Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday

Join us for our all-ages Mardi Gras celebration and Ash Wednesday service this Wednesday, Feb. 26, from 5:30-7 p.m. Wear fun bright colors, a costume, or anything festive for the evening.

Plan on card making, face painting, and Fruit Loop necklace making beginning at 5:30. We will transition to our pancake dinner followed by games and a parade. The evening will end with a brief Ash Wednesday service with Rev. Rick. We hope you can join us for an evening of fun and fellowship!

Mardi Gras

Minnesota FoodShare drive begins

The annual Minnesota FoodShare drive has begun. Help stock the food shelves to combat hunger in our area.

When: Sunday, Feb. 16 through Sunday, April 5

Recipients: All food and money will go to the Department of Indian Work.

Where do I bring the food? Leave it in sturdy bags/boxes by the white buckets in the entry or in the shopping cart in the coat rack area.

What types of food? Non-perishable food in cans and packages. Same as what you want your family to eat: vegetables (especially varieties of beans), fruit, and the same types of foods with protein that Outreach requests monthly. Don’t forget healthy foods that kids like to eat too.

Is there a maximum? Absolutely NOT! Nancy Duffrin and Chuck Gramith would LOVE to make multiple trips to the DIW with a minivan or pickup truck loaded down.

Checks? Make checks out to Department of Indian Work. Mail or put in offering plate.

Cash? Put it in the white envelope in the pews with your name on it and indicate DIW on the envelope.Food donations

Minnesota Threshhold Network meeting

The Minnesota Threshold Network will hold its March meeting on Monday, March 9, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Gathering Room at Falcon Heights Church. We invite everyone to come.

MTN advocates for the environmental, emotional and economic benefits of a more natural, less commercial approach to death. This includes conscious dying, home vigils, family-directed funerals, and natural burials.

The meeting features “Reader’s Theater: At the Threshold.” In this drama, a death-caring community arises to meet the tragic deaths of two teenagers. This version has been edited for the Minnesota Threshold Network. It debuted in New York as a part of a national conference.

Come hear how individual community members reflect on their part in the holding of the two teenagers, Nina and Kirsten, and their families. The events took place in 1996 in Harlemville, New York. The reading encompasses both the time leading up to the car accident and throughout the home vigil and following days. The girls’ parents, Linda Bergh and Marianne and Dennis Dietzel, will be present and read their parts. Linda and Marianne are founding members of MTN.

Final Crossroads report and roadmap

This final Crossroads report will be presented at the annual congregational meeting Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020.

A year ago, the Falcon Heights Church Crossroads Team began a journey with an unknown destination. Crossroads was described as “a program and process to help your congregation answer the question “What is God calling us to do and be … TODAY?” For the first six months, we felt as though we were wandering in the wilderness, not quite sure what we should be doing or where we were going.

We used that time to explore the current landscape for faith communities. We looked at the demographics of our surrounding neighborhoods; talked with local leaders about community interests, needs and trends; and read articles and books, including “The Agile Church” by Dwight Zscheile, that gave us historical and cultural context for the declining participation in religious institutions, as well as ideas for their reinvention. And we spent a lot of time discussing what that meant for Falcon Heights Church.

Several themes emerged. First, we are unlikely to return to the high point of church membership and attendance of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s. That means, with a smaller membership, we will need to focus on a smaller number of priority tasks. Second, we need to learn from the early Christian church and go out into our neighborhoods to identify and meet the needs of the people outside our doors. Third, we need to be agile and continually experiment with programs, structures and approaches to internal and external concerns in order to thrive.

Findings

Congregational Priorities – As steps along our journey, we asked the congregation in September to help us focus our efforts by giving us your ideas and then in October by telling us your priorities. The top three were Dinner for 8, small group conversations and book discussions on faith, and to hire a permanent youth minister. These and other suggestions have made it onto our recommendations reported below.

Executive Board Task Force Recommendations – Moderator Carol Holm asked a small group of executive board members to examine building repair and maintenance and staffing needs and to suggest ways to fund them, now and in the future. Their recommendations, included in the Moderator’s Annual Report, included seeking tenants to share our building space, creating a community organizer position to identify and help the church respond to external needs, and launching a capital campaign for building projects. Some of their recommendations make it on to our list as well.

Governance – As we considered the ideas generated by the “sticky note” exercise in September and building and staffing needs reviewed by the Executive Board Task Force, we realized that the current governance structure codified in our Constitution and By-laws is a hindrance to becoming a more agile church.

We need the flexibility to address new needs and experiment with new ways of doing things. The number of people needed to fill the officer, Executive Board and ministry team positions is almost half of our active membership at a time when work and child rearing demands have increased. We see a need to streamline the governance structure and to take advantage of technology to make it easier for people to get together to get the work done, and that is also reflected in our recommendations.

With that, we submit the following recommendations for your consideration.

Recommendations

Stuff we can start now (i.e., activities that are low-/no-cost and for which we have people who are interested)

  • Small group “ministries”: Dinner for 8, Bible studies; book groups studies; tweens parent group, etc., and invite community residents through social media
  • “Practicing” restructuring of governance/ministry team models
  • Begin to rebuild our relationship with our neighbors by hosting a table/display at the FH ice cream social this summer
  • Send postcards to surrounding community re: Maundy Thursday & Easter services
  • Little Free Library
  • Talk to a real estate agent re: seeking tenants for church
  • Explore alternative meeting technologies and, for Executive Board, less frequent meeting schedule
  • Measure participation across all activities (not just worship) rather than or in addition to membership

Stuff that will take more money and/or planning

  • Develop new governance model and revisit constitution and by-laws
  • Funding for Zoom/video conference technology
  • Development and maintenance of new website
  • Building modifications that might be needed for any outside partnership(s) established
  • Major building maintenance projects
  • Consider how we can turn our patio into a community asset
  • Parking lot rain gardens

Stuff that needs more discernment

  • Staffing, including permanent Faith Formation and/or community engagement position(s)
  • Prioritize major building maintenance projects and how to fund them
  • Parking lot partial sale
  • Make patio more available to the neighborhood

–Crossroads Team, January 2020

“Is Nothing Sacred?” weeknight Bible study

“Is Nothing Sacred?”, a new weeknight Bible study group, is organizing to begin in January at Falcon Heights Church. Ever wanted to read and discuss the Bible, but afraid of what you don’t know? Have you shied away from studying the scriptures because of how others interpret them? “Is Nothing Sacred?” might be for you! No prior knowledge or experience with the Bible needed. Questions? Email Rev. Rick King at revrick@falconheightsucc.org.

Sharing our space with partners

One of the priorities that arose from a recent congregational discussion was to seek opportunities for sharing our space with partners that align with our mission and vision. In 2019 we talked with a Montessori school about classroom space and with Keystone Community Services about establishing a food shelf here. Neither of those ideas proved feasible. Because of engineering requirements, we would be unable to create a large enough open space for a Montessori classroom, and recently we got word from Keystone that they lack the funding to reopen a food shelf at any location.

We have, however, started very initial communications with Spirit of St. Stephen Catholic Community. This is not a typical Catholic community! Their website (www.spiritofststephens.org/) says, “No priest. No kidding.” They are an independent Catholic community rooted in social justice. They believe in the priesthood of all people and center their worship on the Eucharist. Their ministry is based on justice, peace, inclusion, gratitude and the wisdom of the Spirit that ignites their prayer as they seek to follow the nonviolent Jesus.

The door to this potential partnership was opened because one of our members has openly talked outside of church about this priority for FHC. All of us can do the same! We’ve worked diligently over the years to maintain our building, and we can be proud of our willingness to modify spaces if necessary to establish a partnership that will help nurture our demonstration plot and further our outreach mission.

Reconsidering our governance structure

One of our challenges is the governance structure of the church and the large number of people it requires. The Crossroads Team and the Executive Board came to that conclusion as we have discussed the future of our congregation and looked at ways to continue Jesus’ ministry within the congregation, to our immediate community and to the world.

The Constitution and Bylaws require seven officers, four of whom are members of the Executive Board, which also has nine at-large members, for a total of 13 persons on the Board.  Then, the Constitution and Bylaws require that each of the standing committees and ministry teams consist of at least three members of the congregation. That comes to 49 elected positions in a membership of slightly over 100 persons.

Given the many commitments congregants have in their lives, we believe we can streamline our governance structure to better utilize our group wisdom and thrive in the future. We need a more agile structure that gives us the flexibility to meet the church’s changing needs with fewer people.

While the Executive Board and Crossroads are not yet ready to make specific recommendations for revising the Constitution and Bylaws, we can experiment over the next couple of years to discover what works better. Expect to hear more about this in the coming month. We will be looking for your forbearance, as well as your ideas, for designing a governance structure for the future.

Food donation for hungry neighbors

You can help hungry neighbors this winter with two food donation opportunities. We are collecting:

  • Nonperishables for the Division of Indian Work food shelf. For January, our focus will be hearty soups — the kind that make a meal!
  • Breakfast food for Falcon Heights students. We are collecting low-sugar cereal, oatmeal and snacks (granola bars, nuts, dried fruit) to send home with students from Falcon Heights School for their Sheridan Story backpacks.

Bring your donations to the church lobby and we’ll make sure they get to those in need.

Weeknight Bible study group

A new small weeknight Bible study group is organizing to begin the week of Jan. 13, 2020. Ever wanted to read and discuss the Bible, but afraid of what you don’t know? Have you shied away from studying the Scriptures because of how others interpret them? “Is Nothing Sacred?” might be for you! No prior knowledge or experience with the Bible needed. If you’d like to know more, and make the Bible a part of your New Year’s resolutions, email revrick@falconheightsucc.org.

Connecting through our church building

The Crossroads Team has heard from the congregation that our church building (and parking lot) could be a great asset to the community. People have proposed ideas for sharing a portion of our space with another organization.

We’re hearing from other churches that moving beyond a single use for church buildings is a trend that bears examining–whether it’s sharing space with a community service organization, an educational institution, another church or something else. Sharing space, done wisely, could increase our impact in the community while also providing additional financial security for our future.

One of the areas the Crossroads team has been exploring throughout the year has been ways we can serve the larger community of which we are a member. Last week, we asked you to share any ideas you might have about partnerships we could start or expand in the community, and we still need more of them.

What do you think? Please share your thoughts or ideas about sharing our space with the Crossroads team, including Cor Wilson, Carol Holm, Rev. Rick King, Conee Biggs, Margee Fabyanske, Mary Gaasch, Brian Knapp and Larry Schumacher.