Special December worship opportunities

Holiday Blues Vespers – 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13

We hold a holiday blues service every year to be present to the less than merry feelings that holiday season can often exacerbate. This year, we may need it more than ever. Join your fellow UU Churchers on Zoom to stay with the hard parts of the season this year. Zoom Meeting ID: 959 8577 3766 Passcode: 012090.

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service – 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 24

Join us for a digital version of our beloved Candlelight Christmas Eve Worship. We will ground and lift our hearts with the same words and songs that have been spoken and sung year after difficult year for generations. Please submit a photo of you and your family in candlelight, and the names of any beloved ones who have died or been born in the past year to digitalarts@uucomo.org by Dec. 11 in order to be included in the service. Watch the service on our YouTube or Facebook page, or join the Zoom watch party. Zoom Meeting ID: 975 5226 8551 Passcode: 065078.


December holiday-related activities

Waiting with the Animals
A Nature-Based Advent Study with Rev. Molly
7:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22

We will use the book All Creation Waits: The Advent Mystery of New Beginnings by Gayle Boss, which offers daily reflections “depicting how wild animals of the northern hemisphere ingeniously adapt when darkness and cold descend.” At the first session on Dec. 1, we will spend time with the introduction and the themes of Advent. Then we will reflect each week on the animal stories from that week’s readings. While the book is centered in the Christian season of Advent, the content of the reflections themselves are appropriate for anyone who enjoys delving into the wisdom of the natural world.

Please RSVP here: https://forms.gle/mbwo6ZycZDgaGbUT9. The book is available from your favorite online bookshop, and ebooks are also available. If you would like to join us but purchasing the book is a hardship, we will be happy to have one sent to you.

Christmas Story Path
A socially-distant, interactive nativity on church grounds
4:30-5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12

Join us for a magical socially distant experience of the Christmas story on church grounds. Based on the traditions of our Family Christmas Eve service, participants will visit several different stations to interact with parts of the Christmas story, hear the beloved carols, and experience a taste of the magic of the season. Individuals and family units will start on the path one at a time to maintain distance. Masks are required. Please RSVP so we can plan appropriately for some holiday treats: https://forms.gle/R8pAraLnA5hZid828.

Holiday Treat Exchange
Porch drop-off before 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19
Zoom gathering at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec.19

Cookies and candies, Chex mix and spiced nuts, latkes and fritters, OH MY! Sign up here to participate in a Holiday Treat Swap! Drop your treat by the assigned porch on Saturday, Dec. 19, and then gather on Zoom together to enjoy the treats and the stories that accompany them! Sign up by 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14 to participate: https://forms.gle/twuqTmVZRxXdPnf18. Zoom Meeting ID: 962 9685 7041. Passcode: 110261.

Corona Christmas Caroling
5-6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 20

Sign up to give or receive socially distant Christmas Carols! We will match folks who want to sing with folks who would like a safely distanced visit. Carolers can pick up carol books at the church at 5 p.m. before heading to their assigned destinations and are encouraged to maintain at least 12 feet of distance while singing from the yard or driveway. Sign up by 5 p.m. Monday, Dec. 14 to participate: https://forms.gle/bkU3KJruTZk9eoXd8.

Christmas Day Share & Play
2-3 p.m. Friday, Dec. 25

Drop in to join your UU Church friends on Zoom to say a very merry Christmas hello and to share about your favorite gifts, present and past. Zoom Meeting ID: 939 8145 4230. Passcode: 831406.


President’s Perspective – Floating Together

by Rebecca Graves, 2020-21 President

No big news this month, more a patchwork of announcements. We are working through the board calendar: https://uucomo.org/board-calendar/. I admit that the pandemic, and somewhat the election, have pushed us behind a bit. We should be caught up by January, if not December. The Covid Advisory Task Force continues to provide the board with up to date information especially about how to host Room at the Inn (RATI) safely. Between their work and the work of the RATI staff, I am confident that we will make the hosting of RATI – its guests, staff and volunteers – as safe as possible in this pandemic.

Along with several other members of our congregation, I am taking the Beloved Conversations Virtual course on racial justice (https://bcvirtual.meadville. edu/p/home). I could simply say that this is a six-lesson online course that dives into our emotions and understanding around social justice; however, it is much more. The lessons are rich both in depth of content and type of material. It is not simply texts to read, but also podcasts, videos, poems, as well as embodied work such as dance, art, song. There is individual work and partnered work, along with small and large group discussions. Yet there are no grades, no tests, no requirement to “finish the list” of resources. This is a holistic way to encounter this topic; and, now in lesson three, I find that I am trusting the process, and the learning is deep.

The board is wrestling with the question, “How do we measure our execution of our mission?” beyond door counts and money raised. Thinking of our mission in a pandemic when we are so separate sparked an image of all of us in life rafts, drifting. This image has been following me these past weeks as I think on the words in our mission and as I repeat our chalice lighting on Sundays – ”Love is the spirit of this church and service is its law. This is our great covenant… to help one another.” How in this time can we help each other? How can we live our mission of deep connection and healing each other so that we can heal the world? How can we stay together while floating alone in our small rafts on this vast sea?

I pulled on this image and saw us paddling toward each other, tying our rafts together (safely distant of course), sharing water, light, and love. This is what we do already with our small group ministries, when we gather in a circle outdoors and share stories and music, when we meet over Zoom and see each other’s faces. I have no way to measure this yet, but I ask us to keep reaching out, keep paddling over to each other and roping our rafts together. If you think of someone, message them, call them or mail them a note – perhaps we should bring Christmas cards back this year. If you are one who bakes or cooks, drop food by. Leave a picture drawn by your child in someone’s mailbox (physical or online.) Share flowers or an interesting stone picked up on a walk. And, if you are alone, send up a flare (a text will do) so that we may paddle over to you, so that we may serve our deep connection and heal in this time of pandemic.


Rev. Molly’s December office hours

Tuesdays on Zoom – 9:30-11 a.m.
Thursdays on Zoom or outdoors if the weather is particularly nice – 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

If Thursday office hours will be offered outdoors, I will send out an email announcement.

I remain available to you by Zoom and phone if in-person outdoor visits do not fit your risk level. Simply select “virtual meeting” on my online calendar.

– Rev. Molly


December Honduras Ministry update

Honduras and other Central American countries have been hit extremely hard by hurricane Eta, and hurricane Iota is also hitting the region. The Cangrejal River Valley, where the UUCC Honduras Ministry has built latrines and done other projects desired by the community, has been severely affected. The bridge that leads from La Ceiba to the river valley, and the road that goes up to the river valley communities, have been washed out, and some people who lived along the banks of the river lost everything.

There are food shortages, and it’s hard to imagine how people will be able to rebuild their lives after so much devastation. We are staying in touch with our Honduran friends and will be sending financial help from our congregation.

– Allie Gassmann
Honduras Ministry Chair

UUCC to host RATI for entire 2020-2021 season

During the influenza pandemic of 1918, our sister Unitarian and Universalist churches across the country stepped up, along with other faith communities, to become field hospitals, children’s shelters, and even makeshift morgues. 

After learning of the lack of other viable options for the Room at the Inn emergency overnight shelter (RATI) this winter, our Board of Trustees was inspired by the faith of our forebears to vote to commit the use of our entire building (except the offices) to RATI for their 2020-2021 season. 

From December 13 to March 14, our sanctuary, classrooms, and even foyer will all be partitioned into 10 foot square spaces for guests in order to create as safe a shelter experience as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Board made this decision after careful consideration of Room at the Inn’s excellent plans for safe shelter procedures during the pandemic and with the concurrence of our Covid-19 Advisory Task Force. We are particularly glad that RATI has been able to arrange a separate site with substantial space for quarantine or isolation of guests who may be medically vulnerable, sick, or exposed to Covid-19. This will make our guests safer.

As our own Worship, small groups, and other ministries continue to meet online, it is clear to us that the life-saving efforts of Room at the Inn are a faithful use of our physical plant resources during this time. We know there may be some hardship for our congregation in this offering, but we are equally clear that our faith calls us to rise to meet the challenge of this moment, and we believe that pulling together to love our neighbors in this material way will be a source of hope and sustenance for our church community through this time. 

We know that our location is not ideal for Room at the Inn. We are off the beaten path for our guests in a residential neighborhood, and our space is not very large. However, as the only large enough congregation able to offer our facility for this use in this time, we know that the alternative of leaving people without safe shelter during dangerously cold temperatures is anathema to our faith. 

Image of cots filling the sanctuary

Sheltering unhoused Columbians during the winter months is always a significant undertaking. We know that it will be even more so during this pandemic winter. We know many of our church members will not be able to volunteer in the usual ways because of Covid risk factors, and we will be communicating about other opportunities to support the work of RATI as their needs become clear. We are pleased that RATI will have 4 paid staff people on site at all times to make up for any potential lack of volunteers. We are also grateful for the compassion of the Shepard Elementary School Principal and the Shepard Neighborhood Association President who have both expressed their support for our efforts.

We are proud to partner with Room at the Inn every year, and this year we are grateful for our congregation’s clarity of mission, which allows us to step up and offer this use of our building to provide warm sanctuary that affirms the worth and dignity of every Columbian.

Utility Drive

On Friday, Sept. 25, the City of Columbia announced that it will resume shutting off water and electricity services on Oct. 5 for households with unpaid accounts – all while Covid-19 continues to spread unchecked in our community. The city reports that 5,800 of our neighbors are at risk of disconnection. 
We want to be clear – shutting off people’s power is especially cruel when thousands of our neighbors have lost work due to the pandemic and when we need them to stay in their homes as much as possible to mitigate the spread of the virus, including for their children’s schooling. 
First and foremost, we call upon the City of Columbia to extend the grace period and work with folks to forgive or greatly discount unpaid bills so that no one loses power during this time. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR COUNCILPERSON TODAY and demand the city keep the lights on for our neighbors in need. https://www.como.gov/council/council-members/
Second, we believe in the power of mutual aid as a grassroots organizing strategy. Our Universalist faith reminds us that all of us need all of us to make it. We help each other when we can, and through that assistance, we build relationships that can mobilize more of us to demand better. So, we’re raising money to help out some small portion of the folks in danger of losing their utilities, while also asking them to contact their councilpersons and demand better as well. With more than 5,800 families in danger of shut-off, we know that our capacity to help will be relatively small. We also know it matters deeply. Please give if you are able by making a contribution to our Benevolence Funds at uucomo.org/donate (there select “Benevolence Funds”). And please spread the word for those who need assistance to fill out this form and we will do our best to help: https://forms.gle/6Zwq8uGCzFcHd7wFA.
Last, please contact me by email if you are willing to work in a coordinating capacity to make payments and to negotiate with the city to help the money we raise go as far as possible.
This is a time-limited campaign. We ask people to give by Friday, Oct. 2, and we will distribute the funds at that point.
In Faith,
Rev. Molly 


Rev. Sally Fritsche joins Illinois church

Rev. Sally Fritsche in the pulpit

The Rev. Sally Fritsche, daughter of our members Lisa and Kevin Fritsche, joined the UU Church of Urbana-Champaign (UUCUC) as Associate Minister for Congregational Life on Sept. 1. Her duties will include pastoral care, membership, leadership development, small group support and alternative worship opportunities. She will also lead one Sunday service per month. She delivered her first sermon there on Sept. 13.

Rev. Sally grew up in our church and had a keen interest in world religions from a young age. After earning undergraduate degrees in sociology and religious studies, she first felt the call to ministry while serving in Americorps in rural Indiana. She was both disheartened by the poverty and suffering she witnessed and inspired by the activism and compassion she saw in local congregations. Newly reminded of the power religious community can have to change lives and sustain people, she turned away from her doctoral aspirations and instead applied to and was accepted at Harvard Divinity School.

While a divinity student, Sally served as an assistant chaplain to the Suffolk University Interfaith Center, as a chaplain intern at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital in downtown Boston, and as an assistant director at the Boston Nature Center summer day camp. After graduating with her Master of Divinity in 2018, she served as ministerial intern at First Parish UU in Needham, MA, where she was ordained as a UU minister on June 20 this year.

Rev. Sally and her husband Miles Faaborg, also a Columbia native, moved to Urbana from Massachusetts and had a few weeks to get to know the area before she started her ministry at UUCUC. Miles also attended Harvard, where his field of study was applied physics, and he was a research fellow at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The couple married in July 2018.

Rev. Sally can be contacted by email. You can read more about Rev. Sally here.

Below are additional photos of Rev. Sally from this summer.


Tim Dickerson selected as President-Elect

Tim Dickerson

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

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


COVID-19 Advisory Task Force members appointed

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

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

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

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

Both Jan Swaney and Susan Even are physicians.


Grounds Team has set up outdoor meeting spaces

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

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

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

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

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

Fire Circle

Memorial Garden
Playground Area Office Entrance Area



Joint Letter to the Congregation from Board President & Minister

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

In Faith,
Mindy McPherson, Board President, and Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister


Consider donating to help others during the coronavirus emergency

UUCC benevolence funds

You can donate to our church’s benevolence funds here. Be sure to note “benevolence funds” as the purpose of your donation.

Other community organizations

Other community organizations working to help those in need during the crisis include:

Community Foundation of Central Missouri’s COVID-19 Regional Relief Fund

COVID-19 Crisis Shelter for the Unhoused

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri COVID-19 Response


Got brain fog? Some pastoral resources…

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.

With love,
Rev. Molly


Recommendations for team leaders

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,

Rev. Molly 

How to join worship and meetings by Zoom

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.

Reparations Working Group update

We in the Reparations Working Group have begun our work! Just what exactly is that work? Our charge, first articulated by Rev. Molly in her February 2019 sermon, “Reparations and Soul Repair,” is to conceive of a small-scale, hyper-local reparations project. How might we leverage and redistribute a portion of our congregation’s resources to African American residents of Columbia and/or Boone County as an admittedly small act of repair to the systemic impacts of slavery and ongoing racial injustice? We will grapple with this question and present a detailed project proposal to the congregation by late fall 2020.

To get from here to there, we have formed sub-teams in these three intersecting areas:

  1. Truth Telling: How have white residents suppressed black residents throughout the founding and growth of Columbia and Boone County? How is that past still present in our community today? We are diving into Columbia’s history (including archival research and oral history gathering) to uncover and to shift the narrative of race in our community.
  2. Project Dreaming: We are researching examples of other reparations projects around the country to inspire and inform us as we envision and plan our own small scale project.
  3. Relationship Building: We will identify and deepen relationships with black community members who are willing to offer insights into the history and the effects of systemic oppression in our community and to advise us on project design.

We are clear in understanding that our work:

  • Must go beyond apologies, however heartfelt, and enter the realm of physical, material repair.
  • Will be small in scale and cannot undo generations of past suffering.
  • Involves, for those of us who identify as white, humility and an ever-deepening understanding of our own individual and familial roles in historical and present-day systems of racial oppression.

We move forward with this hope – that the work of small-scale repair, while modest, can still be profound. Small steps can also be bold. We meet twice monthly.

Working Group members are Amie Burling, Andrew Twaddle, Charles Swaney, Dan Bugnitz, Dave Gibbons, Fred Young, Gretchen Maune, Kim Wade, Rev Molly Housh Gordon, Sam Otten. Let Rev Molly know if you would like to join us.

– Kim Wade

Honduras Service Trip report

A group of ten members and friends of UUCC spent a week in Honduras from Dec. 28 to Jan. 4 building latrines and deepening ties and friendships with people in the Rio Cangrejal Valley. As they worked on the latrines, they learned more about the hardships people in the valley face. They also had many opportunities for laughter and companionship.

A group of activists from Guapinol joined them to tell them of their struggles to defend their land from mining companies. The poverty the majority of people in Honduras suffer as a result of the depth of corruption and criminal activity of the government is staggering.

Click the following button for a more complete description of the trip including many photographs:

2019-20 Honduras Trip – Full Report and Photographs

It will be another three years before the Honduras Ministry Team goes back to Honduras. In the meantime, the team will be in close touch with their friends in the Valley. The team will continue to raise funds for the health clinic in El Pital. The healthcare and educational systems are in shambles in Honduras, so providing funds for basic necessities at the clinic is of vital importance. The team would like to fund a few more latrines and continue supporting the microfinance organization Adelante.

Allie Gassmann, Honduras Ministry Team Chair

Sharing our space with Missouri Faith Voices

From Rev. Molly:

Brittany Hughes

In expression of our partnership with Missouri Faith Voices and our intention to leverage our facility for the work of liberation, the UU Church of Columbia is proudly donating office space for Missouri Faith Voices Columbia Organizer Brittany Hughes.

Brittany is making use of our volunteer work room as well as sharing space downstairs with Music Director Jeremy Wagner. If you’re around on a weekday you just may have the chance to share a warm UUCC welcome!

Brittany is the regional organizer for Columbia’s chapter of the grassroots organizing group Missouri Faith Voices. Originally from Aliceville, Alabama, Brittany spent most of her school age years in St. Louis, Missouri. Her passion for this work is derived from her love of black folks and the desire to see the collective liberation of BIPOCs not only in America but globally. When she isn’t working, Brittany enjoys a good book, cooking, music, and grabbing drinks with friends.


Hans Bridger Heruth – our new staff collaborative pianist

Hans Bridger Heruth

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

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

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


Why is that rug in the sanctuary?

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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


New Director of Music Ministry – Jeremy Wagner

From Rev. Molly and the Music Director Search Team:

Jeremy Wagner

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.



Social Action Team invites you to join

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

There are five important aspects of UUCC Social Justice Work

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

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

– Caya Tanski, SAT Chair – email

Suzanne Clark is next Church Administrator

Suzanne Clark

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!


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.

New! UUCC Member Connect Program

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.

If you would like to participate in a meeting with a connector or would like to volunteer to be a connector, email Peter Holmes or Rosie Geiser

– Peter Holmes and Rosie Geiser, co-chairs

New Chalice Is Dedicated

Rev. Molly lit the new chalice on Jan. 28 from a flame passed from the chalice made by Naoma Powell.

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.
Flame, re-igniting


Meet the Chalice Artist

Ryan Schmidt

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.


Your Amazon shopping can benefit UUCC

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 receives Peaceworks award

Allie accepting award. Click to enlarge.

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 April Rodeghero as Sunday Morning Assistant


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!

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.

Supporting UUCC by Grocery Shopping

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:

  1. Ask for a My Schnucks card at the Customer Service counter.
  2. When next at your computer, go to Schnucks.com.
  3. Hover over the “Programs” menu and select “Schnucks Fundraising” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click on “eScrip” in number 2 under “How It Works.”
  5. Fill in the form to become registered.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.