By Sally Johnson
“HumanistsMN is a secular community that promotes ethical living, widespread human flourishing, and a healthy planet through its commitment to science, reason, compassion, and creativity.”
To support that mission statement, HMN brings us together as a community and offers events centered on intellectual thought, public service, education, advocacy, and socializing. These are made possible thanks to the many hours contributed by volunteers.
In the September newsletter, we introduce a new feature, “Volunteer Spotlight,” to profile these activities and the members who organize them.
First up: Secular Saturdays!
Held monthly at First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis, Secular Saturdays offer a variety of programs followed by a combined social hour with refreshments. This format allows our members to connect across a wide range of topics.
Recurring sessions include a Science Fiction Book Club hosted by Scott Lohman, hands-on service projects led by our Humanists in Action team, and TED Talk Salon discussions hosted by Audrey Kingstrom and others.
Another occasional program, D-Cubed (for Discussion, Debate and Dinner), hosted by Jerry Smith, features discussions of nonfiction works and current issues. This group often meets for dinner after our refreshment hour.
One-time programs have touched on topics ranging from mental health to food to history, drawing from an array of talent from both members and occasional outside speakers.
“Secular Saturdays was a wonderful innovation – a fabulous opportunity for both attendees and hosts!” says Christine Retkwa, co-chair of the Humanists in Action team. “There are so many talented and knowledgeable humanists who have something to share that others are interested in – like nutrition or science or the environment.” She is glad that the program gives attendees a chance to help the community through projects like making fleece blankets for children and menstruation kits for unsheltered youth.
Audrey Kingstrom, HMN program coordinator, is a frequent organizer and host. She says the Secular Saturdays format makes it easy for our members to bring topics to an audience since the venue is already reserved. “That shared social time after the presentations,” she adds, “lets us connect with a broader cross-section of our community than those who just attended the same session.”
Scott Lohman, whose book club has been a longstanding fixture of Secular Saturdays, says he enjoys offering his sessions: “The Science Fiction Book Club allows for broad discussions ranging from the concepts of the books to how they connect with humanism.”
Secular Saturdays take place at 3 p.m. on the first Saturday of most months. You can find upcoming programs on our Meetup site or at humanistsmn.org. The next one is coming up on Sept. 2. We hope you’ll join us!