Call for Nominations

The Nominating Committee is asking the congregation for suggestions of members you would like us to consider for the Class of 2025 Elders and Deacons, as well as a one-year youth elder. To suggest a name for consideration, please go to www.oakgrv.org/nominate/

Or, tell us in person or via email! The 2022 Nominating Committee includes Karen Alonzi, Emma Wasko, Jim McCarl, Verona Stoesz, Darlene Throndson, Patty Nail, Mary Crampton, Rod Myers, and Linda Johnson.

Restorative Actions Update

Restorative Actions (Giving1) at Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, May 2022

The conversation around the racial wealth gap started at Oak Grove with a car ride discussion between Jim Koon and Pastor Jermaine, who served at Oak Grove, back in 2017. From that discussion, and many more with many others seeking to do something about the racial wealth gap, the economic justice initiative Restorative Actions was born.

Restorative Actions (https://restorativeactions.org/) is an economic equity initiative born from the intersection of theology, justice, and economics. It allows U.S. Americans who benefit from institutional racism, to provide credible witness for justice by surrendering ill-gotten gains toward the establishment of just relationships with our Afro-American & Indigenous communities.2

The term surrender is foundational to this initiative. It describes the act of transferring wealth and control of that wealth to those that should have been in possession of it had these racial inequities been resolved generations ago. With this surrender, individuals from the respective communities will serve as trustees and make all distribution decisions.

More formal conversations began at Oak Grove in the early part of 2020 during an in person adult faith formation class prior to COVID. Since that first adult faith formation (AFF) class, Restorative Actions has been shared and discussed in a number of forums during the 12+ month discernment process and after the commitment of surrender was made by the session. These forums included:

  • Adult Faith Formation Sessions (multiple sessions)
  • Social Justice Committee Meetings (multiple sessions)
  • Surrender recommendation was sent to Session from Social Justice
  • Finance Committee Meetings (multiple meetings)
  • Session Meetings (multiple meetings)
  • Print Announcements (multiple occasions)
  • Invitation via announcements and during AFF for 1:1 meetings with for Jim Koon and Milissa Carter
  • Invitation to ask questions through an anonymous survey prior to the last two AFF
  • Announcements at beginning of worship (multiple Sundays)
  • Mentioned in Multiple Sermons

Oak Grove is the inaugural congregation to make this commitment of surrender. The Synod of Lakes and Prairies and individuals have also made commitments of surrender. In total, over $900,000 has been committed to this economic justice initiative and the Restorative Actions Core Team continues to engage with congregations and mid-councils that are interested in learning more about what a surrender could mean for them. Oak Grove members Jim Koon and Milissa Carter are part of this Restorative Actions Core Team (https://restorativeactions.org/about-restorative-actions/).

Restorative Actions Updates

Advisory conversations recently finished up for the Afro-American Trusts and the legal documents are in progress. Development of the Indigenous Trusts are in the learning and relationship building stage. The curriculum The Time for Repair was developed in response to Pastors asking, “How can I have a conversation with my parishioners about the theological questions around Reparations?” Oak Grove recently concluded a pilot version of this curriculum.

In February, PC(USA) announced that Restorative Actions will be the GA Opening Worship Offering recipient this year.

https://www.pcusa.org/news/2022/2/15/restorative-actions-recipient-offering-GA225/ https://ga-pcusa.org/offering/

Is Restorative Action the same as Reparations?3

No, they are not the same. The difference between the two is very important. Restorative action is a moral reckoning while reparations is more like a balance sheet of accounts.

Restoration is an effort to bring something closer to what it should have been by rebalancing misalignments, replenishing resources spent, and re-establishing trust. Restorative action is a relatively small and voluntary act by an individual, a family, a congregation, an organization, or an institution to acknowledge white complicity in the extreme wealth disparity that has existed since before this country’s founding under the dubious pretext of establishing what has become the United States as a “New Israel”. 4 Restorative action, therefore, is an unprecedented effort to achieve balance where true equity was never intended.

Reparations, however, is a much larger, systemic act of Congress that involves the whole of the United States aimed at making material amends to Afro-American and Indigenous people as well as legal changes to dismantle laws and policies that continue to sustain institutional racism and oppression.

In a way, you might consider restorative action as the church’s internal yet public witness demonstrating the necessity, feasibility, and righteousness of reparations from the United States for the appropriation of Indigenous lands and subjecting Africans and their U.S. American descendants to chattel slavery, Jim Crow policies, and ongoing institutional racism.

This is just one of a number of theological questions addressed on the Restorative Actions (https://restorativeactions.org/theology/) website plus so much more.

We invite you to explore more about Restorative Actions and Reparations, engage in conversation, and consider how you can personally surrender ill-gotten wealth.

In Gratitude, Social Justice Committee

For more information about:

The racial wealth gap and Reparations, check out the recommended reading from Restorative Actions at: https://restorativeactions.org/learn-more/books-video/

General anti-racism topics, check out the book, podcast, video, and more recommendations at: https://www.oakgrv.org/antiracism-resources/

How to surrender your ill-gotten wealth, go to: https://restorativeactions.org/make-the- commitment/surrender/

1 While Restorative Giving was being discussed at Oak Grove, it was also being discussed with theology and thought leaders in the arena of economic justice. One of the many pieces of feedback received was that the term ‘giving’ is not appropriate when it comes to paying a debt or returning something that shouldn’t have been ours to begin with, and so the new name Restorative Actions was identified.

2 Source: https://restorativeactions.org/

3Source: https://restorativeactions.org/theology/

4 In the essay “The Idea of the Wilderness of the New World in Cotton Mather’s ‘Magnalia Christi Americana,’ George H. Williams provides an informative analysis of Mather’s concept of America as a New Israel. Williams offers that Mather held that “God in His providence was so to arrange human affairs that the Europeans prepared by Him to fill the waste places with would enter the devilish American desert only after literature had been reborn, the art of printing had been acquired, and the religion to be transplanted have been restored to the perfection of its apostolic ‘golden age.’” For Williams, Mather’s interpretation of the American wilderness is “no mere chronicle but a theodicy of the New English Israel renewed, regenerated, and ever ready to face ‘wilderness temptations,’ moving confidently toward a cosmic vindication of the faith.” from Cotton Mather: Magnalia Christi Americana, 49-53., ed. Kenneth B. Murdock.

Afghan Partner Family Update and Other Resettling Families

April brought the holy time of Ramadan for Haroon and Sakina and the girls. This has meant fasting from food and water during the day for grown-ups and extra prayer times. This presents an extra challenge when the dad works 12 hours overnight! The ten or so resettling-from-Afghanistan families at the apartment complex were recipients of wonderful trays of prepared rice and meat and other gifts from sponsoring agencies and from the Muslim community. Oak Grove shared Cub Food gift cards in honor of our Holy Week and Easter celebrations in April!

Of the ten or so Afghanistan families in the apartment complex, only one other family has a co-sponsor. So, as you can imagine, we have had the wonderful opportunity to interact with folks from other apartments. On most Saturdays, Karen and Fred Alonzi take a group to Cub and a halal store for weekly groceries. Transportation is an ongoing need. While they are near light rail and bus stops, there are limits to where they can go and the time it takes can be prohibitive. So, rides to stores or appointments are really helpful. Whenever there’s a chance for a community outing (Hello, Como Zoo!) it is so gratefully received! In addition to our family of Mom, Dad and girls (4 and 2), we’ve become close to five other families at the complex.

All families have 6-month leases set to expire in July, so there is some stress now about where they are next going to find affordable housing. This apartment complex is too expensive for most families to stay. Having other resettling families in the complex has been a real support so there is sadness that another separation is likely at hand. Our partner family is working through their budget and deciding where they will move next.

Having arrived here in early January, our family is finally experiencing Minnesota as a good-weather state! Perhaps there are ways Oak Grovers might consider other sharing with our newest neighbors? Karen and Fred Alonzi, Sue Greimel, Kathy Howell and Anne and Larry Klueh have been directly interacting with these friends, on behalf of all of us at Oak Grove, and any of them would be happy to visit with you about ways you might like to become involved. Please feel free to start a conversation! 

Some wish list items (new or gently used) include:

  • Sandals (children’s size 8 or 9 & 11 or 12)
  • Lightweight socks
  • Outdoor toys (that aren’t TOO big)
  • Men’s bicycles, helmets, locks, lights*
  • Children’s summer clothing (Size 2/3 and 4/5)
  • Area Rug (7–8’ x 10’—or chance to pick out at Menard’s?)
  • Vacuum (for a family without a co-sponsor and awaiting paperwork to start working a $20/hour job that is waiting for him)

*We have someone willing to provide tune-ups/maintenance, if you have the bikes! Please contact Cathy Colborn (952-237-6012) for details! 

Money and gift cards are a way to give the power of choice to families if this is something you’re able to consider. Currently, Target and Burlington Coat Factory are a short distance away. Any donations can be brought or mailed to the church office with the notation “Afghan Partners” and the group listed above will distribute them. Any items that are not able to be used by our partner family will be shared with other families who will gratefully make good use of them. 

Thank you, Oak Grove, for your steadfastness in this partnership!

Earth Day AFF Walking Tour

Oak Grove’s Earth Day AFF on Sunday April 24th 9:15-10:15am

The walking tour starts at church at 9:15 a.m.  It will also be streamed on Facebook Live if you prefer watch the tour online.

The AFF for Oak Grove’s Earth Day celebration on Sunday April 24th will be the Green Committee’s walking tour of different sites around the church where we are moving to clean, non-polluting renewable energy and clean water.  The tour will show our LED lights, solar panels, wind energy, electric vehicle charging, rain gardens, air source heat pumps and all the insulation and sealing of our building to cut energy use and switch to carbon-free sources.  We will also show how we are educating the next generation.

Find out what we are doing to protect God’s Creation and pass on a livable Earth to our kids and grandkids.  Find out how you can do many of these things in your homes and help our church become net zero in electricity, heat/cooling, and transportation.     

April 21 ReEntry Team Update

April 21 Update from Re-Entry Team

We have continued to watch the Covid numbers and pay attention to experts about the Omicron BA.2 variant currently circulating in our area. Reported cases have slowly been rising and the actual positive results numbers are likely higher due to more at-home testing which doesn’t get collected by the state. Additionally, experts are baffled by aspects of Omicron BA.2 so predictions of whether we are in for an actual surge is anyone’s guess. The good news is that hospitalizations seem to be holding steady and ICU use has dropped. Experts agree that vaccines make a big difference! While we keep watch, we will enjoy our times together at Oak Grove!

We have been blessed to experience joy-filled in-person Sunday services this past month! We thank all of you in attendance for wearing face masks in worship. We recognize that everyone has a different comfort level when it comes to masking and being in a crowd. We remain committed to caring for our most vulnerable, specifically children under 5 who cannot yet receive a vaccine, and adults who are at higher risk for illness. Our strong values of caring for the vulnerable and being inclusive in regular church events continues to guide our decision-making. For this reason, we will continue masking and not yet serve coffee and treats on Sunday mornings.

However, we are making changes to our funeral/memorial service policy. Families will now be able to provide food and a time for fellowship following a service for their loved ones. The loss of this ritual has been one of the hardest to bear during the pandemic. Fellowship and food with others provide comfort, consolation and a needed time to share stories. We make this change with the awareness that children under 5 are less likely to be present at a funeral service and, that if they are, families can make their own decisions about attending the reception after the service.

Additionally, it is now okay for small groups of adults, with unanimous consent, to have food and beverage at meetings. For any gathering with young children present we will still require masks and no food or beverages (except for funerals).

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please reach out to Pastors Bart and Mary, Anne Klueh, or anyone on the Re-Entry team. We continue to appreciate your care of one another, your prayers, support and ideas. Thank you!

Made in Minnesota Concert

On Sunday, April 24 at 3:00 p.m., the River Heights Chorale will present their spring concert, “Made in Minnesota,” in the Oak Grove sanctuary. The Chorale presented Christmas and Spring Concerts here many times (pre-pandemic). River Heights Chorale is a volunteer choir committed to sharing quality music with the community and to help students, through scholarships, achieve their musical goals. They will be masked, and audience members are asked to wear masks, per our building protocols. No tickets are needed; donations will be accepted.

2022 Spring Clean Up April 30

Spring Clean Up at Oak Grove: Saturday, April 30 (9am–noon)

Please join us in the Oak Grove parking lot for a few hours of camaraderie with fellow Oak Grovers. Bring your rake and some gloves. Coffee and rolls will be provided. A prize drawing will be held for tickets to a sports event. If bad weather rolls in we’ll move inside instead.

2022 Holy Week Services

Livestreams are available on YouTube and Facebook.

palm sunday

Palm Sunday Worship Service, April 10, 2022, 10:45 a.m. (in-person and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook).

Maundy Thursday bread and wine

Maundy Thursday, April 14, 2022, 7:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m., in-person and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

Good Friday crosses

Good Friday, April 15, 2022, 7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., in-person and livestreamed on YouTube and Facebook.

easter sunrise

Easter Sunday Worship Services, April 17, 2022

  • 6:15 a.m. in the parking lot
  • 8:15 a.m. in the sanctuary with the choir (in-person only)
  • 10:45 a.m. in the sanctuary with the choir (in-person & via livestream on YouTube and Facebook), the nursery will be available.

Ash Wednesday March 2

Oak Grove will have two services on Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022. [Bulletin]

12:00 noon – 12:30 p.m., in-person in the Sanctuary

6:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., livestreamed on the web/Facebook and in-person in the Sanctuary

Please wear a mask if you attend either service in person. Thank you!

Direct link to Ash Wednesday service on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OakGrovePresbyterian/videos/286395176965066

Direct link to Ash Wednesday service on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pv3s5aUrabQ