Solidarity Rally and March – Jan. 18

A message to the UUCC community from Caya Tanski of our Social Action Team:

Dear UUCC Family and Friends,

This is a reminder of and invitation to the Solidarity Rally and March that will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Boone County Courthouse Plaza (Eighth and Walnut streets) in downtown Columbia.

Rev. Molly will be one of the featured speakers.

This rally and march is in solidarity with what has become an Annual Women’s March on Washington.

Since day one of the Trump administration, women have taken action on every front and have been leading the resistance against President Trump and what his administration stands for. From training and running for public office to working on the frontlines for climate justice, working to protect immigrant, worker, LGBTQ, civil and reproductive rights and to end violence, women all over the country are convening a broad and diverse group of leaders to harness our power to create transformative social change. One of the missions of the Women’s March and continuous organizing is to “dismantle systems of oppression through nonviolent resistance and building inclusive structures guided by self-determination, dignity and respect.”

Please join us! Bring your posters! Spread the word!

– Caya Tanski, for the Social Action Team

P.S.: If you can help with peacekeeping on Jan. 18, please attend a Nonviolence Training workshop at UUCC from 1 to 4:45 p.m. this coming Sunday, Jan. 12. At 5 p.m. there will also be a workshop at UUCC on how to disarm a person with a gun.

 

Honduras Service Trip reports

Allie Gassmann, leader of our Honduras Ministry Team, is sending photos and regular reports on the current Honduras Service trip, which appear below in chronological order. This is the fifth such trip. For links to reports on previous trips, see the Honduras Service Project page.

Dec. 28, 2019

I will try to communicate daily about our trip to give you updates and so you know we are safe and all is well.

We all met at 4 a.m. at the St. Louis airport. Everything went smoothly with our flights, and Cito, Keyla and kids Brittany and Breslyn were there to greet us when we arrived in San Pedro Sula.

It was a very happy reunion, and even though everyone was tired, and the trip to La Ceiba seemed endless due to terrible traffic, everyone was in good spirits, and we had fun playing games with the kids!

Then we all had a nice dinner together. It was a most wonderful way to celebrate Walter and my 30th wedding anniversary! We are all exhausted but so happy and grateful to be here and excited about our week ahead!

The travelers awaited their flight in the departure lounge at the St. Louis airport.
The group had dinner at the restaurant of the Gran Hotel Paris in La Ceiba. Clockwise from left: Brittany, Keyla, Breslyn, Cito Lobo (the Honduran organizer), Peter Holmes, Scott Denson, Caya Tanski, Todd Iveson, Amy Inman, Kristine Smith, Leila Gassmann, Beni Adelstein, and Walter and Allie Gassmann.

Dec. 30, 2019

Yesterday we arrived in Las Mangas at the cabañas – so beautiful as ever. The cabañas have been improved quite a bit and are a little less rustic than they used to be. Although we still don’t have hot water here, which I have to say, in the winter is a little harder than in June. I was so cold last night with the thin sheets we have.

The entrance of the cabañas. The next photos show beautiful surrounding vegetation.

We crossed the river by canasta soon after our arrival and started working on the first three latrines right away.
And we have made good progress already.

Dec. 31, 2019

We had very nice days yesterday and today! We will finish two latrines tomorrow already!

It was a lot of fun to hang out with each other as a group and get to know each other better. Wonderful to have Amy, Beni and Orvelina (a friend of Caya’s who is a leader in the resistance movement in the Aguan Valley) with us whom most of us are getting to know for the first time on this trip.

And it has been great to reconnect with old friends and to make new friends in the community we are working in.

Tonight after dinner we were sharing with each other about our impressions, thoughts and feelings. I was so touched by Keyla who started crying as she was telling us about the hardships one of the families we are building a latrine for. She sees poverty around her all the time, and still she was so deeply affected about what she had learned about the family today.

Keyla and Cito are amazing human beings. So full of compassion, so smart, so strong, so kind. It is beautiful to see how much they love their studies at the university in La Ceiba. They get up at 5 a.m., start classes at 7 a.m., are in school until 6 p.m., then usually stay until 9 p.m. to do homework. At home when they need to do their studying, they struggle with bad internet connections. Wow! By the way, there are church members who are financing their education, because sadly it costs a lot to go to elementary school even, and gets worse the higher you go. It’s hard for many people to afford anything beyond 6th grade.

Cito has always been a quiet and serious person, but it seems to me that his studies are just what he needed in his life. He has become much more open and talkative and smiles much more. And he is such a good student that he got a grant to go to England for a study trip recently.

Cito and Keyla have big dreams about how they can stay in their community as teachers and improve the lives of everyone in the community. It is beyond impressive.

Leila, Beni and I have been talking for the last hour or so, and I am deeply touched by their thoughtfulness, understanding and wisdom that seems to go far beyond their years.

OK, now I am crying too. I am so touched by all I am experiencing here, so grateful for what I have in my life, so grateful that I am here, and so grateful for all of you. And yet of course there is so much to be done….

This and the next four photos show work on latrines.

Joel decorated his latrine floor with pretty stones from the river.

A delicious meal.
Nitza with baby, Waltercito, Beni, Brittany and Leila.

Dec. 31, 2019

We had a lovely celebration at the village where we are building latrines. Peter, Scott and Caya gave wonderful musical performances, and Don Neno, the patriarch of this village, also sang and played his guitar. Many people came, and the kids were all dressed up for this special event. In the end cake and juice were served. It was a fantastic way to end the old and ring in the new year!

I should tell you that Don Neno has 13 living children, 65 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. They all live in this compound. Only 3 children in the compound are not his grandchildren, and of course they call him abuelo too.

During the day, we had finished two latrines completely, and tomorrow we will finish another. We are getting close on a fourth, and tomorrow we will get started on several others. We are all getting more experienced and more efficient in our latrine building skills, and Cito and Keyla have also become a dynamic duo in organizing and leading us. Todd and Beni are new to this but are quickly learning and are strong workers. Orvelina is amazing, she really knows how to build things and is super strong. Poor Amy was sick today but luckily recuperated enough by tonight that she could be with us for dinner and further celebrations after dinner.

We are all too exhausted to make it to midnight, and we have lots of work ahead of us tomorrow!

Fiesta and concert fun photos

Todd, Cito, Keyla, and Kristine.

Jan. 1, 2020

Another wonderful day here!

We started the morning off with an “old acquaintance”, Adolpho, who used to be a kid at Guaruma (the organization next door to the cabañas where youth get training in English, computer skills and environmental issues). Now he is a forestry student with plans to get his PhD in Brazil and to work for environmental protection here in the Rio Cangrejal Valley. He is such a neat, amazing and inspiring kid!

We worked on latrines and hung out with friends. Several more of us have gotten travelers diarrhea, but we all pulled through, and everyone is chipper and doing well!

Scott, Peter and Don Neno have definitely contributed to our lifted spirits with their music! As have the kids around us! Beni and Leila are a joy to see as they interact with the kids!

Today we also went to visit Cito’s mother, younger sister and brother in law. Another bunch of impressive people! Cito’s mother,Rosario, started the sewing cooperative and community center that has helped countless people in countless ways. Brother in law, Olvin, is active for environmental issues.

Today is already our last full day in the river valley. Time has passed so quickly!

Jan. 2, 2020

Today we finished up our work in the village and said our sad good byes.

Don Neno and I had a heart to heart as we sat in the canasta for a little while so he could rest from all the work he had done to ferry people back and forth. He told me again how grateful everyone in the village is for all we do. We are the representatives, but all of you and our church are the ones whom we are representing, so I am passing on the deep gratitude and appreciation to you and our church as a whole. I am very proud of what we have all done together to become friends with the people here in this river valley. It is a beautiful thing!

Here we are with some of the villagers. Don Neno, patriarch of the village is kneeling in front on the right.
Las Mangas street scene.

We did a fun “train” trip to get a tour around the town after we got back to Ceiba. This included a stop at the newly rebuilt pier, which was completely dilapidated when we last saw it 5 years ago.

Jan. 3, 2020

Today we took a trip to the Garifuna village of Sambo Creek. The Garifuna are descendants of African people who escaped slavery and probably of other African enslaved people in the Caribbean. From there we took a boat trip out to Cayos Cochinos, a group of several keys. It was the first time Cito, Keyla and kids were there, and the kids were very excited.

In the afternoon we met with activists from the Lower Aguán. They told us about their fight to protect their river and their environment from the mining companies who would destroy it all if they could have their way. People from this region have been murdered, raped and imprisoned for their activism, and yet they stand strong. It was a very moving time we had together. We learned about each other and about how we might be able to stand in solidarity with them. When we are back home, I will send you a link to the UUSC site about what’s happening in the valley.

Our last dinner tonight included one last time singing “Somos el barco” and “De colores” with Peter on guitar and Scott on accordion. And the first tears started flowing. There will be many more at the airport tomorrow.

Jan. 5, 2020 – reflections on our trip

As I reflect back on our trip, I know there is much to be concerned about. 

The Honduran government is run by the drug cartels and is corrupt beyond belief, the hospitals are without supplies, and the education system is in shambles. Cito told us that the hospital in La Ceiba is considered the best in the region so that people from the surrounding departments (provinces) have traditionally come to La Ceiba when they needed specialized care. But now they come, and the hospital in La Ceiba can’t do anything for them because they are out of supplies. When people come seeking care, they are given a list of supplies and meds they need to purchase before they can receive any treatment. Cito said he had considered taking us to the hospital to see conditions for ourselves, but then he decided against it because he didn’t want us to get too depressed. 

The activists from the Aguan Valley (in Guapinol) testified about the hardships and danger they face and about what’s at stake when the mining companies come in and do as they like. The politicians profit personally from the deals they make with the companies. There’s more information from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee here:

Urgent Update: Guapinol Water Defenders Trial in Honduras

Take Action for the Guapinol, Honduras Water Defenders

Honduras in Crisis: How You Can Help

People do live in such abject poverty, and the social service net has disintegrated.

And yet there are hopeful signs. La Ceiba’s mayor since Jan. 2018, Dr. Jerry Sabio, is Garifuna and seems to be doing a lot to make things better in the city. We saw more people walking around, even at night. Things looked less run-down. Apparently there are neighborhoods where the drug cartels have been expelled, and life is much better again. Cito and Keyla kept insisting that La Ceiba is a very safe town except for a few neighborhoods that one must avoid at night. 

Cito, Keyla, and Adolpho seem to be getting good educations. They are fired up about what they are doing and are working everyday to improve the conditions around them. The activists from Guapinol are risking their lives to defend the country they love so much. All of them know that Honduras is a beautiful rich country with great potential and are wiling to stay and work peacefully and powerfully, with dignity and grace, against all odds.

I feel honored to have gotten to know such people. With people like these in the world, there is hope! There must be a way forward. And we in the US need to do our part since so much of Honduran politics are a result of a long history of US imperialism and hegemony that continues to this day. Sadly this is true for Democratic and Republican administrations. However, under the Trump administration things have reached a new low. The Hondurans we talked to about it are all rooting for a Democrat to win in November.

On the lighter side, boy did we have a good time! Scott’s and Amy’s laughter is infectious, and I found myself laughing louder and harder as a result. Peter and Scott’s singing and playing brought joy to all. I will never forget how Scott started playing the accordion as we were waiting in long lines at the overcrowded Houston airport and cheered people up, even those who had missed their flights. Beni and Leila have a gift for connecting with the kids, and I treasure our thoughtful late night conversations we had on the trip. Without Caya we wouldn’t have met the Guapinol activists, and Caya’s deep caring and commitment is impressive. I loved talking with Todd, getting to know him better, he is a calm and wise presence. I couldn’t do anything without Walter who is so competent and supportive and has a calm strength and deep caring. And thank you my dear sister comadre Kristine without whom none of this would even be happening in my life.

A great gift was spending all our time together with Cito, Keyla, Brittany and Breslyn. We deepened our friendship significantly.

Another gift was hearing the stories of the people in the village. I learned a lot on this trip.

I could go on an on… We hope to have opportunities throughout the coming months to share more about what we have learned and experienced.

Last but not least – a big thank you to all of you! It is only through the tremendous support and love of UUCC members and friends that our trips are possible! I am deeply grateful, and so are Cito, Keyla, Don Neno, and the community of La Lopez. As they say in Honduras – que Dios les bendiga. Or in Cito’s words “No encuentro palabras para agradecerles. (I cannot find words to thank you.) MUCHAS, MUCHAS, MUCHISIMAS GRACIAS.”

 

Founders’ Day Weekend – Jan. 25-26

Our annual Founders’ Day Weekend honors our forebears, who first met on Jan. 28, 1951 to begin organizing what would become our church. Plan to join us 68 years later for these activities:

Founders’ Day Service Auction – Jan. 25

This is our premiere annual soirée and church fundraiser. Read more.

Worship – “The House that Love Built” – Jan. 26

Join us to celebrate the legacy of our founders and contemplate how we can carry it forward in our own time. What will our legacy be? Stay after worship for church birthday cake and a meeting with our Building Task Force!

Congregational Input Meeting – Jan. 26

Join our Building Task Force after worship to hear a report, see preliminary plans, and provide your input as we continue moving toward a capital campaign for building improvements and expansion. Read more.

 

Building Task Force Congregational Input Meeting – Jan. 26

Join us Jan. 26 after worship to share Founder’s Day birthday cake and your input as we continue moving toward a Capital Campaign for building improvements and expansion.

This will be your opportunity to hear a report from our Next Steps Weekend, take a look at the first-draft plans from SOA architects, and share your input on our emerging project.

Questions or comments may be emailed, or contact any members of the Building Task Force: Patty Daus, Kevin Fritsche, Larry Lile, Matthew Bossaller, Rosie Geiser, and Barbara Rupp. See you there!

 

Founders’ Day Service Auction – Jan. 25, 2020

Are you excited? We Auction Team members sure are! The Founders’ Day Auction is UUCC’s premiere soirée, and for a mere $10, you will enjoy a fun and festive fête when we get together to raise money for the church and enjoy music, drinks, food and the opportunity to win the service of your dreams! So, two things –

One: Save the date – Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Reserve your tickets at $10 each.

Two: We need donations! Because this is a service auction, think of a service (little or big) that you could offer.

  • Can you babysit, pet-sit, or house-sit?
  • Do you cook or repair things?
  • Are you good at music, painting or photography?
  • Do you have sports tickets you could donate or a weekend or overnight hide-away?
  • Can you teach someone a craft or mend some clothes?
  • Surely you can dust, right?

Groups could offer to do yard work, car detailing, window washing or paint a room in someone’s house.

Be creative. What makes you special? Share it!

Look for the auction button on our website home page (or click the button below) to make a service donation, sign up to bring food or help with the auction, and purchase auction tickets. If the Paypal button does not work for you, we will be taking names before and after services starting in January.

Founders’ Day Service Auction – Jan. 25, 2020

 

Sabbatical – A time for renewal and exploration

Dear UU Churchers,

I am very grateful to announce that this summer, at the end of my eighth year of service as minister of our congregation, I will taking a four-month sabbatical from May 11 (the day after our Flower Communion Service) to Sept. 8, 2020 (in time to resume the pulpit for the first Sunday of the church year).

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 the minister, who generally earns one month of sabbatical per year of service up to a limit of six months.

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 recharge my batteries in this way.

My deep hope is that this time away will be of benefit to the congregation as I return refreshed and full of new ideas and rekindled energy, and as the congregation explores new ideas and perspectives in my absence with a part-time sabbatical minister. My additional hope is that by taking my sabbatical during the summertime, my absence will be less keenly felt than it might be at other times.

I am particularly confident in the capacity of our congregational leadership and amazing staff to keep our shared ministry moving along very well after their excellent smooth handling of my parental leaves. This congregation knows from recent memory that I am only one cog in the practiced running of our operations.

Look forward to more details in the coming months as we finalize more plans, hire a part-time sabbatical minister to support the congregation, and form a sabbatical team to support the sabbatical minister and congregation alike!

In deep gratitude,
Rev. Molly

 

President’s Perspective – Our need to elevate our mission

by Mindy McPherson, 2019-20 President

As we move into the new year, I wanted to offer my deepest thanks to those of you who participated in the Next Steps Weekend in December. I appreciate the time that you spent with our consultant, Rachel Maxwell, and I appreciate the thoughtful conversations that were shared over the weekend.

The Building Task Force and the Board of Trustees will continue to reflect upon the important takeaways from our work with Rachel. I implore you to do the same. If you were not able to meet with Rachel or attend the summary presentation, or have not yet fully engaged in meaningful contemplation about issues surrounding our physical space, please review the summary PowerPoint here. Please continue to wrestle with our challenges and dream about the effective use of our collective strengths. Ask the tough questions. Share your valuable point of view and insight. Keep the conversations going.

Rev. Molly recently shared a Facebook post from Maurice Moe Mitchell. While the post speaks directly to organizational efforts, I believe that we can draw on the sentiment and be encouraged to maintain mission-focus in our work.

“extractive organizing, where people are viewed as volunteers and donors, will never build movements that can transform our conditions.

“however, an authentic, soul-deep commitment to new social relations that prioritize things like connection, meaning, belonging, joy, pleasure, kindness, and compassion can.

“these are not trite and sentimental luxuries. rather, they are requirements for our victory.”

Maurice Moe Mitchell – posted Dec. 13, 2019)
https://www.facebook.com/mauricemitchell

The Next Steps Weekend afforded me the opportunity to pause and be reminded that this work is driven by our need to elevate our mission: “In the spirit of courageous love, we forge a community of radical welcome and deep connection that moves us together to heal the world.”

Wishing you blessings in the New Year.

 

 

January Social Action Team news

Solidarity Rally and March is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Courthouse Plaza in Columbia. Jan. 25 is the bad-weather backup date. Rev. Molly is one of the speakers. The Social Action Team is co-sponsoring this event. Volunteers are needed! As of this writing, volunteers are especially needed to patrol the march. There will be training for this activity in early January. Perhaps this is something for which UUs can volunteer. For information, and to contact organizers to volunteer, the Facebook event is at https://www.facebook.com/events/445931839670915/.

Faith-to-Action (FTA) collections scheduled in January are:

  • Jan. 5: The Center Project
  • Jan. 12: Minority Men’s Network Educational Foundation
  • Jan. 19: Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty

Brief information on each of these organizations can be found here. Remember that if you are unable to attend church service or Forum that day, you can always send in a check any time in January. Make the check out to UUCC, with FTA and the organization’s name in the memo line, and the church administrator will include it in our church’s total donation.

FTA: How are we doing? Check out the totals collected for each recipient at the end of each month here.

 

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.

 

Worship schedule change – only one service at 10:30 a.m. starting Dec. 1

After deep consideration by the Worship Associates and with the full support of the Board of Trustees, we have made the decision to consolidate back to one worship service at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday mornings starting Sunday, Dec. 1. Forum will meet at 9 a.m. as always, and Mindfulness Meditation will take place from 9:30 to 10:10 a.m.

There several reasons for this decision. We added an early service to relieve crowding in the sanctuary, but after giving it a good and committed try over four years, we found that the 9 a.m. service never really reached the critical mass necessary to be sustainable, averaging only around 20-30 in attendance. It seems that it is not the solution we are looking for at this time.

Additionally, we feel the early service is not currently the best use of the substantial volunteer and staff time it requires. We want refocus our energies, especially as we prepare to consider a major building improvement project.

We look forward to worshiping together again as one big community on Sundays!

Here are some ideas for how you can help ensure there is enough space for everyone and particularly for visitors:

  • Park in the Shepard Elementary School parking lot and leave closer parking spaces for visitors. Even better, consider carpooling or biking to church!
  • Move to the middle of your row in the sanctuary, thereby leaving the outer seats for late-comers and visitors.
  • Use the front rows in the sanctuary.
  • Look out for visitors who seem unsure where to sit on a Sunday and invite them to sit with you or help them find an empty seat.
  • Encourage your children to sit up front on the RE rug before they head to class.

 

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.

 

Intern Minister Alexis to explore new path

From Intern Minister Alexis:

Dear UUCC Community,

During a sermon in February, I talked about how being in meaningful relationships with people and engaging with different ideas can call us to adjust the stories we write for ourselves. Little did I know how my intended storyline was about to change!

I write to you, dear community, with a mix of excitement and sadness, to let you know that my story is calling me to explore a new path, one that means ending my internship.

My time as an intern paralleled with seminary courses delving into aspects of Christian theology and biblical studies that captured my interest. As I had time to reflect upon my seminary experiences over the summer, I was surprised to realize these interests were calling me down an ordination track different from what I originally expected. After talking with trusted mentors, I have discerned a desire to explore another faith tradition, namely Disciples of Christ, a progressive Christian denomination.

This exciting new development is accompanied by sadness, because it means I will be leaving my internship to give my whole attention this new path.

Serving UUCC has been a great joy and honor, and I am full of gratitude for each one of you. I will miss you very much. The fact that my inspiration to explore another faith tradition is due to revelation rather than hardship is a great gift.

Thank you for being a space that allowed me to develop as a minister. Thank you for providing support and learning that will always be a part of whatever good I do in ministry.

I will be at both services on Sept. 8 to formally punctuate the transition from being your intern, and I hope to see you there to thank you in person. You are welcome to contact me by email if you’d like between now and Sept. 8.

In Gratitude,
Alexis

From Rev. Molly Housh Gordon:

Dear UU Churchers,

What a gift it has been to have Alexis learning and working with us over the last year. She has brought so many skills and talents to bear upon our ministry, and it has been an honor and a joy to be a part of her formation into ministry. I know that she will be a gifted minister in the tradition that calls to her heart and that we will always share the work of loving this world together.

We are sad to see her go, but it is the work of Unitarian Universalism to support the conscience and resource the spiritual journey, even when that work occasionally leads people away from us. We can be proud to be an important part of Alexis’ journey.

I hope that you will join us in worship on Sept. 8 for a ritual of release to send Alexis off into the rest of her journey with our blessing, love, and very best wishes.

And I hope and believe that with Alexis having paved the way, we will have many future opportunities to serve in a teaching and mentoring role for ministers-to-be. I look forward with you to those opportunities.

In Faith,
Rev. Molly

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.

Rev. Molly’s new office hours

Beginning in June, Rev. Molly’s Community Office Hours will be held at Kaldi’s Coffee downtown on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (instead of Tuesdays).

Rev. Molly is also always happy to meet by appointment with members, visitors, newcomers and community partners. Regular office hours at church are 1-4 p.m. Tuesdays, but appointments can be scheduled on other days and at other times, including evenings and weekends.

Please do reach out if you’d like to chat about life, find your place in the church, process something difficult, find a listening ear, or discuss a project together!

You can schedule an appointment with Rev. Molly here or by sending her an email.

 

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.

 

 

Faith Voices unveils “Moral Agenda” endorsed by Social Action Team

The Faith Voices of Columbia Moral Agenda 2019 was unveiled at a press conference on Feb. 4, 2019 and presented to the Columbia City Council the same evening. Read about the press conference and see a photo in The Columbia Missourian. Our minister, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, was one of the spokespersons for Faith Voices of Columbia.

Our Social Action Team voted at its January 2019 meeting to endorse the Moral Agenda.

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.

Social Action Team invites you to join

We invite all church members and all friends who have an interest in social justice issues to join our Social Action Team to help us shape and strengthen our work.

There are five important aspects of UUCC Social Justice Work

  1. Direct Service (e.g., Loaves and Fishes, Room at the Inn).
  2. Fundraising (e.g., through Faith-to-Action offerings, fundraisers such as the Honduras Trivia Night, sales of artisan crafts, and more, to support social justice work).
  3. Education (learning about systems of injustice, our role in them, and how to effect systemic change).
  4. Advocacy and witness (e.g., work with Race Matters Friends, showing up at City Council, Solidarity Network events, working with Missouri Faith Voices, the Sanctuary Team, letters to congressional representatives, work with MADP, the Center Project, etc.)
  5. Community building and deep connection (to sustain ourselves in the work, but also to create the world we want to see).

Besides joining the SAT itself, we encourage participation in any of our subcommittees or other teams such as the Sanctuary Team, the Missouri Faith Voices work, or the Green Sanctuary team. Together we create the change we want to see while being who we want to be in the world. We welcome your comments, suggestions – and of course action items.

– Caya Tanski, SAT Chair – email

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.

Nov. 25, 2018 – Now the Work, Soon the Victory

Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson

One of our favorite guest preachers, the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, pastor of Dawson Journeys Ministry, was in our pulpit on Nov. 25, 2018. He teaches religion and philosophy at several area colleges, and his eight-week course “History of the Black Church in America,” has been a hit at our and several other area churches. In his sermon, “Now the Work, Soon the Victory,” Rev. Dr. Dawson asked, “How do we correct oppression? How can we be a part of the solution?” and he made clear there is much work to be done. The sermon was introduced by our Interim Music Director Marques J. Ruff singing “The Rain is Over and Gone.”

Nov. 11, 2018 – Service and Sacrifice

On Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2018, our worship topic was “Service and Sacrifice” – a time to think carefully about the role of sacrifice in the lives of our service members and in all of our lives. What does it really mean to serve our country? Listen to Joe Collins and Anja Eick about their experiences in the military.

Nov. 4, 2018 – Day of Remembrance

In the United States we have often conceived of Halloween as a frivolous time when children don costumes and eat too much candy. However in many cultures, this is a serious season for contemplating and respecting the memory of ancestors, folks dear to us who have departed – a time for honoring their memory and coping with grief at their passing. In her homily on Nov. 4, 2018, “All We Are and Will Ever Be,” Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored this more meaningful and somber aspect of the Day of Remembrance, explaining how love is essential even though it entails future loss.

Oct. 21, 2018 – Do the Monster Mash

At our “Do the Monster Mash” worship services on Oct. 21, 2018, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon and DRE Jamila Batchelder considered the idea of monsters in mythologies and in the minds of young and old alike. Listen to their thoughts as they explored how the visceral imagery of devils or demons can describe the experience of evil and help us grapple with evils in our world.

Oct. 14, 2018 – Damaged by Privilege

In his sermon on Oct. 14, 2018, Jeff Ordway recalled how the privilege of being a white male, which might sound desirable, instead resulted in damage to his own soul and especially to others. The events of recent weeks, when we watched several women come forward at great personal risk to describe abusive behavior by a Supreme Court nominee only to watch as his confirmation sail through a mostly-male Senate, drive home the lasting damage done by white male privilege. Jeff’s personal journey witnessing and experiencing abuses and callous behavior among young white males demonstrates how these attitudes and behaviors are perpetuated. Trigger warning: The subjects addressed in this podcast may not be appropriate for all listeners.

Oct. 7, 2018 – Everyday Evil

Writing in the shadow of the Holocaust in the years after the Second World War, German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt said: “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” At worship on Oct. 7, 2018, Rev. Molly Hough Gordon’s sermon grappled with the small ways people of good will can participate in evil in their everyday lives and how we can work to align ourselves with good.

Sept. 30, 2018 – Peace Must Be Dared

German theologian, pastor and anti-Nazi dissident Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote: “There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared. It is itself the great venture and can never be safe.” On Sept. 30, 2018, Rev. Molly Housh Gordon explored the mingling ideas of safety and risk in these times and in our lives against the backdrop of Senate testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford about her unsettling experiences. After the sermon, we celebrated our long-time and well-loved church administrator, Kathie Bergman, upon her retirement.

Sept. 23, 2018 – A Shelter for Every Storm

At worship on Sept. 23, 2018, our Sanctuary Team (Immigrant Ministry) explored how to create an expansive sense of what it means to offer sanctuary in these challenging times. Together, we considered how claiming our identity as a sanctuary congregation relates to creating deep connections, radical welcome and courageous love – not just for our immigrant friends and guests, but for ourselves as members of this sanctuary community. With the addition of a shower in the church, we now have made our building even more accommodating should a person or family need the shelter of our church as they pursue legal remedies to avoid deportation – the Sanctuary Team thanks everyone who helped make this possible.

 

Sept. 16, 2018 – Making Amends

Our Jewish neighbors, members, and friends observed the high holiday of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, Sept. 18-19, 2018. We all make mistakes. There is something reassuring about that – we have all fallen short, every one of us. Listen to the podcast of our Sept. 16, 2018 interactive worship service for all ages, in which we took the opportunity to contemplate what it means to make amends and acknowledge our failings and the importance of creating a community that continually recommits to our promises.