available in the church office and on the church's website ( 
For more information on Pilgrim Point Camp click here, visit or contact Phil Kasten. 
Contact Us
First UCC
300 Union Street
Northfield, MN  55057


Visit our website:


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UCC Resources (National United Church of Christ website) (Minnesota Conference of the United Church of Christ website)
April Faith Forums
Sundays @ 11:45am
Rear of Sanctuary
4/7: Climate "big picture" lecture
4/14: Global warming discussion
4/21: Earth Day letter writing
4/28: No Forum (Fighting Apostles French Toast Breakfast)
First United Church of Christ | | |
300 Union Street
Northfield, MN 55057


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