September book discussion: “Dear White Christians”

We’ve lamented the death of Philando Castile in Falcon Heights. We’ve prayed for black men killed by police, for police officers killed while protecting protesters, for the families of all involved. We exhibited peace cranes at our church, and some of us have gone to public gatherings to listen and discuss what happened.

Now what? As Christians who are predominantly white, how do we take the next step toward racial justice? Dear White ChristiansOne place to start is “Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation,” a book by Drake University religion professor Jennifer Harvey.

Harvey believes strongly that the ideal of racial reconciliation is the wrong focus—in fact, she thinks it’s “a primary reason we remain so un-reconciled across racial lines.” Harvey advocates instead for a “reparations paradigm,” one of repentance and repair toward communities of color.

Join us for four Thursday evenings in September to discuss these challenging ideas. We’ll meet from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Sept. 8, 15 and 22. (You don’t have to finish the book to participate.) You can purchase the book online here or here.

If you plan to attend, please email Linda Owen at or call her at 651-357-5792 to sign up.

On the “road” with the Pastoral Search Committee

Next time you enter the church, look up toward the ceiling and you’ll see something new. Pastoral Search Committee members Pat Bohman and Mike Bradbury have designed a “road” representing the committee’s work and timeline. The road is currently “under construction” with just the roadway itself completed at this time, but watch as it develops to show the steps we’ve taken in our journey to call a new pastor. With your help, we’ve accomplished a lot already!

Our third Guided Conversation Sunday, Aug. 21, was about what our future pastor could expect from us in support of the mutual ministry with the congregation. We talked about the signs of health we see in our church, what we’re individually doing to live out our vision of being “seekers and servants, growing in God’s transforming love,” and gave examples of how we’re doing in our covenant with each other: “We will SPEAK the truth in love, CELEBRATE each other’s gifts and perspectives, CHOOSE the good of the whole church over our individual preferences and comforts.”

Your collective voices said our future pastor can expect us to provide:

  • Positive support for time off for study, vacations and sabbaticals.
  • Positive support of mutual ministry in our pastoral care.
  • Direct communication about concerns, hopes and ideas.
  • Active lay leaders and positive volunteers sharing God’s work of the church.
  • Accountability for all members to speak the truth with love.
  • Eagerness to hear a challenging message and learn about God.
  • Willingness to be examples of God’s love within and without the church.

Thank you to all of the participants in the three summer conversation Sundays. Despite the fact that it was summertime and many members vacation and travel during these months, there was always a good turnout and participants were actively engaged in each conversation. Because of this commitment and openness of opinions, the Pastoral Search Committee can present a clearer picture of who “we” are to pastoral candidates.

Prepare and serve a meal at House of Charity Sept. 24

Our next date to prepare and serve a meal at House of Charity in Minneapolis is Saturday, Sept. 24. We’ll meet in the church parking lot at 8:30 a.m. to carpool and return around noon. We will need between five and eight people to help prepare food and serve it to residents and homeless people. Call or text Nancy Ellias (651-983-1157) or Tracy Faville (651-483-0260 or with questions or to sign up.

Third Guided Conversation looks at pastor’s expectations of us

A third Guided Conversation Sunday is scheduled for Aug. 21, and the Pastoral Search Committee looks forward to hearing from all of you. This time our focus will shift. Previous guided conversations have focused on what we expect of our new pastor. Because our congregation and our new pastor will be in a covenantal relationship that experiences and practices mutual ministry, the pastor will have some expectations of us as well. What can the new pastor expect from his/her congregation at FHCUCC?

These questions will prompt our conversations on Aug. 21:

1. The way a church treats its pastor is a sign of the health of the congregation. What signs of health do you see in the way we care for and support our pastor?

2. Our vision statement created from your work with the Discovery Team declares, “We are seekers and servants, growing in God’s transforming love.” What are YOU called to do to be a seeker and servant growing in God’s transforming love?

3. Faithful pastors and healthy congregations expect each other to anticipate conflict and to speak directly. Our covenant created from your work with the Discovery Team says, “We will SPEAK the truth in love, CELEBRATE each other’s gifts and perspectives, CHOOSE the good of the whole church over our individual preferences and comforts.” Give examples of how you are doing this?

If you are not able to be in church that Sunday, we invite you to email any of the committee members with your thoughts and responses to these questions. You can read a longer update from the committee here:  PSC update 8-11-16

Blessing of School Tools Aug. 14

Donations to our annual School Tools campaign will be blessed during worship on Sunday, Aug. 14. This is the final Sunday to bring donations of new school supplies to help low-income children in our community thrive in their education. Here’s a shopping list of needed items:

High-priority items:  

3-ring binders
Facial tissue

Other supplies needed:  

Spiral notebooks
Composition notebooks
School boxes
Pencil sharpeners
Colored pencils
Glue sticks & bottles
Loose-leaf paper
USB flash drives

New teaching positions open for children’s faith formation

Applications are now being received for two part-time teaching positions in our children’s faith formation program. Our Executive Board recently approved the job descriptions developed by the Children’s Ministry Team for teachers in our Explorers and Seekers groups (K-5th grade and 5th through 8th grade classes) during First Hour on Sunday mornings. Each position is for three hours per week. Staff positions are open to church members as well as those in the wider community. Job descriptions are available in the church office and posted on one of our lobby bulletin boards. Please spread the word. Contact Carol Meeter for more information,

Gathering of the Waters Sept. 18

As we gather again as a congregation in the fall, we will use the gift of water to symbolize the summer journeys that have refreshed us. Are there special water places that give you rest, adventure, rejuvenation? Save some water (best kept in the freezer until September!) and bring it with you to worship Sept. 18. We will symbolically “gather the waters” into a common bowl during worship and celebrate the names of rivers, lakes, oceans and backyard hoses from far and near!

Open and Affirming educational forum Aug. 7

Our Open and Affirming working group is planning several educational forums to help us move into a more intentional welcome of the LGBT community. The first will be Sunday, Aug. 7, following worship, from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m. in the Gathering Room.

Pastor Anne Swallow Gillis, Dave Hill and Rachel Flaherty will lead a session on “What does the Bible say about LGBT?” What about those Bible verses that seem so anti-gay? Come and equip yourself for those challenging conversations with family or co-workers. Find out what the Bible really has to say about issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Pastoral search expectations: what we’ve said so far

With your help and input during two Guided Conversation Sundays, the Pastoral Search Committee has truly begun the collective work towards finding our new pastor. Thank you to all who participated and have shared your thoughts and opinions. Evidence of this work is on display in the Gathering Room.

What have we said so far about what we expect in a new pastor? On June 26, we talked about expectations regarding theology, beliefs and worship. Here is a summary of the top responses:

  • Preaches a sermon that is biblically based, but relevant to our daily lives, and challenges us to do God’s work.
  • Seeks to appeal to and include all generations in faith formation activities.
  • Motivates us as church members to take a leading role in worship and faith formation activities using our unique talents.
  • Is flexible and dynamic.
  • Has a strong appreciation for music.

On July 24, we discussed our expectations about our pastor’s self-care, continuing education and personal balance. The top responses were:

  • Makes time to sit alone to listen for God’s message.
  • Makes time for study through classes, seminars, and retreats.
  • Seeks social and emotional support outside of the congregation through family, friends, and counseling.
  • Is active in the UCC Conference.
  • Meets regularly with mentors and colleagues.
  • Has excellent delegation and communication skills.
  • Is a good listener.

The third Guided Conversation Sunday on Aug. 21 will focus on what a new pastor can expect from our congregation. Watch for details in upcoming editions of the TAB, and please take a moment to read the Pastoral Search Committee’s full report (PSC update 8-4-16).

Sandwich-making for Simpson House Aug. 11

Our next “300 sandwiches” assembly line is Thursday, Aug. 11, at 6:30 p.m. in the Gathering Room. All ages are welcome to help make sandwiches and pack bag lunches for guests at the Simpson House shelter in Minneapolis. Our first Sunday special offering pays for supplies for this outreach project.