Nora Unitarian Universalist Church - Hanska, Mn

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Nora Unitarian Universalist Church
Sarah Oelberg, Minister
12333 155th Avenue
Hanska, Minnesota 56041-4310

Mere Lys in a script font.    Drawing of a chalice.

June, 2003
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Sunday Services
Social Hour: 10:00 A.M.     Worship Service: 10:30 A.M.

June 1 - Joint service with the New Ulm UCC church here. Rev. Hank Campbell will speak.
Pot Luck!      • Servers: Julie Sellner; Lee and Lynn Schmitt
     • Musician: Mimi Kamleiter
     • 9:00 Adult Discussion Group
     • POTLUCK Lunch following the service.

June 8 - Prairie Star District Ministerial Settlement Representative Sue Schiess will talk about the process of replacing Sarah when she retires.
Following the service will be our annual Congregational Meeting.
     • Servers: Mark and Brenda Wiger
     • Musician: Sally Hanson

June 15 - FATHER'S DAY! "Dear Old Dad." A day to honor our fathers and exchange flowers in our annual Flower Communion. Please bring flowers to share nothing elaborate, just whatever is growing nearby.
Father's Day      • Servers: Gil and Sally Hanson
     • Musician: Doug and Ardelle Becken
     • 9:00 Adult Discussion Group

This will be our last service for the church year. We will see you again September 7! Have a wonderful summer, and don't forget our annual Tri State UU meeting in Worthington on August 10. We will celebrate the life and work of Robert Ingersoll, have lunch with our friends from other churches in the area, and enjoy the Pioneer Village.


It is Memorial Day. For the last few days, many cars have come up the drive to put plants on graves in the cemetery. I have gotten to see family members of some of the many people I have done memorial services for in the years I have been here. The cemetery is quite colorful now, with all the flowers and the flags on the graves of veterans.

Today is supposed to be a holiday, but newsletters don't wait, so I am working. I decided not to attend the local remembrance. I will use my need to do the newsletters as an excuse not to go, but actually, I am finding it difficult to get into the proper patriotic mood this year.

Part of my reluctance is because I don't feel that the "war" in Iraq is won until the peace is won, and that seems like a distant possibility. I also find our nation's imperialistic attitude disturbing, and fear it may come back to haunt us in the future. And, truth to tell, I don't feel any safer than I did two years ago. I am not fully convinced that our country is on the right track; it may be contributing to terrorism more than it is eliminating it.

I have trouble with the whole notion, so prevalent today, that we must blindly believe what our president and his advisors say is right. The idea that this is "Our country, right or wrong," and the suggestion that we must, therefore, support what is happening or we are unpatriotic, bothers me. People forget that that quote is only the first part of the statement made by Senator Carl Schurz in 1898 when speaking against the extension of U.S. Manifest Destiny into the Phillipines. What he said was, "Our country, right or wrong: if right, to be kept right, if wrong, to be set right."

But I think the primary problem I am having with the outpouring of patriotism this season is the attitude that those who are protesting against the war in Iraq and the aftermath should be thankful they have the freedom to speak out, and they owe a debt to those who risked their lives fighting for that freedom. This is true, as far as it goes, but the current climate seems to suggest that we must forswear those very freedoms in order to repay the debt we owe to those who fought for them! This seems to be the gist of the Patriot Act; if this is what patriotism requires today, then I plead guilty to being unpatriotic.

True patriotism requires more than just waving a flag and proclaiming the superiority of our country. True patriots study the issues; they agonize over policy choices; they listen to all sides; they express their opinions openly. And they never question the loyalty of someone who has a different point of view. This is the kind of patriot I want to be. I think America today needs a few more such patriots.


The Lake Hanska Women of the ELCA invite members of Nora church to join them in a Family Night on Sunday evening, June 8th, at 7 PM in the church dining room. Clarie Streng will present a program on the Sierra Leone, West Africa, with a slide presentation. Refreshments will be served and freewill contributions may be made toward building a new Jubilee Center in Freetown, Sierra Leone. P.S. Clarie Streng is the fiancé of Dennis Broste. They will be married August 3.

The Faith in Action Volunteer Caregiver Program of Brown County cordially invites you to the First Annual Faith in Action Coalition Meeting on June 3 at 2:00 PM in the Driver's License Bureau Building in New Ulm. This is a way to find out what the Faith in Action program is doing in Brown County, and how we can better serve those in need.

The Bernadotte Lutheran Church, located six miles east of Lafayette, is having their Swedefest on Saturday, June 21. Entertainment includes the Pig's Eye Landing Band from 6:30-7:30, followed by Anders Gustafsson, the now 17 year old pianist from Sweden. Other local entertainment in the park earlier.

A Swedish Smorgasbord will be served from 4-7 PM, adults $8. Craft sale, games, wagon rides, and silent auction.


We lament the deaths of three our of life long, loyal members in the past month. A memorial service for Oren Shelley, brother of Thelma Asleson, was held here at Nora on May 2. Oren was an important figure in the farmer's cooperative movement.

On May 5, a service was held for Marjorie Moe Teig, who died very suddenly of pneumonia. The next day, graveside services were conducted by Sarah at the Lakeside Cemetery in Hastings, MN, where Marj and her family lived for many years.

Only two weeks later, Marjorie's brother, Maynard Moe, died at Hillcrest Nursing Home in Mankato. Services were May 19. Maynard used to spend many hours up on the hill by the Moe graves, looking out over the prairie. Now he will rest in peace there with his parents and ancestors.

Congratulations to all graduates of both high school and college this year, including Jon Wiger (see his letter later in this page).

Congratulations to Mark and Brenda Wiger for 25 successful years serving the developmentally disabled. Their company, MBW, was recognized by the New Ulm Sertoma Club on May 29.


This year's annual meeting is an especially important one. We will be deciding how to proceed in seeking ministry for the future. There are many issues to consider, and we need everyone's participation! Plan to come to the church service and the meeting on June 8.

The Lunch Bunch will have their last meeting of the year at the Troll Hus in Hanska on Tuesday, June 17, at 11:30 am. We hope everyone - guys and gals will join us there!

The community service in the Hanska Park on May 18, conducted by Sarah, netted $214.75 for the Brown County Food Shelf.

Note: Doug Anderson pointed out an error in my printed sermon on Ralph Waldo Emerson. He had not started this third career by age 20, but age 30! He was prodigious, but not that much.


The NWS will have its annual spring luncheon at Gallagher’s Cafe, 1059 First Avenue, in Gibbon. Marjorie Moe was the one who chose this location, so our luncheon will be in her honor. This year it was decided to make it "Dutch Treat." We will gather about 11:30 a.m. on Friday, June 6.

The Nora Women s Society served meatball dinners with all of the trimmings to close to 200 people during the 17th of May Festival in Hanska, May 15, 16, and 17 although some buses canceled at the last minute.

A special "thank you" to all the men and women who helped in any way. A financial report will be given when all of the billings have been received.


Top Ten reasons for Coming to General Assembly in Boston -

  1. You probably missed Woodstock - you don't want to miss this!
  2. Fenway Park, the Swan Boats, the Boston Public Gardens, Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, Museums, many UU churches, and whale watches.
  3. Ethnic restaurants, cannoli, sausages smothered with peppers and onions, baked beans, fabulous seafood.
  4. UUA headquarters will be open to visitors.
  5. You can sleep where Emerson slept - or in first class historic hotels.
  6. The Service of the Living Tradition will be held at the Fleet Center, home of the Boston Bruins and Celtics.
  7. Julian Bond, Chairperson of the NAACP is the Ware Lecturer.
  8. Over 400 events including workshops, worship services, musical performances and renowned speakers such as Harold Kushner, Amy Domini, Jonathan Kozol, Herber Benson, Robert Reich, Howard Zinn, Dan Savage, and Sarah Oelberg.
  9. As a delegate, you can participate in the business of the UUA.
  10. To be part of the largest gathering of Unitarian Universalists EVER!

P.S. See Sarah for registration and details.


Our partner church in Benced reports they had a marvelous celebration for their new church bells. I reported to them that we also had a good time being joyful for their new bells. At the potluck, we raised $350, which was sent to them.

There is a couple from another church planning to go to Transylvania in September, and are looking for others to go to fill the partner church van. Anyone interested?

Mount Pisqua Cemetery Association

The Annual Meeting of the Mount Pisqua Cemetery Association will be held Sunday, June 8, 2003, immediately following the Annual Meeting of Nora Church.

The present members of the Board are Scott Chambard, Warren Paulson, Wayne Johnson, Clayton Olson, and Algot Blomquist. The terms of Clayton Olson and Warren Paulson are up for replacement or re election.

Gordon Bentdahl is presently the Caretaker.

Discussion will also be held as to increasing the price of cemetery lots.

A person must be a contributing member of Nora Church to purchase cemetery lots and a person must own lots to be eligible to vote on any cemetery business.

We encourage all members of Nora Church to take a more active roll in the business affairs of "our" cemetery.

Algot Blomquist
Secretary Treasurer
Mount Pisqua Cemetery Association

University of Minnesota Logo

Nora Congregation,

I am writing to inform you that as of May 10, 2003, I am a graduate of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. I am writing this to avoid the cost, and other hassles associated with getting graduation announcements made from the U. I wanted to let all of you know in somewhat of an impersonal manner, that I designed my own degree through a program called the Inter College Program. My degree will be a B.A., with my major coursework being in Psychology, and supporting coursework in Public Health, and Social Work.

To avoid any misunderstandings and/or misinterpretations that may occur while hearing information through the social grapevine, I would like to provide a brief, watered down, summary of my future plans. I plan to work at both the parking lot and the YWCA teaching lessons until early July. Then I will go to Northern Wisconsin for a week camping and fishing. Near the middle of July, my dad and I are going to float the Grand Canyon. Upon returning to Minnesota, my plans then entail traveling the western cost of South America, starting in Chile and flying out of Peru. I will then be moving out to Washington D.C. in the latter part of August to establish residence with my girlfriend Laura. I plan to come back to Minnesota for some serious hunting for two weeks next fall, and then back to D.C. My whereabouts will then be determined, upon Laura s graduation from grad school, by the availability of jobs and overall desired location for the future.

Thanks for the support and experiences you all have given and been apart of. It really means a lot to have so many caring people apart of my life! I look forward to the changes that lie ahead and would like to thank the support network that helped facilitate, and encourage, my achievements, both large and small, along the way.

Thanks Again,

Jon's signature

Jonathan Gerald Wiger



Dr. Norman's Telescope

This is the scintillating saga of the old brass telescope once owned and used by Dr. Amandus Norman, minister of Nora church from 1893-1931. He used to look at the stars from the "porch" over the kitchen of the parsonage.

When Dr. Norman died, the telescope was sold at auction. Evidently nobody in the church was interested in keeping it. In the 1960s, however, the person who bought it returned it to the church. For awhile, it sat looking lonely and out of place at the front of the sanctuary.

When I came, it was back in the annex, and no one seemed to know or care much about it. I asked Dr. Phil Kelly of the MSU astronomy department to look at it. He cleaned and polished it, and wrote a detailed description of it. He noted that the brass was beginning to pit from oxidation, and the glass in the lenses to separate from extremes in temperature. He recommended we do something with it to preserve it.

On the evening of our last midsummer celebration, Dr. Steve Kipp, also from the MSU astronomy department, set the telescope up, and some of us looked through it. Then it was placed back in the annex. Steve, however, took an interest in it, and did some research. From the Smithsonian, he received an article published in the Scientific American in 1891. It describes this wonderful new telescope for school and general use, and shows a picture which is definitely our telescope. It was made by William Gardam and Sons of Brooklyn, NY. They were well known makers of scientific and optical instruments, but this was apparently their first attempt at a telescope. A patent was applied for and denied.

Steve and I then contacted the International Antique Telescope Society, and for over a year it was listed on their website, with pictures and a request that anyone who knew anything about it contact the President. No responses. This led the President of the IATS to tentatively conclude that it may be the prototype, and therefore a one of a kind.

At this point, the Board became involved, to decide what to do with it. After some deliberation, it was offered to the Smithsonian, but they turned it down. Some felt we should keep it "locally." However, it needs to be somewhere where it will be kept in proper conditions and displayed and made available to people who would be interested in it. Neither Nora nor the Brown County Museum have the staff or facilities or knowledge to do that.

Another option we considered was "loaning" it (they also will not accept it as a gift) to the astronomy department at MSU, where it could be available to students and to people from Nora. Steve Kipp even volunteered to bring it out here once in awhile and set it up for viewing. The catch here is that MSU will not accept it even on loan unless we a) have it appraised, and b) insure it for its full value. Both of these will cost quite a lot, and there is a problem getting something appraised when there is no record of sales of similar instruments. Since this is the only one any expert can find, appraisal would be difficult.

The remaining option is to sell it. I have been in contact with the antique optical instruments specialist at the only auction house in America that deals in such things Skinner Co. in Boston. They have telescope sales twice a year, and everyone interested in old telescopes comes or bids via Internet. He assures me that if our goals are to a) preserve it, b) have it be really appreciated and cared for and used, the best way is to let the person who most wants it buy it. All the old telescope guys know each other, share their instruments, and write papers on them, etc. As a unique item, it would be of great interest, and would probably give the church some publicity worldwide.

While all this was going on, the telescope was in a secure place. But it cannot stay there much longer. We need to make a decision soon. If you have any advice, or feelings, please speak to me or a member of the Board.

- Sarah

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