Creating spiritual gumbo – the UU challenge

Message from the Sabbatical Minister:

I am a man who loves food. I have a wide and eclectic appetite. Soul food, Chinese, Japanese, French, Nigerian, Middle Eastern and Italian cuisines all satisfy my palate. One of my favorites, however, is Louisiana/Cajun dishes, especially gumbo.

Gumbo as you know is a stew made of different ingredients. My father said it was created by taking what people had as leftovers in the kitchen and creatively constructing a masterpiece. Shrimp, filé, onions, okra, smoked sausage, garlic, crawfish tails and claws, and of course rice turned what the upper class called “garbage soup” into succulent gumbo.

I say all this because I believe that one of the biggest challenges we face as we embark on this journey together is to be about the business of creating spiritual gumbo. We have the rare opportunity to be a mixture of different beliefs and faith commitments combined to create the most amazing spiritual gumbo ever made.

Look at us. We are theists, non-theists, Buddhist, Christian, pagan, pantheists, Jewish and more. We are joined together by our commitment to radical welcome, love and justice. Some of us are leftovers from other religious experiences. Yet all of us bring amazing “flavor” to the fellowship. We are spiritual gumbo.

A great gumbo requires intentionality. The cook prepares the ingredients with care, envisioning how the combination will look and taste. The cook knows that combining these different parts well will result in an amazing dish. We must be intentional about our spiritual gumbo. Garlic must not think it is superior to the rice. The onions are not sausage, nor should they be. Christians should be as affirmed and affirming as Buddhists, or non-theists, or pantheists. Pagans contribute to the gumbo as powerfully as traditional theistic Unitarian Universalists. No individual ingredient is more important than another. Only united can the gumbo be great.

Can we affirm our uniqueness in the same type of manner as the gumbo chef? The chef realizes that everyone does not like gumbo. Some people only like what they are familiar with. Alas, such is life. However, there are lots of people who have been searching for spiritual gumbo for a long time. They are in our community. They are everywhere. Our job is to seek them out if we want to make a fantastic spiritual gumbo.

So church, let us make spiritual gumbo. Every religious denomination including the UUA needs to make gumbo, and yet none have been hugely successful. We have an opportunity to give our sisters and brothers a recipe for success. We should take full advantage of this challenge.

In peace and love,
C.W. Dawson, Jr., Ph.D.
Sabbatical Minister

 

Special events in May

Flower Communion Service – 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 9

Created by Czech Unitarian Universalists Norbert and Maja Capek as a celebration of diversity in defiance of Nazi supremacist ideology, the Flower Communion is one of the most cherished UU traditions. It is a service in which we celebrate the unique beauty and worth of every individual – and how through the diversity that each individual brings to our community, we create together the greatest beauty of all.

We will be holding a flower communion celebration in person on the church grounds! For those who choose to come, we will have a stations-based experience on the church grounds, where you can move along a path engaging with music, poetry, reflection and fun, while getting a chance to see beloved (though still masked) faces. We will also stream the service live for those who cannot or choose not to come.

If you attend in person, please park on the street and in the parking lot of the school across the street. Save street parking spots closest to those with mobility needs. And if you can, bring a flower to add to our collective bouquet.

Bridging Service – 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 23

Join us to celebrate our graduating seniors as they make their transition from youth to adults in our church community. We will share letters from their parents, offer them blessings, and welcome them into this new chapter of their lives. If you have a youth who will be graduating high school this year and would like to participate in this service, please email DRE Jamila Batchelder.

 

UUCC building open on limited basis

Our Board of Trustees has decided, on the advice of the Covid Advisory Task Force, to re-open the UUCC building on a limited basis and for small groups only. Worship services will continue online, as will many of the team meetings.

Use of the building must be scheduled through the Church Administrator because only a certain number  of people will be admitted at a time and only in certain areas. Masks and social-distancing protocols must be followed. No eating or singing is allowed. There are a number of other restrictions. View the complete policy.

 

President’s Perspective – Living our mission at home

By Rebecca Graves, 2020-21 President

I mentioned in my last column that the board has been discussing the status and resumption of our capital campaign to expand and improve our church building. Given the pandemic postponement of this campaign, it is likely to be a couple years before we see any physical change. As we talked about this, we were led to understand that we could no longer wait on installing an elevator. We want to live our mission at home and to practice radical welcome for ourselves and our visitors. So, we have started the process of getting an elevator installed. We will also be replacing the carpet in this same accessibility project. We will be pulling together task forces to work on the project and to work on fund raising. You will be hearing more on this in the weeks to come.

In accordance with our policy regarding nominees for the board, the nominating committee has invited the nominees to the past two board meetings. They also have been assigned mentors, and we have held an orientation meeting to provide an introduction to policy governance and the board’s role in steering the church towards its mission. A shout-out to the nominating committee, Mindy McPherson, Patty Daus, Qhyrrae Michalieu, and Jenny Bossaller, for their great work on this.

A quick update on the Stewardship Campaign: Our pledges came in under our goal, though the final tally is better than we anticipated last month. I won’t go into details here, as by the time you read this the budget for 2022 will be posted and our annual meeting will either be imminent or over. As always, if you have questions, check our website or give me a shout.

In closing, I hope you are well, and that you have hung on through this past year. I miss you all and long to see you in person. With the vaccines getting into arms (I’m halfway through my course) and the blossoms on the trees, I am feeling hope rising. Just a few months more, and we will make it through.

 

Social Action Team May 2021 report

Faith-to-Action nominations for next church year are open

Most of the funds for social outreach in our church are generated directly from the congregation via the Faith-to-Action collections taken roughly twice per month during the church year. Nominations for groups doing social action and justice work are now open until July 15. Applications are online here.

SAT supports the Community Remembrance Project

The Boone County Community Remembrance Project is associated with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, MS. As of this writing, a soil collection and rededication ceremony is scheduled for April 29 at the site of James Scott’s lynching. For more information, email Wiley Miller of the Social Action Team.

 

Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team will help sponsor Guatemalan family

After some time of discernment and gathering information, the Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team has decided to move forward with steps toward sponsoring a Guatemalan family that is seeking asylum in the U.S. The straw poll the team conducted at a service in April showed that our UUCC congregation is strongly in favor of sponsorship, and several folks have very generously stepped forward with offers of help and even housing.

There are other Columbia community members who are highly supportive, and that includes people at Rock Bridge Christian Church, the other official sanctuary church in town.

The team feels very positive about these developments and will keep you up to date. For more information, email Allie Gassmann or Dave Gibbons.

 

Grounds Team battles bush honeysuckle

On Saturday, April 17 the Grounds Team continued the battle against the invasive bush honeysuckle in the woods behind UUCC.

If you’ve got a giant green thicket in your woods, you may have a bush honeysuckle infestation. These invasive plants are shrubby natives of Asia. Here in America, where they have no natural controls, they leaf out early, grow fast, spread fast and form dense thickets that crowd out Missouri’s native forest plants.

Bush honeysuckle blossoms are white to yellow, fragrant and bloom in April and May. The leaves are narrower and more pointed than native honeysuckles, and they are attached by short, slender petioles to the main stem.

In comparison, Missouri’s beneficial native honeysuckle is a vine, and its roundish leaves are closely attached to the stem. The blossoms are yellow to red and trumpet-shaped and appear late April and early May. For more great information, see this article on the Missouri Department of Conservation website.

Thank you to all who helped with the cleanup! Are you interested in being notified of upcoming activities? Email Patty Daus or Jeanne Murphy.

 

Sign up to be a delegate or attend General Assembly

Our Nominating Committee invites church members to sign up if they are interested in being delegates to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly or just attending GA. The committee will recommend delegates to our Board of Trustees, which will make the formal appointments. Based on our total membership, our church is entitled to appoint five delegates.

When and where is the General Assembly? – For the second year in a row, GA will be held as a 100% virtual event June 23-27, 2021.

What is the General Assembly? – GA is the annual nationwide meeting of our UU churches.

What happens at GA, and why would you want to attend? – You get to worship, attend workshops, connect with other UUs, and as a delegate you would represent our church at the business meetings where UUA policy decisions are made. Read more.

Can non-delegates attend GA? – Yes. While only five of our church members can serve as GA voting delegates, any member with a paid registration is welcome to attend. We have the financial means to assist with registration fees for several members.

Let’s reach record-breaking attendance June 23-27, 2021!

If you are interested in attending this year’s virtual GA and possibly serving as a delegate, please complete this form by May 28, 2021.

 

 

A farewell-for-now from Rev. Molly

“The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.”

– Wendell Berry

Dear UU Churchers,

This is my final message to you until September, as my sabbatical begins April 5 and ends Aug. 2. I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to take extended sabbath time for rest, creativity, and renewal. Theologian Walter Brueggeman writes: “Sabbath is not simply the pause that refreshes. It is the pause that transforms.” By stepping back from the workaday world for an hour, for a day, for a season, we find spaciousness that allows for transformation.

During this sabbatical time my plans are to write poetry, read abundantly, spend deeper time and fuller attention with my family, and rest from the pace of ministry. My dream is that through these things a small transformation works its way through me – a further opening of heart and deepening of spirit that I will bring back to our life together in August with great joy. My dream is that a spaciousness opens for you, too, as well as a new inspiration from the exciting sabbatical ministry of the Rev. Dr. CW Dawson. I can’t wait to see what transformations unfold for you in my absence.

Though I believe this time will be rich for you and for me alike, I want you know that I will miss you very much, dear ones. I cast my heart toward a reunion in the fall that I pray will be not just in spirit but in body too, as I dearly hope we find ourselves re-gathering from this pandemic time. I hope to see some of your masked faces on Easter Sunday afternoon on the church grounds (drop by from 3 to 4 p.m.) to say a very fond farewell-for-now.

With Love, Rev. Molly

 

From Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson – Embarking on a new journey

Beginning in April 2021 we will be embarking on a new journey. Let me say that I am excited, honored and humbled to serve you as your sabbatical interim minister during Rev. Molly’s Sabbatical leave. Who would have imagined 70 years ago that the UU congregation of Columbia, Mo. would hire a Black, progressive, Baptist preacher and philosopher to serve our majority-Anglo Unitarian Universalist Church?

During slavery the Black Church used to sing, “the Lord moves in mysterious ways, [Her] wonders to be known….” I do not know any UU churches within the UUA that have taken such a bold move. I believe we are making history.

On this journey we will strive to “do the work” in a continuous spirit of radical love and fellowship. My hope is that we will draw others in Columbia and surrounding areas who believe justice is something one does and not merely a concept affirmed. Together we can present a witness and testimony that will make Columbia take notice… again.

Your work for justice is known. How do we build on what you and Rev. Molly have already done? How do we improve on what we need as a congregation?

All in all, I look forward to working together. Let us not be weary in well-doing but continue the march toward excellence.

The Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr.
Interim Sabbatical Minister, 2021

 

About Rev. Molly’s sabbatical – April 5-Aug. 2, 2021

From Rev. Molly Housh Gordon:

After a year that was taxing for all of us, I am so grateful to be able to take this time for renewal before our eventual return to in-person worship. I plan to be back in plenty of time to plan for the new church year – in high hopes that we will be able to re-gather in person sometime in the fall or winter.

What is a sabbatical?

Sabbatical is a long tradition in ministry and academia alike, allowing for an extended time of study, reflection, rest and renewal – all ingredients for effective ministry. In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, sabbatical leave is part of the congregation’s covenantal agreement with their minister, who generally earns one month of sabbatical per year of service up to a limit of six months.

What will you be doing with your sabbatical?

I know this opportunity for extended renewal is a rare gift in our American culture of overwork and grind, and I am humbled and grateful for the chance to re-charge my batteries in this way, especially after the grueling pandemic year we have all experienced. I hope to rest, do a lot of reading to renew my wells of preaching fodder, and also take on a small writing project that has been tickling my brain. I hope to return refreshed and full of fresh ideas and rekindled energy for a new church year and an eventual return to in-person worship!

What support will we have during the sabbatical?

The board has been saving for sabbatical coverage since I arrived. We will have a part-time sabbatical minister to fulfill my executive and pastoral capacities and preach twice per month, as well as a “digital liturgist” to help keep online worship running smoothly.

Who will be our sabbatical minister?

Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson has been hired as our sabbatical minister, as originally planned. The Rev. Dr. Dawson is a progressive pastor, professor of philosophy and religion, prolific columnist, and a regular and beloved guest preacher and teacher here at UUCC. I am elated that he is available to work with us in this way – to guide the congregation and to provide new perspective to our ministry during this period.

Does sabbatical benefit the congregation?

Yes! A sabbatical can be a time of mutual growth and exploration for minister and congregation alike, as the congregation has the chance to benefit from different perspectives and ideas. Rev. Dr. Dawson will be exploring multi-culturalism and growth with the congregation through his role as sabbatical minister.

Will you be around during sabbatical?

I will be on full leave from all church duties and will not be available for anything church-related, including pastoral care. But I will mostly be in town as my family members go about their usual pandemic-era lives close to home. If we run into each other around town and you recognize me all masked up, please do feel free to say hello. Just know I won’t be able to talk church business with you!

What if I have more questions?

Email them to our sabbatical minister, Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson.

 

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.

 

Our 2021 CommUUnity Connection Project

Our CommUUnity Connections Project invites individuals and families of all configurations to join in strengthening our congregation’s intersectional bonds. Interested families will be paired up with each other to connect virtually or in person at least once in March, April and May.

Read more below, and click the following button to sign up:

CommUUnity Connection Project Signup

The project’s goal is to strengthen interpersonal bonds within the congregation by connecting interested families.

Project organizers have covered everything they can think of below, but if you have additional questions, their contact information is at the end.

Who Can Participate?

Any size family can participate. You can be a family of one, a couple, a nuclear family, a multigenerational family, or a blended family.

How Can I Participate?

After you sign up by clicking the button above, our project organizers will partner you with another family and provide each family with contact information.

Expectations for Participants

  • Make contact with your partner family within two weeks of being paired up.
  • Make one connection each month in March, April, and May.
  • If you have to leave the project, let your partner family and us know.

Rules for Interactions with Minors

  • Parents should be present for all contact with minors, whether by zoom, phone, in person, etc.
  • Include parents on emails, messages, texts, etc.
  • Adult friends should not contact minors without a parent’s knowledge.
  • Check with parents before giving gifts to children.

Sign-Up Deadline

We have no firm deadline for sign up, but if you are interested, aim to sign up before March 7.

Making that First Contact

Some folks have lots of experience meeting new people. Others less so. Here is a script and some questions for getting a conversation going. Adapt and improvise to make it feel right for you. You can use email to set up a time to meet by phone, online, or face to face for your first contact.

Openers

    • Hi, I’m ______, your CommUUnity Connection partner. How are you doing today/this evening?
    • These are the family/ household members from our household who will be participating (others introduce themselves.) Will you introduce yourselves? (partner family introduces themselves)
    • How long do you have for today’s contact? I will be able to spend up to ___ minutes. Will that work for you? – If not, how much time do you have? (Settle on approximate time. Later, if you find it is going longer, consider checking see if that’s okay)

Follow-up Questions

    • Why did you decide to participate in the CommUUnity Connection Project and what are your hopes for this interaction?
    • How long have you lived in Columbia?
    • How long have you been a member of Columbia UU church?
    • What other faith traditions have been part of your life, if you haven’t always been UU?
    • Where did you grow up, or go to school? (high school, college or other school experiences)
    • Will you tell me about your family/family of origin?
    • How do you like to spend your time? (hobbies, pets, activities, volunteering)
    • For children – what are your favorite things to do? (toys, games, sports, pets)
    • Are you currently employed? If yes, what kind of work, and how long you have been doing it? If not currently employed, what type work have you done in the past?

During the last few minutes

Discuss making plans for your next contact. Will it work best to communicate by email or phone? When will it be? Will it be virtual? Would you consider meeting outdoors? Refer to Ideas for Ways to Connect below for ideas.

Ideas for Ways to Connect in March, April, and May

The ideas below are just a few of the things that you may consider doing together. The relationship you develop may be limited to the 3-month time frame or it could be the start of something more long term. It’s all up to you.

In-Person Activities

    • Meet to talk on your porch or deck, or at a nearby park
    • Meet to talk and hike (at a distance) at a park, hiking trail, Columbia Mall, etc. Drop off a surprise on the porch
    • Run errands for each other like recycling, grocery pick ups
    • Share outdoor tasks – raking leaves, cleaning up gardens, picking up sticks, etc.
    • If you are creative and can manage the distance of working more than 6 feet apart, share or teach a craft technique or something you love to do

Virtual Activities (FaceTime, Zoom, or another platform)

    • Follow up on topics of interest from your initial contact/interview
    • Share favorites- stories, books, poems, movies, foods, recipes, music
    • To include kids, ask them to talk about favorite colors, toys, books, friends, games, Share recent activities – crafts, show pictures kids have made
    • Share tips – kids’ activities, cooking, cleaning, gardening, media viewing (Netflix, Hulu, etc) Share ways you have connected with friends and family in the past year

If Your Situation Changes

When you signed up for this project, you expected to have enough time for full participation, including one contact per month. If your situation changes, be sure to let your partner family know that you won’t be able to continue because of the new circumstances and contact the project organizers. That will allow us to help them find a new family partner if they wish.

Project Organizers

Jan Weaver, Susan Even, Todd Iveson, Steve and Joan Mudrick, Jamila Batchelder, and Rev. Molly Housh Gordon. If you have any questions, please email Jan Weaver.

Download all information as a PDF

 

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.

 

Tim Dickerson selected as President-Elect

Tim Dickerson

Tim Dickerson was selected as President-Elect at the Board of Trustees meeting on Aug. 20, 2020. Under church bylaws, Tim will become President for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021.

Tim started the first year of a three-year term on the board on July 1, 2020. He began attending UUCC in July 2015 and became a member of the church on October 15, 2017. He has helped with Junior Youth Group and Service Sunday. He has taught Children’s and Adult RE and is a co-facilitator for 7th-9th Grade OWL. Tim serves on the Service Auction Team, Technical Team, and Worship Associates Team.

 

COVID-19 Advisory Task Force members appointed

Jan Swaney, Rosie Geiser, Susan Even, Barbara Carter, Cande Iveson and Larry Lyle were appointed by the Board of Trustees as members of the COVID-19 Advisory Task Force at the board’s meeting on Aug. 20, 2020. As the board representative on the task force, Jan Swaney will convene the group’s meetings.

The board approved the following charge for the task force at its July 16, 2020 meeting:

The task force is charged with making recommendations to the board and the minister in regard to how best to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    • The task force is specifically charged with gathering information, reporting, and making recommendations to the board and the minister at monthly intervals regarding, but not limited to: Operating procedures, employee safety, worship, rites of passage, religious education, use of building and grounds, as well as small group ministry and social gatherings. Recommendations will be informed by local and state public health guidelines, Unitarian Universalist Association advice, and the spiritual needs of the congregation.
    • Final decisions will be made by the board with the consultation of the minister.
    • The task force will consist of at least three (3) church members. At least one of the members will be from the board, and least two of the members will have a medical, public health, or a disaster response background. The board representative will convene the task force.
    • The task force will meet and report to the board and minister at least monthly.

Both Jan Swaney and Susan Even are physicians.

 

Grounds Team has set up outdoor meeting spaces

The UUCC Grounds Team did some work – at a social distance – on the grounds recently. Chain saws were buzzing, and when they were quiet, the birds were chirping and the insects buzzing. The breeze and the sun on our faces was lovely, and we were happy to see each other and enjoy the outdoors.

Purple coneflowers, black-eyed susans, wild petunia and butterfly milkweed are in bloom and are attracting monarchs and supporting diversity in our flower beds,

The church building remains closed (see the UUCC website for details), but if you are looking for a shady spot on our grounds for your small group meeting, we recommend the following areas:

  • The fire circle (in the woods behind church)
  • The memorial garden
  • The old playground area (east side of church)
  • The office entrance area (west side of church)

Chairs, tables and benches have been placed in these areas. Please follow safety recommendations and enjoy our grounds.

Fire Circle

Memorial Garden
Playground Area Office Entrance Area

 

 

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.

 

Hans Bridger Heruth – our new staff collaborative pianist

Hans Bridger Heruth

Hans Bridger Heruth became our staff collaborative pianist in September 2019. Hans is an award-winning composer as well as a conductor, pianist, singer, and violinist. He is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Music in Composition at the University of Missouri-Columbia. As our collaborative pianist, Hans will help shape our music program.

Hans was born in Kansas City, Mo. and began studying both voice and piano at age 3, training as a boy soprano. He began studying violin at age 9 and started composing shortly after. His chamber opera, “A Certain Madness,” based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective, Sherlock Holmes, premiered with critical acclaim and sold-out houses. His current projects include a new work entitled “Wytchkraft” for the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Gemma New.

An active collaborative pianist, Hans is also a staff accompanist at MU, where he accompanies the flagship choral ensemble, the University Singers. As a budding conductor, he has made a number of appearances with various ensembles. Most notably, he conducted Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte” with the Show-Me Opera Program.

 

Why is that rug in the sanctuary?

Click to enlarge

Starting Sunday, Sept. 8, you will notice that the front two rows of chairs on the west side of the Sanctuary have been removed and replaced by a large rug for children to sit on.The rug will have quiet items like crayons, paper and foam blocks. Parents, teachers, and other adults are invited to join the rug community too!

The reasons we are trying this are several. The first and most important is that we have designed the first part of the liturgy to be engaging to children and meaningful to folks of all ages, but it is hard for children to see and participate when they are sitting in the back of the room behind a bunch of adult heads! We believe children will feel more comfortable in our sanctuary, learn our rituals, and begin to engage more fully when they are nearer the “action” on the chancel.

The second is that creating a designated space for children front and center communicates that their presence in our worship life is important to the adults of our community and that learning to be a part of our services  is an important part of their religious education, one we know takes time and patience.

The third is to create a clearer pathway in the back of the sanctuary for people with all kinds of mobility needs to get where they need to go. We know families with children often sit in the back for easy access to the door in case a child needs to take a break in the Greeting Area. By placing the rug at the west side of the sanctuary, we hope families will still have easy access to the exit if they need it. Additionally we hope to continue fostering an atmosphere that truly welcomes the energy of children!

We’ll check in after a while to see how it’s going, and we are always happy to hear your thoughts directly – email either Rev. Molly or Director of Religious Education Jamila Batchelder, or both.

 

New Director of Music Ministry – Jeremy Wagner

From Rev. Molly and the Music Director Search Team:

Jeremy Wagner

We are very pleased to introduce to you our new Director of Music Ministry, Jeremy Wagner!

Jeremy stood out to our search team because of his passion for building community through music and his gifts for working with singers of all ages and levels, including a gift for working with children and youth. He was recommended by his mentors and peers as an excellent and accessible conductor and showed himself through conversations with our search team to be dedicated, effective, and creative! We are so excited to begin working with Jeremy.

Jeremy will be getting oriented this week and next, and his first Sunday with us will be July 28. He also looks forward to gathering and meeting the choir in mid-August, and will be available for a meet and greet to the whole congregation after the service on July 28. Please plan to stay for coffee on Sunday the 28th and welcome Jeremy to our beloved congregation!

Jeremy is a promising music educator, performer and conductor who recently earned a Bachelor’s of Science-Education degree (with an emphasis in Vocal Music), as well as a Bachelor’s of Music in Vocal Performance degree at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Growing up in Edmond, Oklahoma, and living in New York, Texas, and Missouri, he found that no matter where he lived he was able to find friends and nurture his love for music through school choirs. During his time in both the School of Education and the College of Arts and Science at Mizzou, he was able to work alongside and learn directly from his mentors, Dr. Wendy Sims, Dr. Brandon Boyd, and Dr. R. Paul Crabb.

Additionally, he was given opportunities to work with local public educators and students from Columbia Independent School, Rock Bridge High School, Locust Street Expressive Arts Elementary School, and Jefferson Middle School. Through his participation in the community, he has also established himself as a performer, singing a number of roles with Show-Me Opera’s productions and Missouri Symphony Society. His musical gifts and focused work ethic led to him being named the Director of Music at First Christian Church in Centralia, Mo., where he served for three years. He also worked as an intern for the Choral Arts Alliance of Missouri.

In Glad Song,
Rev. Molly & Your Music Search Team – Pack Matthews, Jamie Meadows, Neil Minturn, Jeanne Murphy

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.

Jan. 20, 2019 – MLK Jr. Weekend – The Lonely Justice-Maker

On Jan. 20, 2019, the day before the official observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon revealed a major new effort by Faith Voices of Columbia – an interfaith group that promotes relationships of understanding, cooperation, and respect across religious and political divides. This proposal is scheduled to be presented to our community and our City Council on Feb. 4, 2019. The proposal demands funding for a permanent shelter for the unhoused, real and full community policing, abolishment of cash bail, and a number of other measures designed to create a moral attack on amoral policies. There could be no more fitting tribute to Dr. King’s legacy. We also are privileged to have digital rights and permission to publish Marques Ruff’s inspiring vocal performances.

Jan. 13, 2019 – Thresholds

Church was canceled on Jan. 13, 2019 because of heavy weekend snow, so we offer an archived recording from 2015 on the topic of “thresholds.” Times of change and transition can seem significant. Below the surface of our lives, the seeds of huge changes sleep beneath the snow, but we suspect nothing. When the grip of some long-enduring winter mentality begins to loosen, we find ourselves vulnerable to a springtime flourish of possibility, a threshold that divides two different territories, rhythms and atmospheres. Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored these ideas on May 3, 2015.

Jan. 6, 2019 – Be It Resolved

A guest preacher, the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson challenged us at worship on Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019, a time of resolutions and self-reflection, to be courageous – courageous in the face of trouble, courageous to stand up and say “enough,” courageous in the face of criticism and controversy. Rev. Dawson said he would rather die courageous than live as a coward.

Dec. 30, 2018 – Begin Again in Love

At worship on Sunday, Dec. 30, 2018, we paused at the cusp of a new year to reflect on what had been, and also to look forward and find inspiration and purpose for the new year. Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, DRE Jamila Batchelder, Intern Minister Alexis led us in poetic reflection.