This I Believe

Welcome to the 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: Don Lifto (2023)

Posted by on Oct 12, 2023 in This I Believe | 0 comments

I remember sitting in the congregation here at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Mahtomedi many times listening to parishioners as they shared their “This I Believe” testimonials – bravely opening a window into their hearts and minds and shining a light on the essence of their faith journeys. Like artists at their easels – one brush stroke at a time – they painted soul landscapes to share with us. While I always found these “This I Believe” messages to be thoughtful, inspirational, and moving, they also left me anxious hoping that I would...

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This I Believe: Lisa Hull (2023)

Posted by on Oct 12, 2023 in This I Believe | 0 comments

Good morning! My name is Lisa Hull, and my pronouns are she/her. I am very honored to share my story with all of you today.  My first introduction to this church was virtual.  I started watching services online in January 2021 and became a member in May 2022.  It had been over 25 years since I had attended a church. I grew up in Michigan, in a conservative Christian, middle class family.  Church on Sunday and Wednesday nights was a given. My experience with religion and church is complicated.  Whenever people ask me what my religious...

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This I Believe: Sharon Gooch (2023)

Posted by on Apr 19, 2023 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Good Morning. My name is Sharon Gooch. My Pronouns are she/her. I first found my way to this church in the spring of 2015. I had been seeing a therapist for depression and anxiety for a couple of months. I talked to her about how, as I worked to understand and sort out my feelings, my behavior and actions were hurting people that I loved.  I talked to her about how alone I felt.  She suggested that I “find a community” and recommended that I check out this church. So I dutifully attended every Sunday for several months that spring. I sat in...

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This I Believe: Jeff Ranta (2023)

Posted by on Apr 19, 2023 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

I like to start with my own spiritual journey. My father is agnostic and my mother was Lutheran. I didn’t attend church beyond 6th grade. My mother posted spiritual, uplifting statements around the house. My father is a recovering alcoholic of 45 years whose main spiritual practice is the Serenity Prayer that he still lives today at age 94. In college I was a YMCA camp counselor, and guided canoe trips in the BWCA and Canada, often carrying a bible, seeking a spiritual life. I grew spiritually in nature leading teens through the wilderness....

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This I Believe: Ginny Johansen (2023)

Posted by on Jan 31, 2023 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Hello, my name is Ginny Johansen. My pronouns are she/her. Here’s my situation: I have Glioblastoma with a few months left. This is not a death sentence. It’s a gift! This gives me enough time to: Tell people how much they mean to me, Get my affairs in order, Do a few bucket list things (Native American Museum in Washington DC, Say goodbye. There are only 2 things I believe, everything else is just theories and questions: God is love Love never dies I consider myself a happy agnostic. I don’t believe God can be fully known or defined by our...

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This I Believe: Teal Bassett (2023)

Posted by on Jan 31, 2023 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Good morning! What an honor it is to be in front of my congregation – I have so much respect for this space and all of you, so thank you for this opportunity to tell you a little about who I am and my spirituality. My childhood was very normal. My mom’s main role was caretaker of the household while my fathers was working outside the home. I have two siblings – I’m in the middle – we grew up in Stillwater, where I still reside today. My parents didn’t take us to church and were not interested in raising their children in a religious...

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This I Believe: Dick Grant (2022)

Posted by on May 27, 2022 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Good morning. My name is Dick Grant and I was a member here for 23 years until we moved to Oregon. In 1995 I presented my “This I Believe,” and was asked if I would be willing to do it again. I grew in many ways while here, and feel it was a most enlightening time in my life. Since then we’ve loved being out here in Oregon near lots of grandkids, and until Covid, things were going great. But during the Covid years I was diagnosed with ALS in December 2020 and I wanted to share my story with you. As you might know, ALS is a fatal disease –...

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This I Believe: Claire Gilbert (2021)

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When I was four years old, I became a criminal. When my mom wouldn’t buy me a bag of skittles at the grocery store, I stole them. My mom knew something was up when she saw me grab a pair of scissors and dart into my bedroom. I thought I had locked the door, but she came around the other way through a bathroom. I had cut open the bag and spread them on the floor. “Claire!” she said, “Don’t you know the Bible says stealing is wrong.” “But Mom,” I told her, “I can’t read!” My mom and I laugh about this story today, but it also makes me sad. It’s...

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This I Believe: Troy Stein (2021)

Posted by on May 23, 2022 in This I Believe, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Good morning. I am Troy Stein. I’m 53 years old, married for 29 years and I have three kids. I work in IT for the State of Minnesota. I was raised in rural North Dakota, and I moved here in 1990 and my life changed for the better when I met my wife in 1991. One of my proudest accomplishments is my work as a professional ghost writer. I worked with a local author and together we wrote eight mysteries. I love telling stories. So this is my UU story. About 40 years ago my friend, Scott, asked me to join him as a duo to play “Taps” for military...

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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 neighborhood...

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