First Universalist Church
January 15, 2015
Issue No. 2, Volume 2
In This Issue
Sunday Worship for January 18, 2015

Senior Minister, Rev. Justin Schroeder, will be preaching "Unseen Change Agents" at both services. To view the Order of Service online, click here.


Service is at 9:30 and 11:15 AM


On this Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Sunday, we lift up and celebrate those around Dr. King who shaped him and the civil rights movement, but often did not share the spot light with him. In addition, we'll reflect on our racial justice journey - where we've been, where we're going, and what we're learning.


Did You Miss Last Sunday's Service?

We have podcasts available online of all of our sermons!  

Here is a snapshot from Rev. Jen Crow's sermon this past Sunday, "Endings, Beginnings, and the Neutral Zone":

"A colleague of mine says that spiritual practices are ways we have of remembering who we really are in the midst of a culture that is constantly telling us who we should be. Whether it's a walk in the woods, meditation or prayer, writing or running or singing or cooking, there are ways we have of remembering who we are and the love that is around us - our memories, our loves, the beauty of the world in all its forms, there are ways we have of feeling connected, even in the midst of our very real lives." 

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

Listen to Rev. Justin's Interview on WCCO Radio

On Wednesday, January 14th, Rev. Justin was a guest on the John Williams Show on WCCO Radio.  

Click here to listen to Rev. Justin Schroeder on WCCO Radio, discussing the charges against protesters/organizers of the #BlackLivesMatter demonstration held at the Mall of America.

January Worship Theme:

"Arc of Change"

In his poem, "The Layers," Stanley Kunitz looks back on his life of changes, "the milestones" and "abandoned campsites," of his journey. All of us leave a trail of hopes that have fallen along the wayside, or burning embers of insight that light the way forward in our changing patterns. Change is. That is the nature of things. In a beautiful turn of phrase the poet writes, "a nimbus-clouded voice directed me: "Live in the layers, not on the litter." 


This month we live in the layers of change, exploring the arcs of our own lives, the arc of this faith community, and the arc of history and change. To paraphrase Kunitz's final line: We are not done with our changes.

First Universalist Foundation Accepting Nominations

The Foundation Board--a grant-giving arm of the church focused on non-profit organizations who are doing work to ameliorate the root causes of injustice--has once again opened up nominations.  We are asking the congregation for suggestions of non-profits to whom we might send a Letter of Interest, asking them to apply for a grant during our Spring Round.  

In recent rounds, the First Universalist Foundation funded congregant-suggested organizations/projects including: Augsburg Fairview Academy, courageous heARTS, EMERGE North 4 Program, Latina Women Agripreneur Project, MUUSJA, and Peta Wakan Tipi. 


We're energized by and eager to fund projects which align with our mission and with whom our congregants are currently engaged.


The nomination window will close on January 21st, so don't delay!  If you are interested in making a nomination or in learning more, please email:

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.

Environmental Justice Meeting

Does your faith compel you to act to preserve and care for our earth?

Are you concerned that environmental damage disproportionately impacts people of color and the poor? 

Do you want to work with others at church to learn, inspire others, and act for change? 

If so, join us on: 
Thursday, January 22nd 
from 7-8:30pm as we continue to map out our work for environmental justice.

Heritage Circle

It's not just about luncheons and accolades.

For those of you who have the church in your will-kudos!

However, if you have the church in your will and don't want the hooplah, that's fine with us.

However, PLEASE tell the church office (Diane, Director of Operations, at, so that your wishes will be honored when you leave this earth. Sometimes, depending on the language of your will, the church will not receive the funds unless we pursue them. I know this sounds odd, but if you have an IRA, you cannot name an entity, but a person/individual as your beneficiary and if you bequeathed a percentage of your assets, it gets even more complicated. So, we understand if you do not want to be recognized publicly. Just let the church know of your intentions. Thank you for your continued support!

Marjie Smith 
of the Planned Giving Committee

Upcoming Events

Thursday, 1/15
Board of Trustees Meeting, 
6:30 PM, Cummins Room

Saturday, 1/17
Racial Justice and Our UU Faith Workshop, 9:00 AM, 
Cummins Room

Sunday, 1/25
"Through My Lens" Artist Reception, After both services, Social Hall

Saturday, 1/31
Winter Warm Up Dance Party, 
8:00 PM, Social Hall


Note: Office and Building Closed January 19

The church office and building will be closed all day Monday, January 19 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There will be no office or facilities staff available during this time. 


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

Augsburg Fairview Academy
We did it! Thanks to all who contributed to the Target gift card drive for AFA students! You helped us achieve the goal of having a gift card for each student! We know there will be some very happy students when the cards are distributed this week at AFA! Extra cards will be given to the social work staff to use for student emergencies and other student needs. Thank you for your generosity!

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.
Little Free Library Needs All of Us!
First Universalist Church's Little Free Library (LFL), located on the north side of the building, needs your help. 

Each month one family or individual makes sure the the LFL is filled with books on Sunday. It takes only 3-4 minutes! Please sign up on the LFL bookcase to be a monthly caretaker. Instructions are also posted on the bookcase.
We are also in need of donations for children's books and novels.
This is the work of our church.

Youth Cultural Exchange (YCE) 
Truffle Sale

YCE is selling handmade truffles!

These delicious truffles are hand made by First Universalist youth, using fair trade chocolate.  The candies come beautifully packaged in decorative boxes-just in time for Valentines Day.

Order: January 11, 18, 25
PickupFebruary 1 or 8

In the Social Hall, after both services on Sunday

Pay by cash or check 
(at the time of order)

Box of 4 (assorted flavors) $6
Box of 6 (assorted flavors) $9
Box of 8 (assorted flavors) $12

All proceeds benefit YCE-thank you for supporting this important work of our church!
Habitat for Humanity Crews Needed in 2015

There are exciting opportunities for new and veteran Habitat for Humanity volunteers in 2015! Don't worry about your skill level--Habitat welcomes all volunteers and will make sure you have meaningful work. 

We need 10-13 people for each of the following dates: February 12, March 14, April 9, May 14 and a week in August (dates TBD). You can sign up by visiting the information table in the social hall after services or online at the following link:

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!  

Winter 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.


The church office and building will be closed all day Monday, January 19 in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There will be no office or facilities staff available during this time. 

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:  
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.

Next up for The Weekly Liberal:

~ 5 Questions With Rev. Jen

~ Housing Advocacy Opportunities at First Universalist Church

...and much more!

A Message From Rev. Justin Schroeder


I begin most mornings in meditation. My focus has been on "loving kindness" and I have held many of you in my mind's eye - wishing you happiness and wellbeing. When I'm through meditating, I often take 10 minutes or so to journal. In my writing, I respond to the question: "What am I noticing in my life?" and I review the past day or two.
Yesterday, in the morning, I noticed several trees around our house that were full of robins. At 5 o'clock, I noticed that it was still light out, that darkness hadn't yet settled in. In the midst of brittle cold, I saw noticed signs of the slow turning toward spring. 

The invitation of life itself, and the religious life, especially, is to notice. To ask, "What am I noticing? What am I experiencing (noticing) right now? How am I awake to what is happening in front of me in this present moment?" 

Whether it's noticing the questions and yearnings of your own spirit, or noticing the dynamics of race within and around you, or noticing another's unspoken joy or grief, paying deep attention allows us to truly inhabit our one wild and precious life.

As a faith community, we are striving to fully awaken - to give, receive, and grow in the ways of love - and I invite you to join us on this journey by signing up for one of our Circles. Circles are groups of 8 to 10 church folks who meet every other week for a few months to notice - to listen deeply, to learn, to notice, to change, and to grow. We offer Circles to reflect more deeply on our Sunday worship services and our monthly worship themes. We offer Spiritual Deepening Circles, including "Listening to the Soul Through Poetry," "Examining Whiteness: Understanding White Privilege and Identity," and "Our American Roots as Unitarian Universalists." We offer Circles for Newcomers and those living with grief and loss. 

I hope you will join a Circle and deepen your capacity to awaken to your own life and to the larger life that surrounds all of us. 

I'll see you in Church,

P.S. Please join other members of First Universalist at the #ReclaimMLK March, on Monday, January 19th, at 1pm. The March begins at Snelling and University in St. Paul. More information to come via Facebook and Sunday announcements.


News & Announcements

To register, contact Rev. Elaine at 
 or 612-825-1701 ex. 124

Childcare is available with 7 days advance notice.  To sign up for childcare online, click here.

The Winter Warm-Up

Saturday, January 31st
Live Music, Appetizers, Beverages, Dancing!

Join us Saturday night, January 31, 2015 for the Winter Warm-up!  This is a live-music event featuring First UU's own Rock Band.  We'll have dancing and light appetizers with beverages, featuring beer from Lake Monster Brewery and wine from Hennepin Lake Liquors, available for purchase. Dancing starts at 8pm.  

Stop by on your way home from the Loppet and help warm-up the social hall at 2015's first congregational fundraiser of the year!

Suggested donation for admission is $10-$20 but no one will be turned away based on ability to pay.  If your budget allows it, consider paying more to support others.  Visit this URL to buy your tickets in advance:

Starting January 11th, tickets will also be available for purchase on Sundays in the Social Hall between services.

Save the Date! Pledge Day: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

By Zack Steven,

Pledge Team Member


The Pledge Team is excited to announce the first ever Pledge Day on Wednesday March 11, 2015!  In keeping with the pledging rituals established in recent years, and with the goal of creating an intentional and positive, yet succinct, pledging experience for members, we looked to the voting process for inspiration.

Full details to follow, but you can expect an experience like Election Day, only more fun and with church friends rather than neighbors. We will be inviting members to submit their pledge on Pledge Day, either in person at church (election style, complete with snacks and "I Pledged" stickers), online or by phone. We'll be sharing Pledge Day progress with the congregation throughout, and the day will culminate in a community meal and celebration at church, with tasty food, good music, and fellowship. Please save the date!

As an expression of gratitude (and an incentive), all those who have made a pledge on or before Pledge Day will be entered into a raffle to win an iPad mini at the end of the Pledge Day celebration! Need not be present to win, but why not come anyway?

Also, in anticipation of Pledge Day, please have a look at the  Generosity Calculator that is now live on our website. It will help you explore your own goals and motivations for generosity and the role that your pledge to First Universalist plays.

Feedback? Questions? Want to help? Please contact me at


Connect with Circles in 2015!

Community Circles Logo
Our Circles are groups of 8-10 committed participants who come together with a trained leader to nurture spiritual growth in community. These groups are grounded in the spiritual practices of deep listening and open-hearted reflection.

Which circle might be right for you?

*Community Circles offer an opportunity to reflect more deeply on our Sunday services and monthly worship themes.

*Spiritual Deepening Circles gather for in-depth study of a particular topic or spiritual practice, such as UU History: Our American Roots, Listening to the Soul Through Poetry and Examining Whiteness.

*Newcomer Circles offer an opportunity to learn more about our liberal faith tradition and connect with others who are getting to know First Universalist.

*Care Circles offer participants support and encouragement during a particularly challenging period of their lives.

Online registration begins this Sunday, January 11 and runs through Sunday, January 25. 

Sign up at For more information, contact Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at or 612-825-1701 x124.

Learn to Curl

January 24, 10:00 AM - 1:00 PM 
at the Four Seasons Curling Club in Blaine, MN

It's not too late to sign up for this Great Gathering! 

Learn how to curl at a beautiful state-of-the art indoor curling arena. You will get instruction on how to deliver the stone, how to sweep and basic strategy. Sean Brown and other experienced Curlers, including our own Jeff Lee, Sean Gaither, and David Krewinghous, will be your coaches! Children twelve and older are welcome to participate, too! Have fun with other UU's while getting in touch with your inner Olympian! There is an adjoining restaurant, Gabe's, for those who just want to watch or eat and socialize afterward. 
Hosted by Sean Brown and Denise Konen.

$15 per person. Call 612-825-1701 and ask for Brad or Bree if you'd like to sign up!

A Note From the Visual Arts Committee

We would like to give a great big Thank You to Averil Bach and Meredith Sims for their awesome work on the live flowers on the chancel for the past six weeks. They gave the added touch that complimented the theme of star motif from Matisse. 

We appreciate their efforts and added beauty to the season!

It's Tea Time!

Dust off your fanciest hat and get ready to attend AUW's (Assocation of Universalist Women) annual Winter Tea!!

TIME: 2:00 - 4:00 pm

SIGN UP: We will be at the AUW table in the Social Hall on Sundays in January or sign-up online by clicking here.

VOLUNTEER: We need help with set-up, clean-up, bringing food, serving food and decorating tables in your own personalized theme.

DONATE: Make a contribution at the tea to Augsburg-Fairview Academy to support its academic program and to stock the Food Closet.

Joanne Engelking will be at the tea to take your donations.

Augsburg Fairview Academy is asking for:
Cash donations for a field trip in March to the University of Minnesota. This field trip will include a campus tour and meetings with counselors in the American Indian Studies program, the GLBTA Program and the African-American/African Studies program.

Food donations for the students to take home at the end of the school day. Shopping lists are available at the Hub on Sundays.

A Note to Those Who Donated Gift Cards to AFA

If you would like a receipt for your gift card donation to AFA, please pick up a form letter from AFA at the Hub or in the church office. Complete the form, keep one for your tax records, and return a copy to AFA. Thank you again for your contribution!

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.  


From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend through Spring Break, Religious Education classes from grades K-4th grade focus on racial and social justice and family diversity. As UUs, we seek "to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another." And so we explore with our children: What does it mean to welcome every person as a blessing and a member of the whole human family? How can we grow our hearts and spirits by appreciating differences and similarities between us and others? What we are called to do when we encounter intolerance, prejudice, and injustice in our world?

For many years, our Kindergarteners and 1st graders have spent several weeks each winter with the Families All Matter curriculum, which introduces the rich diversity of families through beautiful picture books. This year, our kids in 2nd-4th grades will have the same opportunity, using more advanced books and nuanced discussions. Themes include racial and ethnic diversity, socioeconomic diversity, immigration, adoption, disabilities, and LGBT family members. The poetic words, compelling stories, and evocative images in the children's books we read together offer critical information, encourage accurate empathy, and promote an attitude of respect and compassion for all. 

This year's books for K-1st grades will include The Other Side, Understanding Sam, and King and King. 2nd and 3rd grade books will include Unspoken, The Story of Ruby Bridges, and If a Bus Could Talk, while 4th graders read at Nadia's Hands, Boundless Grace, and In Our Mothers' House.



This Winter, First Universalist will offer a special circle for parents and Religious Education teachers. We will come together as parents and teachers seeking to build our capacity for talking with our children and youth about race, racism, whiteness and racial justice in ways that are supportive, grounded in the realities of the world, and hopeful. As we grow our souls through weekly reading assignments, sharing our stories and reflecting on our journeys, we will become better able to guide and accompany our kids on their journeys. 

Parents and teachers in the circle will connect and reflect in small groups of 8-10 people grounded in attentive listening and open-hearted reflection. Depending on the response, we may offer one more than one circle, running concurrently, with parents grouped according to their children's ages.

Many thanks are due those congregants who have been deeply engaged in racial justice work, and who are leading the way. Denise Konen and Kayci Rush are working closely with Lauren Wyeth, Director of Children, Youth & Family Ministries, to develop and deliver racial justice training to our Religious Education volunteers, while Sacha Muller, Suzanne Hay and Ben Sunderlin have stepped forward to co-facilitate Talking About Race with Kids circles. 

Talking About Race with Kids
Five Monday evenings, 6:30-8pm
Jan 26, Feb 9 & 23, Mar 9 & 23

Depending upon response, a circle may also be offered on alternate Mondays.


Tuesday Front Desk 
Volunteer Opportunity

The front desk at First Universalist Church needs more cheerful volunteers to join our reception team. The first impression many visitors get of our church is from the smiling faces they see when they walk into our office.

We're looking for friendly and reliable folks who want to get more involved in our community. Specifically, we are looking for folks to help out on Tuesdays-we have the Tuesday AM shift open temporarily, and the Tuesday PM shift open indefinitely.

Represent First Universalist by greeting visitors, answering phones, monitoring doors and helping out with projects, all while spending time in a vibrant and welcoming office environment.

If you are interested in volunteering or learning more, please contact Chelsea Bertsch, Administrative Assistant, at 612-825-1701 or at


Get To Know Your First U Staff!  
 Five Questions with Randy Buikema

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?

My job title is "Director of Choral Arts," which basically means that I choose repertoire and rehearse it with the choir in preparation for Sunday worship services. In actuality the job is more involved than that. The worship team, which I am a part of, chooses themes. Then, I look for pieces to support those themes. It is important to me that what we offer musically helps to create a unified whole. As worship leaders, we have been given a great responsibility to take the congregation on a spiritual journey. I take that responsibility seriously.

One of the biggest unwritten parts of my job is recruitment. I am ALWAYS in recruitment mode. There is so much talent in this congregation, and I wish to get all possible singers and instrumentalists involved. To that end, I have formed an orchestra to accompany larger works.

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

I LOVE LOVE LOVE working with the choir. They are an energetic and highly talented bunch of singers, who week after week say "yes" to the musical challenges put before them. The singers do a lot of work in and out of rehearsals to bring their best to the worship experience. The long-time members of the choir have been open and welcoming to new members. It is inspiring to observe choir members who have a great deal of experience helping those who are new.

One of my passions is conducting large-scaled choral/orchestral works. The newly formed orchestra has enabled us to some very interesting pieces. It's so exciting to have members of the congregation come up to me and say, "do you know I play such and such an instrument?" We have only begun to tap the possibilities in this area.

The overwhelming positive response of the congregation has been energizing to me, the singers and the instrumentalists. Your words of appreciation and encouragement spur us on to become better and push our boundaries.

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

I was in a television pilot with Robert Conrad.

What are a few of you favorite books? 

"A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle, "How to Know God" by Depak Chopra, "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo, "Freedom, Glorious Freedom" by John McNeill

What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?

To be myself. In a critique my first conducting teacher said,"Randy your face is blank when you conduct. Usually your face is very expressive. Be yourself when you conduct." It wasn't until I "came out" many years later, that I realized how valuable that advice was. The more I know myself and the more I allow myself the freedom to be me, the more effective I become as conductor.


Racial Justice Within the Walls of First Universalist Church

Fellow Congregants,

One of the points of our focus on racial justice is to find areas in our church life where patterns of racism or a white racial narrative may be occurring.

Today a new document has been added to the Racial Justice Page on our web site. It is an executive summary of the results from a 'Mapping Racism' exercise done in May. Led by our racial justice consultant Dr. Heather Hackman, about 35 congregants who went through the G1 or G2 racial justice trainings with Dr. Hackman met to identify areas in church life where racism and whiteness may be occurring. Participants were able to identify areas for investigation by looking through a sharper racial justice 'lens' than they may have had before going through training. Check it out by clicking HERE. We hope you'll find it thought provoking. Perhaps you will use it as fodder for meaningful conversations.

Based on this information, the Racial Justice Leadership Team has prioritized the worship and communications/culture/identity aspects of our church for investigation, and is currently assembling teams to address these area. A team will also be created to connect those of you with a passion for racial justice more deeply with this ministry.

Also, a new staff intern with a social work background will be helping to create a set of questions to use for all of our Faith in Action work that will help assure that we assess all such efforts with a racial justice lens.

Racial Justice Leadership Team Members
Kristen Mengelkoch and Emma Paskewitz



Free Arts Minnesota 

"Through My Lens" Photography Exhibit

January 11- February 15


"Through My Lens" is a  photography exhibit created by 65 teens from local social service agencies as a part of Free Arts Minnesota's summer 2014 Teaching Artist Series. This eight-week program, led by photographer Wing Young Huie in partnership with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, used the medium of photography to help youth engage more deeply with their community. Using Huie's chalkboard interview method, teens interviewed and photographed their peers, mentors and members of the community. The program culminated in an exhibit of the teens' photographs at the MIA in August.


Free Arts Minnesota inspires hope and builds self-esteem for youth who have experienced poverty, homelessness, abuse and mental illness, using the healing powers of artistic expression and caring adult mentors. Their Weekly Mentorship and other educational art programs annually reach over 4,000 youth at homeless shelters, treatment centers, domestic violence shelters, and community centers across the Twin Cities metro.


For more information, visit


NEW: there will be representatives from Free Arts in the social hall after both services on January 25 to discuss the program and to discuss ways individuals can get involved!


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