Nora Unitarian Universalist Church - Hanska, Mn

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May flowers

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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

May, 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

May 7: “Deputizing the Posse”
Don, with the help of members of our Membership Committee, will lead us in a look at what is being called “radical hospitality”. How do we greet and minister to our visitors? And why does it matter?

May 14: “The Pagans are Coming! The Pagans are Coming!”
Most UUs know a thing or two about earth-centered religion as part of our denomination’s diversity. Let’s take some time to get more familiar with that strain of our tradition.

May 21: “Syttende Mai Sunday”
Come attend the community service in the park (in Hanska) during the Syttende Mai celebration. Pastor Marcia Hegna will lead the 10:30 service.

May 28: “Heroes”
This service will explore the role of the hero on the spiritual journey. Come prepared to name and tell us about some of the heroes whose bodies are no longer here, but who have made your journey richer.

Our baptismal fount is featured on the Norwegian Unitarian Website!

View From The Hill

Rev. Don Rollins

May is a strange time to talk about death. Life is in full-bloom here on the hill, returning to these grounds a green carpet that even those of us with allergies are glad to see! But, as many of you know, my brother-in-law, George, died just two weeks ago, and although it was truly a sacred process I’ve returned to Minnesota with a bit of a mission: to address death and dying more openly and more often.

Picture this. My sister has elected to let George die at home. Our various family members are coping in various ways. The children still play but are not quite the screaming banshees I’ve come to expect. The adolescents’ eyes are buried in laptops and Gameboys; gone is their usual combative banter with one another. Parents talk and worry and sleep in alternating shifts. Elders hover. We are, one and all, coping and preparing.

There are occasional bursts of acting out, many involving yours truly, for one of my ways of coping with stress is to goof-off. Take for example my bets with my great nephews: How many bananas can you get in your mouth but not swallow? If I can combine any edible substances from the pantry, stir them together and put them in an eight-ounce glass, will you drink it for fifteen dollars? And, borrowing from a stunt I paid two of our Nora youth to perform, how many tangerines – peel intact – can you eat?

We all cope with death and dying. We have to. It’s the price we pay for living.

Churches are uniquely positioned to make the coping a little easier, just by keeping copies of important instructions and documents. I’m putting together a standard set of forms that you can complete: living will, power-of-attorney, obituary information, next-of-kin, organ donation, the body, etc. Nora Church can, and should, be a source of support at every stage of your life, including death. By keeping copies of your end-of-life wishes, we can also support those you leave behind.

So, it’s a rather maudlin column for May, I admit. But if it gets you thinking about the practical concerns of death, I think it’s worth it.

Now, for the record, how many cookies can you get in your mouth at one time?

    -- Don

Don’s Schedule

Don continues to take Mondays as his day-off and Fridays for sermon writing. He’ll be in Ohio from May 19-23 but will be checking messages. Feel free to call or email anytime, but allow for delays on Mondays, Fridays and out-of-town days. In an emergency, call Don at (507) 276-8464.

Minister’s Discretionary Fund

The Minister’s Discretionary Fund is designed to offer one-time assistance in legitimate need situations: utility bills, emergency travel, motel room or food. Your contributions are welcome and tax deductible. Just write “Minister’s Discretionary Fund” in the memo line. Thank you!


Social Justice Committee

Nora Church Members Think Globally & Act Locally!

We make a difference, but how? The completed questionnaires from the Feb. Social Justice service reveal answers. The results are helping us to better understand how we individually and collectively define Social Justice action.

In answer to the question “How do we help/serve?” In a phrase…we make a difference through People to People Connections!

We touch the lives of a wide range of age groups.....Girl Scouts; ..........educating our youth;.......... working with and knowing Seniors through- visits to nursing homes- giving rides- staying in touch by writing letters.

We are improving the lives of folks with disabilities..... knowing these individuals as “people” first rather than by their disability label.

  • We are hiring and valuing those who are disenfranchised.
  • We are providing affordable low cost housing and rides!
  • We are including people with disabilities in social groups.

Many of us are paying attention to our environment, through “reducing, reusing, recycling”. One of our members quotes Ghandi who said “live simply so others can simply live”.

We engage in politics, citizens who live out the spirit of our democracy through letter writing, convention and caucus attendance, voting, raising awareness through the League of Women Voters.

We are joiners! We give money and time belonging to organizations that make a difference. Through national and local memberships like United Way, U.U.A. Social Justice, ARC, NOW, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Food Shelf, Brown County Public Health Board, Red Cross, veterans groups. We often times lead these groups.

All of this is topped off by Nora's active support for the Children of Iraq fundraiser, Food for All contributions, as well as supporting our friends in our Sister Church of Benced, Transylvania. Reverend Rollins has challenged us to be champions of “community, freedom and justice”.

From the February service, we as social justice committee members, hope that the reflecting, writing and sharing exercise will bring satisfaction and challenge. The satisfaction of knowing we are making a difference and the challenge of creating a brighter future filled with real life social justice both locally and globally.

Next month we will report on planning efforts underway for next year.

Second Sunday Offering

Just a reminder that the loose offering (cash and change) on each second Sunday of each month will be donated to Food for All, St. James. Thank you for your extra contributions that help feed hungry people.

Money Matters

The Board of Trustees is working on a proposed budget and plans to present it at a brief congregational meeting following the service on May 14. With our commitment to a full-time minister, the rising cost of fuel, and increased church programs to spread our message and attract new members, the Board is asking you to increase pledges again this year. Please return your pledge cards by the middle of May so we have an idea of our financial outlook before the Annual Meeting on June 11. If you have not received a pledge letter and card and wish to contribute, you may contact our treasurer Sally Hanson, 1622 Northridge Lane, North Mankato, MN 56003. Your support is vital and greatly appreciated. (As you consider your pledge for the upcoming church year, please don’t forget to complete your FY 2005-6 pledge.)

Syttende Mai

Norwegian flag Nora Church again will serve Syttende Mai dinners on Thursday, May 18 at 5:30 p.m. and Friday, May 19 at 4:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. We will be making meatballs and setting tables on Wednesday, May 17, starting at 9 a.m. Carol Chambard and Janet Rosenbloom will be lining up workers for this event which celebrates Hanska’s Norwegian heritage. Please note that the dinners are open to the public, so if you would like to join us, you can call Carol Chambard at 354-2242 to make a reservation.

Nora Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting will be Sunday, June 11 following the service. Board of Trustees members will be elected, the budget passed, and any by-law proposals considered. Committee heads are asked to prepare year-end reports for the Annual Report before the end of May.


To Keep In Touch

Julie Sellner is recuperating from surgery. We wish her a speedy recovery.

Lee Schmitt’s new address over in Iraq is as follows:
1st Sgt Lee Schmitt, B/1/125 Strike, CSC Scania, APO AE 09331
We keep him in our thoughts.

Shirley Olson’s granddaughter Billie Jo Christie was married to Isaac Young on April 22 in St. Charles. She is the daughter of Shirley’s son Bruce and his wife Susan. The couple is residing in Rochester.

Muriel Thordson has been hospitalized recently. We hope she gets back on her feet soon.

Liz Reedy will be graduating from New Ulm Public High School on May 26.

Noah and Janet Rosenbloom’s grandson Ben Peters is graduating from high school in New Hampshire. He is the son of Sara Rosenbloom and Greg Peters.

Condolences to Rev. Don Rollins and his family on the death of his brother-in-law George Davis.

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


James R. Graham

James R. Graham, 79, of Sacramento, California, died March 21, 2006 at a Sacramento hospital following a ten year struggle with emphysema.

Graham was born in 1926 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He enlisted in the Marines when only 18 years old and took part in the invasion of Iwo Jima in February 1945, where he survived multiple wounds. After his military service he returned to Minnesota and graduated from the Minnesota Business College. He married Helen Schmiesing of Hanska, Minnesota in May 1951 at the Nora Unitarian Universalist Church in Hanska, Minnesota.

After marriage, Graham worked as a stock analyst for the Wisconsin State Pension Fund for several years. In 1968, he joined the California Public Employees Retirement System as its first Stock Trader. He worked in that capacity for the next twenty years, watching it grow to the nation’s largest pension fund. Graham retired in 1988.

Graham is survived by his wife Helen; sons John (wife Phyllis); of Pioneer, CA; Jack of Roseville, CA; daughter, Jodi of Alder, Montana, and a foster son, Dan Lombard, (wife De Ette) of Platte City, MO.

A Memorial Service for James Graham will be held in Sacramento, California.

Helen Graham’s address is Chateau #210, 2701 Capitol Avenue, Sacramento, CA 95816


Come join our own RE youth and Coming of Age class and be a part of the New Ulm CROP Walk this year on Wednesday, May 10. Help raise funds in support of hungry people around the world.

Registration is from 5-6:30 p.m. at German Park. The Walk will follow the bike path and will be about 5 miles. A supper of hot dogs, chips, and refreshments will be served prior to the walk.

From the UU Service Committee

Please thank the members of your congregation for supporting the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee with the Guest at Your Table gifts of $518.79, which we received on March 27, 2006.

Since 1939, supporters like you have helped UUSC become a leading voice in advancing human rights worldwide. We pledge to honor your commitment to us through our efforts to defend the human right to water, to abolish U.S.-sponsored torture, to ensure workers’ rights, and to preserve the rights of vulnerable people after disasters.

You can learn more about our work, our courageous program partners, and ways you can become involved in the struggle for human rights at

Thank you again for your generous contribution to our work promoting human rights and social justice. Your support will make a real difference in the lives of people in the United States and around the world.

- Charlie Clements, President and CEO, UUSC

Religious Education

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU. Your generosity is endless and amazing. The Easter Breakfast was a great success. We earned $250 for youth service projects, and will follow the lead of the Social Justice Committee for our service projects for the coming year. Special thanks to the following people: Janet Johnson for making coffee, getting the syrup and butter ready; Wayne Johnson for all of his running; Shirley Olson for her applesauce and helping get ready; Anne Makepeace and Kristi Bodick for making the eggs; Julie Peck and John Makepeace for making the pancakes; Joy Rathman for stepping in when needed; Warren, Kristine, and Kristy Paulson, Darrel Hinsman, Kristi Bodick, and Julie and Ron Peck for clean up. Thank you to all of you who donated food or money for the breakfast. Thank you to the kids who helped set tables, prepare eggs and pancakes, served the food, served the beverages and helped clean up. Your involvement with and commitment to Nora Church and her youth is overwhelming. Thank you so much.

May 7:   Discuss end of the year service and end of the year activity.
May 14:   Practice for the end of the year service.
May 21:   No Sunday School, enjoy Syttende Mai.
May 28:   No Sunday School, Memorial Day weekend.

May 10:   RE Wednesday and COA class will participate in the CROP Walk in New Ulm.
We’ll meet at German Park at 5:00 p.m.
May 24::   COA class will meet at 6:30 p.m.
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 & we’ll decide what we want to do.

Parents and teachers, if you haven’t already, please complete the evaluation you received and turn it in to Anne, Jeanie or Julie Sellner. Your feedback is extremely important for our future planning. If you happened 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 be an age appropriate video downstairs for them to view until the end of the service. When the weather is nice, the children can also go outside to play after the children’s story. 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.

Lunch Bunch

The Galloping Gourmets travel to Essig

Carl’s Corner

Wednesday, May 10
11:30 a.m.

(Note the date change to avoid conflict with Syttende Mai.)

UUA General Assembly 2006
“Toward Right Relations”

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.

Nyiko Valley Transylvania
Work Trip

We still have space available for the Nyiko Valley trip – particularly in the 2nd session July 15-25. If you have been thinking of coming to Transylvania this summer to help with the recovery effort in the Unitarian villages of the Nyiko Valley we have extended the registration deadline until the 15th of May. Please visit the Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council website at Click on trips & tours where you can view the detailed itinerary and download the registration materials.

Should you have specific questions or concerns that I might address you can email me directly at

-John Dale
UUPCC Pilgrimage Committee


Virgil and Arline Schmiesing

- Arline and Virgil Schmiesing -

Arline and Virgil Schmiesing have been married 62 years and raised nine children on the farm west of Hanska. They have nineteen grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Virgil was a dairy farmer for forty years, and the family was active in 4-H, scouting, church, and school, going on to higher education and college degrees. Arline remembers taking part in the 50-year jubilee of Nora Church in 1931 with her great-grandfather, Anton O. Ouren. Her hobby has been family, church and Hanska history. She wrote for the Hanska Herald for many years, and wrote most of the history for the Nora Centennial book. In 1984 her brother, Dennis Blomquist presented Arline’s “Ouren Odyssey” and the Nora Centennial book to the Toten Museum in Norway. Arline and friend, Ardelle Becken, were curators of the Jorgenson Museum for 15 years, revamping it for the centennial. Virgil’s hobby has been woodworking in Hanska’s native walnut, ash, and cedar. Many are the gifts his family has enjoyed, and he made benches and picture frames for Nora Church.

Arline and Virgil are grateful to Nora Church for their help in the Hannah Bauer fund, and Sarah’s concern at tornado time. They are now retired and living in their home in Hanska, and Virgil says, “we still love each other.”

Nina and Melvin Mikkelson

- Nina and Melvin Mikkelson -

Nina and Melvin Mikkelson live on a farm northeast of Madelia. They celebrated their 65 years of marriage on December 15th of last year. They have four children, two sons and two daughters. They also have 3 grandsons, 2 granddaughters and 2 great-granddaughters.

Nina was born on a farm in Linden Township. She helped with the farm work as she was growing up. She attended country school, the Hanska school, and then graduated from New Ulm High School.

Melvin also was born on a farm north of Madelia. He worked on the farm and attended a country school. Melvin met Nina at social events they both attended in Hanska.

Over the years they both worked at the Tony Down’s Food Plant in Madelia. Nina enjoyed doing embroidery and Melvin has always liked working in the garden. They both enjoy watching TV in the evening.

Nina is a lifelong member of Nora and Melvin joined after their marriage. They have been very good supporters of the church. Nina was active in the Nora Women’s Society. They enjoy receiving copies of the sermons. They both have fond memories of many weddings and Smorgasbords at Nora.

Thank you Arline, Virgil, Nina and Melvin for your many years of service at Nora!

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