Nora Unitarian Universalist Church - Hanska, Mn

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

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

September, 2005
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Sunday Services
Adult Discussion Group: 9:00 A.M.
Social Hour: 10:00 A.M.     Worship Service: 10:30 A.M.

September 4 – “Work in Poetry and Song”
Reverend Don Rollins
We will honor the place of labor in the development of our nation, drawing from a host of poems and musical styles.
     • Musician: Jordan Rathman
     • Server: Edith Beckius
     • Greeters/Usher: Al & Dorothy Swanson, Nita Gilbert(u)*

September 11 – “American Culture and Terrorism”
Professor Karen Larson, Ph.D.

On the fourth anniversary of the 911 terrorist attacks, we present an examination of the roles of culture and community in combating terrorism, both foreign and domestic. Note: Professor Larson will also be present for the Adult Discussion at 9:00 AM, for those who would like to preview and discuss the subject of her remarks. Karen Larson, Ph.D.
     • Musician: Sally Hanson
     • Servers: Kristine/Warren Paulson, Katie/Jason Monnens
     • Greeters/Ushers: Jerry(u) & Susan Allen(u)* Jordan Rathman, Reggie Peck
     • 9:00 Adult Discussion Group 11:30 Potluck Lunch

September 18 – “Unitarian Universalism Simplified”
Reverend Don Rollins

The milieu of our denomination can sometimes overwhelm us, especially when someone asks us what we’re all about. Rather than navel gaze about ourselves again, how can we identify and articulate definitive shared values in order to live and advance them?
     • Musician: Jordan Rathman
     • Servers: Dave & Jean Wenk
     • Greeters/Ushers: Mark(u) & Brenda Wiger(u)* Tessa Makepeace, Eric Byro
     • 8:30 Board of Trustees Meeting
     • 9:00 Adult Discussion Group

September 25 – “Why God is a Baseball Fan”
Reverend Don Rollins

On the eve of the winding down of the regular season and the beginning of the playoffs, Don will give his first-ever sermon on the spirituality of the greatest sport ever.
     • Musician: Mimi Kamleiter
     • Servers: Elroy & Ardis Wellman
     • Greeters/Ushers: Vicki Sieve(u)* Liz Reedy(u) Janney Rieke
     • 9:00 Adult Discussion Group

View From The Hill

Rev. Don Rollins

As I have been telling our Board and Committee on Ministry, this is the year to become more intentional about growth. This is the year that we become more intentional about advancing the three shared values contained in our mission and vision statements:
religious freedom, religious community and religious activism. And this is the year that we become more intentional about programming for adults.

The Adult Religious Growth & Education Committee (RG&E), chaired by Kristi Bodick, has assembled some important opportunities for Nora grown-ups. Our first foray into covenant groups (see Christopher Olson’s excellent description elsewhere in this newsletter) begins in October. Our Sunday Morning Discussion Group will be a bit more structured this year, selecting topics related to the themes of freedom, community and justice. And I’ll be facilitating a four-session version of “Building Your Own Theology, Part 1” on each Thursday evening of October.

The rationale for this increased attention to the needs of Nora adults is quite simple. A the core of our way of religion is the steadfast belief that each is capable of, and responsible for, developing his or her own beliefs. But making that statement without providing concrete opportunities for growth makes about as much sense as mandating a bunch of education reforms without the funding to implement them. (Sorry for the tangent into politics; I’ve been reading some online editorials again . . .)

So, Kristi and her crew are doing their part to provide a wider spectrum of opportunities for growth and education at Nora. In this year of increased focus on mission and growth, I hope you will take advantage of these new offerings. Oh, and don’t forget to bring a friend.

--- Peace, Don


Ever get frustrated that you can’t seem to put what you believe into words? Or do you sometimes wonder if you have any consistent beliefs at all? Designed some two decades ago, UU Minister Dick Gilbert’s “Building Your Own Theology, Part 1 (BYOT) has been updated. It can help you formulate a belief system all your own! Even if you just want to refine what you already have, BYOT is an effective tool for fine-tuning your theology.

Don will facilitate the basic BYOT curriculum beginning on Thursday, October 6 and continuing through October 13, 20, and 27. Because of space and the need to determine where to hold the class (Nora? New Ulm? Mankato?) PLEASE CONTACT DON TO INDICATE YOUR INTEREST. The tentative beginning time is 7:00 P.M. and the class will end no later than 9:00 P.M. Contact Don if you would like to know more about BYOT.


Sarah Oelberg has informed us that our sister church, Benced, in Romania, has been affected by recent flooding in Eastern Europe. The Board elected to ask Nora members and friends to donate to a fund to help with the relief efforts in and around Benced church. Sarah and Jerry will be taking a trip to Eastern Europe later this month, thus the funds can be sent with them. Please send your donation (via check) to our treasurer, Sally Hanson, at 1622 Northridge Lane, North Mankato, MN 56003. Be sure to write “Benced Fund” on your check. Thank you!



The Adult Growth and Education Committee is preparing to launch our first Covenant Group. For those unfamiliar with this form of Small Group Ministry, here is a brief introduction and overview of the idea.

A fairly standard model of a Covenant Group looks something like this: A group of 6-12 people decide on a particular area of mutual interest and agree to meet on a regular basis to explore the subject with the larger intention of deepening relationships. The group agrees on certain elements when it is initially formed, for instance: The group agrees to maintain the confidentiality of its members, so that what is said within the group stays there! Members also agree to be open to new members and, barring emergencies, to attend all gatherings. They may also decide to do some sort of outside service project or attend social events as a group. The groups will also need to agree on a format for conducting their meetings. The Committee strongly recommends using the following format, which is pretty standard: The gathering begins with a chalice lighting, followed by a brief “check-in” to help everyone connect to the group. The next step is to move into the “work” of the group. When the work portion is complete, there is a “check-out;” this is a time for the members to let the group know how the meeting and process worked for them. The check-out is followed by a closing reading.

Each of the groups will have a trained facilitator to help guide them through the formative stages of getting organized. The role of the facilitator is principally to set a tone of acceptance and respect for all members, and provide a measure of focus for the group, gently keeping members grounded in the agreed upon process, as and where needed. Facilitator training for those interested in taking on this role will take place after church on Sunday, September 17, 2005.


General Assembly in Fort Worth was a wonderful experience that Kristine Paulson and I hope to share with you in September. But I want to tell you about one thing now. A common term heard over and over during GA was “our beloved Community” in reference to Unitarian Universalistism. It is a term I have heard before but have come to really appreciate how much it applies to our movement in general and Nora in particular. Whether we grew up in Nora or were lucky enough to find it, we are all part of a beloved community. This year we will have the chance to welcome more into our beloved community. It is one of the best presents we can give someone or ourselves.
--- Sheldon Rieke


Choir Rehearsal

Beginning September 11th, the adult choir will have weekly rehearsals from 9:00 to 10:00 AM on Sunday mornings. All are welcome!

Picture Directory

All members and friends of Nora Church are asked to have their picture taken to update our directory. There will be a sign-up sheet at church so you may choose your date and time or you may call Nita at 507-469-8912. We will be taking the pictures every Sunday in September from 9:00 – 10:10 AM and from 11:50 – 12:30 PM. The pictures will be in color – dress as you wish.

Lunch Bunch

The Lunch Bunch will be meeting on Wednesday, September 21 at 11:30 A.M. at Holiday Inn in New Ulm. All are invited to attend.


You are all invited to Nora Church on Sunday, September 18th at 2:00 P.M. when Nita Gilbert will give a concert to celebrate turning 40. Joanne Saxton will be on the piano and Don Rollins on guitar. Hope you can be there!



A reminder to everyone that baked goods, craft items, homemade gifts, fresh fruits and vegetables are welcome for the Country Store for Smorgasbord which takes place on Sunday, October 2. Your help would be appreciated also for making meatballs and setting up on Saturday, October 1 starting at 9:00 A.M. Please be thinking about what you can do to help. The event involves a lot of planning and work, but it is also fun and is a great way to bring the congregation together. Any questions, call Joy Rathman at 877-2457 or Julie Sellner at 375-8737.


The Membership Committee has completed the schedule for Kitchen Duty and Greeters/Ushers through December. If you cannot be there on your appointed date, please find your own replacement or switch with someone on the list. The duties of the Greeters/Ushers, aside from handing out bulletins and ushering, are to talk with visitors and to direct the to the “Visitors Table” (to be set up this month), where the “Head Greeter” will help them further by showing them pamphlets, asking them to sign the Guest Book, and by answering any questions the visitors may have. Greeters/Ushers are asked to be at Nora by 9:45 and to be willing to stay a little after the service to make sure visitors are getting the attention they need. We are very excited about getting this started! The more we can give our visitors, the more chance they will return to Nora.


The United Way Day of Caring is an annual celebration of community volunteers giving “One Day to Help One Another.” Volunteers providing “helping hands” for services that people, for diverse reasons, cannot do.

Projects needed: Do you, or someone you know, need an extra hand with a difficult task? Projects can range from writing letters, reading, housework, yard work, painting, washing windows, cleaning gutters, small repairs and much, much more.

Volunteers needed: Gather a team together! Recruit family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to make a team. Teams can range in size and ability.

Saturday, September 10, 2005 is the United Way Day of Caring. To receive more information, visit or call the United Way at 354-6512.


MBW is a company that supports people in pursuing dreams and living fuller lives. We currently have some openings in the Hanska-Sleepy Eye area. If you would like to assist others, please give Jane Christensen a call at 888-294-8721, ext. 126 or 507-354-3808, ext. 126.


Our condolences to Kay Steffl and her family on the passing of her father, Cy Steffl. Cy’s funeral was on Monday, August 29, 2005 at St. John’s Home in Springfield, MN.

Our sympathy also to the family of Orlean Schmiesing. Orlean’s service was held here at Nora on August 25. Orlean was a great supporter of Nora Church.

Congratulations to all those celebrating milestone anniversaries, birthdays, grandparents-to-be, and parents who made it through another summer!



Our first Sunday School classes will be Sunday, September 11th. There will be two classes, the Juniors (Kindergarten-Grade. 3) and Tweeners (Grades 4-6). Both classes will be using the Timeless Themes curriculum from September through January. Julie Sellner, Sheldon Rieke, Chrissy Schmitt and Shannon Weiss will be taking turns teaching the Juniors class. The teachers for the Tweeners class will be Anne and John Makepeace, Kristi Bodick and Laurie Kunerth. Brenda Wiger and Kristy Paulson will help fill in when needed. As always, thank you to all of the teachers for volunteering your time and providing our children with fun learning experiences.

Please remember that Sunday School classes will start at 9:30 and will end around10:15. All children are invited to attend the church service at 10:30. There will be a nursery available to the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers and their parents. The nursery is located in the balcony of the church. Thank you to everyone who contributed monetary resources and their time towards this project. It will be nice to have our entire church family together during the service.

The Coming of Age program is underway. Most of the COA youth and mentors met at the end of August. During the potluck on September 11th, a special table will be reserved for the COA and their mentors so they can each eat lunch with each other. The first COA class will be Wednesday, September 14th in the church basement. It will begin at 6:30 and will last until 8:00 or 8:30.

Our first RE Wednesday will be on September 14th. We will meet 6:30 -7:30 in the Fellowship Hall. Our project for the evening will be getting ready for Smorgasbord games. We will be making signs, marking suckers and putting together grab bags. We’ll save some time for everyone share about their summer adventures.

Once again we are looking for donations for our Smorgasbord games. We need a box of sandwich sized ziploc bags, a bag of suckers/lollipops, small candy bars, cracker and cookie packs, and small toys for prizes. DONATIONS ARE NEEDED BY SEPTEMBER 14TH. We will have one new activity this year, a raffle for stuffed animals/toys. We have stuffed animals and toys already available. All the proceeds will be
used for service projects.

It was so much fun to see the children at the COA get together and on our trip to the Grand Rios Water Park. It’s amazing how quickly they can change and grow over three months. We look forward to a fun year of RE at Nora.

Thank you to Julie Sellner and Jeanie Hinsman for all of their time, ideas, work and help to get everything ready for Sunday School and the Coming of Age program. You made planning and preparation so much more fun and enjoyable.

We are always looking for people interested in teaching or helping out with RE and Sunday School. Please feel free to talk with Anne Rieke if you have questions about the Nora RE program.

Calendar of RE Events:

Sunday, September 11 - Sunday school begins at 9:30. COA’ers and mentors have lunch together at the potluck.

Wednesday, September 14 - RE Wednesday 6:30-7:30. First COA class beginning at 6:30.

Wednesday, September 28 - COA class beginning at 6:30.

REMINDER: All newsletter articles are due September 23 for the October newsletter.



The Adult RE committee is scheduling classes and events for the upcoming year.

If you do not have a printed newsletter with a survey form, please print this Survey-PDF file and take a moment to fill out this survey so that we may better serve you.

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