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.
drawing of a mailbox

Merry Christmas

December, 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.

December 4: “God and Darwin: Intelligent Design”
Fresh off political columns, sermons and Newsweek, Charles Darwin is pitted, once again, against theological certainty.

• Musician: Mimi Kamleiter
• Potluck Servers: Joy Rathman, Julie Sellner, Edith Beckius and Nita Gilbert
• Greeters/Usher: Gil & Sally Hanson and Eric Byro

December 11: “A Holiday Pageant”
Come celebrate the winter holidays with our children and youth!

• Musician: Jordan Rathman
• Servers: John & Julie Schmitt
• Greeters/Ushers: Chrissie Schmitt and RE kids

December 18: “A Liberation Theology Christmas”
What happens to the Christmas story when viewed through the lens of Latin American liberation theology? Is there room in the orthodox nativity myth for a God of love and a Jesus of justice?

• Musician: Mimi Kamleiter
• Servers: Gene & Georgine Tepley
• Greeters/Ushers: Doug Anderson, Scott Chambard and Ross Chambard

December 24: “Christmas Eve on The Hill”
We can’t guarantee snow, but we can guarantee a time of connection, reflection and singing.
The service begins at 5:00 P.M.

Christmas bells

• Musician: Jordan Rathman
• Servers: (volunteers)
• Greeters/Ushers: (volunteers)

View From The Hill

Rev. Don Rollins

My sermon last month on hunger – specifically, the part about “guerrilla giving” – drew comments both for and against the concept. I can certainly understand that the idea of giving cash to total strangers is not for everyone, nor do I think it’s somehow more “noble” to practice that kind of giving than to donate to, say, the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. Not at all.

But no matter our philosophy on giving, the truth of the matter is that in our economic system, we’re exercising power when we spend money; we’re saying, in a very concrete way, what we value. We’re empowering someone, somewhere.

For those of us who shop online, the November/December issue of Utne includes an interesting article on shopping in a socially responsible way. (For those who aren’t familiar with Utne, it’s a magazine collection of articles from other publications and online sources.) Included in the article, “The Web Watchdog: Shopping With a Soul”, is a reference to, a Web site that rates corporations according to such categories as social responsibility, environmental impact, business ethics and treatment of workers. While not the only such tool, it is one of the more politically neutral: just the facts, ma’am.

Hey, no guilt trips! As we enter the season of giving, I’m not interested in guilt-tripping grown adults into activists-turned-Scrooges. The idea is to begin to notice our relationship to money and giving, doing what we do in every other aspect of our lives – asking spiritual questions in search of spiritual answers.

And just so you know I’m wrestling with money, too, I’m revisiting my usual gift to the adults in adoptive and birth families. Do I just keep giving them Ohio lottery tickets – one of the favored gifts of lovable Appalachians everywhere – or do I go with the organic hemp, psychedelic T-shirts? (And, no, I’m not kiddin’!)

Happy holidays, fellow givers.


Christmas cap and music


As always, Monday is Don’s day-off and he uses Fridays for sermon writing. He’ll be in Florida and Ohio from Christmas Day through New Year’s Eve. In case of emergencies contact a Board or Committee on Ministry member for Don’s contact information.


As part of Nora Church's social justice commitment we are providing the people power for the distribution of food for the Food For All program on Saturday, December 10. Food For All was one of the programs selected at our June annual meeting as a congregational response to our local area's needs. Food distribution is provided to anyone who registers at the Presbyterian Church in St. James. No applications are necessary. The program supports a large number of elderly and families who come from a wide geographic area. Members of the Coming of Age class and their mentors are participating in this service project. Anyone else who would like to join us is more than welcome. We will meet at church at 7:30 A.M. and carpool to St. James. We will finish around 11:00 A.M. Any questions - contact Jeanie or Darrell Hinsman, 507-359-7494.


At its November 20 meeting, the Nora Church Board of Trustees voted to set aside the undesignated cash from the collection on the second Sunday of the month to be donated to the Food For All program in St. James, one of the areas the congregation voted as a Social Justice area of focus.

In other business, it was reported that the new chandeliers for the sanctuary had been shipped and should be received soon. New fans with reversible blade direction have been purchased and will be installed at the same time as the lights.

The board plans to develop a loose-leaf notebook containing various policies and job descriptions for staff, board members and committees. It would also cover policies for use of the church facilities and other issues that have been developed over the years.

Santa in his sleigh


Jerry and I spent four days with the minister and his family in Szentmihaly, where they live. We attended the Thanksgiving Sunday service in Benced, which was interesting because it is one of three times a year they have communion, which we had not experienced before! It was quite nice, and had nothing to do with transubstantiation or anything - just a way of sharing as a community. Unfortunately, because of the flood devastation and the almost complete loss of crops and gardens of everyone, they decided not to have the usual community Thanksgiving dinner.

Benced itself was not much affected by the flooding which was on the Nyikos River. Szentmihaly had quite a bit of damage. The minister and his wife had purchased a home for retirement which was in the next village, Kobatfalva, but the flood did such severe damage to the house that it will almost surely have to be razed.

We gave the $500 Nora sent to the church president and board in Benced, and then $400 of our own money to the minister to use for his rebuilding, or any other more urgent purpose. All was greatly appreciated. There will be great need this year.

I hope some folks from Nora can visit there sometime. It would be great if a group could go next summer and help rebuild the minister's retirement home. Working together with the people is the best way to get to know one another.

---- Sarah Oelberg

candle with a snowy background


During the month of December we will be looking at and discussing items from the most recent issue of the UU World Magazine.

December 4:   “The Sacred in Images,” written by former Nora minister Harold Babcock
December 11:   “Katrina's Aftermath,” by Michelle Bates Deakin
December 18:   “Ebenezer Scrooge's Conversion,” by Michael Timko

Movie Night
Movie night this month will be on Friday, December 2. We will be screening the movie "Scrooged", a modern retelling of the Charles Dickens story “A Christmas Carol” with a decidedly more comedic tone, although the central theme of the story remains unchanged. The movie starts at 7:00 P.M. in the Iverson Room. Feel free to bring a snack to share.


THANK YOU to the COA youth and their families for providing treats and serving coffee on November 13.

December 4:   Read through for the Winter Service. We’ll meet at 9:30 today for the read through.
December 11:   Children’s Winter Service. Please be at church by 10:00 today.
December 18:   No Sunday School today.

December 10:   COA youth, mentors and others will be working at Food For All in St James.
Please see the Social Justice article in this Mere Lys or contact Jeanie Hinsman for more details.
December14:   RE Wednesday at 6:30 P.M.
We will be packing boxes for our members who find it difficult to attend church.
COA class will meet at 6:30.

* Sunday School is from 9:30 -10:15.
* We will have Sunday School after RE Wednesdays. This is a change from last year. Each month, except September and January there is at least one Sunday off. In order to cover the materials we’d like to cover this year the RE Committee decided to have Sunday School after RE Wednesdays.

The Children's Winter service will be Sunday, December 11. The title is “A Holiday Pageant”. There will be parts for all of the children, COA’ers, Tweeners, Juniors and preschoolers/toddlers. We will run through the script with props on Sunday, December 4 for Sunday School. COA’ers should plan on attending Sunday School on the 4th , if possible. Please arrive at church by 10:00 A.M. on Sunday, December 11 so we will be ready by 10:30.

The Mankato Fellowship will be offering an OWLS (Our Whole Lives) course for children in grades 4-6 beginning in February 2006. They have extended an invitation for our youth to join them. The Mankato Fellowship has four people trained as OWL teachers. It will be an eight week course that will run 12:00-1:00 P.M. on Sundays. There will be a parental information session on Sunday, January 15 at noon at their church, 937 Charles Ave., Mankato. If there is enough interest and participants from Nora, they will consider doing some classes in Hanska.

Letters explaining the program have been sent to parents of children in grades 4-6. If you are interested in having your child(ren) participate, please let Anne know by December 25. UUFM needs to know how many children from Nora will be participating by January 2, 2006. We can work out shared travel arrangements.

The nursery is now open for infants/toddlers /preschoolers and their parents during services now. Please feel free to use it as you need.

We would like the children from the Juniors and Tweeners class to join us during church, however recognize
that between Sunday School and church it may be a long time for the children to sit. If families are feeling the church service is too long for the younger children (Juniors and Tweeners) to sit through, they may feel free to let their children leave after the children’s story. There will an age appropriate video downstairs for them to view until the end of the service. If the weather is nice, they may also play outside. Several of the children have chosen to play outside and that has worked well. We ask that the elementary school children not use the nursery as it is a tiny space designed for the youngest children. Thank you for your assistance.

* 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.

christmas tree bubble lights


Lee Schmitt’s new address is:

1st Sgt Lee Schmitt Battery B 125 THFA (Strike)
Bldg 2490 25th Street
Camp Shelby, MS 39407-1000

Alon Chambard will be having artery repair done at Mayo on Tuesday, November 29.

Bryan Becken is having health problems and we wish him the best in his therapy.


The Lunch Bunch will be gathering on Wednesday, December 21 at 11:30 A.M. at Three Sisters Tea Room, 208 N. Minnesota Street, New Ulm. All are invited and bring a friend! We also welcome any ideas you have on places to meet in the months ahead!


Our Norwegian Baking School on November 12 was full of fun and good fellowship! We made lefse, flat bread, and krumkake, and everyone who participated took home some of the goodies. For the number of people who wished to attend but couldn’t, we’ll be planning another baking day in the near future.



Newsletter articles for the January Mere Lys will be due by Sunday, December 18. If this is not possible, please let me know. You can send articles to my new email address:; my mailing address: 15045 185th Ave., Hanska, MN 56041; or you can call me at 507-469-8912. Thanks! -Nita Gilbert





We will be having a cookie exchange on December 11! For every dozen cookies you bring, you can take home a dozen cookies of another sort. We ask that you also include at least one dozen cookies for the goodie baskets which will be given to shut-ins.

The goodie baskets for shut-ins will be packed at the church on Wednesday, December 14. Anything you would like to contribute to the baskets – especially homemade goodies – would be appreciated and should be brought to the church by Sunday, December 11. If you know of someone you think should receive a basket, please let Janet Rosenbloom or Carol Chambard know the name of the individual.



For Christmas Eve, the Nora Choir will be leading our traditional closing hymn “Silent Night” in four-part harmony. I hereby invite and challenge all enthused voices to sing one of the voice parts other than the melody line, be it alto, tenor or bass. You may also just want to acquaint yourself again with all the verses, as holding a candle and the words to the song can be tricky. You can obtain a copy of “Silent Night” at the front door of the church. And you are more than welcome to come to the Nora Choir Christmas Eve rehearsals, which will be every Sunday at 9 A.M. until December 24. The more the merrier!!!


The United Way of New Ulm has released its 2004-2005 Community Assessment. This assessment of community strengths and weaknesses is the result of almost two years of work on the part of the United Way Board and a variety of community members who provided input.

The assessment includes results from surveys given to community leaders and a random sampling of households within the community as well as focus groups representing the perspectives of all age groups and a variety of family types. Community, state and local data are also a part of the assessment and provide validation of the other information obtained.

The United Way of New Ulm decided to complete this assessment as part of an enhanced mission of the organization, which includes continuing to support local agencies AND collaborating with community partners to look for solutions to some of the bigger issues facing the community.

The report itself details the major strengths of our community and our quality of life, as well as providing details on community perspectives on 11 different issue areas. These issue areas include the following: income levels and poverty, social issues, education, drug and alcohol abuse, crime and safety, mental health, the environment, unemployment and underemployment, health and domestic abuse.

United Way Board members will be speaking to various groups within the community about these results and sharing some next steps we can take to collaborate to develop solutions that might address one or more of the issues identified in this assessment. Anyone who represents a group or organization who would like to have a presentation regarding the assessment, or any group who would like a copy of this assessment should call the United Way office at 507-354-6512.


The mission of the UU United Nations Office is to promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all, as reflected in the United Nations Charter. Through targeted education advocacy and outreach, we engage Unitarian Universalists in support of international cooperation and the work of the UN. Its goals include promoting sustainable development as a means to achieve peace, security and human rights and encouraging reform of the UN that enhances the effectiveness of the organization.

One focus of the UN UNO is the Every Child is Our Child program which was born from the knowledge that education effectively curbs the spread of AIDS and can ensure the future of those left behind. According to the UN, 2,000 AIDS orphans and vulnerable children line in the Manya Krobo district of eastern Ghana, waiting their chance to go to school. Many are cared for by a committed group of local women who work with private and public institutions to break the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Through education, they have lowered the local HIV infection rate from 18% to 7%.

Through Every Child is Our Child, the UU UN Office will fund each child’s school fees and basic health insurance for the whole foster family. We will also help launch a community mentoring program. Our members will directly contribute to the UN Millennium Development Goals of achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, and combating HIV/AIDS. This program provides real life opportunities to practice UU spiritual principles. A $60 donation provides a year’s education for a child. Donations can be sent to UU United Nations Offices, 777 UN Plaza Suite 7G, New York, NY 10017 or on- line at

christmas tree on a snowy night

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