Because of the rapidly changing nature of the situation and the continually emerging science around this novel disease, we need a dedicated team of folks discerning where our risk tolerance and our church’s mission meet. The Board will establish a Pandemic Response Team charged with consistently assessing best practice around all kinds of in-person gatherings and advising the Board and Minister with recommended changes in procedure.
In agreement with our Worship Associates, we affirm the UUA’s recommendation that all member congregations plan to continue worshiping together online-only through May of 2021. While we dearly await the day when we can safely gather in person, we believe that our mission of radical welcome and deep connection is actually better served by focusing our efforts on high quality online worship rather than offering a severely limited in-person option that would necessarily exclude more vulnerable populations. If the situation unexpectedly changes for the better before May 2021 and our Pandemic Response Team recommends it, we will certainly consider joyfully regathering at that time.
Church small groups are permitted to gather on church grounds outdoors and are strongly encouraged to wear masks and maintain a distance of 6 feet or more. We encourage groups who are considering an in-person meeting at any location to openly discuss the needs and risk tolerance of the group first and to make clear agreements. What are the needs of the most vulnerable person in your group, and how can you assure those needs are fully met? One way to avoid “group-think” on this matter may be for a group leader to chat one-on-one with each group member before holding a larger conversation with the full group, so that everyone can comfortably express their needs.
The church building remains closed to all church and community groups at least until the Pandemic Response Team can thoroughly research questions about cleaning procedures, room capacities, and other best practices. The board and ministries will then assess our capacity to execute the recommendations of the Team.
Any individual entering the church building will be required to wear a mask. Masks will be provided for those who do not have their own, and exceptions may be made in the case of physical or mental health needs. Staff working in enclosed offices may remove their mask while alone inside their office.
Staff may work on site in their enclosed office spaces if desired. Staff will maintain at least six feet of distance from other individuals in the building, will wear masks when not alone inside their enclosed offices, and will frequently wipe down high touch surfaces. Staff who prefer to work from home exclusively are very welcome to do so.
An individual or family unit may enter the building to complete church business, but will limit their time to the needed purpose, will wear masks unless they are certain no one else is using the space, will maintain appropriate distance, and will wipe down high touch surfaces they may have used with provided disinfecting wipes, before leaving.
Online at 7 p.m. Tuesdays from June 30 through July 28
Presented by The Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister, and
The Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Philosopher-in-Residence and Facilitator
“Critiques of Capitalism” will focus on the problems of capitalism and its impact on American life. Beginning June 30, the class we will meet at 7 on Tuesday evenings via Zoom. Below is an outline of the course and the guest participants.
June 30 – Liberation Theology and Capitalism – Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr., UUCC Philosopher-in -Residence.
July 7 – “Belonging, not Belongings”: An Economy of Gratitude, Responsibility and Reciprocity – Dr. Sharon D. Welch, Affiliate Faculty, Social Ethics, Meadville Lombard Theological School (Unitarian Universalist).
July 14 – “The Promise of Globalized Capitalism: Faustian Bargain” – Dr William Rodriguez, Faculty, Bethune Cookman University.
July 21 – Uprooting & Dismantling Capitalism’s Economic Slavery and Oppression of Black Women: Moving from Intersectionality Towards Assemblage, Multiplicity, and Multi-vocality with Critical Family History – Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, Ph.D. candidate, University of Missouri-Columbia and President of Race Matters, Friends.
July 28 – Wrap-Up – An opportunity to debrief and comment on the content of the classes.
At its meeting on June 18, the Board of Trustees selected Rebecca Graves as President-Elect. Under church bylaws, Rebecca will become President effective July 1 and serve until June 30, 2021. Rebecca previously served as President in 2003-04.
The selection was necessitated by the resignation from the board of the previously selected President-Elect, Michela Skelton Birk.
The newly constituted board will take office July 1 and select the other officers – President-Elect, Secretary and Treasurer – at its July 16 meeting. Members of the newly constituted board will be:
- Terms ending June 30, 2023: Kara Braudis, Timothy Dickerson and David Leuthold.
- Terms ending June 30, 2022: Jeremy Duke, Rebecca Graves and Ginny Ramseyer Winter.
- Terms ending June 30, 2021: Mark Johnson, Mindy McPherson (Past President) and Jan Swaney.
Board members whose terms will end this June 30 are Sam Buffaloe (current Secretary), Gretchen Maune and Barbara Rupp (Past President).
Results of mail balloting after the June 7 online Annual Congregational Meeting were announced at the Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday evening, June 18. The 2020-21 operating budget was approved, and the slate of board candidates was elected.
The quorum requirement of 51 was far exceeded – 87 written ballots were received. The budget was approved by an affirmative vote of 85 members, with two abstentions. The slate of board candidates was approved by all 87 voters.
New board members taking office July 1 will be:
- Three-year terms: Kara Braudis, Timothy Dickerson and David Leuthold
- Two-year term to fill a vacancy: Ginny Ramseyer Winter
- One-year term to fill a vacancy: Jan Swaney
The budget can be viewed on the Annual Meeting page, which also features photographs and brief biographical sketches of the new board members.
We welcome the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson as our Philosopher-in-Residence from May 11 to Sept. 6, 2020.
The Rev. Dr. Dawson will be offering weekly education opportunities on subjects such as Black Humanism, Critiques of Capitalism, Dr. James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, and more. He will also be offering weekly office hours and written meditations to the congregation and will be preaching at least once a month. Most gatherings will be held by Zoom, until such time as in-person gatherings become feasible.
The Rev. Dr. Dawson holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy with a specialization in Social and Political Philosophy, Ethics, and Philosophy of Race (African American Secular and Religious Thought). He has published articles, facilitated discussions, and lectured on race and racism in various venues including here at UUCC. He is excited to be working with us this summer.
Joint Letter from Board President Mindy McPherson and Rev. Molly Housh Gordon
Dear UU Churchers,
With gratitude for the generosity and care of this community, we write together to share with you some of the discernment and decisions of your Board of Trustees and Minister in this uncertain time. We have been moved by all of the ways you have been supporting one another and voicing your support to our leadership. The courageous love, radical welcome, and deep connection of our congregation is undiminished.
- Our building closure – It seems clear that the UUCC building will remain closed at least through May. We will be working with a team of UU Churchers to discern together the circumstances under which we will be comfortable opening our building and resuming various kinds of in-person gatherings. This is less a question of a certain date and more a question of what science-based criteria will need to be met in order for us to feel that we are making a responsible decision for the health and wellbeing of our members and the general population – criteria such as widespread testing and availability of protective equipment. It seems wise to consider the possibility that it will be quite some time before it is safe to gather in the large numbers we usually see in our Sunday morning services. We grieve physical presence to one another in this time and are committed to continuing to innovate in creating deep community across any necessary distance.
- Our annual meeting – While typically held in the month of May, our bylaws (Article 4, Section 3) state that the annual congregational meeting shall be held during the last fiscal quarter. In order to have as much information as possible and time to figure out the technology, your Board of Trustees has scheduled our annual meeting a bit later than usual, on Sunday, June 7. To maintain social distancing, this congregational discussion will be held virtually. We will use a secure digital platform to conduct elections of new board members and adopt the budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
- Our budget – We believe it is prudent to anticipate a difficult financial situation in the coming year given the economic upheaval we are all currently experiencing. We know some among us have lost jobs, job security, income, savings, and/or investments, and that there may be more loss to come (please reach out to Rev. Molly about our church Benevolence funds if you are in need of assistance – we currently have a healthy balance in those funds). We anticipate this reality will affect annual giving to the church, and we are budgeting accordingly. All payroll and ministry team budget lines will be held flat at their FY2020 levels as we create the budget for FY2021, and we will seek any necessary cuts in the least painful areas first, such as board discretionary spending. Thankfully, we know that our members and friends are committed to our congregation and will continue to give at the levels they are able to afford in their own circumstances. Additionally, because of the wisdom of many lay leaders over many years, we have a healthy reserve and emergency fund, which we will draw upon as necessary to weather this time of global crisis. Between these resources and a conservative approach to spending, we believe that we will emerge from this downturn intact.
- Our application for additional resources – After much in-depth discussion about the many pros and cons of participating in the program, the board voted at its April meeting to apply on behalf of the congregation for a Payroll Protection Program loan from the Small Business Administration. If our application is accepted and funded, we believe that participation in this program can provide additional security in the coming months, as we are faced with uncertainties in our income from pledges and other revenue sources. Specifically, this will help us keep our commitments to all of our staff, including hourly Sunday morning staff. When we continue our commitment to keep our staff on payroll, the loan will be forgiven. The additional financial security helps to ensure that we continue to effectively carry out our mission and champion social and economic justice in Columbia and beyond.
- Rev. Molly’s sabbatical is postponed – After discernment and consultation with various leaders, Rev. Molly has decided to delay her sabbatical by one year, in order to remain steadily present to the congregation through the uncertainty of the coming days and months. This delay will also help ensure that Molly’s sabbatical allows for rest and renewal as intended. The new sabbatical dates will be May 10 to September 7, 2021.
- Our commitment to and agreement with Rev. Dr. CW Dawson – Your board and Rev. Molly unanimously agree that the just and faithful approach to our changed sabbatical plans is to honor the commitment and employment agreement we entered into with Rev. Dr. CW Dawson for this summer. We also believe that this will be a fruitful decision for the congregation, who will benefit this summer from the Rev. Dawson’s many gifts. Rev. Molly and Rev. Dawson are working to revise the sabbatical minister job description a Philosopher-in-Residence position and are very much looking forward to the opportunity to work together this summer. We hope that we will also be able to enter another agreement with Rev. Dawson next summer to lead through the rescheduled sabbatical, as we had planned. However, we expect we will need to delay that decision until we have more information about our financial circumstances as they unfold in the coming year.
Please do be in touch with any questions, concerns, or thoughts you might have about how we can continue to practice courageous love and deep connection in new and unfolding ways as we endure these strange and troubling times.
Mindy McPherson, Board President, and Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister
The Worship Associates Team has changed plans for our summer lay-led worship services and needs your help to make them a success. The team is determined not to allow the COVID-19 virus to undermine our long tradition of the lay pulpit.
The team is looking for two to four volunteers on each available Sunday to address the important questions specified below that may have even deeper meaning as we figure out together what this difficult time will ultimately mean for our future as a church, as a community and as a country. Volunteers will have about five minutes to their share thoughts on the chosen topic. That’s equivalent to two or three double-spaced, typed pages.
We don’t know now whether this summer we will be meeting in person or will need to continue online services, but that won’t significantly impact the volunteers’ role. Volunteers are welcome to suggest other worship features, but the Worship Associates will be responsible for putting together the rest of each service. This includes all technical aspects if we are still meeting virtually.
The available topics, dates and assigned Worship Associates are:
- June 28 – What sacred or centering practices sustain you? – Cande Iveson, Worship Associate
- July 5 – What does Justice look like to you? – Todd Iveson, Worship Associate
- July 19 – What values are most important to you? – Tim Dickerson, Worship Associate
- Aug. 2 – What gives you hope? – Sam Otten, Worship Associate
- Aug. 9 – In what do you place your trust? – Rebecca Graves, Worship Associate
- Aug. 16 – What makes a place sacred? What places are sacred to you? – Jeff Ordway, Worship Associate
If you are willing to share your thoughts on any of these important questions, please send an email to the Worship Associates. Thank you for your help in continuing this valuable tradition.
The Social Action Team welcomes your nominations for Faith-to-Action collections at Sunday worship services during the 2020-21 church year starting in September. You may submit a nomination online or in writing. Click the button below to submit nominations.
Roughly twice a month, Faith-to-Action collections are taken for organizations, programs, or agencies that align with our church mission and vision.
Please submit nominations no later than July 15, 2020. Nominations received after that date will be considered if openings are still available.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding our church services this spring, some or all currently scheduled Faith-to-Action collections will be postponed and rescheduled for summer or fall services.
Rev. Molly’s weekly online office hours are at https://zoom.us/j/2115663859 on two weekdays:
- Tuesdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m.
- Thursdays from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
She is also always happy to meet by appointment. You can schedule an appointment by email.
Please 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.
UUCC members and friends who are accustomed to paying their pledges by checks placed in the offering plates at worship services can easily continue their regular pledge payments online while we engage in virtual worship during the coronavirus pandemic.
Just go to our online pledge payment form to make your payments.
UUCC benevolence funds
You can donate to our church’s benevolence funds here. Be sure to note “benevolence funds” as the purpose of your donation.
Other community organizations
Other community organizations working to help those in need during the crisis include:
Community Foundation of Central Missouri’s COVID-19 Regional Relief Fund
COVID-19 Crisis Shelter for the Unhoused
The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri COVID-19 Response
By Mindy McPherson, 2019-20 President
With so many questions and uncertainties amid the spread of the coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2 and the rise of COVID-19 cases, it is surprisingly easy to know where to begin this note. Simply, I wish you well.
I will not write this note pretending to be a medical expert or a spiritual guide. Quality, trustworthy medical, research and public health information is available through a variety of sources. Rev. Molly, the ministry team leaders, and staff have mobilized quickly to offer continued spiritual support. I can’t encourage you more to explore and engage with the message and content shared out through the church Facebook groups, Zoom meetings and website.
As Rev. Molly said on Sunday, we are a church with no walls. We’re continuing to nurture our spirit and maintain connection, even (and especially) in this extraordinary time.
If technology is vexing you or you simply aren’t sure where to start with all of this, there are many in our church family who stand ready to help you, myself included.
This continues to be a rapidly evolving situation. Your dedicated Board of Trustees continues to meet (via Zoom) and address church business. One of the first duties of the board, as delineated in our bylaws, is the promotion of the long-term well-being of the congregation. And so, we are evaluating our current work and looking to the future. Collectively, our priorities are first to navigate the changes mandated by our need to limit the spread of the coronavirus. This, in some cases, has meant pressing pause on a task or project while we await more information.
We are continually monitoring and evaluating the impacts this pandemic has on UUCC. We will consider each piece of board-related work and, as new complexities emerge and evolve, we will, as always, do our best to represent the congregation in determining and ensuring appropriate actions for our beloved community.
Dear UU Churchers,
On Friday of last week, after a morning full of kid care, it was finally my turn to get into the home office. I was looking forward to the work I planned to do with and for our congregation that afternoon, but I found that instead feeling ready to jump right in, my brain felt foggy and floaty. I couldn’t connect my thoughts, and the words I needed to write felt just out of reach. I had to spend the first part of my precious work time that day lying down, meditating, and trying to calm and clear my system enough to function.
What we are experiencing right now is a collective, slow-moving trauma, as the Covid-19 pandemic spreads and our lives shift dramatically in response. Trauma has a profound impact on the brain and body. If you are feeling fatigue, insomnia, muscle tension or aching, sleepiness, inertia or lack of motivation, over-functioning or hyper-activity, irritability, forgetfulness, brain fog, or any number of other troublesome experiences right now, know that you are not alone, and know that your ancient brain is trying to protect you with fight, flight, or freeze responses. Spend some time breathing deeply. Lie down or go for a walk. Do the things that tell your own body that you are safe and well.
Then, when you feel able, take a look at these resources from the UU Trauma Response Ministry, who have created a simple list of the signs and symptoms of extreme stress or trauma and some things to try to help soothe your system. For caregivers of children, they have also created a helpful list of common experiences of children of different ages during traumatic times and matching suggestions for how adults can support them.
If at any time you could use further support, or more in-depth resources, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.
From Rev. Molly Housh Gordon:
I write to let you know that we are mobilizing to support one another in this time. Thanks to your donations to our Benevolence and Discretionary funds, our congregation has already helped several of our CoMo neighbors get what they need as we prepare for widespread social distancing, and we will continue to help as long as we are able. If you know someone in need of assistance, please direct them to my email.
Several of you have also reached out wondering how you can help. To that end and with the modeling of other UU congregations, we’ve developed a survey to help us discern what people’s status and needs are and also what resources folks have to share. Please fill it out now, if you will, and if your status or needs change, return to fill it out again, as well as notifying me directly.
We know in large part what we need is each other, so we are exploring the technology that will allow us to gather with one another.
Your ministry team leaders received information from me today about scheduling virtual meetings, and I will be offering online “Office Hours” from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Tuesdays and 2 to 3:30 p.m. Thursdays in this Zoom Room.
We’ll be engaging a LOT more on our Facebook page so go like and follow that today, join our Columbia UUs Facebook Group, and know that I will always accept friend requests from UU Churchers with great gladness (but be warned that you will see a lot of my children). You can continue to join us on Zoom for Worship on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. and Jamila will have updates soon about programs for kids.
For those who prefer not to use social media, please do feel free to be in touch with any of our staff via email and phone. My cell number is in church directory, and I am very glad to text as well as receive calls there. We also want you to know that there is an EASY PHONE OPTION for our Zoom worship on Sundays! Dial 312-626-6799 and enter Webinar ID: 380 411 489 Also, if you need to attend a Zoom meeting by phone, just let your meeting host know.
Wishing you health and hope,
From Rev. Molly Housh Gordon:
How our church gathers in this time and what we do is suddenly very different than it was last week. And yet, I feel certain there is a role for our community to play now in loving the world that is even more important than ever. Here are a few notes for you, my dear ministry leaders:
1. I’d like to invite you to suspend your in-person meetings for a time to protect those most vulnerable among us. This does not mean you need to refrain from meeting! The church has two Zoom videoconferencing accounts that we can share with our leaders. Simply write to me to schedule a meeting and I will send you the link. You can also sign up for your own free Zoom account, although the free account limits meetings to 40 minutes. If your folks prefer phone over video, https://www.freeconferencecall.com is an easy to use resource to help.
2. I’d like to give you the grace to imagine that some of the work you were doing may need to go on hold for a while. That is OK. This is a time we can slow down a bit together. What I would like to suggest is that you check in with your team members. See how they are doing. Remind each other that you are not alone. And then, if you feel ready, start and email thread or schedule a virtual meeting to imagine together what the world and our congregation need in the time of global pandemic that your team is particularly well-suited to address. How is your team’s work different and unique in this time?
3. I’d like to know how you are. Please check in, reply to me, give me the update. And then, let me know what needs you are identifying from others in our church community that we can work together to meet.
Talk to you soon. ’Til then I am wishing you health and hope,
Step 1. Set Up Zoom
Setting up on a mobile device:
- You do not need a Zoom account (but please know that accounts are free).
- For a smart phone or tablet, look for the Zoom app in the app store and download.
- “Zoom Cloud Meetings” – it’s free.
- “Zoom for Blackberry” for Blackberry users – also free.
- When it’s time for your meeting or worship, launch the app and click “Join a Meeting.” Enter the meeting ID to access the meeting or worship.
Setting up on a computer:
- You do not need a Zoom account (but please know that accounts are free).
- Go to this page and download “Zoom Client for Meetings.”
- Find “Zoom.pkg” in your downloads and double-click it to install the application.
- When it’s time for your meeting or worship, click the link and the Zoom application will launch automatically. Or launch the Zoom application and click “Join a Meeting.” Enter the meeting ID (to access the meeting or worship.
Step 2. Attend worship or meetings
The links and Zoom ID numbers will be on the home page.
For audio only, you can call in on the phone if you prefer: The phone number and Zoom ID numbers will be on the home page.
In the spirit of love for our community and human family, we are temporarily suspending all in-person church gatherings starting Sunday morning, March 15 and moving our worship, programs, and ministries to the many technologies available to help us stay connected – phone, email, Facebook, and Zoom videoconferencing. As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that our interdependence is both a gift and a sacred responsibility, and as Staff and Board of Trustees, we have learned from public health officials and the Unitarian Universalist Association that the best way to practice care for our community and responsibility to our interdependence is to take early and decisive action on closures and cancellations of large events. This decision, then, is not a signal for anxiety but rather our way to practice care and embody love by protecting vulnerable populations and doing our part to ensure that our health care system does not become overwhelmed by the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. This is as an effort to #flattenthecurve of disease spread.
This decision is effective at least until the end of March and possibly longer. Your leadership will be revisiting the best available information regularly to determine when we can joyfully resume our in-person programs.
How to stay connected and how we can help
Worship and programs – Our interdependence is a responsibility, but also a gift – it is more important than ever that we each know we are not alone, but accompanied by a community who love us! We will be reaching out often to provide spiritual grounding, anxiety-reducing resources, and companionship. Your staff and volunteers are working very hard to get all of these supports up and running and will continue to do so for the duration of this time. Look for lots more on this in the coming days. For now know that our ministry teams and chalice circles are strongly encouraged to continue meeting using Zoom videoconferencing and that we will be using Zoom and/or Facebook Live to provide Sunday worship experience, regular grounding meditations and moments, content for kids and families, check-ins, and more. We will be providing opportunities in the coming days for you to learn about how to use these simple softwares to connect face to face. Look for a separate email soon with details about worshipping from home THIS Sunday.
Pastoral care – Please let Rev. Molly know if you are sick, self-quarantined, anxious, or otherwise struggling, so that she, our Lay Pastoral Caregivers, and our Caring Ministry team can be of support to you. We are also working on creating an email/phone tree to help all of our congregation check in on each other, and a resource share to allow for our community to offer and provide help to one another. We are here to help each other calm and soothe in anxious times and support our mental health. As well as providing pastoral support, Rev. Molly is also available to provide mental healthcare referrals. If you would like to be a part of offering support to others, let Rev. Molly know that too!
Material/financial support – Social distancing and potential self-quarantine are economically difficult in a society with such tenuous social safety nets. This distancing helps those most medically vulnerable, but is also challenging for those most financially vulnerable. To address this, we will be continuing to compensate all of our staff, including hourly and nursery staff at their usual rates and hours despite cancellations. If you or someone close to you needs assistance with lost wages, medical supplies and support, or basic necessities, please let Rev. Molly know so that we may activate our Benevolence & Minister’s Discretionary Funds to help. If you or someone close to you needs groceries or medical supplies delivered to you, let us know. In contrast, if you are not affected by financial vulnerability in this moment and are able to make an additional gift to the congregation’s funds, we welcome your support.
Supporting the wider community – It is a calling of our community to support those who are both medically and financially vulnerable in these times. Here are few thoughts we’ve had about that: If you are stocking up on non-perishable food items like pasta and sauce, rice and beans, tuna, peanut butter and other basics, basic medical items like ibuprofen, cough drops, tissues, gatorade, etc. or entertainment items like books, games, coloring books and markers, puzzles etc., consider buying a few extra and dropping them by the church entryway, where we will put together some quarantine kits to distribute to those who find themselves in need. We also invite you to contact our city councillors and state legislators to advocate for a moratorium on evictions and funding for emergency paid sick leave during this time. And, we encourage those of you with the means to do so, to consider making an additional gift to your favorite local direct service agency as we all scramble to assist those most impacted by this disruption.
I’d like to close by offering you this poem that has helped me reframe from fear to love in these historic and troubling times.
By Lynne Ungar
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath-
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
Sending you greatest love and a deep wish for health and hope,
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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 (in time to resume the pulpit for the first Sunday of the church year).
What is a sabbatical?
Sabbatical is a long tradition in ministry and academia alike, allowing for an extended time of study, reflection, rest, and renewal… all ingredients for effective ministry. In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, sabbatical leave is part of the congregation’s covenantal agreement with their minister, who generally earns one month of sabbatical per year of service up to a limit of 6 months.
What will you be doing with your sabbatical?
I know this opportunity for extended renewal is a rare gift in our American culture of overwork and grind, and I am humbled and grateful for the chance to recharge my batteries in this way. I hope to do a lot of reading to renew my wells of preaching fodder and take on a writing project that is tickling my brain. I plan to return refreshed and full of new ideas and rekindled energy!
What kind of support will we have during the sabbatical?
The board has been saving for sabbatical coverage since I arrived. As well as our usual robust summer lay-led worship and excellent volunteers, we will have a part-time sabbatical minister to fulfill my executive and pastoral capacities and preach twice per month.
I am very pleased to announce to you that the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson has been hired as our sabbatical minister. The Rev. Dr. Dawson is a progressive pastor, professor of philosophy and religion, prolific columnist, and a regular and beloved guest preacher and teacher here at UUCC. I am elated that he is available to work with us in this way – to guide the congregation and to provide new perspective to our ministry during this period.
Does sabbatical benefit the congregation?
Yes! A sabbatical can be a time of mutual growth and exploration for minister and congregation alike, as the congregation has the chance to benefit from different perspectives and ideas.
For this sabbatical period, as well as fulfilling the roles listed above, Rev. Dr. Dawson will specifically be working with the congregation on its desire to grow in radical welcome and multiculturalism. Join us for worship on Sunday, Feb. 23 for a pulpit conversation in which Rev. Dawson and I will discuss our hopes and wonderings regarding this work.
Will you be around during sabbatical?
I will be on full leave from all church duties and will not be available for anything church-related, including pastoral care. But I will mostly be in town as my family members go about their usual lives. It is very likely that we will run into each other around town, in which case, I will be very glad to say hello in my private citizen capacity. I know that I will miss seeing your faces week after week!
I have more questions.
Ask me by email or call me at 573-442-5764.
A group of ten members and friends of UUCC spent a week in Honduras from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 building latrines and deepening ties and friendships with people in the Rio Cangrejal Valley. As they worked on the latrines, they learned more about the hardships people in the valley face. They also had many opportunities for laughter and companionship.
A group of activists from Guapinol joined them to tell them of their struggles to defend their land from mining companies. The poverty the majority of people in Honduras suffer as a result of the depth of corruption and criminal activity of the government is staggering.
Click the following button for a more complete description of the trip including many photographs:
It will be another three years before the Honduras Ministry Team goes back to Honduras. In the meantime, the team will be in close touch with their friends in the Valley. The team will continue to raise funds for the health clinic in El Pital. The healthcare and educational systems are in shambles in Honduras, so providing funds for basic necessities at the clinic is of vital importance. The team would like to fund a few more latrines and continue supporting the microfinance organization Adelante.
– Allie Gassmann, Honduras Ministry Team Chair
From Rev. Molly:
In expression of our partnership with Missouri Faith Voices and our intention to leverage our facility for the work of liberation, the UU Church of Columbia is proudly donating office space for Missouri Faith Voices Columbia Organizer Brittany Hughes.
Brittany is making use of our volunteer work room as well as sharing space downstairs with Music Director Jeremy Wagner. If you’re around on a weekday you just may have the chance to share a warm UUCC welcome!
Brittany is the regional organizer for Columbia’s chapter of the grassroots organizing group Missouri Faith Voices. Originally from Aliceville, Alabama, Brittany spent most of her school age years in St. Louis, Missouri. Her passion for this work is derived from her love of black folks and the desire to see the collective liberation of BIPOCs not only in America but globally. When she isn’t working, Brittany enjoys a good book, cooking, music, and grabbing drinks with friends.
Hans Bridger Heruth 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.
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!
From Rev. Molly and the Music Director Search Team:
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
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!
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
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.
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.
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
- Direct Service (e.g., Loaves and Fishes, Room at the Inn).
- 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).
- Education (learning about systems of injustice, our role in them, and how to effect systemic change).
- 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.)
- 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
From Rev. Molly Housh Gordon:
I am very pleased to introduce to you our next Church Administrator, Suzanne Clark.
Suzanne has recently returned to Columbia after a number of years residing near family in Rochester, NY. She spent the last 15 years working at Temple B’rith Kodesh, a Reform synagogue in Rochester, where she performed administrative duties as assistant executive director. Congregational life and the rewards of working with a community were main motivators for her in applying for the position with us. She is looking forward to meeting everyone and adjusting to a new working environment.
Suzanne will start Monday, Sept. 17, and work with retiring Administrator Kathie Bergman for the next two weeks learning the ropes. Kathie’s official retirement date is Sept. 30, although we are very grateful that she will remain available to Suzanne for a time for any questions that may come up.
Save the date for Sept. 30 after church to celebrate Kathie’s long and wonderful tenure, and get excited to welcome Suzanne warmly among us!
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.
The mission of the Member Connect Program is to assist UUCC members and friends in finding their place in our church community through deeper connection, service, and spiritual exploration. To do this a team of connectors is available to have a conversation with every member of the church who is interested. These conversations will give members a chance to reflect on their spiritual journey, their connection with the church, and their level of involvement in church life.
– Peter Holmes and Rosie Geiser, co-chairs
Our observance of the 67th anniversary of our church’s founding at worship services on Jan. 28, 2018 included dedication of a beautiful new metal chalice purchased and given to the church by a member couple.
The late Naoma Powell made the chalice we had been using since 2006 after the congregation’s previous chalice broke, and it was always intended to be temporary. Naoma’s chalice served us long and well, but was showing signs of wear. To protect this beloved artifact, it is being officially “retired” from active duty but will always have a place in our sanctuary and will still be used for special occasions.
The new chalice is larger and will be easier to see from all parts of the sanctuary, in keeping with the needs of our growing congregation. It was dedicated with Naoma’s own January 2006 words of dedication of the chalice now being retired:
Though chalice changes, the flame burns bright.
Not holder, not cup but flame that offers light.
Flame that lights the darkness.
Flame, in its burning, illumines night.
Flame, its double halo, bringing light to shadow, warmth to shade.
Meet the Chalice Artist
Our new chalice that was dedicated at the Jan. 28 worship services was crafted by Ryan Schmidt, a metal artist based in Cumberland Gap, Tenn.
Ryan owned and managed a motorcycle repair shop in Kansas City before moving to Tennessee in 2015. Shortly after moving he met a neighbor, William Brock, a traditional blacksmith who taught Ryan the art of blacksmithing. Ryan’s passion is creating custom-made functional objects, ornamental ironwork, sculptures, and furniture. He is a member of several professional blacksmithing groups.
When Ryan is not creating art at his shop, Mitty’s Metal Art (https://www.mittysmetalart.com/), he likes to get out and explore the surrounding Appalachian region on his Harley or mountain bike. Ryan is not a UU but is familiar with our denomination through friends.
Do you do online shopping at Amazon? If so, your purchases can now benefit our church with a contribution from Amazon of 0.5% of the purchase price.
Here’s how to get started:
1. In your browser, go to https://smile.amazon.com.
2. Sign in using your normal Amazon username and password.
3. Next you will see a screen with a box on the right asking you to “Select a charity.”
4. In the bottom of that box, where it says “Or pick your own charitable organization,” type “Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia” in the box and click the “Search” button.
5. Next you will see a screen showing our church with the location listed as “Columbia MO,” and there may be other churches listed. Click the “Select” button next to our church’s name.
6. Finally, you will see another screen with a checkbox to indicate that you understand that you must always start at https://smile.amazon.com to support our church. After clicking the checkbox, you can click the “Start Shopping” button which will take you to the main Amazon screen.
A tutorial covering the above steps and including screenshots is available in a printable PDF.
In the future, always start your Amazon shopping at https://smile.amazon.com so that your purchases will benefit UUCC. You will find all the same Amazon products and prices there as regular Amazon.
Tip: If you have set up a bookmark or favorite for Amazon, be sure to change it to the new address.
Finally, don’t forget that you can also donate to UUCC when you do grocery shopping at Schnucks – read more.
UUCC was given an award recognizing our social action work and Rev. Molly’s exemplary leadership in social action – particularly our sanctuary work – at the annual dinner of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks on Saturday evening, Nov. 11, at the Missouri United Methodist Church.
Allie Gassman of our Social Action Team accepted the award on behalf of our church.
Allie said, “It was a great honor to be able to accept the award on behalf of our church – especially in the presence of all the seasoned activists in the room.”
The framed award certificate, shown in the photo below, is on display on the credenza in our Greeting Area.
Please welcome our new Sunday Morning Assistant, April Rodeghero, who began her work with us in October.
April is mother to a seven-year-old and to one-year-old twins. She has worked with MU Adventure Club, Missouri Afterschool Network and the Columbia Housing Authority. Now she works as a postpartum doula, supporting parents in their new roles. She has attended UUCC occasionally in the past year or so.
April will welcome your friendship and your help in the church kitchen – especially on potluck days for setup and cleanup! Please let’s show April our radical welcoming spirit!
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.
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.
Our 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.
Shoppers – support the church with your purchasing power!
If you shop at Schnuck’s Supermarket in Columbia, here is an easy way to earn money for our church! Follow these steps:
- Ask for a My Schnucks card at the Customer Service counter.
- When next at your computer, go to Schnucks.com.
- Hover over the “Programs” menu and select “Schnucks Fundraising” from the drop-down menu.
- Click on “eScrip” in number 2 under “How It Works.”
- Fill in the form to become registered.
- When you come to the choice of charities under “Select your school or nonprofit,” find “Unitarian Universalist-Columbia, Mo” in the drop-down list and click on the box to mark a check.
- Then click Update.
That is all! Just keep your user name and password for the Schnuck’s website in case you wish to return to it. UUCC will get a little bonus every time you shop at Schnuck’s and show your My Schnucks card at the checkout.