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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)
June Worship Helpers
June Bell Ringers
6/2: Scott Richardson
6/9: Sarah Beimers
6/16: Sarah Beimers
6/23: Bill Poehlmann
6/30: Frank Sheehy
June Sound Techs
6/2: Christoph Hodel
6/9: Alex Battiste
6/16: William Beimers
6/23: Henry Beimers
6/30: John Severson
June Counters
Leota Goodney
Carol Rutz  
June 27, 2013 
Pastor Abby
Minister's Musings  

Welcomes and Whys


As I write this, I have completed three full weeks as First UCC's new associate minister and the fourth is already in full swing. It has been three weeks of learning, laughing, confusion, hospitality, and near-constant questioning asking. I am very grateful to Todd, Jennifer, Andrea, and all the other staff, volunteers, friends, and members of the church who are helping me with this transition. In the midst of all of this, Will and I are moving on a much faster timeline than we expected. I welcome your prayers this weekend as we transport our household from Minneapolis to Northfield. Specifically, you can pray that our three black cats and one grumpy turtle refrain from staging a coup d'etat on moving day.


As I transition into this new role, it's easy to get caught up in logistics and details of how things work around here. How do I check my voicemail? What do all these acronyms stand for? How do I already have such a huge pile of papers on my desk? These are all important aspects to being here and doing a good job. But this morning, as I sorted through messages in my inbox, I found myself turning to a recent poem by Peter Cole, called "Quatrains for a Calling." (For those not familiar, a "quatrain" is a poetic style going back to ancient times, a stanza or complete poem of four lines). It begins,


"Why are you here?

Who have you come for

and what would you gain?

Where is your fear?


Why are you here?"


(Read the whole thing here)


I suspect this poem is about the writer's calling to create poetry. But really, it could be about any of us in pursuit of our life's work, wondering what we bring, what we lack, and why we feel compelled to do what we do. I think "why are you here?" is a question to ask of the church as a whole. What makes this place special, unique, and important? What is that we do here that can't be done elsewhere?


Why are we here?


I look forward to exploring these and many other questions with you in the time to come!



Moderator's Minute 

One part of this month's Council discussion was about the possibilities and process for placing solar panels on the roof of our building. The discussion followed a recent meeting with Newport and Powerfully Green, organizations dedicated to helping homeowners, businesses and non-profits join the solar revolution.


I have been doing some discernment on the solar project, trying to find God's voice in this discussion, trying to answer what we are being called to do.  On one hand, eventually, we can reduce the amount of money we spend on utilities. On the other hand, immediately, we will begin to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce our carbon footprint. I do believe we are being called to care for the earth.  Which to me means reducing our carbon emissions.

I started to look at some numbers (

  • One gallon of gasoline burned releases 9 kilograms of CO2
  • One therm of natural gas burned releases 5 kilograms of CO2
  • One railcar of coal burned releases 230,000 kilograms of CO2
  • One kilowatt hour of electricity used in MN releases 0.75 kilograms of CO2 
  • The average MN household uses 700 kilowatt hours of electricity per month.  The church uses about 4000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month.  This means we are contributing 3000 kilograms of CO2 to the atmosphere per month in electricity use alone.  I have no idea whether our electrical use is lean or obese but it wouldn't hurt to go on an electricity "diet".   

Newport and Powerfully Green showed a graphic where our roof was covered with a 37 kilowatt array of solar panels. It was impressive! With this array in place we could theoretically generate enough power to cover all of our electrical needs. But we need to be realistic about our historic building and solar. For structural and aesthetic reasons we may only be able to "find space" for a fraction of the panels we need to meet our consumption (if this is a goal).


We also need to understand the costs. Our consultants presented a detailed plan that included a $35,000 down payment and a 10-year payoff plan using the electricity generated. After 10-years, we would own the panels and reap the full benefits (both carbon and monetary) of the array. Council directed the Trustees, Facilities Committee and the Service and Social Responsibility Committee to meet and discuss the solar proposal in the context of our mission for environmental stewardship, other facilities needs, and the anticipated capital campaign and report back to the council in September.


There is a lot to do. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but there is also a lot of excitement about the possibilities of lightening our footprint. Most importantly, we are blessed to have thoughtful dedicated people working together on this project. 



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


There is only one place you are going to see Pastor Todd going down the water slide.  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 available by clicking here, and are also available in the church office and on the church's website (  You are encouraged to register for this retreat as soon as possible.
For more information on Pilgrim Point Camp click here, visit or contact Phil Kasten. 

 Worship at Valley Grove July 7


Valley GroveOur annual worship and picnic lunch at Valley Grove will be on Sunday, July 7, 2013, at our new summer worship time of 9:30am.  Please bring your own picnic lunch, blankets, and lawn chairs, as well as desserts to share.  PLF will provide beverages.  Hope to see you there!  Please click here for a map.  A photo album from last year's service can be viewed here.


 Chickens for Sale Saturday, July 6 


Main Street Project will be selling free-range chickens in  the First UCC parking lot from 9-11am on Saturday, July 6.  The proceeds benefit local Latino farmers as part of Main Street Project's sustainable food and agriculture program (formerly called the Rural Enterprise Center) which is creating an innovative, sustainable system that makes it possible for aspiring immigrant farmers or "agripreneurs" to walk a path out of poverty to prosperity.

This Summer in Worship: 

Elijah and Elisha


A major highlight of this last year at First UCC was the Middle School Musical, Elijah.  Building on this energizing event, Pastor Abby and I will focus on the stories of the prophet Elijah and his prot�g�, Elisha during worship this summer.  We'll discuss the back story to the musical, all that happens afterwards, and we'll ask what this has to do with our lives in 2013.  You are invited to crack open your Bibles and read along each week. 


We started on June 23rd with 1 Kings 17: 1-24.  The schedule for the rest of the summer is below:


  • June 30: 1 Kings 19: 1-15, God in the silence
  • July 7: 1 Kings 21: 1-21, The story of Naboth's Vineyard
  • July 14: 2 Kings 4: 1-7, Elisha and the Widow's Oil
  • July 21: 2 Kings 4: 8-37, Elisha raises the Shunammite's Son
  • July 28: 2 Kings 4: 38-44, Visions of abundance
  • August 4: 2 Kings 5: 1-27, The Healing of Naaman

Northfield Noontime Organ Recitals


Northfield Noontime Organ Recitals enter their seventh season this summer beginning July 10 and concluding on August 14.  All six recitals will be held on Wednesdays from 12:15 to 12:45 p. m. with the following schedule:


Wed. July 10: Phyllis Milbrandt and Richard Collman (house pipe organ), 1812 Michigan Drive, Northfield


Wed. July 17: David Lim (student at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN), Music & Drama Center, Carleton College, 110 Winona St. N.


Wed. July 24: Stephen May (Organist & Choir Director, Episcopal Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour, Faribault),

Skinner Chapel, Carleton College, 405 First St. E.


Wed. July 31: Rosalie Alcoser (Organist & Choir Director, St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Rochester, MN)   

First United Church of Christ, 300 Union St.


Wed. August 7: Bob Henstein (Organist at Northfield United Methodist Church), United Methodist Church, 1401 S. Maple St.


Wed. August 14: Katie Burk (Organ Performance & Music Education St. Olaf Graduate 2013), Boe Memorial Chapel, St. Olaf College


Some recitals will include a free-will offering to defray publicity expenses.  For more information, contact Richard Collman at 507-645-1357 or email him at



A movement calling on religious institutions, colleges and universities, and municipalities to divest from the fossil fuel industry is slowly building momentum.  The intent of this movement is to raise awareness, apply political pressure, and encourage change in public policy regarding carbon emissions that add to global warming.  There's also a moral question involved.  Is it faithful to be profiting from a product that we know is causing climate change, damaging the earth, and harming current and future generations of human beings?  The public radio program This American Life recently did a story on the beginnings of the divestment movement, and you can listen here by clicking on this link.


The Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ is bringing a resolution titled, "Urging Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies" to the General Synod of the UCC.  This measure encourages all settings of the church to divest from fossil fuel industries over a five-year period.  At the May Council meeting, the First UCC council voted to support this resolution.  The First UCC delegation to the Minnesota Conference Annual Meeting was able to express our council's support of this resolution as the Minnesota Conference added its endorsement to the divestment resolution.  In addition, the Minnesota Conference voted to encourage Minnesota UCC congregations to divest from the fossil fuel industry regardless of how the General Synod vote turns out.


In our council deliberations, one council member said that "there is no silver bullet to addressing the issue of climate change.  We have to think in terms of silver buckshot."  Divestment is not a solution to the problem of climate change, but it is one organized movement we can participate in that has the potential to have a real impact.  We will be discussing divestment more in the months ahead.

Register Today for Vacation Bible School


First UCC is joining with Bethel, St. Peter's, Emmaus, Rejoice and St. John's, in welcoming back the Good Earth Village On the Road Vacation Bible School program to Northfield.  VBS will run August 4-8, and will be held at Bethel this year.  GEV On the Road is a 5 day program for children who have completed Kindergarten through 4th grade. It brings the fun of camp to the camper and provides a great, Christ-centered week filled with games, worship, crafts, Bible study and singing.  


The week begins on Sunday the 4th with a 1 1/2 - 2 hour welcome. This time will include worship led by the GEV staff, registration and games. Everyone - campers, parents, siblings, neighbors, grandparents - is invited to join as the week is kicked off.  Monday-Thursday the program runs from 8:00am to 5:00pm. Campers can be dropped off anytime between 8:00-9:00am and picked up between 4:00-5:00pm. The main programming for the day happens between 9:00 and 4:00. 


Registration for GEV On the Road is done through Good Earth Village . Campers can register by completing an online form or downloading and printing the form at Once on the main site, click on SUMMER CAMP, and then GEV ON THE ROAD, and scroll down until you find the link for the registration.  Questions? Contact Good Earth Village at or 507-346-2494. All Campers must pre-register and space is limited, so please be sure to register as early as possible to insure your spot!
A closing program, open to anyone, will take place beginning at 4:00 pm on Thursday. This is a chance for the campers to share what they did and learned during their time at GEV On the Road!  Cost for this program is $65 / camper.
SSR News...

Thanks to all who have volunteered for nourishing kids in need and our souls through the lunch program we've been serving on Tuesdays. We have volunteers for the whole summer now and more are not needed.


Thanks, too, to all who made it so First UCC covered much of the help needed at the CAC foodshelf this June as we have every June for decades. 

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First UCC
300 Union Street
Northfield, MN  55057


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300 Union Street
Northfield, MN 55057


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