This I Believe

Welcome to the new This I Believe web page and archive!

Thanks to a diligent team of volunteer members and staff, you now have access to dozens of talks delivered from the mid-1960′s to the present. There are more to be located and new talks will be added continuously to the archive.

This beautiful preservation of our living history offers the latest opportunity to share what we value about our faith and our spiritual community. Take some time to read, reflect, and discover how our unique and common experiences have led us to this particular spiritual community over the decades.

We’re sure you’ll be moved by the wealth of insight and wisdom housed in this archive.

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It is a longstanding practice here to invite members of the congregation to share with us their journeys of faith. It is a rare opportunity for us, to be given this glimpse not of opinions and ideas and knowledge – but of wisdom, and doubt mingled in with the faith, and questions circling the answers, and convictions hard-won and wonder still emerging. This I Believe is a hard assignment; we ask of these speakers that they speak the truth as bravely as they can, that they tell us a story, that they model for us this essential spiritual work: making a narrative out of all your experience, making meaning out of the days we are given.

The presenters are charged with speaking to us as openly as they can, and we in turn are charged to listen as openly as we can. This circuit of speaking and hearing is important because religious life unfolds in community. There is the solitary journey of the soul on its own, and there is the return to the circle of companions who will hold our story as sacred (and ordinary), companions who both embrace us and challenge us to deeper growth. (That’s your job at coffee hour – to challenge and embrace our two speakers, in love and gratitude).

Victoria Safford

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This I Believe: Kristen Daniels (2021)

Posted by on Oct 18, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I remember the very first time I felt truly alone. I’m sure there were times before but this one sticks out in my mind and was different. It wasn’t anything extraordinary. I was driving at the time, probably 17 or 18 years old, and was driving home from dropping off a friend. This was a new friend who lived clear across the St. Paul/Minneapolis metro area from where I lived. I’m talking Woodbury to Champlin Park. I was returning home and got turned around. I don’t really understand how it happened but I found myself in a...

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This I Believe: Paige Heitpas (2021)

Posted by on Oct 18, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Every year I take a trip on my birthday in order to nourish my thoughts and freshen my brain to start a new year of being me. When I turned twenty-five this past February, I went on a week-long COVID solo road trip down to Missouri to nourish the thoughts in my head. As I stroked South on I-35, I got an e-mail from Jack and Victoria graciously inviting me to join a membership class for the church and then to sign my name into the membership book. This is a book I sometimes associate as like a community scripture, which is a literally a list of...

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This I Believe: Joan McIntosh (2021)

Posted by on Oct 18, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Thank you for the opportunity to explore more deeply my closely held spiritual beliefs and the experiences that shaped them. These remarks come from a long overdue examination of days long past, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to share them with you today. The story I am about to tell is one familiar to us all: who am I, really? Why are we here? What does it all mean and where is that darn owner’s manual explaining how to be a good person? My husband John and I joined WBUUC in 2016 with the hope that even at this time of life, we...

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This I Believe: Alex Nelson (2021)

Posted by on Oct 18, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Thank you everyone, for having me here (virtually) and for taking the time to listen to me. I’d like to begin by talking about my childhood. I don’t know if I’m in the minority or not, but I was lucky enough to grow up as a Unitarian Universalist. As a child, this meant three things: 1) a love of coffee was expected and imparted at an early age, 2) at school nobody understood what religion I was when I loudly proclaimed, “I’m a UU!,” and 3) Blue Boat Home was like a family anthem. But there was another key aspect of my childhood...

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This I Believe: MJ LaVigne (2021)

Posted by on Oct 18, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Thank you, Victoria. I am speaking to you today from Dakota Makoce, the homeland of the Dakota, and Mahto Ska Bde, White Bear Lake. It means so much to me to share this with you, thank you. I grew up the middle of three sisters, a family small by St. Paul Catholic standards. We went to Immaculate Heart of Mary, an ugly church, with all the soaring majesty of a gymnasium. I remember being there for Mass, arguing in my head with the text while reciting the Lord’s Prayer. My first issue, being led into temptation never sounded that bad. “Thy...

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This I Believe: Kaari Rodriguez (2021)

Posted by on Oct 18, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hello, My name is Kaari Rodriguez. I have been coming to White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church since the summer of 2007. At the time, I was at a point in my spiritual journey where I could not in good conscience raise my children, 1 and 5 years old at the time, with the message that Jesus was the only path to God or salvation. I was not even sure there was such a thing as a god or heaven. When I first came to WBUUC, the beautiful sanctuary was still under construction and the current social hall was the worship space. Like many of you, I...

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This I Believe: Rachel Xydes (2021)

Posted by on Jul 17, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When I think of the word god, the way that I feel when I listen to stirring music comes to mind, or the awe that I feel when I walk in the woods…the love I have for my children. When I think of the word god, the childlike fascination I experience every time I learn something new, comes to mind. The excitement for knowledge yet to be obtained, the unknowing and the mystery, the feeling when I create something with my hands. When I put something beautiful into the world. That feeling of being in community. And what happens when an...

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This I Believe: Mark King (2021)

Posted by on Jul 17, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Like most middle-class boomers, I was brought up culturally Christian. My family attended the local Methodist Church where Mom taught Sunday school and Dad served on the church Board. I was confirmed into the faith more as an exercise to make Mom and Dad happy than from any real belief. One recollection I have around those confirmation classes was asking Dad about the claim that one had to accept Jesus as savior to get into heaven. I was concerned that somewhere out in the world there was a good person who never got to hear about Jesus but...

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This I Believe: Sally Niemand (2021)

Posted by on Jul 17, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I was born into a Missouri Synod Lutheran family. The Bible was my first sacred text.  My memories of church as a young child are not of the stories I was being taught in Sunday school but mostly related to how I looked and how I behaved. I spent grades 1-8 in a Lutheran parochial school with so much dogma and indoctrination. Every day. We were required to memorize much of Luther’s Small Catechism in 7th and 8th grades. Holy cow, Martin Luther. You can tell by the looks of my catechism that my mind was elsewhere. In case you couldn’t read...

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This I Believe: Henry Peterson (2021)

Posted by on Jul 17, 2021 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

The emotion I feel most strongly and most often is wonder. I like this word because as a noun, it is most often associated with words like awe, amazement, or curiosity—all of which resonate strongly with me. I might call this Wonder with a capital W. As a verb, I prefer the phrase “I wonder” to the one I really mean, which is often “I’m confused.”  This is lowercase-w wonder. Generally speaking, I am not a competitive person. But my most consistent, tenacious, motivating opponent, throughout my life as long as I can remember, is...

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