First Universalist Church
October 9, 2014
Issue No. 2, Volume 1
In This Issue
The Weekly Liberal

We are excited to introduce to you The Weekly Liberal, our new publication hybrid combining the best features of the 'old' Weekly E-News and Liberal monthly newsletter!

The Weekly Liberal is the result of a variety of congregant feedback and staff research, in the hopes of bringing you relevant, informative, and inspiring content in a timely and vibrant format.  By combining these two former publications and creating a new, weekly digital newsletter, we save on paper consumption, staff and volunteer resources, and mailing costs, all while providing a weekly news and worship source that is also synced up with our other church publications.  If you have received this email in error, and do not wish to be on the mailing list for The Weekly Liberal, simply unsubscribe by clicking on the 'SafeUnsubscribe' link near the bottom of this email.

Any questions, comments, or feedback can be directed to Communications Manager Heidi Johnson at:
Sunday Worship for October 12th, 2014

Rev. Justin Schroeder will be preaching "Taking Spiritual Inventory" at both services.  To view the Order of Service & Bulletin online, click here.
Service is at 9:30 and 11:15 AM. 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. Ruth's sermon this past Sunday, In The Belly of the Whale:

"I want to invite us all to set aside this idea of original sin that kicks up our theological hackles and ground ourselves in our original blessing It is from a foundation of core goodness that we are able to effectively and creativelyreflect on our sadnesses, our longings, our guilt, our wrong doing. Original blessing is what allows us to make mid-course corrections, and realign our lives."

To listen to Rev. Ruth's October 5th sermon in its entirety, click here!

October Worship Theme:
"Keeping it Real"

Every so often we need to clean out the spiritual closet. The stack of games we've played on ourselves or others have fallen on our heads just one too many times. It's time to make an accurate assessment of our disarray and discontent, keep what we need, and discard what we don't. In this way, we make room for the whole and the holy in our lives. This month we will be talking about the importance of taking a spiritual inventory and keeping it real.

Resources from Rev. Ruth MacKenzie:

By Anand Giridharadas 

The True American tells the story of Raisuddin Bhuiyan, a Bangladesh Air Force officer who dreams of immigrating to America and working in technology. But days after 9/11, an avowed "American terrorist" named Mark Stroman, seeking revenge, walks into the Dallas minimart where Bhuiyan has found temporary work and shoots him, maiming and nearly killing him. The True American traces the making of these two men and follows them as they rebuild shattered lives-one striving on Death Row to become a better man, the other to heal and pull himself up from the lowest rung on the ladder of an unfamiliar country.

By Rev. Erik Walker Wikstrom

Drawing from the wisdom of the world's religions, Simply Pray offers us an easy-to-use modern prayer practice free from any particular theological orientation.Rev. Wikstrom identifies and defines the four major types of prayer that are practiced by all the world's major religions:

* "Naming" the many ways in which the holy is present in daily life and the wider world

* "Knowing" the self introspectively-both in its strengths and weaknesses

* "Listening" to the "voice of quiet stillness" that resides in each individual

* "Loving" by reaching out to the world

All of these four kinds of prayer are ways in which we keep it real.

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.

Join The Pastoral 
Care Team
The Pastoral Care Team is a group of First Universalist Church congregants, led by the Rev. Jen Crow, who provide confidential pastoral care to friends and members of our congregation in need of support. We visit people at homes, hospitals, and hospice or at the corner coffee shop. 

If you would like to join the Pastoral Care Team we'd love to hear from you. Team members will agree to serve for a two-year term, attend a day long training session, and attend monthly meetings led by Rev. Jen Crow. On boarding of new Pastoral Care Team members will occur in January of 2015. For a description of the job please click here. To apply, click here for an application. Applications are due by December 1st, 2014.

For more information, please contact Andrea Johnson, Pastoral Care Team coordinator at
Upcoming Events
Saturday, 10/11
Universalist History with Rev. Justin Schroeder,
10:00 AM, Sanctuary


Sunday, 10/12

Racial Justice as a Spiritual Imperative, 

1:00 PM, Cummins Room

Tuesday, 10/14

Pathway to Membership, 

6:30 PM, Cummins Room

Thursday, 10/16

Board of Trustees Meeting, 

6:30 PM, Cummins Room

Sunday, 10/26

Cracking the Codes Film Viewing, 

1:00 PM, Cummins Room


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

Augsburg Fairview Academy
This year marks the third year of our First Universalist Church support and partnership with Augsburg Fairview Academy (AFA) as part of our racial justice and housing ministry. AFA is a public charter school which provides opportunity for students who have not been successful in the public school system to complete high school and prepare for college or other post-secondary education. The 175+ students are primarily African American, Native American, and Somali. Over 60% are homeless and others are marginally housed.
First Universalist provides staff and supplies for the Hope Food and Clothing Closets as well as academic assistants in the classroom. Our congregants generously donated 48 backpacks for students at the start of this school year.

Donations for the Hope Food Closet can be brought to the Hub on Sundays.  Pick up a "shopping list" at the Hub.  Briefly,  we need snacks like granola bars and easy to prepare foods like single serving microwavable soups, mac and cheese, stews, and other meals. Toiletries needed include toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant, and tampons (we have plenty of travel size shampoo, conditioner, lotion and soap).
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?

Click here to receive The Weekly Liberal from First Universalist Church in your inbox every Thursday!

2014-15 Annual Events

Our 2014-2015 schedule of Annual Events is available online!  The 2014 Fall worship schedule is also 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.
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 soon notice, 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.

Up on deck, for next week:

* A Look Inside a Circle, by Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink

* Get to Know Your Staff: 5 Questions with Chelsea Bertsch

*Universal Jazz Band Concert Concert on November 8th

...and much more!
A Road Map For The Year Ahead
By Rev. Justin Schroeder, Senior Minister

In the article below, from the Board of Trustees, you'll find a comprehensive summary of the results of the Congregational Survey taken last spring. This survey, along with feedback from the Board of Trustees, has helped to shape the staff goals and focus areas for this upcoming church year. Throughout every area of church life, we are focusing on the following things: 1) proactive communication and engagement with the congregation, 2) partnering with the congregation to achieve our shared ministry goals, based on the strategic plan, and 3) putting good systems and processes in places to support our ongoing ministry. These are the building blocks that will give us a solid foundation as we move into the future. Finally, our fourth goal is to re-imagine our Faithful Action Program. By the end of the church year (June, 2015), under the leadership of Rev. Jen Crow, we plan to have a Faith In Action Leadership Team in place, a clear process to determine the recipient of future holiday giving, and clarity about how new Faithful Action initiatives are started and supported.

I hope that you have already seen evidence of some of our communication efforts, whether that's our Annual Events Calendar, or the very publication that you are reading right now--the new Weekly Liberal. While our partnering efforts may not be as visible as the new Weekly Liberal, there are a number of congregant partnership helping our ministry move forward, including our Racial Justice Leadership Team, our Worship Associates, our Welcome Team Leaders, our Circle Leadership Team (and dozens of facilitators), the Great Gathering/Auction Team, our Religious Education Teaching Teams, the Pledge Team, the Planned Giving Team, a UU Preschool Feasibility Team led by Hal Schroer, a Religious Education Fee Elimination Taskforce (exploring the possibility of eliminating Religious Education fees), as well as many other teams. Finally, regarding goal #3, the staff is creating a yearly "events" folder, helping us to capture "what's worked," and "what we'd like to change next time," so that our trainings, retreats, workshops, systems and processes, become as smooth and effective as possible. 

Our focus on these areas will ensure that we move into the future with a strong, stable foundation, able to support our mission and vision of giving, receiving, and growing into Love's people.

I'll see you in church,

First Universalist Church

Board Summary of the Congregational Survey From April - May 2014

Summarizing the great data from 347 of our wonderful congregants, even with the statistical development and analysis skills of David Leppik, is not easy. So much great detail, but with the power of statistical analysis, we have the ability to step into the "big picture" and come up with some "take-aways."


* We like this church. We feel nurtured here and nurture each other. We celebrate together and have developed our own rituals. We feel comfortable bringing our friends to First Universalist.

* Church is a place we have made new friends, not always of our generation either. We are still challenged to get to know our youth and children better and as a part of our church community.

* Spiritual growth is important to us. We feel that the programs and services of the church help us develop spiritually. But we don't necessarily bring that spirituality into our homes. 

* We are comforting to each other as we deal with life's challenges and help each other heal. 

* We are growing in our understanding of what it means to be a Unitarian Universalist and in understanding the beliefs of others. 

* We feel empowered to take action in the world and do. However, we must do better involving our children and youth in our work.

* We challenge ourselves as a congregation. We tackle big issue like Racial Justice and have big ambitions for our children, youth and adult education programs.

A survey shows us trends and that we are moving in a direction that inspires most people. People are excited to be a part of First Universalist Church. It doesn't negate the individual comments from those of you who find what we are today as a church to be not exactly what you expected or would like. Your voices and concerns are heard and many are influencing staff and board goals for this year. As we say so often, "we don't have to think alike to love alike."

As the Board of First Universalist, the annual congregational survey is only one piece of information that we use to monitor and shape the direction of the church. Our own careful evaluation of our progress on the Visionary Goals, information from our State of the Church meeting and budget meetings with the congregation, monthly monitoring of financial and membership information, and our monthly meetings and Working Sessions all give us additional information.

Thank you, as members of this church, for participating in this survey. We hope this summary is helpful as we, together, live into love's people.


News From Rev. Kelli Clement











Rev. Kelli Clement, UU Community Minister in affiliation with First Universalist Church, spent a few days on Capitol Hill in Washington DC in late September. 


She was with 200+ secular and faith activists from around the country, lobbying Congress for reproductive justice and the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. Kelli says, "The All* Above All campaign is a multi-year, multi-organizational effort that is focused on restoring public insurance coverage so that every woman, however much she makes, can get affordable, safe abortion care when she needs it." The opening reception featured Kelli as the faith speaker, representing the UUA and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). Related to this work, her recent blog post on why justice and religious liberty call us to repeal Hyde was published in the Huffington Post. 


Kelli is the Executive Director of MNRCRC, which is in its 25 year of education, advocacy, & service. MNRCRC is the proud recipient of a 2014 First Universalist Foundation grant. Look for future information about our 25th anniversary event to be held on Nov. 11. 

News and Announcements
Pathway to Membership
By Rev Elaine Aron Tenbrink, 
Minister of Membership & Adult Ministries

Feeling like First Universalist could be your spiritual home? Join us for The Pathway to Membership, which invites you into an exploration of Unitarian Universalism, the history of this congregation, our racial justice commitment, and the experience of membership. The Pathway to Membership is required for joining the church. 


The next class will be held on Saturday, October 25 

from 9:00am-3:00pm

To sign up, contact the Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at or 612-825-1701x124. 


Childcare is available with at least 7 days advance notice at

Thursday, October 9th 6:30-8:00pm (TONIGHT!)

Autumn has arrived! And with it comes crisp breezes and Mother Nature's much anticipated leafy fireworks display of red, gold and orange. As we put our gardens to bed, let us take time to appreciate autumn's wonders. Join us as we walk the labyrinth this month, giving thanks for the gifts received and work accomplished! All are welcome!!

Universalism For Our Time: 
What Will Save Us?

A Conversation With Rev. Justin Schroeder, Senior Minister

THIS Saturday, October 11, 2014 at 10:00 AM, 
Cummins Room 

Universalism is a tradition with roots that go back centuries: from the 3rd century Greek philosopher Origen, to the Welshman John Relly in the 18th century, to the early years of the city of Minneapolis, our faith has responded to the prevailing questions of the day. What gifts and challenges does Universalism bring to the conundrums of modern living? 

Join the Rev. Justin Schroeder, Senior Minister, for a lively discussion of our life-giving faith.

Racial Justice as a 
Spiritual Imperative

THIS Sunday! October 12, 1:00-2:30PM
Cummins Room

What is the difference between "doing Racial Justice work" and "living a Racially Just life?" Join guest speaker Dr. Heather Hackman for an interactive 90-minute presentation about the deep connection of racial justice to our spiritual lives, however we define that. Dr. Hackman will also address the personal and societal elements of race, racism and white privilege that prevent all of us (but mostly that keep white folks) from making that connection. You won't want to miss this great opportunity to hear Dr. Hackman share from her own experience as a white person and academic study of issues of race, racism and whiteness as she leads the group through an exploration of the basic concepts of racial justice. Contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at for more information. Please note that this is the same workshop that Dr. Hackman presented last year.

The Perfect Pledge Drive

By Zack Steven, Pledge Team


Hello church! My name is Zack Steven and I'm the rookie on the Pledge Team this year. My wife Shannon and I have been attending First Universalist for about 5 years with our sons Calvin (12) and Everett (9). We were previously members of Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul where I served on the Board of Trustees.

Being new to the Pledge Team gives me license to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of learning from the staff, my fellow team members Richard Jaeger and Marcia Wattson, and most importantly YOU.

What do you think would make for the perfect pledge drive? If it were up to you, what would it be or not be? I'd love to hear any and all ideas. Seriously. Please send them to me at Thank you!


Get To Know Your First U Staff!  
 Five Questions with Brad Schmidt

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 a about your job.  What do you do here at First Universalist Church?

As the Assistant Finance Administrator I assist the director of operations with the church's daily bookkeeping, accounts payable, reporting, and other miscellaneous accounting needs. I handle everything from the weekly deposit preparation to being a checkout clerk for the church's annual auction. 

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

There are many things that I enjoy about working at First Universalist Church but one thing I appreciate is the small staff structure that allows me the opportunity to wear multiple hats within my profession. I came to First Universalist Church from a large corporate structure that provided little to no variety in my daily assignments which made it challenging to be excited about coming into work each day. As I referenced earlier, It's refreshing to know that each and every day at First Universalist Church with be different from the day before.

If you were stranded on a deserted island and could only bring two things with you, what would they be, and why?

If I were stranded on a deserted island the first item I would bring would be a zero gravity chair, a necessary item to take in the evening sunsets as well as a place to sleep. The second item I would bring would be my golf clubs. Assuming the island is big enough, I'm sure there's a way I could figure out how to play 18 each day.

What are your top three favorite movies?

Almost Famous, Top Gun, Wall-e

And lastly, If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

Superhuman Strength

Did You Know?

By Heidi Johnson, Communications Manager


Did you know that information about our past sermons can be found by clicking on the sermon link on the First Universalist Church homepage?  Detailed information, including a downloadable PDF file of the Order of Service and Bulletin, can also be found alongside each sermon.


Sunday's Order of Service and Bulletin is always uploaded online by Thursday morning, and made available in PDF format to download!


Unity Church is hosting a three-part dialogue on the Doctrine of Discovery in an effort to take a hard look at difficult truths about the tragic treatment of Indigenous people by our state, nation and religious institutions.

This series is free and open to the public.

Click on flyer below to learn more! 


My Church: 
A Religious Education Snapshot
By Lauren Wyeth, Director of Children, Youth, & Family Ministries

While adults worship in the sanctuary each week, children and youth fill our Religious Education wing. Throughout the year, we'll provide periodic snapshots from our classrooms in this ongoing series, titled My Church. In this issue, we look at Sunday morning through the eyes of a 2nd grader.

In 2nd grade, our kids make a big leap, as they begin attending weekly Children's Chapel with the 3rd-5th graders. The 15 minute chapel in the Chalice Room includes all the elements of the service in the sanctuary, scaled down for elementary age kids. Second graders love rituals, and especially enjoy adding their coins and dollars to the offering basket as we sing Magic Penny, and dropping a stone in the "water of friendship and community" when their joys and concerns are read. Their favorite homilies are humorous and have a twist or surprise ending.

As Children's Chapel ends, 2nd graders head to their classroom on the upper level with the other "big kids." Their Moral Tales & Stories of Justice curriculum draws them into the circle by engaging their hearts, minds and bodies. If the tale is a quiet one, we might sip tea together as we listen and wonder. If it's a more energetic story, we might jump around and act it out with our bodies. Each week adds another concept to the large "moral compass" hanging in our classroom. We talk about orienting ourselves with these directions to guide us in acting for goodness and justice each day. So far, our compass includes the words interdependence, inner voice, faith, and empathy.

Second graders love the games and crafts tied to the lesson theme, from stringing prayer bead necklaces to playing cooperative musical hoops (unlike musical chairs, we win this game by squeezing everyone into the circle!). Over the course of many Sundays, with the guidance of adult volunteers, the group makes memories, opens up, and gels into a real religious community.

Surprised parents often report that their kids draw inspiration from their lessons when times get tough, and take pride in teaching other family members what they've learned in their class. It's easy to underestimate a 2nd grader, but beneath the wiggly exterior we see kind hearts and keen minds grappling with big questions. Church seeks to provide them what their spirits need most at this age: hope and a sense of belonging; wisdom and guidance for becoming a person committed to justice and compassion; and the company of a multigenerational community of people who welcome, affirm and protect them as they grow.


If you'd like to join us for the journey, we are still seeking volunteers to help in a classroom alongside the lead teacher once a month. Come on in - we've been waiting for you! Email

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