Rev. Molly to lead UUA General Assembly Sunday Service in June

Rev. Molly

UUA President Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt has announced that Rev. Molly will lead the Sunday Service at General Assembly 2024, on Sunday, June 23 at noon Central Daylight Time.

The official announcement said, “A lifelong Unitarian Universalist from Tulsa, Oklahoma, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon is the minister of the UU Church of Columbia, Missouri, where she is currently suing the state of Missouri for their unconstitutional abortion ban alongside 13 other multi-faith clergy co-plaintiffs. Molly is passionate about red-state UU ministry, community organizing, and mutual aid. In addition to her ministry and organizing work, Molly is a published essayist and poet completing a Doctor of Ministry in Creative Writing and Public Theology. Alongside her wonderful spouse, she is the delighted parent of two very fierce young children and one very chill old dog.”

Rev. Molly said, “I am extremely honored and delighted to share with you that UUA President Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt has invited me to be this year’s General Assembly Sunday Morning Preacher. This is a once-in-a-lifetime honor for UU ministers, and I have gladly accepted her invitation. General Assembly is online-only this year, so I will have the opportunity to showcase our staff members and some of the online worship skills we picked up during COVID. I will be preparing and prerecording the service this spring, and it will then be live-streamed by UU congregations across the country on Sunday, June 23.”

Water Bearers Society is launched

The Planned Giving Work Group of the Stewardship Team has been busy this past year and has launched a renewed planned giving program at UUCC.

During many past Founder’s Day celebrations, we have shared the story of how our founders hand-carried water to nourish the young trees on the site where they planned to build our first sanctuary.  Those founders had a vision to support our church well into a future they only envisioned. You can join this long line of givers by acknowledging your planned gift and water the roots they laid down for future generations of our beloved congregation.

If you have given thought to the financial legacy you want to leave behind, we invite you to consider UUCC as part of that legacy. The Water Bearers Society is a new way our congregation gratefully recognizes those who have committed resources to our long-term mission.

To understand more about UUCC’s Planned Giving Program, go to https://uucomo.org/plannedgiving/.  There you will also find an electronic Intent to Give form to make your commitment known to our team so we can include you in the Water Bearers Society.  You can also contact us by email for more information.

In Service of your Generosity,
Rosie Geiser, Planned Giving Work Group

Church leaders’ February messages

President’s Perspective – President Iyesatu Kamara-Bush

As we settle into 2024, the board forges ahead with our goal of revising our Mission and Vision statements by May 2025. As mentioned in last month’s newsletter, we are currently looking for volunteers to join the Mission and Vision Task Force. We will continue to update the congregation as this work continues over the next year.

I look forward to another year of UUs showing up for one another, for our wider community and for our planet. I am constantly in awe of the persistent and tireless passion for justice that is the bedrock of this beloved community.

In Love and Fellowship,
Iyesatu Kamara-Bush
2023-24 President

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Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

How do we move through precarious times? Curiously.

“The future is dark, which is the best thing the future can be, I think,” Virginia Woolf wrote in her journal on Jan. 18, 1915. Uncertainty, she seemed to mean, is full of possibility. When we face unprecedented and unknown times, we can deepen into mystery in the spirit of exploration and find, there, such a wealth of potential futures. Still, most humans spend some time afraid of the dark.

What if we could face the unknown with curiosity instead of fear? How could our questioning spirit make us brave to explore what might come next? And what might emerge as we lean in to the future that is not clear but instead replete, full of everything that (maybe) may be?

With wonder,
Rev. Molly

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Jamila Batchelder, Director of Religious Education

One of the best opportunities for curiosity at UUCC is the experience of intergenerational curiosity. It is so easy in our often age-segregated world, to see people of a different generation as a mystery to you, and even sometimes to develop hostility to those of a different age than you.

Church is one of the few places left in society where we can interact with every possible age, and if we do so with curiosity, it can be an incredible experience of growth and connection.

We are planning to host a Regional UU high school youth conference April 5-7. As I have made a few initial steps toward finding the volunteers we will need to make our conference experience safe and positive, I have been met with wariness: “Hmmmm…teenagers, I don’t know, they are a little scary!” As a parent of teens, believe me, I get it! But I hope if you are asked to volunteer for this conference, you will approach it instead with curiosity instead of trepidation. You might discover how amazing and inspirational and just gosh darn fun to be around our teens are! And I hope in all your experiences in church, you remain curious and open to making connections with people of all ages.

Jamila Batchelder
Director of Religious Education

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Violet Vonder Haar, Director of Music Ministry

Feeling curious about choir? Join the UUCC choir this spring season! All voices are welcome. We could especially use some sopranos, but we will not turn anyone away. We meet on Wednesday evenings at 7 in the Sanctuary.

Upcoming Sunday performance dates:

  • March 10
  • April 21
  • May 12

Ideally, if you plan on joining us, I would like a full commitment to attending rehearsals and performances. However, I understand that life happens, and you may not be able to make the full commitment. If that is the case, and there are any performance dates that you know you will not be able to attend, I ask that you not attend the rehearsals leading up to that performance, so that we are aware of what parts will need to be covered in your absence and are fully prepared as a group.

Violet Vonder Haar
Director of Music Ministry

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5 new members welcomed on Jan. 28

During our worship service on Jan. 28, five new members joined the church in our traditional New Member Ingathering ceremony. They are Nancy Browning, Megan Cates, Nancy and Joe Cusumano, and Lynn Hostetler.

New church members who joined on Jan. 28 are, from left,
Nancy Browning, Lynn Hostetler, Megan Cates, and Nancy and Joe Cusumano.

Please feed our Food Barrel

Thanks to everyone who put non-perishable food items in the barrel at the upstairs elevator doors over the last few months. Joan and I took 90 pounds to the Food Bank Market on Jan. 26.

The need continues. Please, everyone, continue to feed our barrel, which helps feed our neighbors, and maybe some of us.

Steve Mudrick
Social Action Team

Social Action Team February report

The Faith-to-Action recipient for February is the Minority Men’s Network. The network’s mission is, “To utilize the power of committed men to improve the lives of ethnic minorities through leadership and service.” You will hear more about their goals, activities and what they hope to achieve at the services on Feb. 4 and 18.

Recent Faith-To-Action collection results:

  • September: $537 for The Center Project
  • October: $736 for Heart of Missouri CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates)
  • November: $1,454 for the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. Combined with the Chili Fund-Raiser, that makes a total of $5,174 for PCRF.
  • December: $888 for First Chance for Children

As a reminder, we have two Sundays per month when all proceeds from the Sunday service collection plates are donated to the designated Faith-to-Action recipient for the month. You may also donate on the UUCC website any time during the month for the designated FTA recipient.

We typically get heart-felt letters of thanks from the organizations we donate to. To view these letters check the bulletin board across from staff mailboxes. Our generosity is appreciated!

UUCC member Janice Mericle is a Family Resource Specialist with First Chance for Children and introduced the December FTA collection one Sunday. She is thrilled that the collection went so well, and told us that this makes a big difference to the organization. So, from Janice to all of us — thank you!

February immigrant sponsorship update

Lilly and her children continue to face challenges as they adapt to life in a new country. At the time of this writing, they are struggling with the extreme cold, living in a trailer that is hard to heat, and their pipes have frozen. Their car battery has trouble in this cold as well. We continue to depend on many dedicated church members to see the family through the tough times. Thank you, UUCC, for your continued support of Lilly, Manuel and Lakshmi!

When we agreed to sponsor a single mom with two small children in May 2021, we knew transitioning to independence would be more challenging. Consequently, our sponsorship of the family is continuing in order to provide assistance where needed. You may support or continue to support the work of the Sanctuary and Immigrant Justice Team, which currently includes our sponsorship of the family, by making a tax-deductible donation to the church with Sanctuary Fund in the memo line. If you would like to get involved with the team, please contact Dave or Allie! (Dave Gibbons: dgibbons@mchsi.com; Allie Gassmann: alliegassmann@socket.net)

With continuing gratitude,
Allie Gassmann and Dave Gibbons
Co-Chairs, Sanctuary and Immigrant Justice Team

High school OWL class postponed

We have made the decision to postpone our 10-12th grade OWL Sexuality Education program that was scheduled for this semester. Our veteran teachers have both gone through major life changes this year and will not be able to participate, and we have not found suitable training opportunities to get our new team trained and ready in time.

We have decided instead to host a training at UUCC in the spring, and then hopefully offer 10-12th OWL in the fall. For those of you who are eager to support OWL, there are many opportunities to support this training, from helping to provide meals to hosting home stays for those in town for the training. Please let me know if you would like to get involved.

We still have plans to go forward with our K-1 OWL program in the spring. More information on this by next month!

Jamila Batchelder, Director of Religious Education

President’s Perspective – Mission/Vision Task Force to be formed

In 2012 our Board of Trustees and brand new minister initiated a visioning process to craft a new mission and vision statement for UUCC. After months of one-on-one listening sessions with as many UU Churchers as possible, we adopted our current mission and vision statement in May of 2013.

More than a decade later, a lot has happened in our congregation and in the world. Our congregation has grown by about 20% and seen the usual cycles of folks arriving and departing. We have seen generational shift and staff turnover, political upheaval all around us, opportunities for community engagement and activism, a successful capital campaign and accessibility renovation, and a consistent commitment to nurturing courageous love in our lives. Perhaps most profoundly, we learned new ways of doing and being church during the Covid-19 Pandemic that are continuing to affect our congregational life even now.

Who are we now? What is our work? What are our dreams for our community? In many ways, we feel at the edge of a new era of congregational life. In this spirit, your Board of Trustees wishes to explore these questions together with the entire congregation in the coming 18 months, as we launch a new visioning process to revisit our Mission and Vision Statements for potential updates, edits, or overhaul.

We are working this winter to form and charge a Mission and Vision Task Force. The Task Force will plan a process to gather your input and ideas about our mission and vision in conversations that we expect will happen throughout the summer and fall of 2024. Next winter will be devoted to reviewing their findings, editing or drafting statements, and gathering further feedback. The whole process will culminate in a congregational vote on an updated Mission and Vision at our annual meeting in May of 2025.

We are excited about the clarity we hope this process will bring to our congregational life in a changed world. When our 75th Anniversary comes in January of 2026, we will begin a new era of Unitarian Universalism in Mid-Missouri full of purpose and hope.

If you are interested in being a part of leading this project, please email me, and please keep an eye out for regular updates from the board on the Mission/Vision process.

In Love and Fellowship,
Iyesatu Kamara-Bush
2023-24 President

Intern Minister to be ordained June 8

George

Intern Minister George Grimm-Howell, whose internship with us ended Dec. 31, will be ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 8, 2024 at First Unitarian Church of St. Louis, 5007 Waterman Blvd, St. Louis, MO 63108.

The ordination service will be co-hosted by First Unitarian, George’s home church, and UUCC. All UUCC members are invited to attend. After ordination, George will at long last become “Rev. George.”

Fundraising update

OWL Giving Tuesday: We made our $2,500 goal so class leaders can receive training.

Eco Gift Wrap Event and Pastry Auction: These events made a combined total of $569 for the church.

Humanitarian Aid for Children in Palestine: The Chili Dinner and Bake Sale on Dec. 1 was a great success. UUCC members, friends and guests formed a crowd of about 100 at this event. In combination with a Faith-to-Action collection, we sent a check for $5,174.37 to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund.

Thank you for your contributions!

Website menu system simplified

The menu system on our website has been simplified and reorganized to make it more friendly for those viewing the site on their smartphones. The number of items on each menu tab has been reduced, leaving only the most important.

Also, most tabs now have a “More…” option. If you select “More…”, you will see links to all pages in that category.

If you can’t find something through the menu system, don’t forget our site’s excellent search feature. The search dialog appears at the upper right corner of the screen on all pages of the site.

First Aid supplies now located in Sanctuary

Staff and volunteers successfully completed a CPR and AED course with the American Red Cross on Oct. 29, so we are feeling more prepared for any medical emergencies that may come our way.

UUCC staff members have been working on creating a visible area for the supplies needed in these life-saving treatments. The photo at right shows a first aid kit, AED, Skills Cards, and an Opioid Crisis Kit. These are all located just inside the doors to the Sanctuary on your right when you enter. They are placed high on the wall to prevent children from playing with them.

Expect to hear more in the future about safety plans and drills. We want everyone to know what to do in case of an emergency.

Also, we want to know if you are certified in CPR, AED or First Aid with any organization, even if you didn’t attend our training. If so, please email Church Administrator April Rodeghero and let her know about any current certifications you have.

Lock system for exterior doors has changed

In the past UUCC used a key system for exterior doors. We have now fully transitioned to an automatic lock system to make our church more secure. Each week, Church Administrator April Rodeghero will update the schedule so the exterior doors will unlock and lock for scheduled activities.

Staff members, lay leaders and organizations that rent space in the church will have a code to unlock exterior doors using a keypad in order to enter the building at other times. As a backup, April has an app on her smartphone that can lock and unlock doors remotely as needed when other methods do not work.

All those who now have a key to the exterior doors are asked to turn in their keys and begin using the keypad codes that will be provided to them. Keys should be turned in to April in person or labeled with your name or group and put in April’s mailbox.

It is important to turn in exterior door keys because each time a key is used, it overrides the system and causes the automatic locks to reset. This results in the doors being locked or unlocked at unscheduled times. Thus, if you are the last person to leave the church and the exterior doors are not locked, be aware that:

  • The doors will lock at the scheduled time.
  • A key should not be used to lock the doors because that will interrupt the schedule.

Those who have keys to interior doors in the church may keep those keys, but they are asked to inform April that they have such keys.

Questions about this new system should be emailed to April.

 

UUCC-sponsored African American Heritage Trail Marker dedicated

Our church sponsored one of the markers on the African American Heritage Trail in north-central Columbia. The marker commemorates the historic Douglass High School football field, four blocks west of Douglass High School.

A dedication ceremony was held on Tuesday, June 13, 2023 at the marker location at the corner of Oak Street and Unity Drive. UUCC Board of Trustees member and Social Action Team Chair Fred Young represented the church, and several other church members were present. Also attending were various city and county dignitaries, Sharp End Heritage Committee members, Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, and alumni of the Douglass Bulldogs from the late 1950s.

In the slideshow below, click the right or left arrows to see other photos.

 

Lawsuit challenges Missouri’s abortion ban

From our Minister, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon:

On Jan. 19 a lawsuit was filed in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis challenging the Missouri abortion ban on the ground that it violates the separation of church and state enshrined in the establishment clause of the Missouri Constitution.

There are 13 clergy plaintiffs in this case representing United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Presbyterian (USA), United Methodist, Jewish, and Unitarian Universalist theological perspectives.

I am writing to inform you that I am one of these plaintiffs.

I am proud to challenge this law because I firmly believe that it violates our Unitarian Universalist principles and theology, as well as our state’s essential promise of religious freedom and pluralism and the mandate to ensure the well-being of our citizens.

This lawsuit is being supported by many entities from across the nation and state. In particular, the national organizations Americans United for the Separation of Church and State and the National Women’s Law Center are providing legal counsel and organizing support. Other pro-choice organizations and communities from across the state have been consulted and are involved in supporting the suit.

This lawsuit may draw some attention to our congregation and our ministry on behalf of the bodily autonomy and moral agency of all people. I have consulted along the way with your Board of Trustees; the board agrees that we welcome the opportunity to publicly support human rights in this way.

There is some chance that this lawsuit may also draw less welcome attention to my family and me personally, and we are grateful, in anticipation of that possibility, to be embedded deeply in a community of shared values and mutual support.

I thank you in advance for your love as this lawsuit proceeds. I am honored to serve with you in our congregation’s ministry of justice and dignity for all people.

In Faith,
Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

More information:

 

 

Rev. Molly featured in “Roe, Religion and Reproductive Justice” article

Our minister, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, was prominently featured along with other Columbia church leaders in an article headlined Roe, Religion and Reproductive Justice in the Jan. 5, 2023 issue of The Columbia Missourian Vox Magazine.

According to the article, when Rev. Molly spoke at a rally in May 2022, “Her message was clear: There is a spiritual community in Columbia that is widely supportive of reproductive rights. Housh Gordon is trained by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice to provide all-options pastoral counseling to people making health care decisions. She extended the offer of spiritual counsel to everyone in the crowd, emphasizing that there are safe spaces for people of faith to talk through their reproductive options.”

The article goes on to point out that while about 63% of U.S. adults identify as Christian, about 61% think abortion should be legal all or most of the time. The idea that religious affiliation is synonymous with opposition to abortion is simplistic and the product of a powerful group of religious conservatives. The article quotes Rev. Molly as saying, “Right wing, extremist Christians have aligned the general understanding of Christianity with a very particular social worldview that is not actually very Christian. … The central narrative of Christianity actually is about how life and love are victorious against the forces of empire and death and oppression. And you can very much read the story of Jesus as the opposition to the powers and principalities of this world, the hierarchical powers that harm people, body and spirit.”

Other church leaders quoted in the article were the Rev. Rick Oberle of the United Church of Christ, the Rev. Sarah Klaassen of Rock Bridge Christian Church, and Executive Director Jeanne Snodgrass of Mizzou Hillel.

 

 

Rev. Dottie Mathews recognized for immigrant work

Dottie’s recognition certificate
Click to enlarge

During our Oct. 23, 2022 worship service, our Affiliated Community Minister, Rev. Dottie Mathews, was recognized for her past work as coordinator of the Congregational Accompaniment Project for Asylum Seekers (CAPAS), a program of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC).

As part of the recognition, it was announced that the UUSC has started a fund to support congregations as they welcome asylum-seekers into their communities and named it Dottie’s honor. The Dottie Mathews Congregation Action Fund will provide startup money to congregations who decide to take a leap of faith into immigrant justice work.

Jessica Sapalio, Dottie’s successor as CAPAS coordinator, made the announcement. Here are Jessica’s remarks:

I know that many of you are aware of the incredible dedication and many years of her life that Dottie has given to immigrant justice work and to designing the nationwide CAPAS program. Through her vision and the partnerships that she has built at many congregations and with many organizations, hundreds of asylum-seekers and families who were separated at the border have been met with welcome and solidarity in an otherwise dehumanizing process.

I first met Dottie when my congregation became interested in hosting a CAPAS program. New to immigrant justice work, we were so grateful for Dottie’s knowledge, guidance, and grace in helping us establish a local program to offer solidarity to asylum seekers, which is very similar to the amazing program that you run here under Dave and Allie’s leadership. In January of this year, I had the great honor of getting to try to follow in Dottie’s footsteps by becoming the CAPAS coordinator at UUSC to carry on the incredible program that she created. My daily mantra has become “What would Dottie do?”

In the meantime, I have become a huge fan of your congregation, often watching services remotely, so I was excited to accompany Rosie and Dottie here today, but I’m also here because the UUSC would like to officially honor the incredible contribution that Dottie has had to the immigrant justice field. Dottie, would you please come up?

Dottie is a true justice warrior who has changed the lives of so many involved in this program. In recognition of this, UUSC has started a fund to support congregations as they welcome asylum-seekers into their communities and named it in her honor. The Dottie Mathews Congregation Action Fund will provide start up money to congregations who decide to take a leap of faith into immigrant justice work.

We have also put together a book of messages from many CAPAS congregations, including yours, and partners throughout the country who wanted to express their gratitude.

I wanted to thank you all for having me today, for those of you who helped work on the surprise, and to Rev. Molly, who I am so sad to have missed. I wanted to send special love and thanks to Rosie who through her love has supported Dottie through this journey and therefore all of us, to all of you and your congregation for your commitment to supporting asylum seekers.

 

Welcome to our meadow!

By the time you see this article, the backyard meadow at church is likely to have received its maintenance-mowing and may look like a blank space or a poor excuse for lawn. But, I hope you have seen, can imagine, or will see the wonderful plants that are still alive and well beneath the ground.

There are Common Milkweeds that support traveling Monarchs, Baptisia that bloom with blue flowers above silver-leaved mounds, tall slender-stalked Grayhead Coneflowers, and bunches of fragrant Slender Mountain Mint. There are prairie grasses: Big Blue Stem with its turkey-track seed heads, dense clumps of Switch Grass that form airy panicles of seed, Indian Grass with golden plumes, bright orange-flowered Butterfly Weed, colonies of Ashy Sunflowers, Compass plants that point North and South, Obedient Plant, Rattlesnake Master, Goldenrod, Gum Plant, Blue Sage, Willow-leaved Sunflowers, and multiple species of Asters and Eupatoriums.

This meadow is the result of a human-driven transformation, part accidental and part intentional. When our UU forbears arrived and put up the building in 1969, the current meadow space was home to a woodland community. Then, in 1998 as we put on an addition, a big “bulldozer-oops” occurred, clearing a chunk of woods from the flat area and on down the hillside. We responded with attempts to help the land heal by nurturing a native, shrubby, woods-edge/hedgerow-type community on the hillside, with a native prairie plant community on the flat area that we now call our “meadow”.

Scientists use the words “disturbance” and “succession” in describing the transformation of ecosystems over time. In this particular instance, and so many others, we humans were careless disturbers. But disturbance in ecosystems is not always a bad thing. It can also be regenerative. Now, we are trying to work with natural succession and to steward the land toward health and abundance. We are attempting to partner with diverse life forms, all of whom we will never completely know, but whose basic roles and presence we can at least try to appreciate and support. We aspire to minimize our disturbance and to practice respectful nurturance of a healthy ecological community. Sometimes that requires active labor on our part, but it also asks of us an unhurried presence and an open mind toward recognizing and understanding all that this other-than-human community brings to us. There have certainly been many blunders along the way, but it is our hope that as we observe and learn from direct experience, and listen to naturalists and scientists, we are becoming more attuned to this plant community and are growing in solidarity with it.

It is the hope of our Grounds Team that those who spend time here will be touched by the presence of this rich multi-species community, and that they will return over and over to be connected with its rich transformative presence.

– Carol Arnold, Grounds Team member

 

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.

 

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.

 

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

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.

Dec. 2, 2018 – The F word (Faith)

There is a word not often heard in the Unitarian Universalist Church, and it is the F-word. Dare we utter it? Faith. In our exploration of loaded words this year, faith is the loaded word for December. Sometimes we see faith set up as an idea in opposition to reason and doubt. But can faith be of use in our thought and practice? Can faith actually translate to passion and commitment? What if our “faith” is what we believe fiercely, and even irrationally, as a part of dreaming better for our world? At worship on December 2, 2018, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored this topic, with introductory readings by Intern Minister Alexis and Tim Dickerson.