Monthly Archives: January 2011

Celebrating Rev. Richard Kozelka

A memorial service was held at First Church last May for Rev. Richard Kozelka, who served First Church  from 1974-1991.  Below, we are sharing the text of that service, as collected by Dick’s wife, Kathy Kolb.

Tim Harlow of the Star Tribune wrote: “The Rev. Richard Kozelka will be remembered at First Congregational Church in Minneapolis … for transforming the church near the University of Minnesota into a congregation that welcomes people of all races, cultures and sexual orientations.”





First Congregational Church, Minneapolis

May 21, 2010


Reverend Jane McBride

Grace and peace to you, sisters and brothers in Christ.

On behalf of myself and all the staff and members of First Church, it is a joy and privilege to welcome you here. We are glad to share with you this day of remembering and giving thanks for the life of Rev. Richard Kozelka.

I am inspired by Dick’s witness and work in this place, by his voice that so boldly proclaimed the Gospel of justice, peace and inclusivity. I am grounded by the values he embraced, and which continue to shape the life of this congregation so integrally. It is an honor for me to serve this community of faith knowing that I stand in the strength and integrity of Dick’s legacy.

I am grateful for this opportunity to come to know Dick more fully today, through the eyes of his beloved community of family and friends, colleagues, and those he served in ministry over so many years.

Read more »

Day of Engagement Photos

Thank you to everyone who participated and helped make this day happen!


Confirmation retreat thoughts

First of all:  in order to see the photos in my previous post, please email me at & request the password.

We had a wonderful time on retreat with the confirmation class to the ARC Retreat Center, a residential spiritual community in central Minnesota’s pine woods.   Carl, Jane, and I were all proud of our students’ interest in and openness toward communal living.  The resident staff were impressed as well.  Together, we:

– helped prepare our yummy meals in the kitchen

– watched and discussed the classic coming-of-age movie Stand By Me

– helped ARC staff move wood for the furnace that heats the lodge

– shared a Bible study on Genesis 32:22-32

– participated in 10- and 20-minute silent prayer (!)

– played games in the snow

– shared worship and Communion together

Here are some of the students’ reactions to the experience:

I am hard pressed to think of the thing that I like most about ARC, but I think my favorite aspect is the fact that the whole place is heated by water.

The thing I liked most here is the kitty, Joey, that lives in the wood place.

At ARC, I had fun and a great time.

I liked how everyone here is always really nice and it’s really cozy.

I loved how everyone participated in everything.  The sense of community and equality was great.

I had a marvelous time.  We played many fun games and also learned about ourselves and our faith.  Given the opportunity, I would come back to ARC in a heartbeat.  It was great to take a break from the world and relax.  I think I’m speaking for everyone when I say I can’t wait to come back!


It was so fun.  I want to come every month.

Wow!  Good stuff.  Thanks, everyone, for a lovely time together.



Protected: Confirmation retreat photos!

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

The Word

Warning:  this article from CNN will probably raise your blood pressure.  It reports on the Westboro Baptist Church’s announcement that it will picket the funeral of Christina Green, the 9-year-old who was among six people killed during Saturday’s attempted assassination of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

By now, it shouldn’t surprise us that Fred Phelps’ notorious group would insert itself into this most terrible tragedy.  They’ve already made their mark at countless funerals for military officers and people who died from AIDS.  As always, they claim that these losses of life are a punishment from God for our country’s “tolerance of homosexuality.”  In their statement re: the Arizona shootings, they proclaim, “God sent the shooter! Praise God for ALL his works, and BE YE THANKFUL!”

I do think that God’s Spirit is at work in Westboro Baptist Church—but not even remotely in the way they assume.  God’s Spirit manifests in the outraged but non-violent response that almost always greets them—for communities rarely abide their presence.  From Angel Action to Hell’s Angels biker gangs, many concerned citizens show up to contain and peacefully overwhelm Westboro’s hateful message.  And I am indeed thankful.

There has been a lot of talk lately around the vitriolic political discourse in this country.  Do words have consequences?  Yes.  One need only consider the actions of the Westboro church, and virtually everyone’s profound disgust with them.  Words are so very powerful.  And when words are used hatefully, it’s like a terrible perversion of the  prologue of John’s Gospel, which celebrates the Word made flesh.

I pray that our country finds a way to embody the word of peace.

Angel Action in action in Laramie, WY.

1/9/11: The Choir puts on its annual Better-Than-Average Pancake Breakfast!


Thanks for the yummy  food!  It was a great turnout.

Breaking the Surface

Baptism of Jesus by He Qi

1/9/11 Baptism of Jesus/ First Sunday After Epiphany; Matthew 3: 13-17

Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC

“May you find the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep need meet.” Each confirmation student held the bowl of water, and traced the sign of the cross on forehead or hand, as, together, we said spoke this blessing based on the words of Frederick Buechner. Our deep gladness. The world’s deep need. It is an intersection, a cross. The center of this intersection is purpose, call, vocation. That day in class, we read biblical call stories, shared dream careers, chewed over the idea that sometimes vocation is not the same thing as our work and that our sense of call may change in the course of our lives.

Read more »

Sermon 1/2/2011: “Seeing the Light”

“Seeing the Light”

Early Christian art depicting the Magi.

a sermon preached by the Rev. Abigail G. Henderson at First Congregational Church of Minnesota, UCC, on Jan. 2, 2011.

Isaiah 60:1-6 (NRSV); Matthew 2:1-12 (NRSV); John 1:1-18 (The Inclusive Bible)

Read more »