First Universalist Church
December 11, 2014
Issue No. 11, Volume 1
In This Issue
Sunday Worship for December 14, 2014

Minister of Worship Arts, Rev. Ruth MacKenzie, will be preaching "Your Name is Light" at both services. To view the Order of Service online, click here.


Service is at 9:30 and 11:15 AM


Worship in Music and Message

This Sunday will be featuring the First Universalist Choir and Orchestra, performing Lux Aeterna by Morten Lauridson, conducted by Dr. Randal Buikema.

Join First Universalist Choir and Orchestra, and Rev Ruth MacKenzie in an exploration of light and its various expressions in the natural world, and the nature of the spirit. 


How might we redeem, or buy back our lives through an understanding of light? This will be a worship service of exquisite music and powerful narratives.


The church office is open from 8:00 AM--1:00 PM on Sundays.


Parking information, maps, and directions to First Universalist can be found by clicking here. 


Did You Miss Last Sunday's Service?

We have podcasts available online of all of our sermons!  

Here is a snapshot from Rev. Justin Schroeder's sermon this past Sunday, "Slow Church":

"I can't breathe. I can't breathe. 
I can't breathe. I can't breathe."

If you don't know, these were Eric Garner's last words.

Eric Garner was 43 years old, married, and a father of 6. He was a human being.  His last words, wrapped in a strangle hold, were, 
"I can't breathe." 

Right now, friends, none of us should be able to breathe.

We are suffocating under a system of racial violence against people of color, and our police and court systems--the rules and structures there--are some of the primary vehicles that carry out this violence.

To listen to Rev. Jen's sermon in its entirety, click here.

December Worship Theme:

"Slow Church"

In our commodified society, we are told over and over again that what we own is what we're worth, that "buying" some thing will bring happiness. In the ancient world, a form of "buying" meant buying back life, delivering a life from slavery based on the payment of a price by the redeemer. This form of buying was called redemption.  This month we will focus our attention on buying back our lives, of practicing redemption for our own lives and others. The first step in this exchange is slowing down. We will practice mindfulness, listening, and opening to the spirit. 


We will practice slow church.

Worship Resources

Resource list compiled and reviewed by Rev. Ruth MacKenzie

Braiding Sweetgrass:


By Robin Wall Kimmerer


Drawing on her life as an indigenous scientist, a mother, and a woman, Kimmerer shows how other living beings--asters and goldenrod, strawberries and squash, salamanders, algae, and sweetgrass--offer us gifts and lessons, even if we've forgotten how to hear their voices. In a rich braid of reflections that range from the creation of Turtle Island to the forces that threaten its flourishing today, she circles toward a central argument: that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgement and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we hear the languages of other beings will we be capable of understanding the generosity of the earth, and learn to give our own gifts in return. This is a book about slowing down, listening, and developing a posture of gratitude.


Psalms for Praying: 
An invitation to Wholeness

By Nan C Merrill


Every commentary on the Book of Psalms has had to face the issue that many of these prayers commemorate and celebrate wrath and vengeance. What is needed is not ingenious exegetical rationalization of ancient texts, but the kind of transformation into a work of piety and art that is provided here.Addressed are the needs of a world seeking to counter individual and societal injustices by a global peace born of personal peace through prayer and practice. In short, here is the Book of Psalms recast in the light of the continuing revelation and evolution of the authentic religious spirit of the scriptures.


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

Thursday, 12/11
Black Lives Matter Vigil
6:00 PM, Sanctuary

Thursday, 12/18
Board of Trustees Meeting
6:30 PM, Cummins Room

Friday, 12/19
Winter Solstice Ritual 
7:00 PM, Sanctuary

Sunday, 12/21
Christmas Pageant 
4:00 PM, Sanctuary

Wednesday, 12/24 
Christmas Pageant 
4:00 PM, Sanctuary

Wednesday, 12/24 
Candlelight Service
9:30 PM, Sanctuary

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

Augsburg Fairview Academy
Please consider a holiday donation to AFA students. Our goal is to give each student a $20 Target gift card--simple compassion for young people who seldom receive gifts and may not have a holiday celebration. Bring $20 Target gift card(s) to church on Sunday (give to Sandy at the Hub, Cindy Marsh, Pat Gottschalk or Joanne Engelking) or to the church office. Joanne spearheaded this effort last year and the students received them with great joy and thanks.

Donations for the Hope Food and Clothing Closets can be brought to the Hub on Sundays or left in the AFA storage area in the Welcome Center at any time. Pick up shopping lists at the Hub on Sundays for a list of needed items. Clothing needs include hooded sweat shirts, knit hats, warm scarves, black knit gloves, winter ski-type jackets and lined warm up jackets--black and dark colors preferred. 

Thanks for your generosity! 
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?

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2014-15 Annual Events

Our 2014-2015 schedule of Annual Events is available online!  

NEW! Winter Schedule
The 2014 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:  
Next Up For 
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 on deck,
for The Weekly Liberal:

~ Project for Pride Volunteers Needed

~ New Habitat for Humanity Build Days

...and much more!

What is Seeking to Break 
into Your Life?
A Message From Rev. Justin Schroeder


We are in a season of waiting--waiting for the light to return, for the birth a child, for hope to be born again in the world.  It is a season of slowing down, of anticipation of the arrival of something notable, something deeply meaningful. 


This advent season, what are you waiting for? What are you hoping will break into your life? It can be easy to despair in a world that seems short on hope, and yet in this season, we are told that hope can be found in the simplest, most vulnerable of things--a baby in a manger, a star in the sky, lights on a menorah. Where do you see the arrival of hope in your life? What new thing is seeking to be born into your life? 

May you listen and pay attention this holiday season. Beyond the din and clatter of our days, may you welcome the arrival of something new and unexpected into your life.



I'll see you in church,



News & Announcements
Black Lives Matter Vigil
TONIGHT at First Universalist

By Lena K. Gardner & Rev. Justin Schroeder
If your heart is hurting and if you're looking for a place to go with all of it, we hope you'll come to the Black Lives Matter Vigil at First Universalist tonight, Dec. 11, at 6PM in the Sanctuary.

This is meant to be a space for everybody, all colors, all identities, to come together and hold each other up. This won't be about calling people to action. This won't be a super formal service with a sermon, it will be a place where we can gather.  It's interfaith and for the nones, it's for all of us and we hope you'll come if you find you're in need of somewhere to just be with each other during this time.

Tonight's vigil will feature speakers, religious leaders, musicians, and community members, including Rev. Justin Schroeder, Rabbi Michael Latz, Lena K. Gardner, Frank Sentwali, Kendra Wheeler, Jerrod Wendland, Rev. Ruth MacKenzie, Pastor Danny Givens, Rev. Jen Crow, and others.

All ages are welcome as we come together with our hurting hearts and our longing for justice. The service will contain powerful ritual, song, spoken word, 4.5 minutes of silence, and acknowledgment of the broken world we live in. There may be brief edgy language and expressions of grief, all grounded in a message of love and hope. Optional childcare will be available beginning at 5:45pm (until full) for children ages 3-10 years.

You can find the Facebook event page by clicking here.

Please help us spread the word by sharing this event on social media.

Open Labyrinth Walk Rescheduled

Thursday, December 18th 
6:30-8:00 PM

The open walk that was scheduled for December 11th will now be Thursday, December 18th, 6:30-8:00pm. All are welcome.
Please note: there will NOT be an open walk before the Solstice celebration on Friday, December 19th. Happy Solstice!

Holiday Office & Building Hours
By Bree Mattson,
Office & Events Manager

In December, the office will be closed from December 22 - January 3. 

It will reopen for regular hours Sunday, January 4.

The building will be closed on December 25, December 26, half of December 31 and all of January 1.

Daytime Connections Holiday Party

Thursday, December 18
11:00am-12:30 PM
Chalice Room


Join us as we share holiday stories from our past, sing Frosty the Snowman with Norma Hammer, and revisit The Night Before Christmas.  Lunch is served at 12:30pm. A $5 donation for lunch is appreciated.


For more information, contact Hal Schroer at: or 763-595-9515.


To RSVP, contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at 

or 612-825-1701 x124.

Holiday Decorations 

Each year the Visual Arts Committee collaborates to decorate the church as a gift to the congregation. 

This year, the talented Meredith Sims took inspiration from the French artist Matisse and dreamed up gold stars for the sanctuary.

Happy Holidays!

Newcomers Circle

Are you new to First Universalist? Whether you are a recent visitor or a new member, you're invited to join our upcoming Newcomer Circle. This four-session gathering 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. 

The next session meets on Tuesdays, January 6, 13, 20, 27 from 7:00-8:30pm. To register, contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at or 612-825-1701 x124. 

Childcare is available with 7 days advance notice.
An Announcement About the Space Use Calendar

By Bree Mattson,
Office and Events Manager

Early in the new year, we will be introducing a new calendaring system. 
Over the past several months, Chelsea (our intrepid Administrative Assistant) and I have been working to convert our old, inadequate system and we are nearly ready to share the new one with all of you. We are at the point in the conversion process where it is time to say good bye to our old calendaring system, so we will be taking it off the website. You'll still be able to keep up with church events by checking the "highlighted events" section of the website and on the calendars that are always posted by the parking lot and atrium doors. We thank you for your patience during this conversion and are excited to introduce our new system to you in the new year!
Connect With Our Racial Justice Journey:
Adult Learning Opportunities in 2015


By Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink,

Minister of Membership and Adult Ministries

What exactly is our church's "racial justice journey"?


Where did the concept of race even come from?

Where can I go to explore the pain and challenge of recent events in Ferguson and around the country?

This winter and spring, we are offering some great opportunities to dig into racial justice work here at church. Led by an amazing team of leaders trained by our racial justice consultant, Dr. Heather Hackman, you're invited to learn about the realities of racism in America in multiple ways, including:

  • Interactive workshops exploring racism and the spiritual imperative of racial justice work.
  • Circles on Exploring Whiteness and Discussing Race With Kids, which invite reflection through sharing and listening in a group of 8-10 people.
  • Book discussions
  • Movie discussions

This Sunday, we will be distributing a calendar detailing these racial justice learning opportunities. Grab one, stick it on the refrigerator, and grow your soul through participating. You can also click HERE to view the calendar on our website. 


Please contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at: or 

612-825-1701 x124 with questions or for more information. 


See you at church!

Did You Know? 

By Chelsea Bertsch,
Administrative Assistant  

Did you know that there are two Lost & Founds? In addition to the one located in the Dupont entrance coat room, there is a special one in the front office. Please return items such as keys, jewelry, glasses, wallets, phones, iPods, etc. to this location. Feel free to swing by the church office if you are missing any such items.

Get To Know Your First U Staff!  
 Five Questions with Sandy DiNanni

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 work in the late afternoons through the evenings Monday through Thursday, and from 8 AM to 2 PM on Sundays. On the weeknights, I answer the door, the phone, and members' questions, and provide support to the Minister of Membership, Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink. On Sundays, I prepare the Cycle of Life, support Welcome Teams and Ushers, prepare for First Step classes, and host at the Hub in the Social Hall. Most of my job is paperwork management, but on Sundays I celebrate seeing the members, friends and guests of the church face to face and hug to hug!

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

I love working with this wonderful, creative staff, and especially appreciate the friendships I've made with many kindred spirits in the congregation. First U is a joy-filled, caring place and has become my second family.

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

I have Bishop Desmond Tutu's home phone number in South Africa and President Jimmy Carter's home phone number in Georgia (from my days of producing "Religion on the Line" every Sunday morning on KSTP AM 1500.)

If you could attend a dinner party with any six additional people--famous, dead, alive, anyone--who would they be?

My late amazing husband, Tom DiNanni, Pope Francis, Robin Williams, President Obama, Whoopee Goldberg, and the Dali Lama. They all have my sense of both the hard places and silliness of life.

What would you do if you won the $10 million lottery tomorrow?


Build a parking ramp for the church!


Why Do We Sell Eggrolls?
By Rich Jaeger

You smell the eggrolls as you enter the social hall. But how did they get there and why? 


Eggrolls are sold as fund raising for the Youth Cultural Exchange(YCE) program. YCE was started by church member Barb Benner some years ago--to provide a two-way cultural exchange across language, class, race and country between youth from our church and youth from Leon, Nicaragua.

The YCE program sends a group of First Universalist youth to Nicaragua for two weeks where they are matched with a Nicaraguan 'sibling' and their families. The following summer, the Nicaraguan 'siblings' travel to Minnesota to live with our families. It is a life changing experience for all the youth as they share cultures and create life-long friendships with each other.

What makes YCE different is that it is a two-way cultural exchange. Youth and families get to experience life in a country, climate, family and economic situation that is very different from their own.

Fund raising for this two-year exchange process with the sale of eggrolls, spring rolls, fair trade coffee and truffles for Valentine's Day raises money to bring the Nicaraguan youth here. Each Nicaraguan youth contributes 100 hours of community service.

Now can now buy $20 punch cards in advance so you don't need to carry cash to get your social hour treats. Once you've spent the value on the punch card you earn a free egg roll.

Thank you for supporting this program.

Racial Justice Web Source


By Heidi Johnson,

Communications Manager


We are excited to share with you the new online hub for our racial justice work at First Universalist Church, which can be found here:


This section of our website is dedicated to racial justice programs & events, sermons, resources, news, and general information relating to our racial justice commitment and activism.


Be sure to check in regularly, as we will be updating content on a weekly basis.  The 2015 programming for racial justice trainings, events, film & book discussions is also now posted online!





Update From the Pledge Team!

"Stewardship is acknowledging that we have a shared responsibility toward the Earth - including our lives, our possessions and the communities of which we are a part - and that we are called to express our gratitude by being generous with these blessings." - David Potyondy

We express our gratitude by being generous with our blessings. Soon we will have tools on our website to help you explore your own feelings and goals regarding generosity, both here at First Universalist and in the larger world.

It will give you the opportunity to anonymously input why you give, your aspirations of giving and how you wish allocate your giving. You can see how your monthly contributions would change in order to reach your aspirational goal over three years. I hope you enjoy playing with this new generosity tool and we would welcome your feedback.

Look for an announcement that the link to the Generosity Calculator is live in the next couple of weeks.


A Note About The Weekly Liberal:

The last Weekly Liberal of 2014 will be next week's edition.

We will resume publication in the new year on 
Thursday, January 8, 2015.

Have a very merry holiday season!


First Universalist Church
3400 Dupont Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN, 55408