Revised UU principles will be on General Assembly agenda

The Seven Principles, which are set out in the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Bylaws, Article II, “Principles and Purposes,” have existed in their current form since 1987. Article II is the covenant to which all UU congregations and covenanted communities pledge themselves when they become members of the UUA.

In light of a number of suggested Article II revisions since 1987, the UUA Board established an Article II Study Commission, which submitted its final report in October 2023. Revision of Article II will be on the agenda of this year’s UUA General Assembly June 20-23. You can read the PDF version of the commission’s final report below.

Beneath the report you will find links to four proposed amendments to the language recommended by the commission. These proposed amendments also will be on the agenda at GA. To be placed on the agenda, proposed amendments had to be supported by at least 15 UU congregations.

You can read about the Article II amendment process here.

Final Report of Article II Study Commission

article_ii_final_report

 

Proposed Amendments to Final Report

Reason and the responsible search for truth and meaning

Equity calls us to listen, understand, respect and respond

Peace as a UU value

Equity – every person is inherently worthy

Annual Giving Campaign was successful

Dear UUCC members, 

Thanks to your generosity, our 2024-25 Annual Giving Campaign, “Breaking Bread, Growing Love,” was an incredible success! The pledge total now exceeds $306,000. Moreover, 40% of our pledging households increased their pledges over the prior year. Also an impressive 11% of pledges were from first-time givers! These new dollars have helped narrow the gap created by members lost, for various reasons, to our congregation.

While we did not reach our $315,000 pledge goal, with some new rentals generating additional income, for the first time in a number of years we will be able to fully fund the budget proposed by our Budget Team and approved by our Board of Trustees.

In a time that is tough for faith communities like ours all across the country, our request for generosity brought excellent results. This is a very good place to be, considering there are always unexpected circumstances and the needs of our community are always changing.

An additional note of gratitude comes from the COMO Mobile Aid Collective for the “fabulous and delicious assortment of bread and muffins” donated by our members to the soup kitchen on the final Sunday of our campaign.  What a tangible way to demonstrate our values and give support to our wider community.

We envisioned that you see yourselves as bakers, making pledges rise like dough to nourish the love of our UUCC church and community. And you came through! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

In service,
Susan Even
Annual Giving Chair

 

Water Bearer Society offers ‘Basics of Estate Planning’ June 9

Join our Water Bearer Society after worship on Sunday, June 9 in the Centering Room for “Basics of Estate Planning,” brought to you by our Planned Giving Team and presented by Dean McCullar, CFP, VP and Financial Advisor with Central Investment Advisors, a unit of Central Bank.

As suggested by the title, Dean will discuss the elements of estate planning, and the benefits of putting even the most basic and simple plan in place, sooner than later. And, perhaps answer questions such as: “Do I really NEED a will?”, “What is a ‘health care proxy’?”, and maybe clear up some of the common misconceptions about estate planning.

As you consider your legacy, a planned gift to UUCC helps to water the roots laid down by our founders for future generations. Find out how that is possible with this presentation.

All are welcome to attend. Light refreshments and child-care will be provided. So that we may ensure sufficient seating and child-care is available, please let us know you will attend, (indicating that child-care is needed, if appropriate), by emailing Kevin McKiernan.

Lay leaders needed for summer talks on ‘UUtopias’

UUs have a long tradition of dreaming more beautiful futures and nurturing hope in the face of dystopian despair. This summer join us to dream better together. The Worship Associates are seeking lay preachers to share your visions of hope, sources of utopian inspiration, and/or dreams of the future.

If you are interested in sharing your vision for UUtopia this summer, please email the Worship Associates, or talk to us after worship any Sunday. An experienced Worship Associate will guide you through the process and help you with your service any way they can.

May messages from church leaders

President’s Perspective – President Iyesatu Kamara-Bush

This month we will be holding our Annual Congregational Meeting on May 19. It is an opportunity for us to live our values by sustaining our beloved community through the democratic process. Further information about this meeting will be sent out to voting members of the congregation.

May is also a month full of celebration. We celebrate motherhood in all its forms. We celebrate the accomplishments of the graduates among us. Speaking of graduates, this month we celebrate our dear minister as she earns the title of Rev. Dr. Molly Housh Gordon. Our entire beloved community is elevated and enriched by Rev. Molly’s intellect, creativity, empathy and determination. Let us all take a moment to congratulate her on her achievement.

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

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Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

Dear UU Churchers,

As spring gives way to the longer, luxurious days of summer, I wish you moments of joy that grow and grow even now — not just a crumb either, but a whole loaf to sustain your heart in these precarious times.

“Don’t Hesitate” by Mary Oliver

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case.
Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

Joyfully, Rev. Molly

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Jamila Batchelder, Director of Religious Education

In May we have multiple events of young people transitioning into the next chapter of the their lives.

On May 5, the Coming-of-Age middle schoolers will share their deep reflections about what they believe and where they are headed on their spiritual path. They will leave their place as children in our RE program and move into their role as teenagers and young adults.

Then on May 19, our youth who are leaving high school will join us in a bridging service as we welcome them as adults in our church community.

As always, these moments of transition are not just for the young people of our community, but for all of us. They are an opportunity for us to take stock of who we are, what we believe, and where we are going. They are a chance to reflect on how being grounded in our UUCC community and with each other allows us to continue this journey.

I look forward for the opportunity for us all to support our young people and renew our commitment to each other.

Jamila Batchelder
Director of Religious Education

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Violet Vonder Haar, Director of Music Ministry

Calling all singers!

Have you wanted to sing with the choir this year, but have been unable to commit to weekly rehearsals? Or maybe you’ve been been hesitant to join because you don’t read music? Or maybe you’re just not confident with your singing abilities and were afraid to take the leap? This is your sign to join us now!! For our final Sunday performance, before we take a break for the summer, we will be singing simple songs that most anyone can learn. Don’t read music? No problem. I will guide you through each piece, learning the songs by ear. Join us!

Final spring Sunday performance date: May 12.

Violet Vonder Haar,
Director of Music Ministry

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Facilities Team reports on lower level restoration

By Kevin Fritsche, UUCC Facilities Team Chair

Kevin Fritsche and Larry Lile pose and smile with a classroom backdrop of partially repaired walls

Your Facilities Team is happy to report that over the past few weeks much progress has been made returning our downstairs to a state of repair and renewal.

  • Kevin McKiernan, Jeff White, Larry Lile, Lila Ordway and I replaced and patched drywall throughout the downstairs wherever it had been removed during the demolition process.
  • Larry Lile and Lila Ordway installed new countertops and re-installed the cabinets in both classrooms.
  • I primed and painted the cabinets and walls in those two classrooms with new and warmer colors.
  • Lynn Hostetler and I repainted the Forum Room an inviting shade of grey. You’re invited to come downstairs and take a look around for yourself.

Here is what we can expect going forward for the next month or so:

First, new vinyl cove baseboard needs to be installed in all rooms and the hallway were water damage occurred. If you have any experience with doing this, we would greatly appreciate your guidance and assistance with this task.

Second, we expect that the downstairs kitchen restoration will begin in May or June. We are hiring some pros to take on that portion of this project. The kitchen will be getting new cabinets, countertops, sinks, and appliances (i.e., oven, dishwasher, refrigerator).

Third, while the kitchen remodel proceeds, the tile floors throughout the downstairs will be stripped and re-finished.

Finally, sometime in early May, the staff, volunteer teachers, and Facilities Team members will gather together to sort through all of the supplies that have been moved, relocated or misplaced, claim what is wanted and needed, and then organize and store these items in the most appropriate places.

Looking forward to the summer, the team will be completing the installation of shelving in the new shed, and then it will be time to organize its contents. We hope some of you reading this might be interested in helping us out. If so, keep an eye for invitations to workdays.

May Social Action Team update

Faith-to-Action

The Faith-to-Action recipient for May is the church’s Honduras project.

As a reminder, two Sundays a month all undesignated collections are donated to the designated Faith-to-Action recipient for the month. You may also donate here any time during the month for the current 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!

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

January: $721.58 for MADP (Missourians to Abolish the Death Penalty. Ms. Elyse Max thanks us, and is grateful for our continuing support.

February: $1,080.12 for Minority Men’s Network

March: $1,101.77 for our Sanctuary and Immigrant Justice Team.

Loaves and Fishes – the new location

In April we served our first meal at the new location of Loaves and Fishes at the Room at the Inn in the Ashley Street Center, 1509 Ashley St., behind the city power plant (view map). The space is excellent, with a huge kitchen. It’s not perfect – no ice-maker, for instance – but Greg Suhler reports that the dishwasher is vastly superior to the one at Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church.

Client/guest numbers are down to about half of what we used to see this winter at Wilkes. Staff members say that people who come are mainly those with cars or bikes; nobody walks all the way out to the Ashley Street Center, and there is no city bus service on Sunday.

Loaves and Fishes – team building!

One idea that the Social Action Team has for engaging more people in the congregation with Loaves and Fishes is to encourage groups to “sponsor” one of our L&F meals. Discuss among yourselves, pick a month that is good for you, and sign up for as many slots as you can. Get together and prep a meal! Show up as a team to set up/serve/clean up! You don’t have to fill all the slots – and don’t worry, we’ll make sure that one or more of the “old hands” are there to help, and there is an excellent staff person (Meg) who always seems to be there. Serving the L&F meal is a Good Thing – and it’s fun!

Nominations open for 2024-25 Faith-to-Action recipients

The UUCC Social Action Team is now accepting nominations for the Faith-to-Action collection recipients for September 2024 through August 2025. The team is requesting that nominations be submitted by July 1, 2024. If a full set of nominations has not been received by that time, the team will continue to consider nominations that come in later, but nominations made by July 1 will be given priority.

Any member of UUCC may submit a nomination.

Selection Criteria: Nominees may be local, regional, national, or international organizations, programs, or agencies that align with our church mission and vision. Preference will be given to local or regional efforts wherein members of the congregation have an ongoing working relationship. Three months are initially reserved for nominees that have not been FTA recipients within the past three years. These months will be released for other nominees after July 1 if there are no “new” nominees. Note also that, at this time, the Social Action Team intends to contribute directly to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, so no nomination of the UUSC is needed.

Nominations can be made online here or on paper – WordPDF. The paper form contains instructions for submission and can also be obtained from the Church Administrator. There is also a button near the top of the home page that will take you to the online nomination form.

May immigrant support update

THANK YOU, THANK YOU. The Sanctuary and Immigrant Justice Team extends its immense gratitude to the UU Church of Columbia and the amazing people who make this such a wonderful community. The team was the recipient of the Faith-to-Action collections in March that were added to UUCC’s Sanctuary Fund. We know every dollar was lovingly donated to the immigrant justice work we are doing, which at this time is primarily assisting Lilly Ortiz Valiente and her children Manuel and Lakshmi, the asylum-seeking Guatemalan family this church committed to sponsor in May 2021.

From the day she received her work permit, Lilly has been doing custodial work in the residence halls at the University of Missouri. As a single mom she is doing her best to be as independent as she can be, although when car problems and other challenges arise, we are available to provide assistance. So, when the negative polarizing political rhetoric toward immigrants spews its ugliness, please know UUCC is doing one small part to welcome and support a family fleeing violence to seek what is a legal right for asylum in this country and around the world. Again, thank you.

A sponsorship need: We may need to help with transportation to and from work and school in the mornings and afternoons while Lilly’s car undergoes repairs. If you can help with this effort, should the need arise, call or text Ruth Milledge at 573-268-9591 or send her an email.

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, or if you prefer to make a non-deductible donation directly to the family you may send it to Allie Gassmann at 1700 Princeton Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. Also, if you would like to get involved with the team, please email either one of the team’s co-chairs, Allie Gassmann or Dave Gibbons.

Help UUCC when you sell on EBay or Facebook

When you sell items on EBay or Facebook, you can now donate some or all of the proceeds to UUCC using the Paypal Giving Fund.

You will need to select an option in EBay or Facebook to donate a percentage of sale proceeds to charity. When you do that, at the time you complete a sale you can search for our church to designate it as the recipient. You’ll see several UU churches listed – select the one labeled “Unitarian Universalist Church.”

Thanks to Larry Lile and Church Administrator April Rodeghero for their work setting up this new giving option.

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

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, Donna and Joe Cusumano, and Lynn Hostetler.

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

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.”

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.

 

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

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

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.

 

 

2018 UUA General Assembly

Our YRUU youth carried our church banner in the banner parade at the opening
session of the UUA General Assembly in Kansas City, Mo. on June 20. In the first part
of this short video, they are seen on their first pass through the convention hall.
After the transition, they are seen on their way out of the hall.

The Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly was held this year from June 20 to 24 in Kansas City, Mo. What is GA? It’s part inspiration and spiritual sustenance. It’s an opportunity to mingle with UUs from all over the country and some other countries and engage in issues important to our UU faith. But also, it’s a time to conduct a lot of the business of the association.

This year there were 2,814 registered attendees, including 134 youth. 522 congregations from all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Mexico were represented by 1,570 delegates, including 199 off-site delegates.

Our voting delegates this year were Rev. Molly, Todd Iveson, Peter Holmes, Gretchen Maune, Connie Ordway, and Steve Scott. About 15 other members of our church also attended all or part of GA, and a number of them served as volunteers performing various tasks to keep the show running, in exchange for which they received free registration for GA. For example, Maria Oropallo and Kathie Bergman staffed an information booth to answer questions from attendees, and Larry Lile assisted with the tech staff that provided audio/video services.

The business of the General Assembly takes place in General Sessions. All registered attendees are welcome at these sessions, but only voting delegates can vote.

At the business sessions there was broad consensus for aggressively challenging the criminalization of migrants, people of color, and indigenous people. Delegates overwhelmingly selected “Undoing Intersectional White Supremacy” as a multiyear Congregational Study/Action Issue.

Delegates also endorsed three Actions of Immediate Witness, which all emphasize the urgency of supporting people of color and indigenous people. The first calls for congregational action to draw attention to predatory medical fees charged to incarcerated people, who are disproportionately people of color; the UUA’s Church of the Larger Fellowship developed the resolution in partnership with its 870 incarcerated members.

A second resolution pledged solidarity with indigenous “water protectors,” who have been fighting the placement of liquid natural gas pipelines near Native American lands and who face federal charges for disrupting construction of the pipelines.

The third resolution demanded immediate action to improve U.S. treatment of asylum seekers and migrant families to keep families together. Among other demands, the resolution advocates the abolition of Immigration Customs Enforcement “and the implementation of a system that understands the causes of migration, provides a non-carceral solution while asylum seekers await a decision on their case, and has a fundamental commitment to keeping families together.”

Delegates also approved a group of bylaw changes to bring the UUA’s governing document up to date with current understandings of gender diversity. A proposal introduced last year to change Unitarian Universalism’s “Second Source” from “words and deeds of prophetic women and men” to “words and deeds of prophetic people” passed easily.

A second bylaws amendment changed all gendered pronouns in the bylaws to the gender-inclusive “they/them/their.”

A third bylaws amendment will allow religious educators who are active members of the Liberal Religious Educators Association to serve as voting delegates at future GAs.

The assembly also approved bylaws changes adding two youth trustees to the 11 at-large trustees on the UUA Board of Trustees; allowing the role of moderator at GA to be filled by more than one person; modifying the length of terms of service on committees; and simplifying the social witness resolutions process.

UUA has first elected woman President

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray was selected by delegates as the first elected woman President of the Unitarian Universalist Association at the June 21-25 General Assembly in New Orleans. She had been the lead minister of the UU Congregation of Phoenix, Ariz., where she became well known for her work on behalf of immigrants, since 2008. Read more.

More than 4,000 UUs attended G.A., including some 1,800 delegates from more than 500 UU congregations. UUCC’s delegates were Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Patty Daus, Tracey Milarsky, Jeanne and Dennis Murphy, and Gena and Steve Scott.

Also attending from UUCC were DRE Jamila Batchelder along with four YRUU members and one 9-year-old. The young people carried our UUCC banner in the banner parade at the opening celebration on June 21.

Five of our young people lined up to carry our UUCC banner in the banner parade at the UUA General Assembly. See them in action in the video below.

Our UUCC banner was carried by five of our young people in the banner parade at the Opening Celebration of the UUA General Assembly (G.A.) in New Orleans on June 21, 2017. In this short clip they are seen entering the Great Hall of the New Orleans Convention Center and later proceeding out of the hall.

Read more about the many important actions taken by delegates and the UUA Board of Trustees at G.A.

Please Feed the Food Barrel

food_barrelOur Social Action Team sponsors a food collection year-round for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

Donations of canned meats and fish, stews, peanut butter and powdered milk are especially appreciated, but other non-perishable food items are welcome.

Help us to help individuals in need! If you wish to have a receipt for a tax deduction, talk to Suzanne Clark, church administrator.