First Universalist Church
March 19, 2015
Issue No. 11, Volume 2
In This Issue
Sunday Worship for March 22, 2015

Join Rev. Justin Schroeder for his sermon,  "A Dangerous Faith: Part II", this Sunday.

For additional information, and to access the Sunday Order of Service online, click here .

 A month ago, I preached a sermon entitled, 'A Dangerous Faith.' Historically, we have been considered a 'dangerous faith,' because of our theological inclusiveness, and our willingness to challenge the status quo. A month ago, I asked, 'Are we still a 'dangerous' faith? What barriers are in the way that prevent us from all we might be?' This Sunday, after returning from a church trip to Birmingham, Selma, Montgomery, and Memphis, I'll pick up these questions again, informed by the martyrs of our faith, and my time at Brown Chapel, the 16th Street Baptist Church, and the Edmund Pettis Bridge.

- Rev. Justin


Service is at 9:30 and 11:15 AM


Did You Miss Last Sunday's Service?

We have podcasts available online of all of our sermons!  

To listen to Rev. Jen Crow preach "Grace-Full" this past Sunday, March 15th, click here.

What does it mean to be graceful? To live through a trying time with grace? Inner strength, courage, vulnerability, and honesty are a few of the hallmarks. Connection, humor, and deep commitments that reach outside of the self are there, too. Join us as we explore what it means to live a life - and to live in a world - that is full of grace.

Upcoming Worship

Sunday March 22
9:30 - 11:15am  
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Music: Universal Rock Band

Sunday March 29
9:30 - 11:15am  
Pastor Danny Givens
Music: First Universalist Choir singing We Found Love by Rihanna

Easter Sunday, April 5 
9:30 - 11:15am 
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Music: First Universalist Choir singing Locus Iste by Bruckner

Sunday, April 12 
9:30 - 11:15am 
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
Music: Kendra Wheeler playing Fuzzy Bird and Spoken Word Artist Frank Sentawali

March Worship Theme:


The great theologian, Paul Tillich, once described grace, as that thing which breaks into our lives and surprises us into wholeness. We are struck alive like a bell awakened with sound and purpose. We ring with a new pattern emanating from the experience of grace. Grace communicates a sense of assurance, grounding, and hope: "You are accepted." Tillich continues: "Grace transforms fate into a meaningful destiny; it changes guilt into confidence and courage." This month we explore the nature and movements of grace.




Resources by Rev. Ruth



Catching Song 

with Bobby McFerrin



An incredible interview between Krista Tippet and Bobby McFerrin as he speaks about the elemental force of music and the human voice, a place where grace can come in.


Ordinary Grace

by William Kent Krueger

William Kent Krueger's "Ordinary Grace" is set during the summer of 1961. It is a touching coming-of-age novel about family, faith and the empathy that can come from a violent loss.



This treasury of quotes and passages on leading a centered, purposeful, and spiritual life offers the advice and observations of leaders from all walks of life. Included are Gandhi, Lao-Tzu, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, and hundreds of other unique and inspiring voices on subjects like compassion, kindness, forgiveness, and purpose.


The Shaking of the Foundations 

by Paul Tillich (online)
Click on Chapter 19 

'You Are Accepted'

Art Exhibit 
in  Social Hall 

A new art exhibit is now in the Social Hall.  A collection of work inspired by nature-some influenced by Russian or Mexican icons-oil on wood or canvas and some tooled metal pieces is now on display.

Artist Ann Popadiuk Larson will have her exhibit up 
Feb 22--March 29.

Ann has been drawing since she was two and working on creative pursuits ever since. A few years ago she decided she needed to focus on one medium. She has been involved in several artists' groups including the WARM Mentor program, Project Art for Nature (PAN), and the St. Paul Art Collective.

Ann was previously a member of First Universalist, so she looks forward to reconnecting with church friends. 

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
Friday, 3/20
Honor the Earth Dinner with Winona LaDuke 
4:00 PM, Social Hall

Saturday, 3/21
Winona LaDuke Public Teach In, 8:00 AM, Sanctuary 

Tuesday, 3/24
"Hands Up Don't Shoot Our Youth Movement" Film, 
6:30 PM, Social Hall

Saturday, 4/4
Young Families Easter Party, 
9:00 AM, Social Hall


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


To view the online space-use calendar, click here.

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.

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If you have limited access to email/internet and would like to be on our hard copy mailing list, contact the church office at 612-825-1701 and ask to speak to Chelsea, our Administrative Assistant.

2014-15 Annual Events

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

New! SPRING Worship Schedule
The 2014-2015 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 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:  
A Note About
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.

#SelmaIsNow: Reflections from a Pilgrimage to Selma
By  Rev. Justin Schroeder,
Senior Minister

William Faulkner once wrote, "The past is never dead. It's not even past." 

This was certainly my experience in early March, as a group of First Universalists and I spent time in Birmingham and Selma as part of a Unitarian Universalist conference, commemorating the events of 50 years ago, culminating in a re-enactment of the march across the Edmund Pettis Bridge. Past, present, and future blended together, as we looked back over 50 years, and honestly assessed the work still in front of us. With the Department of Justice report about policing in Ferguson, the racial disparities in Minneapolis and this country, and the gutting of the Voting Right Acts by the Supreme Court in 2013, it is no hyperbole to say that #SelmaIsNow. 

Each of the participants from First Universalist (Eric Cooperstein, Katie Oberle, Ruth MacKenzie, Dan Paskewitz, Emma Paskewitz, Coral Gordon, Nora Sylvestre, and Lena Gardner) had a different experience. 

For me, this trip was deeply personal; fifty years ago, our Minister Emeritus, Rev. John Cummins, went to Selma. This trip connected to that history and brought it into the present. My identity as a Unitarian Universalist changed during this trip, and I understood in a different way what it meant to live a faithful life; one afternoon at the conference we held a memorial service as we remembered Jimmie Lee Jackson, Viola Liuzzo, and the Rev. James Reeb, martyrs of the1965 Civil Rights movement (Liuzzo and Reeb were Unitarian Universalists). As we honored these who lost their lives serving the cause of freedom, I looked around the room, and my teary eyes connected with other teary eyes. There's no way to succinctly summarize this experience.

Instead, there are dozens of reminders and lessons:
  • Singing is critical to any movement. 
  • Faith is what helps us overcome the fear that too often paralyzes us.
  • Non-violent, peaceful protest can change the world. 
  • In justice work, there's no magic bullet, no easy way forward, no simple trick. But, as Rev. Dr. C.T. Vivian kept saying in his presentation, "You have to love people, really love people. Let them know you love them. Help people be human. Show them you care. If you can't love everyone, then you're just playing."
  • Racial justice is connected to gender justice is connected to environmental justice is connected to economic justice. Together, we are strong.
I'm grateful to my fellow pilgrims and what we experienced together. We'll be sharing this experience with you all in the coming weeks and months. 

In faith,


We continue to make good progress in this final week of the Pledge Drive. Thanks for your support in making this year's Pledge Drive successful and short. We are very close to reaching our $1.2 million dollar goal!


As of today, Thursday, March 19th:

  • 453 pledges (of 620 projected)
  • $979,581 pledged (of $1.2M goal)  
If you have not made your pledge yet, please do it before the end of this week:
Many thanks,

The Pledge Team
Rich Jaeger, Marcia Wattson, and Zack Steven

News & Announcements
CD, DVD, Video Game & Book Donations Needed

By Rick Schuster

The Youth Cultural Exchange CD, DVD, Video Game & Book Sale fundraiser will take place April 19 and 26 in the church social hall.

Please drop off your gently-used CDs, DVDs, Video Games and Books in the social hall March 15, March 22, March 29, and April 12 after both services.

This summer twelve First Universalist 8th and 9th grade youth will travel to Sutiaba, Nicaragua, where they will live with local families to gain cultural understanding and forge lasting cross-cultural friendships. Your donations and purchases will help us bring the twelve Nicaraguan host siblings to Minnesota for two weeks in 2016.

Questions? Contact Amy Scott at 612-730-0434 or

Thank you for your support!

First Universalist Youth Cultural Exchange

Climate Conversations

Thursday, March 29, 12:30-2:30, Cummins Room

By Cecelia Newton

You are invited to Climate Conversations in the Cummins Room on March 29th, from 12:30-2:30. This conversation is organized by First Universalist Environmental Justice Education Group. The conversation will by facilitated by MN Interfaith Power and Light. Share your climate beliefs and concerns with your fellow churchgoers. Learn to conduct conversations that connect and engage others. Begin discussing ideas for meaningful actions on climate change. Adults and youth welcome. A light lunch will be available.

FREE Jazz Band Concert
April 17th, 7:30 PM, Social Hall

Something to look forward to after taxes!

Come join us at a FREE jazz band gig in the Social Hall on Friday, April 17th from 7:30 to 9:30 pm. John Jensen and the Jazz Band will be playing 30s and 40s ballads and swing music perfect for dancing and/or listening.

Several years ago a few First U members jointly scored an auction win for a performance by John Jensen and the Jazz Band and we've decided to share it with fellow First U folks.

Bring a finger food snack to share if you wish. We'll provide paper plates and napkins and will be taking up a collection to cover custodial charges. We will NOT have utensils, bar service or child care available that night. BYOB is also NOT an option but we WILL have terrific music in abundance!

No RSVP needed to come enjoy fabulous music! Dance or just enjoy the jazz! Have a blast with your community! Please join us!

Hands Up Don't Shoot Our Youth Movement

Come see 'Hands Up Don't Shoot Our Youth Movement' here at church.
It's a documentary filmed in Ferguson on the day of Michael Brown's funeral, by Ralph Crowder III. We'll be screening it on Tuesday, March 24th at 6:30 in the Social Hall, and you will have a chance to meet the filmmaker.

Contrasting with the mainstream media coverage and speculation of the events leading up to his death, you will see, hear and feel the perspective of African Americans there about how he died.

Have you struggled with talking to friends, family or co-workers about how we at First Universalist are beginning to understand how racism really works? Invite them to join you for the film. Because the film deals with a widely covered event, it will help deepen your conversations with them about the white privilege that most of us have been so blind to.

Saturday, March 21: What's the Plan? 
A Teach-In on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

Join us in the Sanctuary bright and early for "What's the Plan? A Teach-In on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure in MN," co-sponsored by MN350 and the International Forum on Globalization. 

Speakers include Winona LaDuke, Rep. Frank Hornstein, Victor Menotti, and regional leaders in movements to stop frac-sand mining, bomb trains, and oil pipelines. Minnesota is being besieged with new fossil fuel infrastructure that violates the treaty rights of indigenous people and endangers the health of our communities, and we are not prepared. 

We are becoming a superhighway for oil that we neither produce or consume, yet we assume all the risk. Meanwhile, our water and sewer mains are crumbling. Let's come together and find common spiritual ground from which to address this public policy crisis and protect ourselves and the earth. FREE and open to the public. Teach-In begins at 9:00am, lunch by the Sioux Chef (for a small fee) at 12:30pm.

Families Moving Forward
By Tracy Jones, 
Co-chair of our Families Moving Forward partnership

Years ago I was invited to help members of First Universalist Church serve dinner at a shelter for people experiencing homelessness. I didn't realize that on that very cold, winter night a new door of compassion was going to be opened to me. For the following weeks I talked about my experience serving that meal to anyone who would listen. I talked to my church community. I talked to my work community. I talked to my friends. I talked until I woke up and realized that talking wasn't enough for me. That if I was going to talk the talk, I had to walk that talk, so I became an overnight volunteer at that shelter.

In those beginning days, I would enter the shelter happy for the opportunity to help, but I would leave the next morning angry. Not because I wan't able to give what I could, but because I was seeing the unfairness of economic injustice at its worst. I became a self-righteous, angry volunteer until a very wise UU minister explained to me that if I was angry, I wasn't helping with a pure heart. And if I didn't help with a pure heart, I wasn't helping with my whole self.

I still volunteer at the shelter where I served that meal many years ago. Now, when I walk through that door at the start of my shift, I walk through with no anger, but just a sliver of hope that I'll be able to give joy to someone whose life is so very hard. I walk through the door hoping that "Oscar" will be coming in for dinner because, even though he has housing now, he has become my dinner companion. He's from Mexico. I walk through the door hoping that "Clifford" will be there, because he always has great stories about how he spent his day. He's a veteran. I hope that "Abdullah-Noir" will be there because he tries to teach me words in his language. He's from Ethiopia. And I know, walking through that door that I will be given the gift of a new and wonderful person who I have yet to meet. And I know that my heart will be kissed by their hope.

With the help of Beacon Housing's "Families Moving Forward" program, under the church direction of the Rev. Jen Crow, and co-chairs Tracy Jones and Peg Mitchell, you now have the opportunity to walk your talk. Starting in September, we will be hosting families experiencing homelessness here in our church for a week at a time, and we'll need many volunteers to help make this new partnership a success.

Up to 4 families, with up to a total of 16 people, will come stay with us. We'll convert the upstairs classrooms to bedrooms, and the social hall and other spaces will become places to eat meals, relax, make art, and sit and talk. We'll need volunteers of all ages to cook meals, make beds, play games, and stay overnight.

Through this program - we are being given the gift of meeting people whose circumstances may be different than ours. We are being invited to walk through a new life-door giving our whole selves to families experiencing homelessness. So come. Let us walk the talk together. Let us serve and be changed together. Let us love together .

Congregational Care Chore Team

By Kathy Coskran


Can you help with simple chores? Do you need help with simple chores? Congregational Care is creating a group to help congregants with simple household tasks, most of them seasonal, such as removing an air conditioner in the fall, putting it back in in the spring; draining garden hoses in the fall, changing furnace filters; changing lightbulbs, changing faucet washers. These are chores that most of us do easily until we can't. With a little help from our friends, though, we can stay in our own home longer.

Simple chores are just that-simple and, for the most part, quick. Simple chores do not include painting, plumbing, electrical work or other household repairs, snow shoveling, raking leaves-although we may be able to offer referrals to professionals for those services.

Contact Bob Friedman at or 612-722-4705if you would like to be part of the team or if you need help with a simple chore. 


The Nominating Committee is Actively Recruiting

By Greg Hoelzer
Nominating Committee Member

The Nominating Committee is actively recruiting candidates for leadership positions on the Board of Trustees, the Foundation Board, and the Nominating Committee itself for the next church year. We believe the congregation is full of untapped talent and encourage people to step forward and share their skills.  Now is an exciting and important time to serve as we continue to build on the positive energy and growth of our congregation. Serving on one of these bodies provides unique opportunities to deepen and enrich your personal connection to the church while broadening your circle of relationships within our spiritual community. Committee members have unique opportunities to collaborate with our passionate ministers and lay leaders to advance the mission of the church.

Board of Trustees: Trustees partner with the congregation and professional staff in shaping the vision and long-term goals of the church. They articulate these aspirations through policy and collaborate with the Senior Minister to see they are fulfilled.

Foundation Board: Board members serve as the stewards of our Foundation endowment. Members screen and select grant requests to non-profit organizations.

Nominating Committee: Committee members screen and recommend candidates to the congregation for vacant positions on the Board of Trustees, Foundation Board, and Nominating Committee.

Requirements: To qualify for any of these positions, you must be a member in good standing of the church. Elections occur at the Annual Meeting in June. Click on any of the links posted above to view more detailed position descriptions.  Click here to download an application!

Contact any Nominating Committee member to find out more: Ginny McAninch (chair), Deborah Talen, Doug Smalley, Bob Albrecht, David Lauth, Greg Hoelzer, and Lark Weller, Board of Trustees representative. Email