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!

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.

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

Feb 23 Reentry Team Update

As was the hope expressed in January, there has been a marked decline in infections, and the Omicron wave is subsiding. With the improvement in infection rates, the capacity for hospitals to care for people with serious illness, the efficacy of vaccinations, and the percentage of people who have been vaccinated, the following changes will be made effective immediately.

Worship:

  • In-person worship will no longer be limited based on vaccination status; anyone is welcome to worship in person.
  • There is no limit to the number of people for in-person worship, and no reservation is required.
  • Masking is required, and a KN95, N95, or both a surgical mask under a cloth mask is still highly recommended.
  • Distancing as much as possible is encouraged. Seating will be available in the hallway outside of the sanctuary and in the fellowship hall.

Small Group Gatherings:

  • Small groups gatherings may be in person.
  • Masks are required
  • No food or drink for the present time

A special note to anyone leading a group: Please remember not all members of your group may be comfortable or ready to meet in person. Before you schedule an in-person meeting, please check with your participants individually about their comfort level. If there is someone who is not yet comfortable meeting in person, please consider holding your meeting virtually or in a hybrid format (some in-person and some online). There is technology available at the church to allow for hybrid meetings. Please contact Pastor Bart or Sue Gjerset if you plan to meet in a hybrid meeting so we can make sure the equipment is available.

We anticipate that we will continue to open more broadly and with fuller participation and worship practices in April. Details are still being worked out and prepared and will be shared more broadly at the annual meeting this Sunday following worship, and in the Oak Leaves newsletter. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to anyone on the Re-Entry Team. Anne Klueh, Al Greimel, Bev Heise, Jane Propsom, Pastor Mary, and/or Pastor Bart.

Nadia Bolz-Weber event

An Evening with Nadia Bolz-Weber: Monday, May 2 (7:00 pm)

Best-selling author and preacher, Nadia Bolz-Weber, is coming to the Twin Cities and what better reason to get out with your Oak Grove family? The event is at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Eden Prairie. If we can get a group of at least 10, we could get a discount on the $30 tickets, but if we get more than 25, the discount is even better. If you are interested in attending, please contact the church office (952-888-4621)and add your name to the list. No money needs to be collected at this time, but we ask that you call no later than Monday, February 28, so we can order our block of tickets. Once we know the ticket amount, we will be in touch.

Note: for those interested, but unable to attend, there are also virtual tickets ($30) available at https://churchanew.org/events/an-evening-with-nadia-bolz-weber.

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