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About Us

We are a lay-led congregation drawing from the surrounding 50 mile radius of Virginia, Minnesota. We meet every Sunday between Labor Day and Memorial Day at 10:30 a.m. at 230 South 7th Street, Virginia, Minnesota 55792. We proudly celebrated our 100th anniversary in 2012.

We do enjoy the services of two ordained ministers.

Rev. Eric Northard
The Rev. Eric Northard is a UU minister who is also a Social Studies and Spanish teacher with the Grand Rapids, MN School District.
Eric received a ministerial fellowship from the UUA and was ordained at the UU church in Utica, NY in 1993. He holds a bachelors degree in German from Michigan State Univ, a bachelors degree in Spanish and a Social Studies education from Bemidji State Univ. a masters degree in Divinity from McComick Theological Seminary and a masters degree in Education from Bemidji State Univ.

Eric lives in Grand Rapids with his wife Nancy who is an instructor for persons who are blind and visually impaired. He and Nancy have two adult children, Jonathan and Alexandra who are both married and they are the proud grandparents of Connor who was born in August 2009. They have hosted foreign visitors and students from over 35 countries in their home and at any given time one is likely to find an assortment of cats and dogs in their home.

Eric and Nancy both love to travel and both are active Rotarians and volunteer with the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Their other interests include canoeing, cross country skiing, animals, and spending time with family and friends.

Rev. Suzanne Wasilczuk
The Rev. Suzanne Wasilczuk is a 2007 graduate of Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago. Her previous career was as a registered nurse, working in Milwaukee, Sitka, AK, and Vancouver, BC. In her journeys south and east she has also lived in Missoula, MT where she volunteered at the local food shelf and as a Court-Appointed Special Advocate for children who were in the judicial system because of abuse or neglect.

Along with her MDiv from Meadville she has earned a Masters in Philosophy/Emphasis on Teaching Ethics from the University of Montana, and a BA in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. In her volunteer career she has been copy editor for a feminist newsletter and on the advisory board of a gay newsletter; a docent at a museum featuring Alaska native artifacts and at a maritime museum; spun records, tapes and CDs at a public radio station; been an actress and stage manager at a community theater; and danced in a "hula art action."

Suzanne is married to Tim Stratton, a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a registered pharmacist. She has one son and three grandchildren who live in Milwaukee.

Tim and Suzanne enjoy their dog & cat, canoeing, walking, cross-country skiing, wildlife viewing, and contra dancing together. Suzanne enjoys reading, especially mysteries and novels; gardening, baking, singing, feeding the neighborhood birds, chipmunks and squirrels; and keeping in touch with friends, some of whom she's known since 3rd grade.

Our History

During the fall of 1911, a group of young Virginia, Minnesota people of Finnish descent were considering the establishment of a new church. Unable to accept the tenets and creeds of the orthodox churches and yet unwilling to forego a communal religious life, they wished to create and develop here a center of liberal Christian worship. The Bible and Christian traditions formed the basis of their theology, but they were left free to define their own religious understandings. This was a radical idea to the Finnish American religious community of the time and a very much welcomed idea to some. It freed them to integrate religion with contemporary philosophy and socialist thinking, and provided a spritual community as well. They were led by the Rev. Risto Lappala, already ordained to the Unitarian ministry, and they had the interest and support of the American Unitarian Association. In December of 1911 twelve of them met and formally orgainzed the "Free Christian Church of Virginia". Meetings were conducted in Finnish, a practice that continued into the 1940's.

In 1912 two lots were purchased and work on a church building was begun. The church was dedicated in June and it was decided to build a parsonage on the land adjoining the church. The Rev. Milma Lappala was ordained to the Unitarian ministry in August 1916.

This same church is still being used by our congregation for weekly services and the Mesabi UU still owns the "parsonage" although it is not used as such.

Our Mission Statement

Nurturing the spirit, honoring the earth, celebrating all life, fostering peace and social justice.

Mesabi Unitarian Universalist Church
Virginia, Minnesota, USA