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

April, 2006
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- Sunday Schedule -
Adult Discussion Group: 9:00 A.M.
Choir Rehearsal: 9:00 A.M.
Social Hour: 10:00 A.M.     Worship Service: 10:30 A.M.

- Sunday Services -


Nora Church in the spring

April 2: “Mission, Music & Money”
Regulars to the annual Worthington service might recognize this sermon from last August, but be assured it’s been updated for the beginning of our annual pledge drive.

Noah Rosenbloom

April 9: “Is the Death Penalty Ever Appropriate?”
-- Noah Rosenbloom

April 16: “Resurrection: The Ultimate Metaphor”
One need not subscribe to a literal reading of Jesus’ death and resurrection to draw from the old story. Truth be told, we ought to experience death and resurrection on a regular basis!

April 23: Questions:
Don will build a service around your questions.

(See his column, “View From the Hill”)
Please submit them no later than Thursday, April 20.

April 30: Clean-Up Sunday
Come and help take care of Nora Church and her grounds!

Check out the new link that was added on the Links page!
It is a link to the Unitarian Historical Society of Norway's web page that features a very interesting article about Kristofer Janson.

View From The Hill

Rev. Don Rollins

Two things are on mind this month, the first of which is our annual pledge drive - something that some ministers (and some parishioners) dread like Minnesota mosquitoes. True, we’ve all seen coiffed televangelists with pinky rings and expensive suits, begging for dollars. We’ve all been fleeced by rosy-cheeked children, peeling off a few bucks for a field trip to the Recycled Inner Tube Museum or some such thing. And God knows that even our beloved PBS and NPR can be accused of some fairly goofy approaches to raising money, so we ought to be excused if at first blush we lump Nora’s pledge drive with all the others.

But I am without shame in saying that Nora Church deserves a better fate than being ranked with those other appeals for your money. This church on a hill is the only voice in Brown County for authentic religious freedom. It is the one place where you can worship sitting beside an atheist one week, a Christian the next and a full-blown mystic the next. It is one of the few congregations in these parts that tells its children they are precious gifts from the very Hand of Life, not original sinners in the hands of an angry God. It is a place that is taking ever more seriously its potential for making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people at home and abroad. And it’s a place where even the grownups have fun.

So, I state the obvious when I say that it takes money to maintain, let alone expand our shared ministry. I’m hoping that it’s equally obvious to you that Nora Church is worthy of your best level of support. Thanks in advance for reaching deep!

Secondly, I’m inviting you to take part in a “question” sermon for April 23. Although I’ve avoided this type of service like Jerry Falwell avoids ACLU meetings, I want to give it a shot. Simply write, email or call me with a question or two you’d like to have me address. Colleagues who’ve done this indicate that it’s not just a way to fill a Sunday; it’s a chance for real dialogue in real time.

So, think about the areas of spirituality, UUism, religion and politics, Nora Church, etc., and submit a question or two. (I’ll consider anonymous questions, too.) Please get them to me no later than Thursday, April 20. Let’s try something new, together. Thanks in advance for doing your part.

    -- Don



Local events from the Social Justice committee: Food for All (the project centered in St. James that provides a meal as well as other food, clothing items to those in need ) was again supported by members of our congregation including youth from our Coming of Age group, with March 11th being our most recent opportunity. We have decided to make a commitment to make the 2nd Saturday morning of every 3rd month Nora's opportunity to offer our “people power” in order for that event to take place. We are very thankful for those of you who took the time on March 11 to distribute the meal to those in need. We continue to have our eyes opened as young, elderly, poor, others of minority status find nourishment at this gathering. We'll be sure and give you a “heads up” on the upcoming dates we've committed to as they get closer.

May 10th is the upcoming date set aside for Crop Walk, held in New Ulm. This will be the RE Wednesday activity for May. Watch for more info in the upcoming newsletter.


Ardelle Becken scared us all at church this past month when she was taken to the hospital by ambulance just before the service. She’s doing O.K. now, back home and resting, and doctors are in the process of finding out what is going on. Our thoughts are with her!

If you know of anyone needing our assistance or attention please call one of the following Caring Committee members:
        Georgine Tepley (chair) 359-3060 (weekdays after 5 pm)
        Shirley Olson 439-6879
        Carol Chambard 354-2242
THANK YOU! - Caring Committee


The Membership Committee has designated April 2 as “Bring a Friend” Sunday. (Also, Potluck Sunday!) This is your chance to share why you are a member of Nora Church and a welcoming opportunity for people you know to experience that in person. Let’s get the word out why we’re here!


With budget time looming, the Board of Trustees is asking committees to prepare budget requests for FY 2006-7. The Board would like to have the figures by April 2. This is a good time for committees to assess their year and discuss how they can be more effective.


Pledge drive time is upon us, and Finance Committee members will be meeting soon to decide on the format and prepare fund-drive letters. The Finance Committee could use more members, so volunteers are welcome. Contact Sally Hanson or Janet Rosenbloom.

This past month, I have heard from a number of you on whether you would prefer the Mere Lys via email or snail mail. Thank you for your responses! But, I still need to hear from approximately 200 more!

The hours of time I would save by emailing the newsletter I could use in others ways for Nora. Of course, I realize that not everyone has an email account, but if enough of you prefer the email route, then we’d most likely save money on postage, and certainly on paper and copying costs. I want to check this out, but I need your help to do it! Please let me hear from you.

Send a note or email on how you’d like to receive the Mere Lys:


Nita Gilbert
Office Administrator
Nora Church
12333 155th Ave.
Hanska, MN 56041


April 2:   A Lamp in Every Corner - “Merger of the UU’s.”
Teachers: Juniors - Joy Rathman; Tweeners - Sheldon Rieke
April 9:   A Lamp in Every Corner - “Water Ritual.”
Teachers: Juniors - Chrissie Schmitt; Tweeners – Laurie Kunerth
April 16:   Easter Morning Breakfast.
Anne will be asking for help and contributions at the first two April services.
April 23:   A Lamp in Every Corner - “Flower Communion”
Teachers: Juniors – Shannon Wiess; Tweeners – Kristi Bodick
April 30:   Clean-Up Sunday - come and help take care of Nora Church and her grounds.

We are working on finding a Saturday for the COA youth to visit a synagogue and work in a soup kitchen/shelter sometime in April. Families will be contacted once arrangements have been made.

April 12:   6:30 RE Wednesday. Color eggs for Easter morning and develop an original song with Don for the end of the year service. COA class.
April 26:   6:30 COA class.

In May, we’d like to have the kids participate in the CROP Walk. More details to come.

June 4:   End of the year service. We will honor and recognize the Coming of Age youth at this time.
The younger kids will also take an active part in the service. Please plan on attending.
June 11:   End of the year activity. Anne will visit with the kids about this.


  • Parents and teachers you will be receiving an evaluation form for the RE program for this past year from Anne. Please complete the evaluation and turn it in to Anne, Jeanie or Julie Sellner. Your feedback is extremely important for our future planning. If you happen to misplace your evaluation form, copies will be available every Sunday during April.
  • Sunday School teachers - Anne will be contacting you about getting together in June to brainstorm and plan for next year.

Do you have oodles of ideas to share with others? Are you interested in children? Do you like to have an impact on others? Do you like to have a say in what is happening with the kids at Nora Church? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then we’d like you to consider joining the RE committee. The RE committee is responsible for planning and implementing the children’s religious education program for Nora Church. We meet once a month or once every other month depending upon need. Please talk with Anne, Julie Sellner, Jeanie or Don if you are interested.

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. 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.

Second Sunday Offerings

On the second Sunday of each month the “loose” money will be donated to FoodForAll, our designated agency for addressing local hunger. (The Social Justice Committee suggested this approach, and the Board approved it.) The Second Sunday offering will apply to cash and change only, although checks may be designated to FoodForAll by writing “Food For All” in the memo line. Thank you for your gifts to those who need them most!

CANU Coffeehouse
Friday, April 14
8:00 PM
Rhein River Arts Center
210 Minnesota St., New Ulm

Come listen to local talent share their poetry, stories and music. Come share your own!
Entrance fee $5 ($3 for CANU members), free for participants.

Lunch Bunch
Wednesday, April 19
11:30 AM

221 N. Minnesota
New Ullm

New Ulm Food Shelf

A Reminder:

Please help fill our plastic tub in the entryway with non-perishable food items.
Once filled it is given to the New Ulm Food Shelf for those in need. This will be an on-going project.

PSD Annual Conference
“Giving Life the Shape of Justice”

The 2006 Prairie Star District Annual Conference is coming up. Come join UUs from across eight states! This year the conference will be held April 28-30 and will be hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Society of Iowa City, Iowa. Registration packets are available at Nora Church or you can go on-line at:

UUA General Assembly 2006
“Toward Right Relations”

June 21 – 25
St. Louis, Missouri

Visit the UUA Web site for more information and to register!


Celebrate Nora's 125th Anniversary with us on Sunday, August 20! Also keep your calendars clear on November 11 for a night of dancing at the Community Center in Hanska. We are currently updating the Centennial book so if any of you have photos or stories to share, please contact Sheldon Rieke, Chris Bodick, or Joy Rathman.

Kristofer Janson's book to be show on TV Kristofer Janson.

On Sunday, April 23, at 11:30 PM, Turner Classic Movies will show the movie “Parson's Widow” which is based on a novel by Kristofer Janson.

For details go to the Turner Classc Movies site.


Thelma Asleson


Thelma would say she’s lived “a pretty simple life”. She was born on a farm in Lake Hanska Township. In her youth she helped with housework, fieldwork and the raising of livestock. She married Omer Asleson in 1933, and raised three sons and a daughter. They lived on three different farms before moving to the farm where Thelma grew up. Sadly, the farm went down during the tornado of March 1998.

Thelma Asleson receiving her plaque

Thelma is often seen chasing off somewhere in her car. She attempts hardanger, watches TV now and then, and also likes to play cards. Thelma is proud of the fact that she has been a lifelong member of Nora Church. She recalls a weekend event Nora held annually back in the 1930s, where families from all over would come stay on the Hill; the women in a tent and the men up in the barn. They would enjoy a Friday night supper put on by the Nora Evening Alliance (a young women’s group), activities at Lake Hanska Park the next day, the Sunday service, and then breakfast on Monday morning before heading home.

Thelma’s “simple life” is one of quiet dignity, just one of the reasons we’re honoring her this month.

Bob Schmitt


Bob was born in Comfrey and grew up doing farm work. After his youth, he spent a couple of years in the army. He married Janice Haugen, a Hanska and Nora native, in 1952. They had 5 children who have grown up as members of Nora Church. After marrying Janice, he worked as a farm hand. Then after moving to Comfrey, he drove a milk truck for Sanitary Dairy. Bob finished his working days as a custodian at Comfrey Public School for a number of years. He’s known as “Grandpa” to many kids at the school.

Coffee and dice with the men at Goodfellows is a must for Bob as well as watching the kids’ sporting events. In years past, he spent numbers of hours bailing hay and cleaning barns for the many horses his family had. He would bring the kids and their horses to trail rides and horse shows.

Bob Schmitt receiving his plaque

Bob’s favorite moments at Nora have been making coffee for Smorgasbord; Muffy and Jordan playing their duets; and having all his kids and grandchildren in church with him.

Our thanks to Bob for the kindness and humor he has brought to our church for the past five decades.

Al and Dorothy Swanson


Alan Emmett Swanson and Dorothy Juanita Doxey were both born in Minneapolis. Alan was a member of the Lake Harriet Lutheran Church. Dorothy had no church affiliation. Alan and Dorothy were married on May 18, 1946. After graduation from West High School in 1939 and realizing that war was a possibility, Alan joined the Minnesota National Guard. After serving five years in the military, Alan returned to the United States and got his degree from Macalester College in St. Paul. His career was spent teaching in three schools for a total of thirty eight years. Dorothy lived in Farmington after her mother died when she was seven. She graduated from Farmington High School and worked in Minneapolis until she married Alan.

Dorothy and Alan receiving their plague

When Dorothy and Alan lived in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune published a series of articles on religions. One article dealt with Unitarian Universalist churches and their doctrines. They decided that this was what their religious philosophy was to be. In their moving across South Dakota, there was never an opportunity to become involved in Unitarian churches. In Worthington, there was a small Unitarian fellowship. When it disbanded, they began to attend Nora Church in Hanska. They attended some of the 100th anniversary celebration and began to attend on a somewhat regular basis. In 1994, Reverend Sarah Oelberg convinced them to join the church. They have become regulars since that time, weather permitting as 160 miles round trip is a long drive especially in inclement weather.

Dorothy and Al continue to grace us with their presence, wit and tenacity. We’re grateful for their faithful support of Nora Church.

UUs Out For Marriage

Monday, April 3, 2006
7 – 9 PM

UUs Out For Marriage will hold its monthly strategy meeting at First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Avenue South, Minneapolis. All are warmly welcome! Join us in fighting a MN constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

Wednesday evening, April 26th
Celebrate - prepare - and commit to taking action!

Join UUs from around the metro - and around the state! - as we raise up and sharply focus our energies, preparing to bring UU principles, values, and beliefs to the fight against a constitutional amendment that would bar marriage equality for GLBT citizens. Like the Civil Rights leaders of the 60’s - we consciously anchor our activism in our religious community and values. (FFI: Ralph Wyman:; be sure to let us know if you're coming in from greater MN and need a home-stay arrangement.)

Location:   First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Avenue South, Minneapolis
( for directions )
6:00 PM   SERVICE - a brief service of grounding, reflection andinspiration.
6:30 PM:   SHARED MEAL - Pizza party, with veggie trays, desserts, and beverages.
7:00 PM   PROGRAM - Reflection! Singing! Information! Sign-making!
Connecting with UUs from around the state!

Thursday, April 27th
Lobby Day

LOBBY DAY with OutFront Minnesota, UUO4M, Faith Family Fairness, and a broad array of allies!

All are urged to attend the Noon rally! Unitarian Universalists will stand together under our banner: “Civil Marriage is a Civil Right”, on the State Capitol lawn. (Come early, bring a sack lunch and gather at 11am, to meet the UU group under our banner, near the Out Front Minnesota tent).

If you can commit to the whole day, make plans to attend the Lobby Day appointments for your legislative district. Register NOW to be part of a legislative visit with your elected officials:

Training and coaching support is provided - make YOUR voice heard at the legislature!

FFI: -- UUs Out For Marriage

(UUO4M is a working group of Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance - a UU social justice organization;
FFI: Jo Haberman

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