Past Journey of Faith Events
Although our Journey of Faith program has been in place since 2008, this archive begins in August 2012, with the launch of our website. This entire archival section may be navigated in sequence by either scrolling down to the bottom of each page and clicking on the Next>> text or by clicking on a listing in the Article Index at the top of each page.
December 5 | Enter Advent, Enter the Circle of the Church Year| Storyteller Carolyn Peterson led us into a sacred story called "The Circle of the Church Year." The story invited us to see and better understand our liturgical seasons and their accompanying colors. Rev. Clare Gromoll led us in exploring a piece from the United Church of Christ’s Advent devotional booklet, Come, Lord Jesus.
October 17 | The Pearl of Great Price | Who among us hasn’t spent a portion of our lives seeking something—our pearl—job, degree, love, only to find that these pearls are unsatisfying when there’s always something newer on the horizon? What do we keep and what do we let go of? And do we know true value when we see it?
November 7 | The Mustard Seed | Don’t ask when the kingdom of heaven will come or where it is. The kingdom of heaven is already present, though not fully formed, in our world. It’s found “in our own backyard,” in the generosity of nature and the daily working of men and women.
November 14 | The Laborers in the Vineyard | According to Levine, this parable is not about who will get into heaven, but rather who has shelter and enough to eat on earth. When we get a leg up, are we willing to extend an arm? Is it better to be “fair” or to be generous?
November 28 | The Widow and the Judge | The problem, says Levine, is not ultimately the court. The court represents a larger systemic concern: the human desire for vengeance, a desire that knows no gender or class boundaries, a desire that sucks everyone into its wake.
September 5 | From the Auction Block to the Mic Drop | Black people in the US were the first imported Humanists. They continue to assert their basic humanity each day as they challenge the hegemony of traditions associated with American racism. Learn why the movement of Black secularists and humanists is growing in the US. Led by Rev. Karen Hutt, an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister and Vice President of Student Experience and Culture at United Theological Seminary.
September 12 | Hinduism 101: What You Really Need to Know | Neha Markanda will debunk common myths about Hinduism as she explores what the tradition is and what it is not. Neha (Nay’ha) was born in India, moved with her family to South America as an infant, and then to the US at age 7. She is co-founder of the Hindu American Temple School and serves as the Strategic Planning Chair for the Hindu Society of Minnesota, both in Maple Grove.
September 19 | Buddhism: A Non-Theistic Religion (isn’t that an oxymoron?) | An overview of the many Buddhist traditions, basic common views, and teachings. The session will include brief meditation instruction and a glossary to manage all that vocabulary! Led by Rev. Katherine Engel, an ordained interfaith minister. Katherine has been meditating and studying Buddhism for 20 years and is the Director of the Shambhala Meditation Center of Minneapolis.
September 26 | One Baha'i's Journey of Faith | David Sterling’s search for the path to lasting and meaningful world peace dates to his pre-school years during World War II. At age 30 he found the Baha'i faith and committed himself to sharing Baha'u'llah's blueprint for a global effort to unify people of all faiths and none. David is a member of the Baha’i community of Saint Paul.
August 1 | Decluttering as a Spiritual Practice | Overstuffed closets, a desk piled high with files and project notes, a stuffed email box—clutter comes in many forms. We considered ways to free ourselves from all the “stuff” in our lives that can make us feel trapped and stuck. Led by Marjorie Huebner and Senay Kindler.
August 8 | Two Special Prayer Practices & Chant | There are many ways to pray. We gave special focus three types: One wasCentering Prayer, a contemplative practice similar to meditation practices from other religious traditions. Centering Prayer takes us into deeper silence. A second is known as Welcome, Welcome, Welcome. This practical and powerful practice helps us face difficult people or situations that stand in our path. Finally, we learned why Chant is a form of prayer and meditation. Led by Norma Rae Hunt and Judith Melander.
August 15 | Exploring the Labyrinth: Walking Meditation | Ancients created labyrinths thousands of years ago. More recently, labyrinths surfaced to help center and orient pilgrims on their life path. In the Middle Ages, labyrinths of stone were laid into the floors of European cathedrals. Faithful people who couldn’t afford a journey to the Holy Land followed the path of the labyrinth to God in the center. We learned some basics about how to enter a canvas floor labyrinth and experienced this walking meditation. Led by Laura Larson and Norma Rae Hunt.
August 22 | Remember the Sabbath: A Counter-Cultural Spiritual Practice | Wayne Mueller, author of the book Sabbath,writes: “In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between work and rest. All life requires a rhythm of rest… We have lost this essential rhythm.” We explored the power for change that Sabbath-keeping makes possible and have experiential opportunities to enter into a Sabbath ritual. Led by Norma Rae Hunt and others.
JUNE & JULY 2018
We used the Living the Questions 2.0 DVD series to spark reflection and conversation on a range of topics.
June 6 | A Kingdom without Walls | The good news of the gospel tells of a radical hospitality where boundaries, barriers, and walls are overcome by a grace that knows no bounds.
June 13 | Social Justice: Realizing God’s Vision | Being a person of faith demands balancing spiritual pursuits with action. In a society that
is often unjust, inequitable, and whose very structures are responsible for generating untold suffering and poverty, we are compelled to pursue social justice as an expression of hope in realizing a better world.
June 20 | Incarnation: Divinely Human | The meaning of the Incarnation has been debated since the beginning of Christianity. Although often associated with Jesus alone, the notion of incarnation can be understood most fully when it also includes Jesus’ followers, called like Jesus to enflesh the Spirit in divinely human ways.
June 27 | Prayer: Intimacy with God | The idea of prayer as the primary method of interaction with God is best thought of as a way of life rather than an activity reserved for specific times, places, and formulas.
July 11 | Compassion: The Heart of Jesus’ Ministry | Jesus was not primarily a teacher of correct beliefs or right morals. He was a teacher of a way that transforms people from legalistic rule-followers into compassionate disciples who put people first.
July 18 | Creative Transformation | The essence of human nature is to take part in the dynamic and imaginative process of creation; transforming us, our relationships, our institutions, and our world.
July 25 | Embracing Mystery | Christian practice is being re-visioned, re-tooled, and reclaimed by those who are living the questions of their faith. They’re attentive to ancient ways, comfortable with ambiguity, and open to the unknowable and indescribable mystery of the Divine.
May 2 & 9 | A Journey to India | Presenters: Rev. Norma Rae Hunt, Bob and Becky Galkiewicz
Over the course of two Wednesday evenings, Norma Rae, Becky and Bob recounted the sights and experiences of their trip to India last January. They write: “As part of a United Theological Seminary course, 13 of us (including two professors, four students, one UTS staff member, and their friends and relatives) spent 10 days in India as we visited Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Baha'i, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian religious sites. India is a complex, beautiful country of friendly people filled with a deep sense of spirituality. It is also a large third-world country, and this aspect challenged us in ways we could not anticipate. Let us share with you our wonder and reactions to experiences ranging from the grandeur of the Taj Mahal to the humbleness of a car-top temple. Along the way, learn a little about the faith traditions we witnessed, and come see some of the souvenirs we brought back to accompany our memories and photos.”
May 16 | Behind the scenes at Feed My Starving Children: Moving beyond "the single story" | Presenter: Katie Koranda
Many in our community are familiar with the mission of Feed My Starving Children, having packed meals and sat through orientation and closing sessions. As the digital content specialist at FMSC, Katie Koranda handles their blog and social media channels and is passionate about moving beyond what has come to be known as "the single story," a dangerous practice that simplifies people into groups and unintentionally promotes stereotypes. Questions Katie regularly asks herself in her work include if she is exhibiting a white savior complex or telling stories with dignity. In her talk, Katie shared stories from her travels with FMSC, how she has grown as a storyteller, and how and why FMSC truly is more than aid. Katie Koranda is the digital content specialist for Feed My Starving Children and a member of St. Paul’s UCC.
April 4 | Healthy Relationships! | Karin Egge (life coach, consultant, and educator) and her colleague Amy Josefa Ariel (rabbinical candidate, fellow consultant, and educator) led us in an engaging and interactive look at creating intentional and loving sibling, co-worker, friend, parent-child and self-love relationships.
April 11 | Judaism 101 | This session quickly covered Jewish beliefs and values and the actions that express them—keeping kosher, observing holidays, lifelong learning, life cycle, social justice, and more. Guest presenter Steve Lear is one of the founders of the Speakers’ Bureau of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.
April 18 & 25 | An Inconvenient Journey of Faith | The film An Inconvenient Truth (2006) chronicled Al Gore’s efforts to sound an alarm about global warming. Last year, in An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, Gore returned to share the many ways our situation has worsened for lack of action, but also the reasons for hope—including technological breakthroughs and occasional political victories. Where does climate change fit on our journey of faith? How does Earth’s anguish lay claim to us? And where do we invest our hope? In these sessions with David Weiss, we watched clips from An Inconvenient Sequel and unpacked the movie’s message in conversation with the Bible, our faith, and each other.
LENTEN BOOK STUDY | FEBRUARY-MARCH 2018
About 45 members and friends participated in small groups, reading and discussing Marcus Borg’s Convictions: How I Learned What Matters Most.
January 10 | Reformed Grace, Deformed Church: An Introduction to the Reformation | Phillip Romine, Director of Admissions at United Theological Seminary, helped us explore questions and convictions at the heart of the Reformation. He also addressed fundamental distinctions that have shaped what our Protestant/Reformed churches have become: What's the difference between being Protestant and being Reformed? Who were Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Huldrych Zwingli? And what does any of this have to do with what it means to be Protestant, Reformed, UCC, Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist today? Together we pondered this question: What is the most important question that our church must address?
January 17 | The Reformation, part 2: The Basics | We continued our exploration of the impact and relevancy of the Reformation, using 500: A Study Guide for 500th Anniversary of the Reformation,written by the UCC Stillspeaking Writers’ Group. In this session, we learned about concepts of the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace through faith, and the priesthood of all believers.
January 24 | The Reformation, part 3: The Bible | We continued our exploration, learning how the Reformation found energy and inspiration in Scripture as accessibility to the Bible expanded.
January 31 | The Reformation, part 4: Hot Buttons | John Calvin’s highly charged teachings on “total depravity” and “predestination.”
February 7 | The Reformation, part 5: Summing Up | The concept of being “both saint and sinner,” Martin Luther’s anti-Semitism, and the Protestant principle that no one can know the mind of God.
December 6 & 13 | “Watch: Exploring Advent Devotionals”
Jesus implored his disciples: “Watch, pay attention, stay wide awake, for the hour is coming…” (Mark 13: 35). While watching and waiting for Christ’s coming in the season of Advent, we spent two sessions exploring the “Watch” 2017 Advent Devotional produced by the Stillspeaking Writers’ Group of the United Church of Christ.
November 8 | Bible: A Book Like No Other | We returned to the popular Animate: Faith DVD series for an interactive session on our relationship with the Bible. Why read the Bible? Why do we keep coming back to this book with its strange narrative full of plagues and miracles and destruction and rebirth, in search of some new revelation? What is it about the Bible that makes it worth repeated reading? What gets in our way as we try to make sense of it?
November 15 | Introduction to the Enneagram | The Enneagram is an ancient system of wisdom developed as a blueprint for deep self-observation and self-discovery. The word comes from the Greek words ennea, meaning 9, and gram, which means something drawn or written. The Enneagram looks at nine personality types to help us discover where we are stuck in negative habits—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and relationally—that imprison us from being all that God created us to be. With guest speaker Rev. Leslie Neugent of Wayzata Community Church, we learned more about this tool of liberation.
November 29 | 28 Days of Advent | During the four weeks of Advent, Martha Wegner challenged herself to live, act, and write according to each week’s theme: hope, love, joy, and peace. Each day, she shared her experience on a blog. In Journey of Faith, Martha shared her insights into how everyday acts of kindness can change a life. Martha Wegner is a writer and speaker, living in the Twin Cities. Her books include Dear David: Dealing with My Son’s Addiction One Letter at a Time and A Word in Edgewise: Life in between Raising Kids, Keeping a Home, and Staying Sane.
October 4 | The Legacy: How we have come to be who we are. How we can come to be who we wish to be. Guest presenter Okogyeamon shared an innovative approach to antiracism work. Okogyeamon co-founded ASDIC Metamorphosis (short for Antiracism Study Dialogue Circles) with Margery Otto in 2004. Okogyeamon writes, teaches, and facilitates antiracism curriculum for ASDIC workshops, dialogue circles, and trainings.
October 11 | Mindfulness Experience | A mixture of mindfulness practice and information about the benefits of developing both formal and informal mindfulness practice, with psychologist Elizabeth Hayes.
October 18 | Visiting and Supporting Immigrants in Detention
Who are the roughly 400 undocumented immigrants currently in ICE detention in Minnesota county jails awaiting release or, more likely, deportation? Conversations with Friends (CWF), an all-volunteer group, works to make life in detention a bit more bearable for many of them through its programs, including visits and pen pals. Our guest speaker was Steve Kraemer, the director of CWF.
October 25 | It's Just Us: Chapter 2 | Irene Harris shared her experiential research on the effect that role models in the same social role and social class can have in addressing mental health stigma, as well as future routes to a new model for addressing stigma to reduce health care disparities. Irene is a practicing counseling and research psychologist whose work has been focused on altering models of mental health care to address stigma and make treatment socially acceptable and accessible.
SEPTEMBER 2017 | Taking another look at the Ten Commandments
Many of us have only a vague awareness of what the Ten Commandments are, where they came from, and how they speak to us in the present. Join us on Wednesday evenings in September to learn how these ancient laws continue to be relevant in our 21st-century lives.
September 20 | We looked at the second commandment, the law of respect: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” In the Old Testament, every great call by God is marked by the giving of a new name, and the Hebrew people never used the name of God at all! We’ll also discuss the third commandment, the law of remembrance: “Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.” Part of life is listening to the music of the soul. Work is important, but reflection is the essence of being human and sabbath days are meant to be different from the rest in order to provide us that time of reflection. Do we use it well enough?
September 27 | We reflected on the fourth commandment, the law of caring: “Honor your father and your mother.” As families get smaller and offspring begin to live far away from parents, the question of what will happen to our sages when they can no longer take care of themselves becomes a major social issue. How can we reclaim a sense of honoring our parents in our society today? We conclude with the fifth commandment, the law of life: “You shall not kill.” Those who believe that this commandment forbids only criminal killing must realize that lists of criminal offenses change over time. Should we concentrate on when killing is allowed, or should we concentrate on affirming life?
August 2 | Sulfide Mining: Threat to Minnesota’s Clean Water and Moral Values | Paula Maccabee, Advocacy Director and Counsel for WaterLegacy, returned with an update on copper-nickel mining in Minnesota. Proposed mines threaten three main watersheds—Lake Superior, the Boundary Waters, and the Mississippi River. Sulfide mining poses huge risks to clean water, climate change, human health, environmental justice, and sustainable rural economies in Minnesota. In fact, most of what we “know” about regulation of water pollution in Minnesota is wrong. Now, more than ever, values-based activism is needed to protect the state’s resources and communities.
August 9 | Medical Foster Homes for Veterans | The US Department of Veterans Affairs has a national mission to help veterans remain in the community, aging in place, even providing such care through the end of life. Medical foster homes provide an ongoing, caring, home-like setting for veterans while also supervising medical care and giving support for people who can no longer live alone. The VA in turn provides ongoing in-home education and support to the caregivers who share in giving individualized care to the veterans. Foster homes must meet state license requirements; monthly reimbursement is given specific to the individual care needs. Presenters joined us from the Minneapolis VA Medical Center.
August 16 | A Poem and a Podcast: Ways We Tend the Spirit | Where do you find spiritual sustenance? Are you a fan of "On Being"? Do you start your day with a poem from poets.org or a meditation from Richard Rohr? Are you all about The Handmaid's Tale, or do you prefer Nova—or Anne Lamott? With Lizabeth Bougie, we shared some ways we tend the Spirit. Lizabeth Bougie is the Director of the Resource Center for Churches, a network of faith communities pooling their wisdom to equip leaders for vibrant ministry. The Center gathers the recommendations of its users to share outstanding web, video, print, and other resources for faith formation and all areas of church life.
July 2017 was movie month for Journey of Faith.
July 12 | Tender Mercies Mac Sledge (Robert Duvall), a once-famous country western singer, wakes up broke, alone, and hung over in a tiny Texas motel run by widowed Rosa Lee. Having nowhere else to go, Sledge takes a job at the motel, and through the kindness and faith of Rosa he changes his self-destructive ways. A simple story simply told, Tender Mercies is a warm, persuasive tale of redemption.
July 19 | Sullivan’s Travels Written and directed by Preston Sturges, Sullivan’s Travels is one of Hollywood’s all-time greatest satires. An idealist filmmaker (Joel McCrea) decides to make a socially responsible movie instead of his typical comedic fare. Realizing he can’t accurately direct a screen tragedy unless he’s lived it first, he decides to hit the road disguised as a hobo. A heartwarming masterpiece, this film illustrates the importance of laughter in the world.
Wednesday July 26 | Before the Flood This epic documentary follows Leonardo DiCaprio as he travels the world to examine firsthand the effects of climate change and to learn more about possible ways to prevent catastrophic damage that could make the Earth unsustainable for human life. During his journey, he speaks with such influential figures as President Barack Obama, Pope Francis, and tech innovator Elon Musk, and makes a speech before the United Nations calling for greater action on this issue. Mindy Ahler and Paul Thompson, representatives from Citizens’ Climate Lobby, joined us for the screening and discussion.
June 7 | Since God is Still Speaking, What is God Saying about Immigration? | Why are there 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States? What does the Bible say about welcoming the stranger? How is the United Church of Christ involved? What is an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation? What is a Sanctuary Congregation? Diane Haines, chair of the Minnesota Conference Immigration Team, helped us reason together about the reality of immigrants in the U.S. and about God's call to Christians as we seek to respond to their presence in our midst.
June 14 | The Christian Mysticism of Julian of Norwich | Julian of Norwich was a 14th-century English mystic who received a series of 16 visions as she lay near death at age 30. We delved into the life and teachings of this enigmatic figure, the author of Revelations of Divine Love, who is perhaps most famous for her oft-quoted reflection: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.”
June 21 | Embracing God’s Promise: News from the Minnesota Conference UCC Annual Meeting | Every June, the Annual Meeting of the Minnesota Conference UCC brings together clergy and laypeople to share in decision-making, learning, and worship. The theme for 2017 was church vitality. Rev. Norma Rae Hunt was the invited preacher for the meeting’s Sunday worship service. In this session, we heard from SPUCC’s delegation. What did they learn? With whom did they connect? How did the experience change them?
June 28 | Ojibwe Spirit | While doing research for his book The Chippewa: Biography of a Wisconsin Waterway (2017, Wisconsin Historical Society Press), Rich Cornell had a problem. How would he contact and interview the elders of the Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) tribe? Their reservation was flooded when the Chippewa River was dammed in 1923, creating the 13,000-acre Chippewa Flowage. Rich was fortunate to meet Dr. John “Little Bird” Anderson, who served as first chair of the LCO and first president of LCO Ojibwa Community College. After Dr. Anderson passed away in 2016, Rich edited the filmed interview as a tribute. Rich will showed us the film and led a discussion on Dr. Anderson’s thoughts on Ojibwe culture and beliefs.
Ancient Stones and Living Stones | A Two-Part Series
May 17 | Ancient Stones of Israel and Palestine | SPUCC members Becky & Bob Galkiewicz traveled to Israel and Palestine in January as part of a group of 12 from the Minnesota Conference UCC, witnessing both the ancient stones (archaeological remains) and living stones (human voices speaking to faith in today's world) in these lands. This session featured pictures of the Holy Sites and secular places they visited, including Bethlehem, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea area, the River Jordan, towns around the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of the Beatitudes, and Nazareth—walking (perhaps) on stones that Jesus and the prophets trod!
May 24 | Living Stones of Israel and Palestine | It’s important for us as world citizens, Christians, and Americans to understand what life is really like in Israel and Palestine. In this session, Becky and Bob shared conversations they had with both Jewish and Palestinian “living stones,” including their trip-long guides, two Palestinian Christians.
Food Ethics | A Two-Part Series by the Earthwise Committee
April 26 | Food and Spirituality: Centering the Future of Agriculture on Regenerative Design | Taking care of creation is fundamental to the quality and healthiness of the food that nature delivers for us. The origins of our food and how it was grown are directly associated with the enriching of our spirits. Main Street Project members Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin and Niel Ritchie presented their innovative poultry-centered regenerative agriculture system and the strategy behind this earth-healing design.
May 3 | Food, Inc. | The Earthwise Committee showed a portion of the film Food, Inc. by Robert Kenner. The film focuses on food from a farming perspective, looking at factory farming methods and corporate interests and the resulting impact on our health and the environment.
Several groups read Lillian Daniel’s Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong to. She argues that it's time for Christians to stop apologizing and realize that how we talk about Christian community matters. With disarming candor laced with just the right amount of humor, Daniel urges open-minded Christians to explore ways to talk about their faith journeys that are reasonable, rigorous, and real. Groups met in March and early April on Sundays or Wednesday evenings.
February 1 | Arts and the Spiritual Journey | Guest speaker Wilson Yates led us in exploring how the arts can be crucial companions on the spiritual journey. We explored different ways the arts can engage us spiritually: the role in worship, in gaining historical insights into the Christian faith, in raising religious questions about our human situation, in serving as prophetic in the face of injustice, in becoming sacramental in their power to pull us onto religious ground and allow us to experience the Holy, and in providing us a vision of the Christian life. .
February 8 | Church: An Imperfect Family | This segment from the Animate Faith DVD series invited us to take our changing notions about what it means to be a family and let them seep into our understanding of the church. Perhaps it’s the messiness, the dysfunction, and the joy that come from complex relationships that make church worth hanging on to. Members of the Adult Faith Formation Team guided our exploration.
February 15 | Altering Expectations: Changing Stigma Associated with Mental Health Challenges | Psychologist and St. Paul’s UCC congregant Irene Harris shared multiple perspectives on stigma with a focus on the effects of stigma and the way it's perpetuated in our culture, as well as perspectives on stigma management that often continues long after a mental health challenge has been resolved.
February 22 | Building an Infrastructure of Opportunity | Randi Roth, Executive Director of Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul, spoke on her organization’s vision that people of faith will relieve the effects of poverty and address its causes through the transformative work of thousands of volunteers. She talked about building an “infrastructure of opportunity,” based on the work of North Carolina poverty researcher David Dodson.
January 11 | My Trans Faith | Rev. Lawrence T. Richardson shared his experiences and life lessons. He hopes to inspire people to look beyond perceived limitations and to embrace the fullness of life. The process of discovering his transgender identity and his subsequent spiritual transformation was initiated by the death of his mother in 2009. His personal journey of discovery has led to the formation of organizational partnerships and a worldwide ministry. Rev. Richardson serves as Minister of Faith Formation at Linden Hills UCC.
January 18 | Following My Call: The Life of a Seminary Student | Peggy Ludlow shared her call story, how she got to seminary, and where she is on the journey toward ordination. Peggy is a Member in Discernment at St. Paul's UCC, meaning she is in covenant with our church while she completes her seminary degree. She will graduate in May from United Theological Seminary.
January 25 | My Journey: A Calling into Ministry | Brien Aadland explained how he felt called into ministry, the journey to where he is today, and where he is in the ordination process. Brien graduated with his Doctor of Ministry in 2015, and has been busy doing pulpit supply at area United Church of Christ Churches. Brien is in covenant with St. Paul's UCC and is grateful for the church and their support.
ADVENT & DECEMBER 2016
November 30 | A Good Place to be Depressed: How our church can be a healing place for those living with depression | Our faith teaches us forgiveness and compassion. It teaches us to live in hope. People living with depression and other mental illnesses are trying hard to learn and practice these values. Thus through its values and teachings, the church can be a healing place for those living with mental illness. Rev. Bob Griggs helped us understand what we can do as church members to help overcome the isolation and stigma associated with this disease.
December 7 | A Brief History of Christmas | We love Christmas but often find the hectic pace and commercialism frustrating. In this talk, Geoff Olson covered how Christmas got to be the way it is (including a few "I'll bet you didn't know that" facts) and ended with a few thoughts on how to make Christmas more meaningful.
December 14 | Meditation: A Way of Christian Prayer | Advent is a time to awaken more fully to the presence of God. Meditation is a form of prayer that leads to our awakening. We move beyond words, thoughts, and images and open ourselves to God’s mysterious presence within us. From this place of prayer, we engage in our work in the world. This session with Sister Susan Oeffling and Deborah Chernick included background on meditation in the Christian tradition, an introduction to a way of meditating, an experience of meditation, and time for questions and discussion.
December 21 | A Light in the Darkness | A beautiful meditative Christmas service on the longest night.
November 2 | El Día de los Muertos | Guest speaker Rebekah Crisanta | Our program fell on what is called El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which coincides with All Souls Day. It is a joyous holiday for remembering and honoring those who have passed. In homes, people create altars (ofrendas), and graves are cleaned. This holiday teaches us new ways to honor our deceased and to face death. More info at http://www.mexicansugarskull.com/support/dodhistory.html.
November 9 | A Celtic Pilgrimage | This video with John O'Donohue is a must-see documentary with one of Ireland's greatest poets and scholars. O'Donohue walks us through the breathtaking landscape of western Ireland while weaving ancient wisdom with personal history and stunning imagery. The video reveals the Ireland that gave rise to the spiritual wisdom of the Celts and inspired O'Donohue throughout his remarkable life.
November 16 | Ojibwe Tales | In this session, we searched with respect for themes common to Ojibwe culture and our own, emphasizing the ideas of spirituality and justice. We’ll hear two stories of life lessons: First we heard The Beginning, which teaches us the Ojibwe creation story, the value of humility, and why the loon laughs. Then we learned about The Great Law, how the Ojibwe honored connectedness centuries ago (and continue to honor it), and why the rose has thorns.
October 5 | Doing Justice: Moving from Issue Education to Strategic Impact | We explored the work of the Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice & Social Transformation at United Theological Seminary and its four missional priorities: Igniting Prophetic Imagination, Preparing Faithful Leaders, Catalyzing Justice, and Advancing the Praxis of Social Transformation. Guest speaker: Steve Newcom, director of the Kaleo Center.
October 12 | On the Camino: Life Lessons from the Way of St. James | Guest speaker Heather Lawrence has said, “This spring I had the opportunity to become a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago in northwestern Spain. I took a month off from my ‘real’ life to walk part of the 500-mile, 1,000-year-old pilgrimage ending in Santiago de Compostela. I knew that it would be a life-changing journey, but I had no idea how much the experience would teach me about myself, my faith, and my connection to the world around me.”
October 19 | Keep Calm with Tai Chi | Tai Chi for Health, a series of 12 safe, easy-to-learn movements, offers relaxation, mental focus and calm, relief from joint and muscle pain, body awareness for fall prevention, and other positive health benefits. Dr. Paul Lam, a family physician and Tai Chi practitioner in Australia who lives with arthritis, developed Tai Chi for Health in consultation with Tai Chi and arthritis experts about 30 years ago. He now leads workshops for teachers around the world. Bruce Tyler will help you learn two or three movements and enhanced breathing techniques to take home and try out. We’ll also hear a short introduction to the history and development of Tai Chi. Bruce’s classes are interactive and movement-oriented, so wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing, and be prepared to relax and breathe.
October 26 | Feed My Starving Children | Intergenerational service trip to the FMSC facility in Eagan.
September 7, 14 & 21 | Embracing Spiritual Awakening | This summer we experienced two sessions featuring Diana Butler Bass, hearing of past Religious Awakenings and the current one our culture is witnessing. In September, we discussed how behaving, belonging, and awakening will very likely add new shapes to religion in America in the coming decades.
September 7 | We define our behavior by deciding what practices we’ll engage in. As Christians, we aim to practice love of God (devotion) and love of neighbor (ethics) in concert with the greatest commandments. But do we take the time to ask Why? andHow? Is it possible that practice is more like a craft than a program?
September 14 | What does it mean to belong? In our youth we might think of belonging by answering, “Whose am I?” As we grow older, we often change that question to “Who am I?” And if we consider faith journeys, we might ask, “Where am I?” We considered how we construct ourselves by relating to other people and to God.
September 21 | There have been three previous periods of great religious and spiritual awakenings in America. These occurred right before the American Revolution, in the early decades of our new republic, and around World War I as the US became an industrial world power. We are now in the midst of a fourth awakening that encompasses technology, diversity, and interfaith relationships. Do we as individuals and as a church embrace this awakening, reject it, or simply watch from the sidelines?
September 28 | Protecting Minnesota’s Waters from Sulfide Mining Pollution | Imagine a Northern Minnesota landscape of polluted wetlands and streams, drinking water contaminated with heavy metals, fish contaminated with mercury, and wild rice on its way to extinction. This could happen if Minnesota’s first proposed sulfide mine, the PolyMet NorthMet project, is allowed to go forward. We learned more about the human and environmental health impacts of open-pit sulfide mining from environmental lawyer Paula Maccabee. Paula is advocacy director and general counsel for WaterLegacy, a grassroots citizens group formed in response to the threat of sulfide mining in Minnesota.
MAY 2016 | Stories of Resiliency
May 4, 11 & 18 | Stories of Resiliency. Where do you find strength during a difficult time? What fills you up even when the events of your life seem to be draining you? How do you lean on God when you need to the most? During this series, members of our community will share their Stories of Resiliency. As we listen to their stories, we’ll have an opportunity to reflect on the ways our faith and community provide a deep well to draw from when we need God’s strength. This series is coordinated by the Health & Wholeness Committee.
APRIL 2016 | Stories of Food & Faith
April 6 | Food and the Environment. All We looked at how our food is affected by the environment and how the environment is helped or hurt by farming practices, because all of us are tied to the earth by the food we eat.
- April 13 | Food and Water as Environmental/Social Justice. Only 10 percent of what makes for “health” has anything to do with doctors or doctors’ offices. Food, water, education, environment—these are referred to as social determinants of health. They account for the other 90% of what makes us healthy. A lot of the decisions made by communities and their elected leaders in turn determine how healthy this world we construct around us actually is, or isn’t. During the hour, we looked at three social justice dimensions around food and water: the policies that make “obesogenic” sugary drinks so widely available and cheap; lead contamination of public water supplies in Flint and other US cities; and the routine use of human antibiotics to fatten livestock.
- April 20 | Just Eating: Practicing our Faith at the Table. Our topic was Food Sharing as Sacrament. We focused on communion and the ecotheological connections to that sacrament.
- April 27 | Intergenerational trip to Feed My Starving Children
FEBRUARY/MARCH 2016 | Lenten Book Study
Through five weeks of Lent, we met in small groups to discuss Rabbi Harold Kushner's Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life. From the beloved author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People, this book is a collection of deeply moving and illuminating reflections on what it means to live a good life. Chapter headings include God Does Not Send the Problem: God Sends Us the Strength to Deal with the Problem; Forgiveness Is a Favor You Do Yourself; Some Things Are Just Wrong: Knowing That Makes Us Human; Religion Is What You Do, Not What You Believe; Leave Room for Doubt and Anger in Your Religious Outlook; and To Feel Better About Yourself, Find Someone to Help.
JANUARY 2016 | Deepening Understandings of Islam
- January 13 | Guest speaker: Zafar Siddiqui of the Islamic Resource Group. The IRG builds bridges of understanding between Minnesota Muslims and the broader Minnesota community. We explored basic terminology, demographics, and the differences between religion and culture as well as learning about Muslims’ beliefs, practices, and religious celebrations. We also explored similarities and differences between Islam and Christianity.
- January 20 | Meeting our Muslim Neighbors. On this evening, Dr. Bilal Murad (a cardiologist at United Hospital) facilitated our conversation. Several of our Twin Cities area Muslim neighbors of varying ages and walks of life shared with us how faith has impacted their life journeys. Our visitors also responded to questions about their faith journeys as they engaged us in conversation.
- “Prior to her position at United, Gail worked at the Minnesota Council of Churches, where she directed Interfaith and Ecumenical programming. She also co-chaired the Muslim Christian dialogue with the Islamic Center of Minnesota and co-facilitated the Twin Cities Interfaith Network. She is a frequent speaker and panelist on interfaith programs and a 2009 recipient of a Building Bridges award from the Islamic Resource Group in Minnesota.” (www.unitedseminary.edu)
- January 27 | Islamophobia Funding. Guest speaker Gail Anderson, United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities Director of Interfaith and Intercultural Initiatives, offered an overview of the forces funding Islamophobia.
- February 3 | Toward Interfaith Justice and Inclusivity. Ms. Anderson facilitated a discussion in which we seek to answer the question What can individuals and churches do to create a more just and inclusive world?
December 2 & 9 | Our UCC Involvement in Global Ministries
- December 2 | East Timor
- December 9 | Turkey
December 16 | Advent Ponderings
NOVEMBER 2015 | Spiritual Caregiving & Ambiguous Loss
- November 4 | Chaplaincy as Spiritual Caregiving
- November 11 | Specialized Ministries: Pastoral Visitation and the UCC’s Council for Health and Human Service Ministries
- November 18 | Unclear (Ambiguous) Loss and the Myth of Closure with special guest Pauline Boss, PhD.
OCTOBER 2015 | Ecojustice & Faith
- October 7, 14 & 21 | Renewal: Stories from America's Religious Environmental Movement
- October 28 | Feed My Starving Children (Intergenerational)
The video series Living the Questions 2.0 deals with important questions of Christian faith in an accessible, appealing manner. Theologians, pastors, and lay people explore faith questions and draw connections between our own time and that of Jesus and his disciples. At each gathering, we viewed two videos and briefly discussed them in small groups.
- September 16 | Invitation to Journey
- September 23 | Thinking Theologically
- September 30 | Lives of Jesus
Our guest on July 8 & 15 was John Noltner, photographer and peace activist. For 20 years John has told stories with his images, producing work for national publications and Fortune 500 Companies. In 2009, he began A Peace of My Mind, a project that explores the meaning of peace through portraits and personal stories. In a world that asks us to focus on the things that can separate us, A Peace of My Mind encourages us to explore our common humanity. More info at www.apeaceofmymind.net.
- July 8 | A Peace of My Mind: The Calling
- July 15 | A Peace of My Mind: The Conversation
- July 22 | The New Interfaith Reality: The opportunities and the challenges
- July 29 & August 5 | Lynn Scott, Operations Manager at ARC Retreat Center of Stanchfield, MN, led us in a 2-part series on Christian mysticism, looking at the broader theme and focusing on influential mystics such as Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, Thomas Merton.
- August 12 & 19 | Jesus and Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions
- June 3 | Yoga as physical mindfulness
- June 10 | The 8 limbs of yoga: An overview
- June 17 | Bringing Compassion to All Parts of Ourselves
- June 24 | Expanding Internal Calm and Deepening Spiritually with a Practice of Self-Compassion
MAY 2015 | Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity
We took a deep and challenging look at racial inequity, watching and discussing this film. Designed for dialogue, it works to disentangle internal beliefs, attitudes, and prejudgments and builds skills to address the structural drivers of social and economic inequities. The current conversation is not only shallow, but actually harmful. We continue to primarily focus on individuals, when institutional and structural inequities are the bigger problem.
Topics for each week:
Learn more about the film at www.world-trust.org.
- April 8 & 15 | Earth: The Operator’s Manual
- April 29 | Feed My Starving Children (Intergenerational)
- February 4 | Feed My Starving Children. An intergenerational service trip to pack food boxes at Feed My Starving Children in Eagan.
- February 11 | Introduction to Godly Play
- February 18 | Ash Wednesday service
- February 25 to March 29 | An Altar in the World: A Lenten Small Group Book Study
January 7 | The Beatitudes: An Introduction
January 14 | The Beatitudes According to Luke
January 21 | The Beatitudes According to Matthew
January 28 | Radical Inclusivity: Empowering the Special Needs Community Through Worship
- December 3 | Disturbing Complacency: Money, our Mustard Seed. With guest speaker Rev.Lisa Bodenheim, pastor at Clark Memorial UCC in Mendota Heights. Session 1 of 2.
- December 10 | Film: Charting Christmas.
- December 17 | Disturbing Complacency: Resistance, Removing our Blinders. Session 2 of 2.
Rev. Dr. Clyde J. Steckel was our guest speaker. Our topic: A Shared United Church of Christ Faith: Then and Now.
- November 5 ~The Beginnings of a Shared UCC Faith.
- November 12 ~ The Preamble and the UCC Statement of Faith.
- November 19 ~ A Shared UCC Faith Today.
- November 26 ~ On break for Thanksgiving
Animate: faith series | Using an engaging video series featuring progressive Christian theological voices, Bob Galkiewicz and Clare Gromoll led us in 3 weeks of discussion. Then we learned from leaders of local agencies whom we support.
- October 1 ~ Jesus | The Revolution of Love.
- October 8 ~ Salvation | Abundant Life Now. .
- October 15 ~ Cross | Where God Is.
- October 22 ~ Project Home, St. Paul Area Council of Churches, featuring Sara Liegl, Director of Project Home.
- October 29 ~ Joint Religious Legislative Coalition, featuring JRLC Executive Director Brian A. Rusche.
Music & Church History 101 | Our organist, Geoff Olson, shared the journey of sacred music and church history for three Wednesday evenings. This was a continuation of his 2-part series in August.
JULY BIBLE STUDY
On the four Sundays in July, we explored the Gospel According to Matthew and its particular perspective. Leadership was facilitated by Rev. Norma Rae Hunt.
- June 4 | Exploring Spiritual Practices: Chant, Lectio Divina, and Examen
- June 11 | Labyrinths: Peaceful Paths of Prayer
- June 18 | Film: The Atheism Tapes: Interview with Playwright Arthur Miller
- June 25 & July 9 | Creativity Abounds (Intergenerational)
- July 16 | Film: Chasing Ice
- July 23 | Film: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
- July 30 | Feed My Starving Children (Intergenerational)
- August 6 & 20 | A History of Music & the Church: Plato to Marthin Luther
- August 13 | Film: Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth
MAY 2014 | Earth Stewardship
- May 7 | Reflections on the holiness of mindful eating
- May 14 | Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light
- May 21 | Film: Carbon Nation
- April 30 | Feed My Starving Children. An intergenerational service trip to pack food boxes at Feed My Starving Children in Eagan.
LENT 2014 | The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life
On five Wednesday evenings in Lent, we reflected on how Jesus’ journey toward and beyond the cross intersects with our own journeys. Joan Chittister’s book The Way of the Cross: The Path to New Life spurred discussion about how our lives might become more fulfilling. Chittister's book and our meditations were based on the ancient Christian spiritual practice of the Stations of the Cross—15 moments along Jesus’ journey from condemnation to resurrection. Bob Galkiewicz, Tami Molkenbur, Gail Westby, Jan Zitnick, and Steve Zitnick led us on this interactive Lenten journey.
IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY 2014 we delved into the Living the Questions DVD series Painting the Stars: Science, Religion and an Evolving Faith, which celebrates the communion of science and faith. Rev. Norma Rae Hunt and Clare Gromoll co-facilitated.
- February 5 | Evolutionary Christianity
- February 12 | Imagining a Future
- February 19 | An Evolving Spirituality: Mysticism
We also offered the Painting the Stars series on Sunday mornings from 9 to 9:45.
- February 26 | Faith Isn’t Just for Sundays: Practicing Our Faith at Home
DECEMBER 2013 | The Nativity Story
We met three Wednesday evenings to view the film The Nativity Story (New Line Cinema, 2006). Each time we watched part of he film to reflect on and discuss the miraculous events of God’s incarnation and the powerful models of faith for us today.
NOVEMBER 2103 | The history and futire of the United Church of Christ and St. Paul's UCC
Rev. Dr. Clyde J. Steckel was our guest speaker on November 6 and 13. An Emeritus Professor of Theology, Clyde taught at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities from 1970-95. From 1979-88 he was Academic Vice President and Dean. He has written several books, including New Ecclesiology and Polity, United Church of Christ,published by Pilgrim Press in 2009. In the Minnesota Conference UCC, he served as Interim Conference Minister from 2001 to 2003. Steckel’s book on the history of the Minnesota Conference UCC, Fifty Years of Covenant Keeping, was published in 2012. In the national UCC, he served on two theological working groups, was a founder and co-editor of Prism: A Theological Forum for the United Church of Christ and served on the Board for Homeland Ministries.
- November 6 | The First Fifty Years of the United Church of Christ
- November 13 | The Next Fifty Years of the United Church of Christ
- November 20 | St. Paul’s UCC in the Context of 56+ years of the UCC
- October 2 | UCC Coffee Project & CROP Hunger Walk
- October 9 | Film: Gold Fever
On October 16 and 23, Bob Galkiewicz and Clare Gromoll led on a journey into a DVD series called animate: faith, which seeks “to create an accessible, captivating exploration of big questions of the Christian faith.”
- October 16 | God | Faith Is a Quest
- October 23 | Religion: Spirituality Is Not Enough
- October 30 | Feed My Starving Children (Intergenerational)
MORE THAN MONEY MATTERS – a free workshop!
In October we offered More Than Money Matters, an interactive, values-based money management workshop developed by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans in response to requests from congregations such as ours. This free workshop was designed to help participants reach goals and manage personal financial resources in accordance with their values. A Thrivent Financial representative presented four sessions in collaboration with our Ministry of Faith Formation and our Stewardship Committee.
Sessions occurred on four Sundays, 8:45-9:45 am.
- October 13 | Stewardship and Values
- October 20 | Setting Goals
- October 27 | Credit and Debt
- November 3 | Finding Money to Save
SEPTEMBER 2013 | Three Simple Questions
During September we drew on the compelling study series Three Simple Questions: Knowing the God of Love, Hope, and Purpose, based on the work of retired United Methodist Bishop Rueben Job. Our time together included spiritual practices, video clips, discussion and accessible creative practices.
- Sept. 11 | Who Is God?
- Sept. 18 | Who Am I? Who Are We Together?
- Sept. 25 | Praying and Living the Questions In this concluding session, we explored applications of the three questions in our own lives.
- August 7 | Creativity Abounds! (Intergenerational)
- August 14 | Being UCC in a Wider Context: 2013 General Synod Gathering
- August 21 | Creativity Abounds! (Intergenerational)
- July 10 | Empty Hands, Open Hearts: An Immersion Experience in Kenya (Intergenerational)
- July 17 | Earth Stewardship
- July 24 | The Lorax (Intergenerational)
- July 31 | Feed My Starving Children (Intergenerational)
JUNE 2013 | Our Relationship to the Land
- June 5 | Veggie Adventure! What is Community Supported Agriculture?
- June 12 | Symphony of the Soil (Intergenerational)
- June 19 | Iona, Ancient Threads of a Bright Love
- June 26 | Iona, a Spirituality from the Fringes
- May 1 | Mental Health and Spirituality
- May 8 | Feed My Starving Children (Intergenerational)
- May 15 | Preparing for Our Sabbatical - The Sabbatical Support Team (Bob Galkiewicz, Kathy Hull, Judith Roska, Bob Galkiewicz and Lead Minister Norma Rae Hunt) led a discussion about our upcoming four-month clergy/congregational sabbatical.
- April 3 | Visitors from Pilgrim Point Camp
- April 10 | Our Whole Lives: An Overview
- April 17 | Strategic Plan and Sabbatical Leave Updates
- April 24 | Welcoming Neighbors Who Handle Mental Health Concerns
MARCH 2013 | Continuation of our "Final Gifts" small-group book sessions (please see February 2013 below for more information):
- March 6 | Final Gifts | Week 3 of 5
- March 13 | Final Gifts | Week 4 of 5
- March 20 | Final Gifts | Week 5 of 5
- February 6 | Beyond Pretzel Poses: Yoga’s 8-fold Spiritual Path
- February 13 | Intergenerational Ash Wednesday Worship Service
- February 20 | Final Gifts | Week 1 of 5 - During the season of Lent, adults and youth age 14 and above considered together the themes of dying, death, and new life. As we pondered the suffering, death, and new life found in Jesus, we used the book Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communications of the Dying to explore our own experiences of dying and death. Each week, individuals gathered in the same small group of 4-5 people to discuss a portion of the book. Space was made for all group members to have opportunities to speak and moments of silence for internal processing. Rev. Norma Rae Hunt and Student Minister Clare Gromoll facilitated the large group portions of these gatherings, and an experienced facilitator facilitated each small group. An excerpt from the back of the book: “In this moving and compassionate book, hospice nurses Maggie Callahan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years experience tending the terminally ill. Through their stories, we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments; we also discover the gifts—of wisdom, faith, and love—that the dying leave for the living to share. Filled with practical advice on responding to the requests of the dying and helping them prepare emotionally and spiritually for death, Final Gifts shows how we can help the dying person live fully to the very end."
- February 27 | Final Gifts | Week 2 of 5
- January 9 | Feed My Starving Children
- January 16 & 23 | Letting Your Life Speak: renewing your sense of purpose in the world
- January 30 | Exploring Emerging Church Themes
- December 5 | The Promissory Language that Breaks Dispair
- December 12 | Exploring the Season of Advent
- November 7 | Post Election Prayer Service .
- November 14 | ARC Retreat Center
November 28 | Grief of Loss as Divine Judgement
OCTOBER 2012 | A series based on Walter Breuggemann's Embracing the Prophets in Contemporary Culture
- October 3 | Moses, Pharoah, the Prophets, and Us
- October 10 | The Prophets as Uncredentialed Purveyors of Covenant
- October 17 | Moral Coherence in a World of Power, Money and Violence
- October 24 | The Shrill Rhetoric That Breaks Denial
- September 12 | Switzerland led by Brian & Amanda Aadland
- September 19 | Antibiotics/Livestock & The Common Good led by David Wallinga
- September 22 | Visit to Feed My Starving Children in Eagan
- September 29 | Prophets and the Prophetic Voice led by Bob Galkiewicz
AUGUST 2012 | Ethics and Amendments | A series exploring the state constitutional amendments that would be on the ballot in November
- August 1 | The Love and Marriage Task Force invited a group from the Beth Jacob Synagogue in Mendota Heights to tell their stories and give their perspectives on what the Marriage Amendment means to them. The program included information on the Marriage Amendment, open discussion and information on how to get involved and talk with others about the issue.
- August 8 | The Love and Marriage Task Force presented the documentary "In Sickness and in Health," a moving film that follows several same-sex couples who sued the State of New Jersey for the right to marry.
- August 15 | This meeting was an informational session on the Voter ID Amendment
November 8 | Bible: A Book Like No Other | We return to the popular Animate: Faith DVD series for an interactive session on our relationship with the Bible. Why read the Bible? Why do we keep coming back to this book with its strange narrative full of plagues and miracles and destruction and rebirth, in search of some new revelation? What is it about the Bible that makes it worth repeated reading? What gets in our way as we try to make sense of it?
November 15 | Introduction to the Enneagram | The Enneagram is an ancient system of wisdom developed as a blueprint for deep self-observation and self-discovery. The word comes from the Greek words ennea, meaning 9, and gram, which means something drawn or written. The Enneagram looks at nine personality types to help us discover where we are stuck in negative habits—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and relationally—that imprison us from being all that God created us to be. Join guest speaker Rev. Leslie Neugent of Wayzata Community Church to learn more about this tool of liberation.
November 22 | No program
November 29 | 28 Days of Advent | During the four weeks of Advent, Martha Wegner challenged herself to live, act, and write according to each week’s theme: hope, love, joy, and peace. Each day, she shared her experience on a blog. Martha will share her insights into how everyday acts of kindness can change a life. Martha Wegner is a writer and speaker, living in the Twin Cities. Her books include Dear David: Dealing with My Son’s Addiction One Letter at a Time and A Word in Edgewise: Life in between Raising Kids, Keeping a Home, and Staying Sane.