Sept 24 Clearwater Woodcutting

Join us at Clearwater Forest for Oak Grove’s annual woodcutting event. There will be a lot of fun, fresh air, fellowship, and hard work. Families can treat this as an introduction to the property and a full weekend to hike, bike, kayak, swim and fish. We have campsites and some room with beds available if you would like to come up the night before and/or stay Saturday.

If interested in going or knowing more about the event, please contact Carrie Wilkens at carriewilkens@comcast.net or 952-240-5022.

2022 EV Expo Sept. 17

2022 Electric Vehicle Expo, Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, Bloomington, Saturday, September 17, 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

2022 EV Expo photos (Facebook album)

2022 EV Expo Aerial View

Learn how you can reduce your carbon emissions, save money, stop feeding the oil-gas monster and clean up air pollution.  Come see:

  • Dealer test drives/test rides of the latest EV models including the Ford F-150 Lightning
  • 25 EVs on display with their owners telling about their driving experiences. 
  • Electric bikes, e-mowers and e-snow blowers 
  • Electric School Bus from Eastern Carver County District
  • Talks about picking the right EV, rates for charging, electric school buses, climate benefits, cost savings and a women’s panel “Why We Love Our EVs

Event is free and open to the public in the Oak Grove Presbyterian Church parking lot.  Visitor parking will be available at nearby sites and on-street locations. Shuttle service will be available from Creekside Center parking lot (98th and Penn) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Oak Grove Presbyterian, 2200 W. Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington 55431 952-888-4621

ev expo

2021 EV Expo photos

2021 EV Expo news article

EV Expo Slideshow (PDF)

Fourth of July VEAP Fundraiser

The annual Pancake Breakfast for VEAP will be held on Monday, July 4, 2022, 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m., at Bob and Karen Gerdes’ house (10741 Sheridan Ave.).

Please bring a non-perishable food item or cash to donate. Tables will be separated, and masks can be worn. Let’s enjoy being together!

VEAP fundraiser

Restorative Actions Update

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

Restorative Actions introductory video

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!

Feb 1 Caucus for Climate

Thank you to the Green Committee for giving an informative Adult Faith Formation (AFF) program on Sunday, January 23, 2022. Their non-partisan presentation, Caucusing for Climate on Tuesday, February 1,  focused on the upcoming party caucuses. The parties are making it easier this year to take part in the caucus process including the DFL’s contactless caucus that you can do at home. 

See the list below for links to the Green Committee’s presentation and key links for finding your caucus, becoming a delegate to the endorsing conventionsoffering resolutions, and more. For further information, contact John Crampton, Chair-Green Committee, 612-396-6010 jcrampt48@gmail.com

Link to the Green Committee’s Caucus for Climate presentation PDF

Minnesota Secretary of State- Caucus Finder (for all parties)

DFL (Democratic) Caucus Finder

GOP (Republican Party) Caucus Info

Grassroots Legalize Cannabis Party

Legalize Marijuana Now Party 

DFL (Democratic) Non-Attendee Form PDF (to volunteer to be delegate to nominating convention)

DFL (Democratic) Resolutions Form PDF

GOP (Republican) Resolutions Form PDF

HUB for Climate Resolutions- MN Environmental Partnership 

Afghan Family Update

UPDATE February 7, 2022

It’s been two weeks since our Afghan family moved into their apartment and all is well! Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of the Oak Grove congregation, the family is now enjoying a well-stocked kitchen, a comfortably-furnished living area, and plenty of household supplies. Oak Grovers also helped with shopping, educational opportunities, and scheduling and transportation for appointments and classes. And more good news: the head of household applied for and landed a job!

Who would’ve imagined this one month ago when they first set foot in Minnesota? Thank you, thank you, thank you!

At this time, we have no identified needs from Oak Grove other than cash donations and prayers for this young family (and so many others) undertaking this most major transition. Donations will go to priority items such as fabric/sewing supplies and transportation needs. Donations are also accepted via credit card/ACH (click on the button below and select Afghan Family Support using the drop-down menu).

Donate by credit card or ACH (Checking)

Thanks for all you’ve done so far to be a partner in welcoming this family, Oak Grove. Those who attended yesterday’s Faith Formation conversation no doubt agree: we all are enriched by this chance to journey together and to learn along with our newest neighbors! 

Update on our Afghan Family, January 20:

Not all ordered items have quite arrived, but an empty apartment has been turned into a space ready for a family’s landing! Thank you, thank you worker bee organizers and movers and the many, MANY Oak Grovers and friends who have donated time, talents, and treasure! 

volunteer workers

Update on our Afghan Family, January 18: Wow!! Our congregation is amazing. All items on the donation list have been purchased and donated! We are still accepting gift cards or cash donations to pay for food and other needs.

An apartment in Minneapolis has been found, and move-in day is this Thursday, January 20! Our plan is to clean and move everything on Wednesday, January 19. We’d love to have donations ordered or brought to church by Tuesday, January 18, 2022. Please contact Sue Greimel (sue.greimel@gmail.com, 612 805-2896) with questions or if you are willing to volunteer to help with cleaning, moving, and welcoming on Wednesday/Thursday.

Restorative Actions

Oak Grove Presbyterian Church’s role in the Restorative Actions project is highlighted this month in a two-part series on Healing Minnesota Stories (see links to articles below). The series features comments from Oak Grove members Jim Koon and Milissa Carter, as well as our former Pastor Jermaine (Rev. Anthony Jermaine Ross-Allam).

Part 1: Moral reckoning: A Presbyterian Church tests model to surrender wealth to Afro American, Indigenous communities

Part 2: Restorative Actions and the power of a single conversation

Rev. Anthony Jermaine Ross-Allam
Jim Koon
Milissa Carter

2021 Advent & Christmas Activities

Christmas Services

Sunday, January 2, 2022 (10:15 am): Live-streamed Sunday Worship Service on Facebook and the website, Matthew 2:1–12, “We Three Kings” Pastor Bart preaches.Limited in-person attendance; pre-registration required.

Sunday, December 26, 2021 (10:15 am): Live-streamed Sunday Worship Service on Facebook and the website, Matthew 2:13–23, “Mary and Joseph flee with Jesus” Pastor Mary preaches. Limited in-person attendance; pre-registration required.

Friday, December 24, 2021 (4:00 pm): Family Christmas Eve Service via Zoom. This service was held via Zoom.

Friday, December 24, 2021 (10:00 pm): Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Link to 10pm service bulletin.The service will be live-streamed with limited in-person attendance (pre-registration required). Direct link to video: https://www.facebook.com/OakGrovePresbyterian/videos/296312322291079

Longest Night Service/Experience

Tuesday, December 21, 2021: Longest Night Service/Experience

Direct link to December 21 video: https://www.facebook.com/OakGrovePresbyterian/videos/614965929838055

This time of year can be difficult for some. The grief at the loss of a loved one, the anguish of broken relationships, the insecurity of unemployment, the weariness of ill health, the pain of isolation, all these can make us feel very alone in the midst of the season. We need the space and time to acknowledge our sadness and concern; we need to know that we are not alone.

The Longest Night service/experience provides a time and space to acknowledge the mixture of feelings. There will be a variety of prayer stations in the sanctuary and Gideon Pond Hall that will offer participatory ways to connect with and express your feelings. Or you can take the opportunity to just sit in silence as music is played in the sanctuary. This experience is completed at your own pace. You may arrive any time between 7–7:30 pm to begin. The Deacons will have some cookies for folks to take home. Pastor Bart and Pastor Mary will also be available for individual private prayer.

Sunday Worship Services During Advent

  • Nov. 28: 1st Sunday of Advent Matthew 24:36–44 “Keep Awake” Pastor Bart preaches
  • Dec. 5: 2nd Sunday of Advent Communion Sunday
    Matthew 3:1–13 “Prepare the Way” Pastor Mary preaches
  • Dec. 12: 3rd Sunday of Advent
    Matthew 11:2–11 “Signs of the Kingdom” Pastor Bart preaches
  • Dec. 19: 4th Sunday of Advent Isaiah 61 Pastor Bart preaches

Christmas Joy Offering

2021 Advent Activities

heart

Love is Still the Answer booklet project. We are compiling a booklet as an opportunity for connecting with each other, and we would like you to be a part of it! We ask you to complete and turn in your entry by Friday, December 3.

2021 Xmas booklet

Alternative Christmas Market. Our alternative catalog offers many opportunities to support the work of the Presbyterian USA Mission Agency and Oak Grove’s special mission projects.

Carols, Cookies, and Care! Saturday, December 11, 2021, 10:30 a.m. in the church parking lot. We are collecting toilet paper, diapers and wipes for VEAP.  There is currently a shortage of these items at VEAP. We are putting together Agape bags for those on our streets, and we need warm socks and non-perishable snacks for the bags. You may make a bag or two and put them in your car. We will share Christmas cookies, so please bake or bring your cookies to share!  It will be helpful to put them in bags of 4 so they are “grab-and-go!” We will gather around the fire pit to sing Christmas Carols, and Supportive Housing will supply coffee and Hot Chocolate. This promises to be a morning of fellowship, fun, and giving!  We hope you will join us – thank you in advance for your generosity! Questions?  Call the church office (952-888-4621). Link to flyer for Carols, Cookies, and Care event.