August 13, 2015  |  Vol. 2 No. 24
What Are We Practicing? A Note from Rev. Justin

Rev. Justin Schroeder
Several weeks ago, church member Arif Mamdani shared this reading as a part of the Sunday service:
"Generally speaking the more we practice something the better we get at it. Our experience of course teaches us that sometimes we practice and we don't seem to get better, but in fact we are getting better - we just may not be getting better at what we want. Each time we practice piano with a grumpy attitude, then we may get better at piano, but we will also certainly get better at being grumpy. Or when we practice meditation and consciously allow ourselves to daydream, then as time passes we get better and better at daydreaming while sitting ever so still. Practice is always happening. It is continuously shaping us: opening us up to new ways of being, or increasingly calcifying the way we think, act, and feel." (From The Transformative Power of Practice by Ng'ethe Maina and Staci Haines.)
What are we practicing as a faith community?
As we move into September, with the complete elimination of Religious Education fees for our children and youth, we are practicing deep alignment with our core values. Religious Education and formation is a ministry we all share ownership and responsibility for, and collectively, through our increased annual giving this year, we eliminated Religious Education fees. We are practicing alignment.

In June, after passing a racial justice resolution at our Annual Meeting, we placed a banner that said, "We Believe Black Lives Matter" on the side of our building. Since that time, a number of individuals have commented on how welcome this banner makes them feel. While it's true that all lives matter, we still live in a society where black lives all too often matter less. We are practicing being a church committed to racial justice.

In just a few weeks, we will open our church building to four families from Families Moving Forward, converting our classrooms into bedrooms, and connecting with and serving these families during their stay with us. We are practicing hospitality.

These are new practices that we can feel proud of as a faith community, practices that are opening us to new ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. These practices are changing us and having an impact in the world.

What new practices might you engage in during these final summer days? How might you discover a new way of being?

In faith,

P.S. I'm so grateful for the church's generous maternity/paternity leave policy. I'll be on paternity leave until Sunday, Sept. 12!
Sunday Worship at First Universalist
Upcoming Worship
August 16, 10am
"Falling Into Questions"
Rev. K.P. Hong
Answers fall from towering questions like acorns from oak trees, whose hard shells must crack and break open if their vital cores are to be released. Like spiritual trip-wires laid across our familiar paths, questions impossible to evade ambush the pottering progress of our days and ask if we know the touch and feel of life itself.

Looking Ahead:
Sunday, Aug. 23
Sunday, Aug. 30
Sunday, Sept. 6
"'There is Power in a Union:' A Theology of Labor"
Ashley Horan
Miss a Past Sermon?
August 9, 2015
"The Sacred and the Mundane"
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink

August 2, 2015
"Sources of Transformation"
Arif Mamdani

July 26, 2015
"Living as We Are Meant to Live"
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink
Upcoming Events
Backpack Blessing Service
Sunday, Aug. 23, 10am
This multigenerational service will offer children, youth, and adults the opportunity to reflect upon how we might carry the love of our church community and tools of our faith with us wherever we go. Children and youth are encouraged to wear their school backpacks to church so that we can include them in the Backpack Blessing ritual.
Lake Harriet 
Worship and Potluck
Sunday, Aug. 30, 10am
Join us for an energizing worship service and potluck picnic at the Lake Harriet Bandshell! We'll enjoy tunes from the Universal Rock Band, an inspiring message from Rev. Jen Crow, and a delicious potluck picnic afterwards. Please note: this will be our only worship service that Sunday.
Art Exhibit of Hiroshima Children's Drawings
On View Sundays, Sept. 6 - Oct. 25, 9am-1pm
Inspired by the powerful documentary, "Pictures of a Hiroshima Schoolyard," the exhibit includes a selection of original 1946 drawings by children from Hiroshima. Learn about the UU connection to this story of peace and reconciliation.

Volunteer to Help with Families Moving Forward!
Beacon's Families Moving Forward program offers families experiencing homelessness hospitality, emergency shelter and a path to home with support for stability.  
We're preparing to welcome four families to First Universalist the week of September 6-13. We are grateful for the donations that we have received so far. We welcome contributions of new and gently used matching twin sheet sets, twin air beds, comforters and blankets. We also welcome cash donations to support equipment and food purchases. Finally, we welcome your time to serve as evening hosts, dinner preparers and servers, and activity participants. This is a great chance to involve children!  
Interested in learning how you can help? Stop by the Families Moving Forward (FMF) table in the Social Hall this Sunday, August 16 or email Peg Mitchell at
Backpacks for Augsburg Fairview Academy Students
New and gently used backpacks are needed for Augsburg Fairview Academy (AFA) high school students. First Universalist Church supports AFA as part of our racial justice and housing ministry. We provide supplies for a food and clothing closet, as well as serving as tutors and classroom assistants. Students prefer black or neutral colors (and want to avoid gang colors like bright red, blue and green). Bring your donations to the Social Hall on Sundays.
Next Newcomer Circle Begins Sept. 2 - Sign Up Now!
Community Circles Logo
Are you new to First Universalist? Whether you are a recent visitor or a new member, you're invited to join a Newcomer Circle. These four-session gatherings 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. 

Our next Newcomer Circle runs on Wednesdays, Sept. 2, 9, 16, and 23 from 7-8:30pm. Registration is required; you can sign up at the Information table in the social hall or by emailing
Calligraphy Exhibit on View Through Aug. 23
First Universalist is fortunate to have an impressive calligraphy exhibit by Diane von Arx on display in the Social Hall this summer. Making letters, in expressive and informative ways, is Diane von Arx's passion. She takes great pleasure in collaborating with, and expanding upon, the words of others by offering visual enhancement to echo the author's message. She sees the process of calligraphic mark-making as a performance art and believes the power of 'the written words as art' crosses all disciplines. It's a fantastic journey that she is happy to share with our congregation.
Diane has exhibited her work in many locations, and she also designs and produces many original recognition documents and gift pieces including names and wedding testaments, and she has a business lettering on walls and furniture. Diane would be happy to discuss possible commissions with congregants. If you are interested, you can email her at Diane's work will be on display in the Social Hall through August 23. 

Visit Diane Von Arx' website
Save the Date: "Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard"
Join us for a special reception and documentary film screening of "Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard" with the film's director and producer present on Sunday, Sept. 20 at 12:15 p.m. The film will be shown at 12:45 p.m. A second screening will also be offered at 4 p.m. The reception is sponsored by the AUW (Association of Universalist Women).

Find out how UUs were involved in the creation of joyful drawings by Japanese school children amidst the rubble of their destroyed city. First Universalist marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing and end of WWII with an art exhibit and story tied to our UU tradition of peace and reconciliation. 

Learn more about the film
Environmental Justice Work Featured on MNIPL

"At the center of their work, the Faithful Action Environmental Justice Group at First Universalist upholds a commitment to illuminate the ways climate and racial justice are interconnected, rather than separate problems. Education, discussion, advocacy, and an active membership in the Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA) support their efforts. Taking part in MNIPL's Climate Conversations program also helped members who felt battered by the struggle to address these issues reignite their passion for the work."

Read the full profile here
News in Brief
Shifts in Staff Responsibilities
Many of our church staff have taken on new responsibilities this summer, and we have had the joy of welcoming several new members to our staff team. Please take a moment to view our staff bios and staff organizational chart, and be sure to welcome our new staff members to this wonderful community. 
Daytime Connections Survey
The Daytime Connections advisory team has prepared a brief survey to assist in program planning. Please watch for an emailed or mailed survey, and tell us your program preferences and ideas. Thanks so much for your time and interest!
August 23: Join the Summer Choir for a Day!
Do you like to sing? Want to be in a choir but can't make an extended commitment? Sing with the Summer Choir on August 23! Rehearsal is at 9 a.m. on the day of the service, and music is easy enough to learn in the one rehearsal. More info:
"My First U" Online Member Directory
Have you registered yet?
Did you know? Using our online database, you can access First Universalist's membership directory, create and update your profile, view our space use calendar & make reservations, and manage your pledge payments. 
Welcoming Temple Israel
This month, we welcome Temple Israel's Early Childhood Center to First Universalist. They'll be using downstairs classrooms and the Chalice Room on weekdays for the coming year while their spaces are being renovated. Expect it to feel a little busier than normal around the church on weekday mornings and afternoons! 
Community Bulletin Board
Young Adult Meet-Up
Saturday, Aug. 15, 8:15pm
Young adults are invited to meet up for a screening of Fantastic Mr. Fox at Phelps Park (at 39th & Park). Members of the First Universalist young adult group will arrive at 8:15pm to stake out a spot. Info:
Laura Smidzik Ordination
Saturday, Sept. 19, 2pm
Laura served as our ministerial intern during the 2012-13 church year, and Rev. Jen Crow will be delivering the Charge to the Minister at Laura's ordination. 
Ashley Horan Ordination
Saturday, Oct. 3, 2pm
Ashley Horan is the Executive Director of MUUSJA, the Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance.
Pastoral Care
Let Us Keep You In Our Thoughts & Prayers
If you are experiencing a crisis or transition, or celebrating a joy, please let us know. 
To be included in our Cycle of Life each Sunday in worship, contact Sandy DiNanni at or 612-825-1701. If you would like support, contact Rev. Jen Crow at or 612-825-1701 or any member of our Pastoral Care Team.
Contact Us
First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
3400 Dupont Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408
For staff contact information, please visit our Ministers and Staff page.
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First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
3400 Dupont Avenue S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408


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