Re-Entry Task Force Update

As you have all been hearing and reading, our state COVID restrictions are beginning to loosen up and vaccines are becoming more available. This is a ray of hope after a year of mostly difficult news! We expect many of you are wondering what changes Oak Grove might be making. We feel proud of how well Oak Grove leaders and all of you have promoted safety and taken care of one another. We’ve done this right! So, we want to continue to be vigilant about safety while taking some baby steps forward. We also know that most members have not received vaccines, yet, including our pastors.

At their meeting in March, the Session approved that the front door will now be unlocked during office hours. Having a closed building has been difficult for all of us. Opening it will allow members to come in to spend some quiet time in the sanctuary (particularly during Holy Week), pick up Upper Room devotionals, bring in your offerings, donations to VEAP and simply see your church building. Face masks, covering both nose and mouth, and physical distancing will still be expected per MDH recommendations, especially now as the more virulent COVID strains are circulating in Minnesota We WILL NOT be holding group meetings yet and worship will still be virtual for the time being. Our current decision is that we will not fully open until all adults have easy access to the vaccine.

As always, church leaders will continue to find ways for us to be together, apart, while we continue to monitor CDC/MDH recommendations which may be rapidly changing. Stay tuned!!!

Oak Grove Welcomes Bart Roush

Oak Grove Presbyterian is pleased to announce the election of Bart Roush as our new Pastor/Head of Staff, starting on Monday, May 17. Welcome Bart!

We asked Pastor Bart to tell us about himself and his family, and he sent us the following biography.

I was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio and grew up as an active youth member of Pleasant Ridge Presbyterian Church. As a senior in high school, and as the Moderator of my youth group and a youth Elder on Session, I preached for the first time during Youth Sunday, and it started a long tradition of not finishing sermons until late on Saturday night (much to the chagrin of my youth leaders then and my wife now). While in high school, I felt the initial stirrings of a call to ministry but decided to pursue theatre in college.

I attended Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio and graduated with a B.F.A. in Directing and Stage Management for the Theatre. After college, I moved to the Twin Cities to pursue a theatrical career. My work in theatre was primarily behind the scenes as a Stage Manager and Managing Director. While working in theatre at night and on the weekends, I worked at Ameriprise Financial Services by day, and worked there in a variety of positions for almost 10 years. I enjoyed both my day job and work in the theatre, but in my late 20’s began to feel the tug of ordained ministry once again.

While working box office for a theatre, I overheard one of the actresses in the show, Kelly, talking about her church, First Congregational Church of Minnesota. I had begun looking for a church home again, and I asked if I could visit the church with her some time. I went a couple of times, and immediately felt at home. Kelly and I went to lunch one afternoon after worship, and she became very serious. She told me in no uncertain terms that if I was coming to church just as a means to try and date her, that I “should stop now. Church is very important to me,” she said, and I should “not mess with it.” I assured Kelly that I was, indeed, interested in finding a church home. Once that was made clear, I then asked her out on a date. We were married at First Church about two years later in 1999. I proposed to Kelly on a trip to Mexico, and after she had already said “Yes,” later that day I told her I thought I wanted to go to seminary. She looked at me for a moment and then said, “Honestly, I always thought I would marry a pastor.”

I began attending United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Having grown up Presbyterian but coming back as an adult to the United Church of Christ, I was uncertain the denomination in which I should seek ordination. Ultimately, I decided to “come home” to the Presbyterian Church because of several reasons; the connected church polity and belief in the priesthood of all believers, the emphasis on an educated clergy, and the opportunity to work within a system to move it toward a more inclusive posture.

I graduated from United in 2003 and accepted my first call to Fox Valley Presbyterian Church in Geneva, IL as the Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Mission. I specifically sought a call as an associate pastor to gain experience in a congregation served by several pastors so that I could work with experienced clergy as I formed my pastoral understanding and identity. I served at Fox Valley for 10 years in that capacity. During my time at Fox Valley, I greatly enjoyed the many adult education classes I led, shepherding the Stephen Ministry program, and increasing our mission involvement. Mission giving and mission projects increased, including a monthly community dinner that was free to all, and the establishment of several on-going relationships with churches and community organizations in Guatemala where we helped the community install Living Waters for the World water purification systems. Toward the end of my time at Fox Valley, I helped lead the effort to design and build a new education building to facilitate emerging and future ministry needs and opportunities.

In 2007, I enrolled in the Congregational Mission and Leadership Doctor of Ministry program at Luther Seminary, and I completed my degree in 2012. My thesis focused on ways to incorporate adults into congregational membership with a missional understanding. In 2013, feeling the nudge of the Spirit, I accepted the call as Pastor and Head of Staff at Madison Square Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas, a progressive, More Light Congregation. While at Madison Square, we entered a season of discernment which led to focusing our efforts over the last several years on small group ministry and beginning the work of becoming an anti-racist congregation.

In addition to serving these two congregations, I have served the wider Presbyterian church in several capacities, including as chair of the Personnel Committee for Blackhawk Presbytery, serving as a member on a Synod Permanent Judicial Commission, as chair of the Board of Trustees for Mission Presbytery, as a member on the Examination Committee for Mission Presbytery, and as a member of the Network for Dismantling Racism of the Synod of the Sun. I have also been involved in the local community serving as a board member for Classic Theatre of San Antonio (where, eventually Kelly served as Executive and Artistic Director), and as a member of the Interfaith Community Action Network of San Antonio.

Kelly and I have two teenage children, Hera (she/her/hers and who prefers to be called “H”) who is 16, and Olivia (she/her or they/them) who is 13. They love reading, nature, and both have curious minds and kind hearts. We all love to travel and look forward to the day when that is possible again. I enjoy attending theatre and have led several “Theatre and Theology” trips to the Stratford Theatre Festival in Canada. I also enjoy riding my bike and look forward to the trails in Minnesota. I was named after Bart Starr and, while I am a little afraid to tell you this before the congregational vote, I am a diehard Green Bay Packers fan.

I love being a pastor and can’t imagine doing anything else with my life. In fact, I was given the same advice when going to college for theatre, and when going to seminary to become a pastor – “If you can do anything else; do that!” I’ve never regretted heeding the call to ordained ministry. I am excited about the future of ministry together with the people at Oak Grove Presbyterian Church. I am energized by Oak Grove’s commitment to inclusion, social justice, and mission. Kelly and I, in particular, are excited to return to the Twin Cities, and the entire family is looking forward to living in a place where you can experience all four seasons, even winter.

Green Committee AFF

Oak Grove’s Green Committee is hosting three Adult Faith Formation (AFF) sessions in April and May 2021. Also, on April 8, the Green Committee hosted a Conversation with District 50 Representatives and Senator. See below for Zoom login information.

climate reality

Sunday, April 11, 9:30 a.m., “Climate Reality and Our Future” a sobering overview of the impact on climate change on different earth systems and projections of species survival under different scenarios of global warming.  Developed by Former Vice President Al Gore and  Alliance for Climate Protection and The Climate Project.  Presented by Bill Middlecamp, a commissioned Earthkeeper in the United Methodist Church and a well-known climate activist in our area. See also En-ROADS Brings Climate Science to the Masses.

Zoom login for April 11 and April 18 programs: Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 874 3261 0305Passcode: 517268

enroads chart

Sunday April 18, 9:30 a.m., “Policy Solutions to Climate Change.”   Participants are able to simulate possible large scale solutions to dramatic climate change through the use of the online En-ROADS policy simulation model developed by MIT.   See what possible solutions are and discuss the implications. Presented by Bill Middlecamp, a commissioned Earthkeeper in the United Methodist Church and a well-known climate activist in our area. See also En-ROADS Brings Climate Science to the Masses.

solar panels

Sunday, May 2, 9:30 a.m., Cooperative Energy Futures bringing renewable energy to low income areas and communities of color in our Twin Cities area.  Learn how this group is working to marry renewable energy, financing and a social justice focus to provide clean energy to people in need.  Note: This is a followup to the prior presentation by Rural Renewable Energy Alliance 1/17/2021.
Presented by Timothy Den Herder, General Manager of Cooperative Energy Futures. 

Clockwise from top left: Rep. Michael Howard (50A), Senator Melissa Wiklund, Rep. Andrew Carlson (50B)

Thursday, April 8, 6:00-7:30 p.m., Faith Communities Talk With Legislators. You are invited to question-and-answer state legislative forum for faith communities in District 50 on Thursday night April 8th from 6:00-7:30 pm via Zoom.   The forum will feature Senator Melissa Wiklund, Rep. Andrew Carlson (50B) and Rep. Michael Howard (50A).  The forum is being organized by Isaiah  and will include members of faith communities in District 50 including Oak Grove Presbyterian, Christ the King Lutheran, Dar Al-Farooq Muslim Center, and St. Richards Catholic Church and other groups.  The forum will focus on pending bills for: Revenue-making everyone pay their fair share, Democracy– expanding/protecting voting rights, Paid Family Leave– caring for our families, Climate Justice– plans that meet the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. For more info, contact John Crampton 612-396-6010 To register:

2021 Per Capita Challenge

Update: YOU did it!

Oak Grove surpassed our February per capita goal of $7000. The Gifts & Gratitude Committee would like to thank all of you who faithfully paid your per capita. Our governing bodies have never worked harder to support our faith than in this past year and because of your participation, we say ‘thank you’ to our Presbytery, Synod and General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church with our per capita payments.

Note: Oak Grove’s total per capita payment is $17,850. Every member who pays their $36.50 separately helps strengthen our annual budget during an uncertain time.

PNC Announcement

BIG NEWS!!! The Session of Oak Grove Presbyterian Church has called a congregational meeting for noon on March 14 via Zoom for the purpose of presenting and electing a candidate for Pastor/Head of Staff.  The meeting will follow the 10:45 Virtual Worship Service where the candidate will preach. 

On Saturday March 13, a Zoom meet and greet will take place with the candidate. Oak Grove members will be receiving  a biography and background  of the candidate in the mail. The Pastoral Nominating Committee is joyfully  looking forward to introducing Oak Grove to this candidate.

Loaves & Fishes Food Distribution Moves to Oak Grove Presbyterian on Jan. 4

Beginning Monday January 4, 2021, Oak Grove Presbyterian Church Grove, 2200 W Old Shakopee Rd, Bloomington, MN 55431, is taking on food distribution for the Loaves & Fishes program (formerly at Creekside).

Takeaway meals will be served Monday-Friday from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at Oak Grove Church. See Oak Grove parking lot map for driving route instructions. Food recipients will stay in their cars and let the volunteers know how many meals they would like. There are no eligibility requirements to receive meals.

Oak Grove parking lot route
Enter the parking lot at the north entrance off Penn Avenue

Loaves & Fishes is a community-based volunteer organization serving free, healthy meals to Minnesotans where the need is greatest. Oak Grove is just a half mile away from the former distribution site at Creekside, and takeaway meals will continue to be served Monday-Friday from 5:30-6:30 p.m.

For the past 25 years, Oak Grove has volunteered with Loaves & Fishes by preparing and serving meals twice a month. The pandemic has changed how Loaves & Fishes provides those meals. Since March, Loaves & Fishes has been serving meals prepared by a chef and distributed through a drive-up system. At their current location, Creekside Community Center, Loaves & Fishes has been serving approximately 200 people a night Monday through Friday. Creekside will be closing at the end of 2020.

Through the Mission and Building & Ops Committees and the Session, Oak Grove has said YES to providing a place to feed the hungry. As long as Oak Grove is closed to other meetings, Oak Grove will be the pickup site for Loaves & Fishes from 5:30–6:30 pm, Monday–Friday.

How can you help? As members, we can do more than just provide a building. There are opportunities to volunteer at our site. You can sign up individually on the Loaves & Fishes website or call the church office (952-888-1621) if you are interested in volunteering. We are organizing teams of four.

We can’t think of a more timely way for a church to minister to the community than to provide food to the hungry. Members of the Oak Grove Loaves & Fishes coordinating team are: Bob Heise, Ed & Lari Ann Schmidt, Patty Nail, Nancy Kachel, and Kathy Tominski.

Here’s to a healthy and fruitful new year where the hungry are fed.

Call for Vaccine Clinical Trial Volunteers

Oak Grove Presbyterian Church has been asked to get the news out on M Health Fairview’s Covid-19 Clinical Trial.

M Health Fairview Vaccine flyer (PDF)

M Health Fairview is looking for adults who:

  • €  Are aged 18 years and older, particularly over 65 years of age
  • €  Represent a racial and ethnic group that has been greatly impacted by the pandemic (such as African American, Latinx, Native American, or Asian American)
  • €  Have an underlying medical condition (such as diabetes or obesity)
  • €  Have a high risk of exposure through work (such as first responder, healthcare professional, or delivery person)
  • €  Live or work in an elder-care facility
  • €  Are retired or active military

If you decide to join a COVID-19 prevention study, you may be compensated for your participation. To learn more, contact:

M Health Fairview Clinical Trials Office

Green Committee AFF Jan. 17

Link to recording of the January 17 Zoom presentation – password !1r1!3B0

The Adult Faith Formation program, “Bringing Renewable Energy and Empowerment to Low Income Communities to End Energy Poverty,” will be presented on Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. by the Green Committee and RREAL, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance of Northern MN.  

Community Solar for Community Action

RREAL is a leader in helping Native American Nations construct community solar gardens, solar for Habitat for Humanity houses, and solar assistance for low income people through community action programs. RREAL also develops community-based solar projects in Uganda and Liberia. RREAL is a leader in installing solar on schools and has developed renewable energy curricula for grades K-8 which is being used in schools throughout Minnesota.

Our goal is to begin a discussion of how Oak Grove can marry our church’s efforts and expertise in social justice, mission, supportive housing, education, and environmental stewardship to serve the wider community of low income people in our communities.  For more information, contact John Crampton 612-396-6010