July 14, 2016  |  Vol. 3 No. 28
We Are Ready: A Note From Rev. Elaine
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink
Last Saturday afternoon, while composing a sermon with a very heavy heart in response to Philando Castile's death, the deaths of Dallas police officers, and a faith response to systemic racism, an email from a reporter with NPR appeared in my inbox.

I froze. National Public Radio wanted to cover OUR church service and talk to OUR people. 

And then my first thought was, "We are ready for this."  

I had never before been a part of a faith community - or any community, really - where I would have thought, "Yes, I am proud for you to profile our racial justice work on national news. I can think of many people whom you can interview. We are ready for you."

We are ready because of our work over the last three years as a congregation, because of the powerful ownership of this work institutionally, and because of the visionary leadership of our board, the Racial Justice Leadership Team, and our senior minister, Rev. Justin Schroeder. (I'm telling you, in ministerial circles, people are envious of the amazing ministerial team I get to work with, and I just try to keep my beaming modest, because I am a midwesterner, after all.)

In the wake of such despair, this gives me hope. We are becoming known as a beacon of racial justice work in the community. Our people are showing up in actions and demonstrations. Activist groups and communities of color are meeting in our spaces. All of us are understanding race, racism, and whiteness in an ever-deepening, more nuanced way and we can articulate how racial justice work deeply connects to our faith commitments. We are learning, growing, being vulnerable, listening humbly, and showing up.

This is but a very small piece in the very large field of racial justice work. It isn't perfect, and it's still a work in progress. But it's our piece and, I have to say, I'm so proud of us. 

I just met today with Kayci Rush and Polly Talen, two of our very talented racial justice leaders, to plan out our racial justice programming for the next year. Our home-grown team of trainers and leaders will be offering relevant, meaningful, and spiritually grounded opportunities for learning and growing.  No doubt there will be opportunities to show up in the public arena as well. Stay tuned, friends. I am with you.  

Rev. Elaine's July 10 Sermon Featured on NPR
Excerpts from Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink's July 10 sermon, "Choosing Hope," were featured in a nationally broadcast story on National Public Radio (NPR) that aired on Sunday, July 10.

A transcript of the story is included below, and can also be found on NPR's website

If you couldn't be with us in worship on Sunday, you can listen to Rev. Elaine's sermon here. Many of you asked about the poem that Rev. Elaine read during the service, called "Rules for My Future Son Should I Have One" - it was written by LaToya Jordan and can be found here. Sunday's musical guest, Terrell Woods a.k.a. Carnage the Executioner, gave stirring performances during the service, including his songs Hustle the Struggle and Addict. Learn more about him on his website.

Rev. Elaine delivered a powerful sermon on July 10 in the wake of a week of violent events.
Photo by Adrian Florido, NPR.

"After A Tragic Week, Many In Minneapolis Seek Solace In The Sanctuary"

By Adrian Florido, reporting for NPR

Across the nation, people of faith attended services Sunday morning searching for guidance from their religious leaders following the week's violence. In suburban Minneapolis, where school cafeteria supervisor Philando Castile was killed by Officer Geronimo Yanez on Wednesday night, worshippers said the burden felt especially heavy.

At the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Ethel Rhines, a 50-year-resident of the city, said that after the difficult week, she had come to church in search of "an uplift."

"It takes a toll on a person to see that so much killing is going on," Rhines said. "It stops for a little while, but the next thing you know someone else is being shot, and it starts all over again."

Her pastor, the Rev. David A. Keaton, told his mostly black congregation that he had visited the home of Philando Castile's mother, Valerie Castile, on Saturday, and had been stunned by the resilience of her faith in God, despite her son's killing.

"Isn't that amazing?" he asked. "Her son, not only was he unjustly killed, from what we can see, but ... can you imagine as a mother having to watch and have everyone around you watch your son take his last breaths of life?"

Across town, some seven miles away at the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, Minister Elaine Aron Tenbrink implored her mostly white congregation to understand that the privilege and power they enjoy for being white is not equally shared by their black and brown neighbors.

"Could there be anything more anathema to what we stand for as people of faith than this?" she asked. Not only do white people benefit from this social arrangement, she said, they also "are socialized to be utterly blind to anything but its most abject manifestations."
She said it was incumbent on white people to use that privilege to help change things for black and brown people, by using their influence on lawmakers and at protests.

"I know it's hard," she said, "But it is not nearly as hard as never hearing your son call your name again, because he has committed the crime of 'driving while black.' "

"I am here with you," she offered, echoing what Diamond Reynolds' 4-year-old daughter can be heard telling her mother as she breaks down in the video showing Philando Castile's final moments.
Worship this Sunday
Sunday, July 17, 10 a.m.
"Suffering and Ambiguity:
Lessons from Chaplaincy and the Book of Job" 
Andrea Johnson
The story of Job in the Hebrew Bible is one of the most powerful stories in the Bible, told and re-told throughout the ages, because it wrestles with life's toughest conundrum: The problem of human suffering and God's involvement in the pain of the world. Efforts to find the cause of suffering often lead one to put the blame somewhere - on self, others, God, or Satan. The book of Job tells a new story by asking us to look beyond blame, accept ambiguity and uncertainty, and to surrender to the fact that we are not in control of everything in our life. What can we as Unitarian Universalists learn from this ancient wisdom story if are willing to open our hearts to it?  Read More  

Andrea Johnson is pursuing her Master of Divinity degree at United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, MN. She is a member of First Universalist Church, where she is active on the Pastoral Care Team, facilitating small groups and Racial Justice work. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three children.
A Look Ahead
Sunday, July 24, 10 a.m. 
Arif Mamdani 

Summer Sundays at First Universalist!
Worship at 10 a.m.
Please Bring Your Own Mug to social hour after worship. This helps save on water and labor, and keeps the kitchen cooler during the summer. 

Recent Sunday Sermon Podcasts
July 10, 2016
"Choosing Hope"
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink
July 3, 2016
"Draw the Circle Wide"
Terri Burnor
June 26, 2016
"A New Story of Race"
Karin Wille
June 19, 2016
"A Gentle, Angry People"
Rev. Justin Schroeder
Summer Worship Theme: Telling a New Story
At the intersection of what is holy, and what is human, is a willingness to change, to shed old habits, old ways of thinking, old frameworks, old skin, to cast off what no longer functions and dare to do a new thing, to tell a new story. This ability to change is at the heart of creation and creator. In the book of Isaiah, God says: "Forget about what's happened; don't keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I'm about to do something brand-new. It's bursting out! Don't you see it?" In these summer months we will endeavor to be alert and present, to see and tell the new story emerging from within, among, and beyond.
"Selma" Screening & Panel Discussion
Wednesday, July 20, 7 p.m. 
Please note: this event takes place at Lake Harriet United Methodist Church
First Universalist Church is proud to co-sponsor Lake Harriet United Methodist Church's screening of the film "Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot," followed by a panel discussion on the erosion of voting rights in the United States. The film will be introduced by Richard Cohen, President of the Southern Poverty Law Center (which produced the film), and the panel will include attorney Pam Horowitz, former MN Secretary of State Mark Ritchie, and Congressman Keith Ellison. Child care will be provided. Lake Harriet UMC is located at 4901 Chowen Ave. S. The event is free but attendees are requested to RSVP here.
Outdoor Worship & Potluck Picnic at the Lake Harriet Bandshell
Sunday, August 14, 10 a.m.
Join us for an energizing worship service and potluck picnic at the Lake Harriet Bandshell on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 10 a.m.!
We'll enjoy tunes from the band A Ghost Revival, worship led by Rev. Justin Schroeder and Rev. Ruth MacKenzie, and a potluck picnic afterwards. This will be our only worship service on Sunday, Aug. 14. This is part of an annual outdoor worship series at the bandshell with about 15 congregations participating. Read more.
256 Characters Remaining
(A Note About the Congregational Survey)
by Eric Cooperstein, Board President
Of the 191 people who took the congregational survey last May, about 80 took the time to provide written comments to one or more of the survey questions. As one of your trustees and your incoming board president, I took the time to read all of the narrative comments.
The cumulative data from the survey tracks favorably from the results of past years. Respondents continue to find the worship life at First Universalist comforting, healing, and challenging, agree that we have become more visible and influential in the community, and that we are a welcoming congregation. In other words, that we are living into our four visionary goals. Keep an eye on future issues of the Liberal for a more detailed analysis of the statistical results.
Your narrative comments, of course, are more anecdotal. Overall, they were very positive, tracking with the survey results. As you might expect, they also included heartfelt comments that pulled in multiple directions. Some folks took the time to praise the religious education program; one or two others noted a disappointing personal experience. Many people shared joyous stories of feeling welcomed by or introducing friends to our community; others expressed their loneliness and difficulty connecting with others, even after several years of attendance.
Our racial justice work was a popular topic for comments on the congregational survey (the work of our consultant, Rainbow Research, which conducted several focus groups and a separate survey, will not be available until the fall). There were numerous praises for our commitment to moving toward greater racial equity in our community and outside the church walls. Some people urge us to move faster. Others expressed their concerns that racial justice plays too great a role in our Church, to the perceived exclusion of other pastoral or social justice needs.
As the Board of Trustees engages in its role of guiding the strategic vision of our Church, we tend to place greater emphasis on the statistical summary of the survey than the anecdotal comments. But your comments provide a valuable voice to the sentiments that may lie behind the numbers. All of the survey results are anonymous, so if you have a particular need that you would like addressed, that should be brought to the attention of an appropriate staff member.
To all those who participated in the survey and to those who took the time to provide additional comments, thank you for sharing your thoughts and time with us. I look forward to serving our Church this year. 
International Peace Poster Exhibit On View

The posters now on display in the social hall are from countries all over the world. They speak of peace through a language which we all understand - the language of art.

Wit Ylitalo was a peace activist from Madison, Wisconsin who, with her friends, Mary Cunningham and Donna Fuelleman, had a life-long concern for world peace. These three women for peace collected peace posters over a number of years. Their grass roots effort was a heartfelt and meaningful attempt to further impress upon others that the rest of the world is also concerned for the need of peace on this earth and good will toward all.

The poster exhibit was initially sponsored by the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. The exhibit will be on display in the social hall at First Universalist through September 4.

Questions? Contact Visual Arts Exhibit Chair Bette DeMars at jbdemars2@gmail.com.
Your Invitation to Sing in Summer Choir
The Summer Choir will be singing in services again on Sunday, July 24 and Sunday, Aug. 21 at 10 a.m. If you like to sing but can't make an extended commitment to choir, this is a perfect opportunity for you! There is just one 45-minute rehearsal at 9 a.m. on the day of the service. All are welcome! If you have any questions, contact Dr. Randal Buikema at randy@firstuniv.org
Habitat Summer Work Week August 15-19
First Universalist is sponsoring a Habitat for Humanity Summer Work Week, Monday, Aug. 15 through Friday, Aug. 19. The work day is from 8:15 a.m.-4 p.m. and we need to provide 15-18 volunteers per day. Volunteers must be 16 years or older and 16 and 17 year olds must be with an adult (18 or over). All you need to bring is yourself and your willingness to work. All tools will be provided and lunch will be provided by other First U volunteers (any takers?). Ask anyone who has worked at a Habitat site - the benefits are many.

* Instruction for each job will be provided.
* You will be paired with more experienced volunteers.
* You are never asked to do anything you are uncomfortable doing.
* Learn a skill useful to home ownership.
* Have a great bonding experience with other First U volunteers.
* Satisfaction of a job well done.
* Most important - help to provide the path to home ownership for a deserving family and all the benefits they accrue from that.

Our work site is new construction at 2441 16th Avenue South in Minneapolis. We'll be working in the early stages of the build. Hope to see you there. Sign up here.
Call for Volunteers for Lend-A-Hand in August
Thank you to all of the volunteers who gathered this morning to help out around church! 

Lend-A-Hand is a new volunteer opportunity to help care for our building and grounds as part of a volunteer team, meeting on second Thursdays, July through December 2016. In coordination with our facilities staff, this team undertakes various projects to keep our church clean, orderly and attractive.

Cleaning activities might include dusting, sweeping, mopping, or vacuuming. Volunteers might help tidy the sanctuary, social hall, library, entryway, or other spaces, or help fix things: replace light bulbs, repair window openers, patch/paint walls, etc.

Volunteers gather at 8:30 a.m. for bagels, juice and coffee and end their activities by noon. Each Lend-A-Hand activity has slots for 12 volunteers. 

Lend-A-Hand will meet again on Thursday, August 11, 8:30 a.m. to noon. If you can help out that day, please email Sandy at sandy@firstuniv.org to sign up. Thank you!
Cycle of Life and 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. 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. Elaine Aron Tenbrink at elaine@firstuniv.org or 612-825-1701 or any member of our Pastoral Care Team.
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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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