February 4, 2016  |  Vol. 3 No. 5
Contracts, Laws, and Sacred Promises: What the State of the Church Meeting is Really About
Rev. Justin Schroeder
By Rev. Justin Schroeder

On Sunday, Feb. 7, immediately following our second worship service, we'll hold our annual "State of the Church" meeting. Everyone is invited!

At this meeting, the Board of Trustees and the staff of the church will share updates on our goals for this year (the goals come from our Strategic Plan, a document created by the congregation and monitored by the Board of Trustees.) This meeting will be a time to celebrate accomplishments, to outline emerging opportunities, and to provide a preview of things to come.

As you know, less than a month ago, President Obama gave his final State of the Union Address; in addition to casting a vision for our democracy moving forward, he also laid out a number of legislative proposals - new laws or changes to current laws that he'd like to see in our country.

As I reflect on our upcoming "State of the Church" meeting, I am reminded once again that as a faith community, we do not live in a religious community guided by a set of laws or other legal agreements (though we certainly have bylaws and live in a country with a set of laws); rather, it is a covenant, a set of sacred promises and practices, that binds us together.

In this regard, the practices of our faith community are somewhat similar to a marriage; a marriage does not succeed because the couple makes a legal agreement with one another. A marriage succeeds because a couple makes sacred promises, committing to walk together, as best they can, through the ups and downs of life. Over the course of any marriage or committed partnership, promises will be made, broken, and re-made. A marriage, or committed partnership, isn't made strong because of legal requirements; it's made strong by showing up, by giving your heart to another person, by being willing to take risks and be vulnerable.

It is much the same in a faith community. Our strength comes from how we are together; how we love and care for one another; how we encourage each other to spiritual growth; how we serve the wider community; how we embrace discomfort as a place to learn and grow; how we work for justice.

It is our faithful living out of these sacred promises that ensures our faith community is strong, vibrant, and vital long into the future. It is in this spirit then, that we gather for our "State of the Church" meeting this Sunday.

I'll see you in church,

February worship theme: Brokenness
Worship this Sunday
Sunday, Feb. 7, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
Sharing Sunday
(4 yrs to 5th gr. attend first part of service)
"It's Already Broken"
Rev. Jen Crow
So often we do our best to keep things in perfect shape, yet we know that the nicks and cracks, the scratches and bumps, will come. What would it be like if we went through life without fear of ourselves, our things, and our relationships breaking? What would we trust?
Read More  
Winter Worship Schedule

A Look Ahead
Sunday, Feb. 14, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
"Conscience, Lead me to Grace"
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie
Youth-friendly worship (6th - 12th grades attend entire service)

Miss a Recent Sunday?
Jan. 31, 2016
"Letting Go"
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink

Jan. 24, 2016
"Step by Step"
Rev. Justin Schroeder

Jan. 17, 2016
"The Other America"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
State of the Church MeetingStateoftheChurch
Sunday, Feb. 7, 12:30 p.m.
Please join us for our annual State of the Church meeting after the second service on Sunday, Feb. 7. At this meeting, the Board of Trustees and staff will share updates on their respective goals for the year. This meeting will be a time to celebrate shared accomplishments, and to outline emerging opportunities and next steps in various ministry areas. We'll include a high level mid-year budget update, outline programming for the rest of the church year, and provide a preview of things to come. 
We have so much to be proud of as a faith community, and big goals still in front of us.
Bde/Mde Maka Ska Community Conversation: "Giving Form to Expressions of Spirit and Values"
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 6-9 p.m.
Please join us for an exciting conversation about giving form to expressions of spirit and values that emanate from Bde/Mde Maka Ska (currently called Lake Calhoun). Explore ways to bring out the best in people. Come and collectively re-imagine our community beyond its current norm in unique and more desired forms of interaction.
Daytime Connections: Winter Hiking
Tuesday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m.
Important: meet at Richardson Nature Center, Hyland Lake Park Reserve
Join other First U seniors for an outdoor hike in another of Minnesota's beautiful parks! The full hike is 3.5 miles (1 hours) with options to loop back for a shorter hike. After the hike, we'll go to Brueggers Bagels/Caribou Coffee on France & Old Shakopee Rd. for hot beverages and conviviality. RSVP to Tom Saterstrom at saterstromtom@yahoo.com or 952-239-3629. Get directions here.
Daytime Connections Armchair Travel
Wednesday, Feb. 10,  10 a.m.
Meets in the Church Library
New Daytime Connections special interest group! Join us for an opportunity to share with other First U seniors some of the places you have traveled, things you learned along the way, resources others might find helpful - and maybe even start planning a trip together. Coordinated by Peg Feil. For more information, contact Peg at 651-777-9239 or pegfeil@hotmail.com.
Racial Justice and Our UU Faith Workshop
Wednesdays, Feb. 17 & 24, 6:30-8:30 p.m.
As a church community, we are deeply committed to racial justice. We hope that all First Universalist members and friends will join us for this interactive workshop exploring a framework and tools for understanding race, racism, and whiteness and the spiritual imperative that drives our racial justice work. This is a distilled experience of the 24-hour training offered by Dr. Heather Hackman. The February workshop is offered in two parts (both required), on Wednesdays, Feb. 17 and 24 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each day. Led by Clemma Muller.
To register, contact Sandy DiNanni at Sandy@firstuniv.org or 612-825-1701.
Daytime Connections: Intentional Aging
Thursday, Feb. 18,  11 a.m.
Too often life changes come without warning, and we have to react quickly. However, we can have more autonomy if we make a plan.  Join us to consider your main challenges about the transitions ahead and talk with experts: Diane Sprague, Director of Lifetime Home Project; Ann Dunagan, New TRUST Parish Nurse; Nate Ahlberg, Financial Planner, Accredited Investors; and Linda Walker, Social Worker, SW Senior Center. Program includes small meal ($5 donation is requested). RSVP to Sandy DiNanni at sandy@firstuniv.org or 612-825-1701. Co-Sponsored by the Planned Giving Committee.
Marital First Responders Training
Saturday, Feb. 20, 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.
If friends confide in you about relationship challenges and you want to feel more confident in how to be supportive, this training is for you! Marital First Responders are people who others open up to about relationship problems. But they are sometimes unsure how to be helpful, how to avoid taking sides, and how to steer friends and family to the right resources. This training will help you be more intentional, confident, and effective when others come to you for support and perspective, whether it's the complaints of everyday married life or bigger issues like thoughts of divorce. Led by Bill Doherty, Ph.D., University of Minnesota Professor, marriage therapist, and co-founder of The Doherty Relationship Institute. Registration: To sign up, email Rev. Jen Crow at jen@firstuniv.org.
"Selma" Viewing & Discussion
RESCHEDULED: Feb. 27, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Through our Racial Justice Video and Book Discussion series, we invite you to join us for engaging conversations on race, racism, and whiteness. "Selma" chronicles Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s 1965 campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. Join us for a viewing of the movie followed by a discussion led by Jeff Sylvestre and Channing McKinley. This is a drop-in program (no registration required). Please bring your own lunch.
Pastoral Care Team Commissioning This Sunday
This Sunday during worship, we will commission our new Pastoral Care Team for 2016.

The Pastoral Care Team is a group of First Universalist Church congregants 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. While our ministers continue to be with members of the congregation in crisis situations, this team is able to provide continuing care to our growing community and enhance the practical support offered by our Congregational Care team. Our goal is to offer compassionate presence to our fellow congregants in the knowledge that this too is a spiritual practice. If you are in need of support, or know of another church member or friend who would welcome support, please contact Rev. Jen Crow (jen@firstuniv.org). 

Our 2016 Pastoral Care Team members include: Rev. Jen Crow (co-chair), Andrea Johnson (co-chair), Roger Ballou, Dan Berg, Kathy Coskran, Janet Houck, Julie Howard, Guy Johnson, Stephanie Koehler, Bill Lewis, Carolyn Moe, Nora Page, Gail Price, Mike Thompson, Michelle Tierney, and Kathy Urberg.

Did you know? In each issue of The Weekly Liberal, we include select Cycle of Life news items in the "News in Brief" section. Scroll down or click the link to read the "Pastoral Care and Cycle of Life" section.
First Universalist to Host Twin Cities UU YouthCON
UU YouthCON 2016 is an event for 9th-12th grade UU youth of the greater Twin Cities that will be held Saturday, Feb. 13 through Sunday, Feb. 14. The theme for the weekend is "CONmitment: CONtinuing the CONversation," and First Universalist Church of Minneapolis is proud to serve as host this year.

This year's YouthCON is all about continuing to deepen the relationships and connections between the different youth groups in the Twin Cities. The youth planners decided that they wanted the theme of this con to be "CONmitment": commitment to social justice, commitment to creating more opportunities for UU youth to build relationships and do projects together, and commitment to our own spiritual development. We will explore these ideas through art, play, worship, conversation, and reflection.

A highlight of this year's CON will be an afternoon workshop led by YoUUth SOALS, the youth program of MUUSJA (the Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance). The workshop will be facilitated by three phenomenal youth leaders and two adults who are fiercely dedicated to guiding youth in their commitment to our UU values of social justice. There will also be panel of folks from UU congregations across the Twin Cities who will talk to the youth about their experiences doing social justice organizing as Unitarian Universalists. Take a look at our complete schedule and register for the UU YouthCON online by Friday, Feb. 5.

Next Pathway to Membership Class is Feb. 21 & 28
Feeling like you've found your spiritual home at First Universalist? Our Pathway to Membership class invites you into an exploration of Unitarian Universalism, the history of this congregation, our racial justice commitment, and the experience of membership. This class is offered as a two-part series. Our next "Pathway to Membership" class is offered on Sundays, Feb. 21 and 28 from 1-4 p.m. both days. After that, the next opportunity to participate will be in April. 

To register, please contact Sandy DiNanni at Sandy@firstuniv.org or 612-825-1701. Childcare is available free of charge with at least seven days advance notice.
First Universalist to be CSA Pick-Up Location
Sogn Valley Farm offers weekly deliveries of fresh, organic vegetables through its CSA (community supported agriculture) program. Starting this year, CSA shares can be picked up at First Universalist Church in Minneapolis on Wednesdays from 4-8 p.m.

Sogn Valley Farm's Summer Share begins in early June and runs through early October (typically 18 weeks), and costs $525 for a full share or $300 for a half share. The Fall Share begins in early October and continues through the week of Thanksgiving (typically 7 weeks), and is priced at $225. Along with each box, you'll receive a newsletter with updates from the farm, descriptions of box contents, and a recipe that uses some of the items in the box. You'll also be invited down to the farm for a gathering or two during the season.  

Visit www.sognvalleyfarm.com to learn more. Feel free to contact Dana with any questions: Dana@sognvalleyfarm.com. We look forward to meeting you!
Families Moving Forward:
"Don't Be Afraid to Ask for Help," Says Mom of 3
First Universalist Church will again host families from Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative's Families Moving Forward program in May 2016. This story - about one family's experience with the program - originally appeared on Beacon's website.

Melanie's path as a young parent hasn't been easy. She regrets her poor rental history and bad credit. Originally from northern Minnesota, she left home after an eviction to stay temporarily with an aunt in the Shakopee area. That situation wasn't working well, so she left -- and she and the kids came to experience homelessness. (She is pictured at right with her youngest child, Ayden.)

"I felt completely worthless, like a failure to my kids," Melanie said. The family lived in a motel for a while. It was a roof over their heads but nothing more. She hit another bump in the road, and for two months her daughters, 8 and 10, and her almost-2-year-old son did not live with her, instead staying temporarily with relatives.

Meanwhile, Melanie ended up back at the motel, worked two jobs and thanks to a Scott County social worker, was introduced to Families Moving Forward. She was reluctant to accept help but was determined to get her children back, and participating in the FMF program, working with Sakinah to find housing and set goals was a way to do that.
Today Melanie and her children live in a 3-bedroom home in Prior Lake, where the landlord was willing to accept her Section 8 rent subsidy voucher and give her a second chance.

Life isn't completely rosy yet; Melanie is looking for a job, and needs a car to open more opportunities to her. But she feels like a weight has been lifted from her, mostly because her children are happy to have a home, no longer worrying about where they're going to be living. She's made friends with a neighbor and keeps in touch with another mom from Families Moving Forward.

"I am forever grateful for the program. I met a lot of really good people. And I learned that you can't give up."

Her advice to other parents? "Don't be afraid to ask for help before it's too late. Don't let your pride get in the way." 
Help Needed: Pillows for High School Graduates
It's almost Spring! Each Spring we present our graduating high school seniors with Rainbow Chalice Pillows to take with them on the next steps of their life journeys.

We need sewers and pillow-stuffers for this project and some $1 (one dollar) donations to cover material costs.

The dates for sewing are February 22, 24, and 25, 9:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Sue Schiess's, 5200 Dundee Road, Edina. Sewers should bring a sewing machine, neutral thread, and scissors. If you'd like to be involved but can't make any of those dates you may be involved in hemming the pillow cover backs at your home or in stuffing the pillows when the covers are complete.

Please contact Cathy Apostle, caquilt51@aol.com  or 952-941-0642, if you'd like to be involved in any way.
Your Help Requested! Survey Coming This Sunday
What draws people to First Universalist? What helps people feel connected and get engaged? What are the benefits and barriers to membership?

These are some of the questions that our Exploring Membership Working Group is asking this year. Together, we are considering how the church might strengthen our membership process and better invite people into meaningful engagement in this transformative faith community.  

Our first step in this process is a 10-minute online survey that we will be emailing out separately. Please watch for it in your inbox this Sunday and help us by taking the survey. We want to hear what you have to say!
YCE Valentine's Day Truffle Sale Fundraiser
The Youth Cultural Exchange (YCE) is holding its annual truffle sale this February in time for Valentine's Day. Our youth make the truffles by hand and package them in decorative boxes that make them perfect to give as gifts! Following our UU values, we make the truffles with fair trade chocolate.

Twelve youth from our church are participating in a cultural exchange with 12 teenagers from Nicaragua. Parents of our youth are paying for their children to participate in the program. All proceeds from the truffle sale (and our weekly egg roll sales) will be used to pay for the Nicaraguan youth to fly to Minnesota in 2016 - this is an opportunity of a lifetime for these teenagers as their families do not have the resources to pay for them to come to Minnesota. 

There is no need to pre-order this year. We will be selling in the social hall after both services on Feb. 7 and Feb. 14. Credit cards, cash, and check accepted. The truffles are available in boxes of 4 for $8 (one of each) and 8 for $16 (two of each) as well as individually for $2 each. Flavors include: Sea Salt, Toffee, Mint, and Cappuccino. 

These make great gifts for your family, friends, teachers and coaches! 

Cycle of Life and Pastoral CareCycleofLife
Our thoughts are with Lynn Elling, who recently moved for rehabilitation. Cards can be sent to Lynn at Walker Methodist, 3737 Bryant Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55409

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. To be included in our Cycle of Life each Sunday in worship, contact Sandy DiNanni at sandy@firstuniv.org or 612-825-1701. If you would like support, contact Rev. Jen Crow at jen@firstuniv.org or 612-825-1701 or any member of our Pastoral Care Team.
Congregational Care: Meal Support
New baby? Illness? Accident? Let us know if you or somebody in our community would like us to create a meal train for you. Meal trains typically run two to six weeks depending on need and give congregants a way to help. Contact Kathy Urberg, kathyurberg@gmail.com.
Planned Giving
If First Universalist means much to you and you want to help the church stay strong, please consider naming it in your will or estate plan. Interested? See a minister or the church's financial administrator. And thanks!
- Peg Meier of the Planned Giving Committee
Shopping for Valentine's Day Gifts? 
Do you shop on Amazon? Did you know you can support First Universalist when you do? 
Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of eligible purchases to First Universalist when you shop on AmazonSmile. It's the same Amazon that you know, except that we benefit when you make purchases! Shop Amazon Smile
Donations Needed for
Augsburg Fairview Academy

First Universalist is the primary supplier of food and clothing for the Hope Food and Clothing Closets at Augsburg Fairview Academy, a school that serves young adults from diverse communities facing educational barriers to achievement in traditional schools. A list of items needed can be found on our websiteBring items to the Hub on Sundays or leave on the shelves marked AFA at the 34th street entrance. Thank you for your generosity!
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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.
First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
3400 Dupont Avenue S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408


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