March 17, 2016  |  Vol. 3 No. 11
Avoiding Spiritual Rot
Rev. Justin Schroeder
In her book, An Altar in the World, the Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor shares this story: "Abbot Pastor, one of the most often quoted Desert Fathers, once said, 'If you have a chest full of clothing, and leave it for a long time, the clothing will rot inside it. It is the same with the thoughts in our heart. If we do not carry them out...(name them, speak them)...after a long while they will spoil and turn bad.'"

Isn't this true? If we don't have safe spaces to name the experiences, thoughts, and reactions we're carrying around with us, they spoil and turn bad. Our bodies, as sacred vessels, are then carrying something foul and unpleasant. It's like our refrigerators - without some attention, the leftovers go moldy, the greens go limp, and the whole fridge starts to stink.

These ancient spiritual teachings remind us that we need one another and that we need spaces to speak our truths and be heard. We need spaces where we feel welcomed, affirmed, and protected, where our light can be seen, and where we can speak our truth in love.

Where are the sacred, safe spaces in your life? Where can you speak your deepest thoughts and experiences? Are you in a Circle at church or a Wellspring Group? Maybe you've landed in an Examining Whiteness Circle or a Newcomer Circle, or someplace else. Maybe it's in our "Daytime Connections" programming where you find yourself giving voice to thoughts and feelings that have been tucked away for years. As a faith community, we believe everyone needs such space, and if you're searching for a place to give, receive, and grow with others, please reach out to Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink, our Minister of Membership and Adult Ministries, at She'd be happy to help you get connected.

Together, as a faith community, we seek to live spiritually vital lives, becoming instruments of love, compassion and justice in the world. May it be so!

I'll see you in church,
Worship this Sunday
Sunday, March 20, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
"The Other You"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Author Barbara Brown Taylor writes, "The wisdom of the Desert Fathers (early Christian mystics and hermits) includes the wisdom that the hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbor as the self - to encounter another human being not as someone you can use, change, fix, help, save, enroll, convince or control, but simply as someone who can spring you from the prison of yourself, if you will allow it. All you have to do is recognize another you 'out there' - your other self in the world - for whom you may care as instinctively as you care for yourself. To become that person, even for a moment, is to understand what it means to die to your self. This can be as frightening as it is liberating. It may be the only real spiritual discipline there is." As we explore this theme of "Wholeness," we'll explore how our wholeness is intimately and irrevocably tied to the neighbors all around us.
Read More   View Order of Service

Special Music this Sunday
First Universalist Folk Band

Religious Education this Sunday
March worship theme: Wholeness
A Look Ahead
Sunday, March 27, 9:30 & 11:15 a.m.
Easter Sunday, Multigenerational Worship
"The Unbreakable Place"
Rev. Justin Schroeder

Our Spring (March through May) Worship Calendar is available 

Miss a Recent Sunday?
March 13, 2016
"The Shape of Things" Rev. Jen Crow
March 6, 2016
"Whole Life Living" Rev. Justin Schroeder
Feb. 28, 2016
"Sacred Reality"  Rev. Justin Schroeder
Feb. 21, 2016
Spring RE Family Dinner
Saturday, March 19, 5-7:30 p.m.
Join us for a tasty community meal and musical performances by First U youth. Children & youth of all ages and their families are welcome. The spaghetti dinner will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. From 6:30-7:30, there will be a gourmet dessert auction open to middle- and high-school families. Dinner tickets are $10 per person or $25 per family. Please purchase your tickets online here now - seating is limited. All proceeds go to scholarships for the 9th grade Coming of Age Boston Pilgrimage. 
"American Promise" Part 2
Sunday, March 20, 1 p.m., Room 200
Join us on Sunday, March 20 for a viewing and discussion of the second half of the documentary "American Promise," a rare look into the lives of two middle class black families as they navigate the ups and downs of parenting and educating their sons.
The discussion will be led by Brian Eshult, Lark Weller, and Margaret Manderfield. This is a 90-minute drop-in conversation.
Daytime Connections Armchair Travel 
Wednesday, March 23, 10 a.m.
Daytime Connections Armchair Travel Group offers 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. For more information, contact Peg Feil at 651-777-9239 or The group meets in the church library.
Young Families Easter Party
Saturday, March 26, 9-11 a.m.
Hop on over to celebrate Easter with the littlest members of our church community. All families with children up through 1st grade are invited to attend. Older siblings are welcome, too. Join us for a light breakfast of bagels and fruit followed by games, crafts, egg dying and egg hunting for all. Don't forget your Easter basket! 
Pledge Drive Update: Numbers, Photos & Final Call!
Pledge Day last week was so much fun - check out this album of photos! We're glad that so many of you could join us.

By the end of the evening on March 9, $778,953 had been raised toward this year's Pledge Drive goal of $1,235,000.
We are making progress toward our goal, which is what the church budget will be based on for the 2016-2017 fiscal year beginning July 1. As of late this afternoon, we've received pledges totaling $876,033.

We are hoping to wrap up the 2016-2017 Pledge Drive this Sunday - but we still have a ways to go. If you haven't pledged yet, please drop off your pledge card at church this Sunday, mail it in, pledge online, or give us a call (M-Th between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.) at 612-825-1701. Help us make this year's drive short and successful!

Thank you!
Thank You to All Who Helped Make Pledge Day a Success!
Volunteers were essential to the success of Pledge Day 2016!
A huge and heartfelt "Thank You!" goes out to the many volunteers who helped make Pledge Day such a great success last week: Christa Anders, Margit Berg, Judy Broad, Phil Burke, Joyce Case, Pat Gottschalk, MaryBeth Hoelzer, Julie Howard, Guy Johnson, Bill Lewis, Richard Lopez, Sara McMullen, Sacha Muller, Barb Melom, Janet Merrill, David, Luke and Owen Potyondy, Jean Ramlow, Dick Rueter, Caitlin Rogers, Jerry Sattinger, Susan Schonfeld, Rick Shuster, Cathleen Simons, Lisa Sinclair,  Doris Sloan, Shannon Steven, Joy Throm, Velma Wagner, and Karin Wille. 

Many hands made work light for the pledge team, staff and ministers and everyone who enjoyed this high energy celebration. These volunteers served breakfast, made and served crock pot soup, set up and served an elaborate dinner, provided music, a creative art project, and lively Bingo games. Ingrid Young took dozens of photos to be added to our online photo directory. Caitlin Rogers created the snazzy animation video based on Zack Steven's script. Jeanne Guignon Peppel made all the arrangements with Breaking Bread for the fabulous dinner and with the volunteer team to greet and serve. I am especially grateful for the amazing planning and follow through of the pledge team staff: Brad Schmidt, Jenn Stromberg, Bree Mattson, and Andrea Love. Their dedication and professionalism made it a joy to work with them. Most of all, I'm thankful for the chance to serve with Zack Steven and Jeanne Guignon Peppel on the pledge team. I am certain next year's pledge drive will be even more successful in their capable hands.

- Marcia Wattson, 2016 Pledge Team Chair 
Hosts Needed for Fun & Creative Great Gatherings! 
Great Gatherings are parties, events, or activities that are hosted by a member of our community - someone like you! 
You choose the kind of party or gathering it will be - from a formal dinner to a game night, educational event to a romp in the woods - and we'll sell spots on the night of The Great Gathering Auction & Fundraiser, April 23.
All proceeds from the event and sale of Great Gathering spots support youth and social justice ministries of First Universalist Church and will help raise funds for the new pulpit.
Interested in hosting a Great Gathering? Please submit your Great Gathering no later than Tuesday, April 12 (the earlier the better!). Complete the form (available here) and email it to or drop it off in the church office.

Gatherings raise money for our church, and they help us get to know each other in new, fun ways. Thank you for your consideration!
Place an Ad in the Great Gathering Event Program
Advertise your business while supporting the church at the same time! Ad space is available in the Event Program for The Great Gathering, which takes place on Saturday, April 23. The event program is a full-color catalogue of items available for participants to bid on, as well as a schedule of the evening's events and dinner menu details. It is a must-have for all event attendees. Please see the Ad Placement Form available here for ad specs, pricing, and other details. All proceeds support youth and social justice ministries of First Universalist Church and will help raise funds for the new pulpit. 
Get Your Tickets for The Great Gathering! 
Come experience The Great Gathering on Saturday, April 23 at First Universalist! Join us for dinner, drinks and a chance to sign up for Great Gathering experiences and bid on live auction items. All proceeds from this event will support First Universalist's social justice and youth ministry work and the new pulpit.

Tickets ($40 each) are available in the Social Hall between services and can also be purchased online at
7th Graders Show Support for Umatul Islam Center
On Sunday March 13, 7th graders in the Neighboring Faiths class explored Islamophobia and learned how they can respond to anti-Muslim hate and bigotry. In class, youth wrote and collected letters of support for the Umatul Islam Center in Minneapolis, which was robbed several weeks ago. Youth also worked in teams to create posters against Islamophobia, which are on display in the upstairs RE hallway. Please stop by to take a look! Thank you to our 7th grade class for taking steps to challenge stereotypes and be allies to our Muslim neighbors!
Pathway to Membership Classes in March & April
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink is Minister of Membership & Adult Ministries
Feeling like First Universalist could be your spiritual home? Join us for The Pathway to Membership, an exploration of Unitarian Universalism, the history and mission of this congregation, and the experience of membership. Participants meet with ministers, lay leaders, and are invited to share and reflect on their own spiritual journeys and values. We ask that all those who wish to become members of First Universalist take this class. We would love to welcome you as a new member this May!

There are two upcoming opportunities to participate in a Pathway to Membership class: 
Mondays, March 28 & April 4, 6:30-9 p.m. (both days required)
OR Saturdays, April 9 and 16, 9 a.m.-noon (both days required)

To register, please contact Sandy DiNanni at or 612-825-1701. Childcare is available free of charge with at least seven days advance notice.
Families Moving Forward:
Dad Finds Support for his Journey Home
Beacon Interfaith Housing Collaborative's Families Moving Forward program offers families experiencing homelessness hospitality, emergency shelter and a path to home with support for stability. First Universalist Church hosted families for one week in September 2015, and we plan to host again for two weeks in May and June this year.

Here's a recent story about one family's experience with Families Moving Forward:

Dad finds support for his journey home
Lemekos and his children came to Families Moving Forward-Southwest after the Eagan building where they planned to lease an apartment was abruptly closed. The children's mother isn't in a good place to care for them right now, he explained. So he's doing his best on his own to do the right thing for his family.
Lemekos shared that the program structure is good for families - in our program parents and children are expected to help with chores. They stay organized to make sure they're on the bus twice a day, morning and evening. And they're accountable to our program staff - and to each other. The community of support is an unexpected bonus for Lemekos, who now knows he's not alone in facing homelessness.
"The families help each other get through it," he said.
Of course, his ultimate goal is to get his children into their own home. The day we spoke, he was hopeful about a recent job interview. He is an experienced forklift driver and felt the interview went well. Just last week, he found out he got the job.
The income means he can apply for housing, save money for a deposit, and move his family forward.

We'll need volunteers to help out prior to and during the two weeks we plan to host families later this spring. Signing up to work with Families Moving Forward is easy! We will host our guests 
May 22 through June 5. If you are available, please go to our Sign-Up Genius  and pick the times which work for you and/or your family! Thanks!  

Any questions can be directed to or
Nominating Committee Recruiting Candidates
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 we 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. People in church leadership positions have unique opportunities to collaborate with our passionate ministers and lay leaders to advance the mission of the church.
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. Go to our website to view more detailed position descriptions and apply.
Contact any Nominating Committee member to find out more: Pamela Vincent (chair), Deborah Talen, Doug Smalley, Sharon Ramirez, David Lauth, Greg Hoelzer, and Christina Nicholson, Board of Trustees representative. Email
Book, DVD, CD & Video Game Sale - Donations Requested
Donations are needed for YCE's (Youth Cultural Exchange) upcoming CD, DVD, Video Game & Book Sale on April 17 and 24. 

Drop off your gently-used CDs, DVDs, Video Games and Books on the stage in the social hall March 20March 27April 3, or April 10.

Last summer twelve First Universalist 8th and 9th graders traveled to León, Nicaragua, where they lived with twelve local families, gaining cultural understanding and forging cross-cultural friendships.

Your donations will help us bring the Nicaraguan host siblings to Minnesota for two weeks this July. Thank you for your support!
Cycle of Life and Pastoral Care
Our thoughts are with Earl Stanhope and his family. Earl's mother, Judy Berg, died peacefully on Monday, March 14, surrounded by love. 

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 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.
Chore Team 
Do you need help with simple household tasks, such as installing an air conditioner; draining garden hoses; gutter cleaning or window washing? These are chores that most of us do easily until we can't. With a little help from our friends, we can stay in our own home longer. Chore Team helpers are also needed! Be part of this church community service team. Contact Bob Friedman at or 612-722-4705 if you need help with a chore, or if you would like to join the team.
Why Do Some Have Silver Name Tags?
Have you ever wondered why some church members have silver name tags? Silver indicates that the wearers are members of the Heritage Circle, meaning they have included First Universalist in their wills or estate plans. If you have already done so or wish to do so, please ask the office for a Letter of Intent. It's very helpful for the church to know your intention. And we'd love to give you a lovely silver name tag!
Restore the Vote: Sign the Petition
The Minneapolis NAACP is calling on Speaker of the House, Kurt Daudt, to lead the GOP House Caucus in introducing a Bill to restore voting rights for 47,000 people on probation/parole for a felony conviction. These are Minnesotans who live in the community, work and pay taxes, but are denied a ballot on Election Day. Parents who can't vote for school board, families impacted by the Justice System who can't vote for Judges. Some of the most important perspectives and voices silenced due to outdated laws that produce one of the largest racial voting disparities in the country.
AUW Chartering a Bus to the Good Friday Planned Parenthood Solidarity Rally
The Association of Universalist Women, AUW, is chartering a bus for Good Friday, March 25, to go to the Planned Parenthood Solidarity Rally in St. Paul. Meet in the First Universalist parking lot on Friday, March 25 at 9 a.m. The bus will bring everyone to Planned Parenthood in Saint Paul and will leave the rally around noon and return to the church parking lot around 12:30 p.m. There is very little parking near Planned Parenthood, so it is better for most people to take the bus instead of trying to park near the event. There are usually many anti-choice protesters there on Good Friday, and we balance their protest with our march. Contact Valerie at for sign up and information. 
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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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