Construction update

From Rev. Molly:

Thank you to all who helped move furniture on Sunday, Sept. 18, and to all who have contributed to our Accessibility Project in any way over the last 11 months.

I am overjoyed to tell you the project is under way! We will be out of the Sanctuary Sunday, Oct. 2 with an All-Ages services outdoors in back of the church. Our rain location will be Shepard Park. Online worship will be at the usual time, but may be pre-recorded due to technical problems issues of outdoor streaming. Nursery care will be provided indoors, and folks may use the bathroom and other facilities on the lower level. Meditation Group, Forum and the OWL class will continue in their usual locations. Our Liberation Conversation about Reproductive Justice in Missouri will be held in the Centering Room, or possibly outdoors if attendance is extremely high.

Work on the Sanctuary and Greeting area is nearing completion, and the administrative wing is expected to be finished in the next week or so.

We’ll keep you posted as the work eventually moves downstairs and then focuses on the structural changes to allow for the installation of the elevator.

We continue to raise funds to bridge that last little gap to fully funding the project, and you can make a gift or pledge at uucomo.org/rising if you’d like to help us over the finish line! See you in (our beautiful, transforming) church!

Retreat prepares board members for the year ahead

By Susan Even, Board Member

As the new church year ramped up, the UUCC Board of Trustees came together for an all-day retreat on Saturday, Sept. 10. After a centering and brief worship experience, we shared what we love most about our church and, using the “Roots and Wings” theme, described what grounds us and what we stretch toward. In another exercise, we found we had many unexpected things in common, a nice reminder to always look for hidden treasures among us.

Have you ever communicated with your future self? It’s fascinating! We each channeled our ‘2025 self’ and wrote our “2022 self” a letter identifying changes our church has undergone, issues we had tackled, and how we addressed them. Sharing with each other, we learned how enthusiastic and positive we are and the commonality of the future vision we share. We are optimistic, proud, grateful, and confident in our priorities, which include embracing the 8th principle/antiracist/anti-oppression work, strengthening religious education programming, embracing accessibility, and generally widening our circle of concern. We hold guarded optimism about church finances and some anxiety about the general economic and political instability around us.

Then we dug into an assessment of how we perceive that our church fits into nine aspects of Racial Justice in UU Congregations, using a rubric created by Julia Hermann de la Fuente. For each aspect, we attempted to discern whether our congregation fits best as “status quo,” “multiculturally aware” or “anti-racist.” Our individual results were viewed collectively as dots on a large paper on the wall, an interesting visual image that showed we acknowledge many important things that we have already been doing, along with a veritable “to-do list” for future years.

Energized by this, we discussed some future actions we could undertake. We see value in viewing future activities and church structures through an anti-racist/anti-oppression lens. During board meetings, we hope to include learning anti-racist skills. We see the need for intentional anti-racist education for the congregation as a whole and within youth and adult religious education programs and small group and pastoral care efforts. Later in the year, we hope to hold cottage meetings where congregants could participate in the same Racial Justice Assessment rubric work that we found valuable. We agree that the 8th Principle work will be ongoing.

Closing words from Hush by Rev. Kimberly Quinn Johnson charged us each to listen to the call of “a past not quite forgotten…..a future not fully imagined” and to ask ourselves, “What shall we do?” Congregants, your board hears the call and, over the coming year, wants to lead you into action!

 

Immigrant sponsorship update

Lilly and the kids feel happy in their own apartment. Manuel really likes his new school, Parkade Elementary. The move into their own apartment has been a huge step, but one of the last steps towards independence is another big one. Lilly needs to learn to drive, and she will need a car. If you are willing to help Lilly learn to drive and/or if you have a car you are able to sell at a low price, please let us know.

Since it will be some time until Lilly can be independent in her transportation, there is still a need for drivers. A small group is doing a lot of the transportation, but they need backup drivers sometimes. Lilly needs transportation for work, and drivers are needed for appointments and to Lakshmi’s Head Start location. Volunteers can select when they volunteer based on their schedules. People willing to help should contact Joe Donaldson at joe.donaldson347@gmail.com or 573-289-0725 for more information.

When we agreed to sponsor a single mom with two children, we knew it would be challenging. Our sponsorship of the family will need to continue in order to provide assistance. We would greatly appreciate your financial contributions to our sponsorship efforts! If you would like to support the work of the SIJT, which currently includes our sponsorship of the family, you can make a tax-deductible donation to the church with Sanctuary Fund in the memo line. If you would like to make a donation directly to the family (non-tax-deductible), you can send a check made out to Allie Gassmann at 1700 Princeton Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. This money will go into a joint account to pay the family’s expenses.

If you would like to get involved on the Team, please email Dave or Allie, co-chairs.

Dave Gibbons
Allie Gassmann

 

Usher volunteers needed

Being an usher is a fun and time-limited way to make a big difference for our church community – offering radical welcome to all who join us on Sunday! Ushers work in pairs. Feel free to sign up with a friend or loved one. Kids are welcome to help before their class. Here are the duties:

  • Arrive by 10 a.m.
  • Distribute hymnals among the seats.
  • Greet folks with an order of service as they enter the sanctuary and if necessary help them find seats.
  • Close the doors at 10:30 a.m. and let in latecomers.
  • Pass the collection plates for the offering. Return them to shelf at the back of the sanctuary.
  • Count attendance shortly before the offering and write the numbers on the checklist.

Sign up to be an usher

Rev. Molly’s office hours are changing

Rev. Molly has found that folks wanting to meet with her prefer to make an appointment, which makes it hard to hold a lot of open hours. This year she will be holding her Community Office Hours as the only open hours and offering appointments every day except Monday (day off) and Wednesday (sermon-writing day) for those who wish to meet with her online, by phone, or in person at an indoor or outdoor location of choice.

The easiest way to make an appointment is by using Rev. Molly’s online scheduling calendar, but if you can’t find a time there, send an email to Rev. Molly as she can sometimes work you in at a slightly different time.

Office Hours

 

Monthly “Liberation Conversations” planned

Liberation Conversations – a Second Sunday Civic Engagement Series

A Second Sunday Civic Engagement Series
of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia
2615 Shepard Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201
uucomo.org

Childcare Provided
Catered lunch available if reserved ahead
$15 each or Sliding Scale
Make Reservation
Sunday, Sept. 11
Lunch at 12 p.m., Conversation begins at 12:30 p.m.
“The State of Democracy in Missouri”
With Molly Fleming
Director, MOVE
Missouri Organizing and Voter Engagement Collaborative
The Missouri Organizing and Voter Engagement Collaborative (MOVE) exists to empower ordinary people to reclaim democracy in the state of Missouri.
Sunday, Oct. 2
(Rescheduled from Oct. 9 to avoid conflict with Roots N Blues Festival)
Lunch at 12 p.m., Conversation begins at 12:30 p.m.
Missouri After Roe: Our Reproductive Justice Landscape”
With Jess Lambrecht
Program Director, Missouri Abortion Fund
The mission of Missouri Abortion Fund (MoAF) is to provide public education and support for people needing reproductive health services, primarily by providing financial assistance to Missouri residents who cannot afford the full cost of abortion care.
Sunday, Nov. 13
Lunch at 12 p.m., Conversation begins at 12:30 p.m.
“Movement Chaplaincy: Spiritual Care for Social Justice Makers”
With Jeanne Snodgrass
Director, Mizzou Hillel
Movement Chaplains participate in social change ecosystems by providing accompaniment, care and resilience building with the goal of reducing activist burnout and creating more sustainable movements at all levels. Movement Chaplaincy is one of the ways the legacy of care and accompaniment is developing in this generation of social change work.

Online “Poetry for Spiritual Growth” series

With Rev. Molly Housh Gordon
First Thursday each Month on Zoom
7 to 8:30 p.m.

Join us for a contemplative series with poetry at the center. We will reflect on spiritual and theological questions using poetry as our source text. We will share some of our favorite poems. We will write, whether you prefer to journal or write your own poetry. And we will share our reflections, and perhaps our writing, with one another.

Please join us for any session even if you can’t commit to the whole series. Dates:

  • Sept. 1
  • Oct. 6
  • Nov. 3
  • Dec. 1

Zoom link
Meeting ID: 890 7122 4964
Passcode: 790328

 

President’s Perspective – celebrating Rev. Molly’s 10 years at UUCC

Following is the text of the speech given by President
Melissa Ensign-Bedford at our Aug. 13 UUCC Elevated Gala

On April 22, 2012, Molly gave a sermon to our congregation called “Roots Hold Us Close.” At the beginning of that service, she painted a picture for us in which she described her “roots” and how Columbia feels “awfully close to where she came from.” She stated that she hoped that her ministry would dig deep and grow strong in our community. As a member of this congregation and someone who has been on this journey for the last 10 years, I feel I can say that Molly’s roots have not only dug deep and strong but have become an integral part of our spiritual ecosystem.

In ecology, there is a term called Mother Tree. Ecologist Suzanne Simard describes them as “the glue that holds the forest together.” These trees use a mycorrhizal network to feed, communicate and support the ecological community that surrounds them. They are a central hub of sorts. They connect not only with their species but with other tree species, plants and soil microbes. They hold soil, and they keep the water flowing through the system, and after a disturbance, the Mother Tree is what helps the system recover.

When we called Molly to be our settled minister, I do not think we knew that we were calling a Mother Tree in the making. As soon as she was planted here, she began to seek out those connections that make a mother tree a mother tree. She started with the congregation by getting to know us, and then she branched out to the community at large. Year after year, she builds on this network, working tirelessly to help us dismantle systems of oppression and simultaneously nurturing our congregation. She asks us to consider hard questions and step out of ourselves, not because she wants us to struggle, but because she is helping us grow.

During the pandemic, Molly held us together through online fellowship. This was a considerable feat for a church that had never had online services and was not wired for it. It required the talents of many coming together without actually being in the same room! Even though the pandemic sucked, we can now offer our services in-person and online. You could say our church’s roots are now intertwined with the world’s web.

I think what I, and the board, love most about Molly is that when the world throws us a punch, she faces it head-on. She reaches deep down into those roots and faces the challenge, knowing that being firmly planted means you won’t get knocked down – or at least not as hard. I look forward to continuing this journey and seeing our roots, and thus our church, grow. Molly, your wish that your ministry would dig deep and grow strong in our community has come to fruition. We know it hasn’t always been easy, and there must have been times that you wanted to run away, but you didn’t! Thank you for taking root at UUCC.

 

Fall music plans

Calling all musical members! Weekly choir rehearsals will begin on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Sept. 14. Let’s make this a year for creating community through singing and song! All ages and ability levels are welcome and encouraged to join. Sunday performance dates are still to be arranged.

YO(UU) Kids Sing will be a monthly gathering to take place on most third Sundays of the month after the worship service. This is a chance for our youth to stretch their musical wings. Bring a simple lunch –music and fun to follow! YO(UU) Kids Sing will take place Sept. 18, Oct. 16, Nov. 20 and Dec.11 and will culminate in a performance at worship on Sunday, Dec. 18.

On Sunday, Sept. 11, we will be joined during our morning service by award-winning touring songwriter Crys Matthews. A prolific lyricist and composer, Crys has found inspiration in her surroundings; from driving through the Blue Ridge Mountains to the compelling and heart-breaking love story of Richard and Mildred Loving. Thoughtful, realistic and emotional, Matthews’ songs speak to the voice of our generation and remind us why music soothes the soul. Crys will be teaching a master class on the “Art of Writing Social Justice Songs” with a full concert to follow on Sept. 10 at the Compass Music Center. More information and tickets are available at https://compasscolumbia.org/.

 

Social Action Team announces Faith-to-Action nominees

Following is a list of Faith-to-Action collection nominees for 2022-23. Because of administrative changes to the program, we cannot accommodate all of the nominees. The Social Action Team will decide on a final list of recipients in the coming month. Brief descriptions of selected organizations will then be posted on the church website. Thanks to those who submitted nominations!

Centro Latino
Children’s Grove Kindness Libraries
Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture
Columbia Second Chance
Dawson Journey Ministries
Festival of Sharing
Heart of Missouri CASA
The Lajee Center
Loaves & Fishes
Minority Men’s Network
Missouri Rural Crisis Center
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
Planned Parenthood Great Plains
Rainbow Network
Room at the Inn
Stop Human Trafficking Coalition
Tent of Nations
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
UUCC Sanctuary & Immigration Team
UUCC Honduras Clinic
UUCC Honduras Education Project
The Wardrobe
World Wide Mobility

 

 

Chalice Circle signups have started for 2022-23

Members and friends of UUCC – are you:

  • Looking for a way to connect with fellow UUCC members and friends?
  • Seeking opportunities to share your heart in a safe/brave space?
  • Wanting to find new connections and opportunities to discover how UUCC can be meaningful in your life?

Joining a Chalice Circle may suit your needs. You can learn more about Chalice Circles here.

Traditional nine-session Chalice Circles will meet once or twice a month for an hour or two from September 2022 through end of May 2023. Each circle is limited to 10 members. Groups are facilitated by fellow UU volunteers. Topics are planned in coordination with the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon. Regular service project opportunities are chosen by members of each group to enhance bonds of friendship. Commitment is for one cycle of nine sessions.

Chalice Circles are now open for signups here – or by contacting Kathie Bergman:

  • Phone – 573-999-3938 and leave a message, or
  • Email

If you have questions you are also welcome to call or email. We look forward to a full and exciting year ahead!

 

Four new members joined in July

The UUCC Membership Team, Rev Molly Housh Gordon, and the rest of the congregation warmly welcome these new members who joined on July 10:

Melissa Cameron
Michael Cameron
MaryBeth Bernardin
Courtney Bernardin

Please introduce yourself to our new members.

Our next membership opportunity will be our fall membership cycle:

  • 7-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22 – Membership 101 on Zoom
  • 11:45 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 25 – Membership 102 in person in the UUCC Centering Room
  • During worship Sunday, Oct. 9 – New Member Ingathering

 

Social Action Team reports 2021-22 spending

The Social Action Team’s budget for the 2021-22 church year was $2,000. Here is how the Team disbursed the funds:

Henry Kirklin seminar: $1,000. We sponsored a seminar on Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture’s Henry Kirklin Black Farmer Scholarship Fund. Moderated by Rev. Dr. C.W Dawson Jr., it included presentations by Billy Polansky from CCUA and program participant Eddie Linzie. Our donation went toward the scholarship fund and for honoraria.

Honduras Educational Fund: $500. The fund goes toward educational expenses for individuals in Honduras.

Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (MADP): $1,000 total. A combination of funds from the Faith-to-Action collection, supplemented by the SAT budget.

Minority Men’s Network (MMN): $1,000 total. A combination of funds from the Faith-to-Action collection, supplemented by the SAT budget.

The remainder of the budget was used to bolster Faith-to-Action collections for Worley Street Roundtable and Missouri Rural Crisis Center.

 

UUA offers training for Reproductive Justice Organizing Teams

The Unitarian Universalist Association is supporting UU congregations in developing Reproductive Justice Organizing Teams in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade. A series of webinar training sessions will be held in July and August.

Please email Rev. Molly if you are interested in being part of a Reproductive Justice Organizing Team at UUCC.

You can register for the UUA training by clicking the following button:

Training Registration

 

George Grimm-Howell will be 2022-23 Intern Minister

We are delighted to announce that UUCC will become a teaching congregation once again in the 2022-23 church year when St. Louis seminarian and long-time Unitarian Universalist George Grimm-Howell joins us as Intern Minister! George approached us this winter looking for an internship site nearby his home in St. Louis, and after several in-depth conversations, we realized that he would be an excellent fit for our congregation. We are overjoyed to welcome him beginning in August!

George is a seminary student who will earn a master of divinity degree at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities in May 2022. He is a few months away from becoming a candidate for UU parish ministry, focusing on themes of social justice and liberation, particularly for members of the LGBTQ+ community and people of color, and incorporating socially transformative art forms into the worship experience. He lives in University City, Mo. with his family and is a long-time member of First Unitarian Church of St. Louis.

 

April 2022 new members

The UUCC Membership Team, along with the UUCC congregation and Rev Molly Housh Gordon, would like to warmly welcome our new members:

Adrienne Mann
Amanda Smith
Art Smith
Doug Mann
Jordan Alexander
John Brennan
Kevin McKiernan
Taylor Gill

These new members signed the membership book during the Ingathering Service on April 3. We are so pleased that these new members are among us. Together we can do great things.

Patty Daus
UUCC Membership Team

 

Safety guidelines for in-person worship

After a hiatus in January caused by the spike of cases of the Omicron Covid variant, we resumed in-person services on Feb. 6, and we continue to offer live-streamed services. All are invited to attend in the format that best meets their needs and risk tolerance.

For those attending in person, we are continuing the following in-person safety measures:

  • Masks are required for those 2 and older. We recommend high quality masks such as N-95, KN-95 or KF-94 for all who can wear them, and we will have some on hand at the church for those who need one.
  • Please stay home and attend online if you feel sick – even just a little “under the weather.”
  • The chairs will be set up at a safe distance, and we ask you to maintain distance when not in your seat.
  • Nursery caregivers and Religious Education teachers are vaccinated, boosted and masked.

Our ventilation in the sanctuary remains top notch!

UUCC sponsors African American Heritage Trail marker

The UUCC Social Action Team, along with individual UU donors, is sponsoring a marker at the site of the historic Douglass Football Field. This marker will be part of the African American Heritage Trail in central Columbia. The marker is complete and will be installed this spring. The text is as follows:

“The Douglass Football Field served as both the location for the Douglass High School Bulldogs’ games and also as a community gathering site for Black audiences during each Fall and Spring season. The field was a popular destination from the early 1900s until the school was integrated with Hickman High School after the 1959-60 season. Many talented players shared the daily, four-block walk from the school dressing rooms to practice and play here. Notable coaches included Roland Wiggins, MD and George C. Brooks, a native son who played as a student and coached until Douglass closed. Long live the memories of the Douglass High School Bulldogs.

“Signage Courtesy of Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia”

Greeting opportunities await

Greeting for service is fun, informative, community- building and appreciated.

Time commitment: 10 to 11:30 a.m. or noon Sunday

Responsibilities:

  • Smile and greet.
  • Encourage name tags. Masks will be required for all participants above age 2. Watch for new faces or people who are glancing around the room. Escort visitors with children to RE.
  • Afterward, seek out the new visitors and touch base with them. Answer questions as best as you can. Refer the question to the right person, send the question to the membership team, and/or refer the person to the UUCC website.
  • Greeter signup can be found at: https://uucomo.org/blog/sheet/sunday-greeters/.
  • Once you have signed up, a more detailed instruction sheet will be provided.

The Membership Team hopes to have a board welcomer and two greeters for each service.

 

We love our trees!

The Grounds Team would like to introduce you to some of our trees and invite you to share your love of our trees and woods on the UUCC Facebook page.

Shingle Oak – Wood from this oak can be split into thin sheets, which used to be made into shingles.

White Oak – These oaks can live for more than 300 years and are found throughout Missouri.

Shagbark Hickory – Its wood makes excellent, slow-burning charcoal, its nuts are edible, and its wood is used for many implements. Wildlife from moths to squirrels to bats appreciate shagbarks, too!

Sweet Gum – The star-shaped leaves of sweet gum become even more striking in the autumn, when they turn various shades of gold, red, pink, and purple, often on the same tree – sometimes even on the same leaf!

Ginkgo – A non-native tree, the ginkgo’s combination of resistance to disease, insect-resistant wood, and the ability to form aerial roots and sprouts makes it durable, with some specimens claimed to be more than 2,500 years old.

Explanations are courtesy of the Missouri Department of Conservation at https://mdc.mo.gov and also https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginkgo_biloba.

Check out the Grounds Team. Submitted by Patty Daus.

 

Greetings from our new Music Director Violet Vonder Haar

Violet Vonder Haar

I am so excited to be joining the UU family! I look forward to seeing what kind of music magic we can all make together and can’t wait to get to know you. I thought I’d tell you a little about myself and my musical journey and how it has led me here to you.

My first musical performance was at Earth Day of Columbia in Peace Park at the age of 9. From the very beginning, as a songwriter and performer, music was and still is a way for me to shed light on social issues, to heal and to open hearts and minds. I have played music across the country and Midwest touring with my band, Violet and the Undercurrents, and in 2018 I formed the Jane Doe Revue, an all-female rock orchestra that has helped to raise more than $20,000 for women’s healthcare in Missouri.

I graduated from Central Methodist University in 2010 with a bachelor’s degree in Music Education with a vocal emphasis and began teaching private music lessons shortly after. I have taught general and elementary music at Lange Middle School, Stephens College Children’s School, Columbia Montessori School and Windsor Street Montessori. I love to teach and believe it is one of the most meaningful and radical ways to make a direct impact on our future.

On Oct. 1, my wife Phylshawn Johnson, local music teacher Audra Sergel and our non-profit music organization Compass Inc. announced that we will be opening a community music center in the heart of Columbia on University Avenue. The center will be a hub for our mid-Missouri music scene and a place where anyone can come to learn music. Through a community outreach program, we will be offering music lessons on a sliding scale. The center will also be home to a substance-free listening room, recording studio and workshop rooms. We are in the middle of our first fundraising campaign with hopes to open the center in the spring of 2022. If you are interested in learning more, visit https://compasscolumbia.org/.

Some of my music ministry goals at UUCC are to reconvene the choir safely, begin a youth music program with an emphasis on singing and playing based upon interest and skill level, youth and/or adult songwriting groups, involving and inviting members of the Columbia music scene to play for our services and of course involving and making space for all the talented UUCC musical members. I am grateful to have been welcomed into the UUCC family and look forward to growing the music program with you!

Musically yours,
Violet Vonder Haar

 

Easy text and online donations now available

We are excited to announce that we have launched a new system giving our members and friends the ability to give to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia by:

  • Text message from your smartphone, or
  • Online

This new system has been arranged through the Breeze Church Management System, our new church database. It replaces our previous Paypal portal, which is now inactive.

You can find complete details about the new system at https://uucomo.org/give.

As fewer people are using checks or carrying cash, we wanted to offer a safe, secure and convenient way to easily support our church through giving by text message or online.

As some of our members, friends and visitors are continuing to stream our worship services online, we hope this new system will be more convenient than mailing a check or using our previous Paypal portal.

Our new system will allow you to give using a credit/debit card or bank ACH transfer. The system will ask for your card or bank account information the first time you use it, and you can change that information later. You can use the system to give whenever your choose, and you can also set up automatic recurring gifts.

Our church will pay a small transaction fee to process online payments, but we feel the fee is well worth the convenience. If you choose, you will be able to cover that fee for the church when you make an online gift.

We believe these new tools will allow us to continue to serve you well. We want you to know we greatly appreciate you and your spirit of generosity as you continue to support UUCC and our mission of radical welcome and deep connection that moves us together to heal the world.

 

UU Life Writers’ Group publishes its second anthology

The UU Life Writers’ Group is pleased to announce the publication of its second anthology, Stories, Just Stories. The stories are mini-memoirs about family, growing up, social activism, romance and pets. A big section of poetry is included. The anthology also contains tributes to those writers no longer with us.

Copies are $8 and can be ordered by email to Fran Reynolds. Pay on the UUCC donation page by selecting the “Other” option and specifying “Life Writers Anthology” as the purpose of the donation.

March is Women’s History Month. UU Life Writers will be writing stories about women who have been important to them, the church and the community. Everyone is welcome to join us on Zoom. We will meet March 6 and 20 at 10:30 a.m. For more information contact Fran.

 

Please help sponsor the UUCC Honduras Education effort

Our congregation has for many years been in a relationship with a community in the Cangrejal River Valley of Honduras. Groups of UU Churchers have visited every couple of years to work on projects and have maintained relationships between trips with communications and material support for things like the health clinic. This has been mutually rich in learning and connection for both communities.

Two years ago our Social Action Team undertook a project to establish an Education Fund to aid community leaders in furthering their education and building skills to help in their community. The Honduras Education Fund provides scholarship funding for these local leaders, but it is currently running low on funds! The team is seeking individuals or families to pledge $160/year (about $15/month) for two years to keep the Education Fund up and running! One time gifts of any amount are also accepted on our online donation page – select the “Other” option and note “Honduras Education Fund” for the explanation.

Can you help? Email Caya Tanski with any questions.

 

Rev. Sally Fritsche joins Illinois church

Rev. Sally Fritsche in the pulpit

The Rev. Sally Fritsche, daughter of our members Lisa and Kevin Fritsche, joined the UU Church of Urbana-Champaign (UUCUC) as Associate Minister for Congregational Life on Sept. 1. Her duties will include pastoral care, membership, leadership development, small group support and alternative worship opportunities. She will also lead one Sunday service per month. She delivered her first sermon there on Sept. 13.

Rev. Sally grew up in our church and had a keen interest in world religions from a young age. After earning undergraduate degrees in sociology and religious studies, she first felt the call to ministry while serving in Americorps in rural Indiana. She was both disheartened by the poverty and suffering she witnessed and inspired by the activism and compassion she saw in local congregations. Newly reminded of the power religious community can have to change lives and sustain people, she turned away from her doctoral aspirations and instead applied to and was accepted at Harvard Divinity School.

While a divinity student, Sally served as an assistant chaplain to the Suffolk University Interfaith Center, as a chaplain intern at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in downtown Boston, and as an assistant director at the Boston Nature Center summer day camp. After graduating with her Master of Divinity in 2018, she served as ministerial intern at First Parish UU in Needham, MA, where she was ordained as a UU minister on June 20 this year.

Rev. Sally and her husband Miles Faaborg, also a Columbia native, moved to Urbana from Massachusetts and had a few weeks to get to know the area before she started her ministry at UUCUC. Miles also attended Harvard, where his field of study was applied physics, and he was a research fellow at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The couple married in July 2018.

Rev. Sally can be contacted by email. You can read more about Rev. Sally here.

Below are additional photos of Rev. Sally from this summer.

 

May 3, 2020 podcast – A Chance to Dream

Sunday, May 3, 2020 was the eighth Sunday of our online worship in compliance with guidelines for social distancing during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s homily was titled “A Chance to Dream.” Even as our state rushes to “re-open the economy,” it is clear not only that there is no quick and safe way to go back to how things were before, but also that exactly how things were before is not a worthy goal. In a time of deep uncertainty and rupture, there is also unprecedented possibility – to dream a better world and to replace old and dysfunctional ways of being with new and generative ones. Join us to dream about the more just world we are creating amid all that is crumbling around us.

 

 

April 26, 2020 podcast – Lessons from Nature

Sunday, April 26, 2020 was the seventh Sunday of our online worship in compliance with guidelines for social distancing during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Our service observed the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, and we enjoyed the beauty of spring as members of our Green Sanctuary Team reflected on “Lessons from Nature.”

 

 

April 19, 2020 Podcast – “Lessons from the Flowers”

Sunday, April 19, 2020, was the sixth Sunday of our online worship in compliance with guidelines for social distancing during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. We remembered the beauty of the earth as well as its impermanence by creating a nature mandala with beautiful bits of spring. Rev. Molly’s homily was “Lessons from the Flowers.”

 

April 12, 2020 – Easter – The Holy or the Broken Hallelujah

Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020, was the fifth Sunday of our “virtual” online worship in compliance with guidelines for social distancing during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Rev. Molly livestreamed the service from her home via Zoom. This podcast features Rev. Molly’s homily, “The Holy or the Broken Hallelujah.”

You can also view a video of the entire worship service. Also participating from their respective locations were Jamila Batchelder, Director of Religious Education; Jeremy Wagner, Director of Music Ministry; Hans Bridger Heruth, Collaborative Accompanist; and Rebecca Graves, Worship Associate.

 

Oct. 13, 2019 – Loving Bravely

On Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon preached on “Loving Bravely.” Rev. Molly invites us to explore together how we live through the spiraling dance of love and fear, discern the difference between discomfort  and  danger,  and  expand  our  comfort zones so that we can draw the circles of love and compassion in our lives wider and wider.

 

Oct. 20, 2019 – Strengthening Our Hearts

On Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, our Worship Associates presented a meaningful lay-led service on the topic “Strengthening Our Hearts.” They offer us an  opportunity to hear UU Churchers’ testimony about what “Courageous Love” means to them in their lives.

 

March 8, 2020 – Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!

On Sunday, March 8, 2020, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s sermon title was “Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There!” Often it is not actually what we do that is most supportive to our loved ones, but rather a quality of our presence. Rev. Molly invites us to explore what it means to be a healing presence with those we love, especially in the times when we feel most helpless.

 

Oct. 6, 2019 – Begin Again in Love

On Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, special guest Jeanne Snodgrass, Director of Mizzou’s Hillel Jewish Student Center, preached on “Begin Again in Love.” One way we practice courage is by making amends and beginning again in love. On this Sunday closest to Yom Kippur, Jeanne invites us to learn what wisdom we can all take from the traditions of Judaism’s High Holidays.

 

Consider donating to help others during the coronavirus emergency

UUCC benevolence funds

You can donate to our church’s benevolence funds here. Be sure to note “benevolence funds” as the purpose of your donation.

Other community organizations

Other community organizations working to help those in need during the crisis include:

Community Foundation of Central Missouri’s COVID-19 Regional Relief Fund
https://cfcmfoundation.org/donations/covid-19-regional-relief-fund/

COVID-19 Crisis Shelter for the Unhoused
http://comocrisisshelter.com/

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri COVID-19 Response
https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E164454&id=77

 

Nov. 17, 2019 – What Do We Seek Here?

On Nov. 17, 2019, “What Do We Seek Here?” was the Rev. Dottie Mathews’ sermon topic. In our Unitarian Universalist faith, there is no precept demanding weekend attendance or any “extra heavenly points” awarded to those who actively participate in Sunday services and in other fellowship opportunities. Rev. Dottie invites us to ponder: Why is it that we do come? What is it we are hoping to find here? And what is our role in being attuned to the hopes that others bring with them as they venture into our doors?

 

Nov. 10, 2019 – With Heat and Great Effort

On Sunday, Nov. 10, 2019, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s topic was “With Heat and Great Effort.” Listen as she explains that beloved community is not a thing that simply happens – rather, it is created, under heat and with great effort. Rev. Molly invites us to reflect upon what it really means to forge community and why it is the most important hard thing we do.

 

Nov. 3, 2019 – Remembrance Sunday

On November 3, 2019, our annual “Remembrance Sunday” on the Sunday closest to All Souls Day, we set aside a time of deep memory, honoring the lives of loved ones now gone. Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored how community holds memory in a way that none of can do alone.

 

Reparations Working Group update

We in the Reparations Working Group have begun our work! Just what exactly is that work? Our charge, first articulated by Rev. Molly in her February 2019 sermon, “Reparations and Soul Repair,” is to conceive of a small-scale, hyper-local reparations project. How might we leverage and redistribute a portion of our congregation’s resources to African American residents of Columbia and/or Boone County as an admittedly small act of repair to the systemic impacts of slavery and ongoing racial injustice? We will grapple with this question and present a detailed project proposal to the congregation by late fall 2020.

To get from here to there, we have formed sub-teams in these three intersecting areas:

  1. Truth Telling: How have white residents suppressed black residents throughout the founding and growth of Columbia and Boone County? How is that past still present in our community today? We are diving into Columbia’s history (including archival research and oral history gathering) to uncover and to shift the narrative of race in our community.
  2. Project Dreaming: We are researching examples of other reparations projects around the country to inspire and inform us as we envision and plan our own small scale project.
  3. Relationship Building: We will identify and deepen relationships with black community members who are willing to offer insights into the history and the effects of systemic oppression in our community and to advise us on project design.

We are clear in understanding that our work:

  • Must go beyond apologies, however heartfelt, and enter the realm of physical, material repair.
  • Will be small in scale and cannot undo generations of past suffering.
  • Involves, for those of us who identify as white, humility and an ever-deepening understanding of our own individual and familial roles in historical and present-day systems of racial oppression.

We move forward with this hope – that the work of small-scale repair, while modest, can still be profound. Small steps can also be bold. We meet twice monthly.

Working Group members are Amie Burling, Andrew Twaddle, Charles Swaney, Dan Bugnitz, Dave Gibbons, Fred Young, Gretchen Maune, Kim Wade, Rev Molly Housh Gordon, Sam Otten. Let Rev Molly know if you would like to join us.

– Kim Wade

Honduras Service Trip report

A group of ten members and friends of UUCC spent a week in Honduras from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 building latrines and deepening ties and friendships with people in the Rio Cangrejal Valley. As they worked on the latrines, they learned more about the hardships people in the valley face. They also had many opportunities for laughter and companionship.

A group of activists from Guapinol joined them to tell them of their struggles to defend their land from mining companies. The poverty the majority of people in Honduras suffer as a result of the depth of corruption and criminal activity of the government is staggering.

Click the following button for a more complete description of the trip including many photographs:

2019-20 Honduras Trip – Full Report and Photographs

It will be another three years before the Honduras Ministry Team goes back to Honduras. In the meantime, the team will be in close touch with their friends in the Valley. The team will continue to raise funds for the health clinic in El Pital. The healthcare and educational systems are in shambles in Honduras, so providing funds for basic necessities at the clinic is of vital importance. The team would like to fund a few more latrines and continue supporting the microfinance organization Adelante.

Allie Gassmann, Honduras Ministry Team Chair

Sharing our space with Missouri Faith Voices

From Rev. Molly:

Brittany Hughes

In expression of our partnership with Missouri Faith Voices and our intention to leverage our facility for the work of liberation, the UU Church of Columbia is proudly donating office space for Missouri Faith Voices Columbia Organizer Brittany Hughes.

Brittany is making use of our volunteer work room as well as sharing space downstairs with Music Director Jeremy Wagner. If you’re around on a weekday you just may have the chance to share a warm UUCC welcome!

Brittany is the regional organizer for Columbia’s chapter of the grassroots organizing group Missouri Faith Voices. Originally from Aliceville, Alabama, Brittany spent most of her school age years in St. Louis, Missouri. Her passion for this work is derived from her love of black folks and the desire to see the collective liberation of BIPOCs not only in America but globally. When she isn’t working, Brittany enjoys a good book, cooking, music, and grabbing drinks with friends.

 

July 14, 2019 – Making Liberation Irresistible

This summer we are exploring the use of secular works as sacred texts. Listen to the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s sermon on July 14, 2019 as she explicates the thesis of the book Pleasure Activism by Adrienne Maree Brown. Brown posits that there is more to this world than the pursuit of mere life, liberty and justice; that we deserve pleasure; and, in fact, that embracing what brings us joy is central in organizing against oppression.

June 16, 2019 – Looking Up to Les Misérables

In summer 2019 we are studying secular works as sacred texts. On June 16, 2019, we explored secular texts using the spiritual practices of Lectio Divina and Floralegium – techniques that ancient monks used to study the Bible. Tim Dickerson and Sam Otten applied these techniques to excerpts from two works – Les Misérables by Victor Hugo and “John Wayne Gacy Jr” by Sufjan Stevens. Listen to their exploration of these works for the inspiration and deeper meaning we can find in them.

May 19, 2019 – Celebration Sunday Podcast

At worship on May 19, 2019, we were treated to a music extravaganza as we celebrated the service of our Interim Director of Music Ministry, Marques J. Ruff, and our accompanist, Arun Garg. We also celebrated the accomplishments of our high school graduates. We apologize that this is one of the longest podcasts we have offered – however we make up for it by having rights to publish the wonderful music from Marques, Arun and our choir. Also, you can see photos from the service here.

Fragrance sensitivity? We’ve got you (or at least your chair) covered!

On Sunday, March 24, the Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) Team presented the lay-led service, “Living Up to Radical Welcome,” and made a small change in the sanctuary while we were at it. As we’ve heard a number of questions about this change, we thought it was about time we shed some light on it.

If you’ve been to services during the past couple of months, you have likely noticed a section of chairs in the back of the sanctuary topped with yellow pillowcases. This sunny addition was inspired by feedback we’d received from congregants who have fragrance and chemical sensitivities. These individuals had been unable to enjoy services because of the migraines, allergies, and other reactions caused by these products, which many of us don’t think twice about applying. While we can’t control what products each person uses before joining us for worship, we can create a space in which people who live with sensitivities or allergies to those products can, hopefully, be more comfortable and feel more radically welcome.

The AIM Team requests that the fragrance-free seating area be reserved for individuals who are not wearing perfumes or scented products. We thank you for your help with this step towards being more accessible to and inclusive of all members and guests.

– Gretchen Maune, Chair
Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry Team

May 12, 2019 – Flower Communion

On Sunday, May 12, 2019 we celebrated our annual Flower Communion, a tradition started in 1923 by Czech Unitarian Minister Norbert Chapek. In this podcast, we are pleased to present the reflections of our Director of Religious Education Jamila Batchelder and feature the wonderful music from our service, by permission of the performers. Although the visual beauty of the service can’t be appreciated by listeners, we make up for that with the music from our guest musicians. Mathena Claire Page sang “Meinem Kinde,” Aubrey Smith sang “Serenade,” and then together they sang “The Flower Duet.”

March 24, 2019 – Living Up to Radical Welcome

At worship on Sunday, March 24, the UUCC Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry Team explored the topic of disability. Some disabilities are easily observed, leading to snap judgements about the person’s inherent worth and dignity, to misconceptions and prejudices, and often to discrimination. On the other hand, many disabilities are invisible, leading to accusations that the person might be “shirking” or “faking it.” But often well-meaning people are too “helpy,” as it is sometimes described, assuming that they can grab a disabled person’s arm and lead them around. All of these attitudes, well meaning or not, miss the mark. Disability is the only minority that any of us can join at any time, and we are likely to join them if we are lucky enough to live that long. Listen as Gretchen Maune, James Cutts, Qhyrrae Michaelieu, Martha Brownlee-Duffek and Ruth Millage describe their experiences.

Feb. 24, 2019 – Reparations and Soul Repair

At worship on Feb. 24, 2019, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon’s topic was “Reparations & Soul Repair.” She explored these issues: If power is the ability to act, then our power is deeply affected by our resources. What do we do about the truth of history that many have been systemically robbed of resources and thus power? What joyful redistribution of shared power could we find through the exercise of reparations? And what does all this mean for the well-being of our souls?

You can also read this sermon.

 

Social Action Team makes UUCC T-shirts available

After a two-year lapse in the availability of UUCC T-shirts, the UUCC Social Action Team now has three designs of T-shirts available for purchase at $20 apiece. The shirts are perfect for rallies and other activities and events. Look for them in the Greeting Area.

Some of the shirts feature the design that first became available in 2017 before the UUA General Assembly. On the front this design includes the official church logo and the church motto. On the back, it features the logo and the following words from our Mission Statement: “Courageous Love, Radical Welcome, Deep Connection – Healing the World.”

The other two designs are specific to the Social Action Team.

You can see the shirts in the photo slideshow below. Click the arrows to see the next or previous photo.

 

 

Jan. 27, 2019 – Across Generations: Founders’ Day Sunday

At worship on Jan. 27, 2019, the day before the 68th anniversary of our church’s founding on Jan. 28, 1951, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon reflected on the history and future of Unitarian Universalism in Mid-Missouri. Listen to her sermon exploring the vision that connects us across generations, what it means to be a good ancestor, and how this idea can inspire us to leave a legacy that we may not harvest.