Solidarity Rally and March – Jan. 18

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

Dear UUCC Family and Friends,

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

Rev. Molly will be one of the featured speakers.

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

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

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

– Caya Tanski, for the Social Action Team

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

 

Honduras Service Trip reports

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

Dec. 28, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

Dec. 30, 2019

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

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

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

Dec. 31, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This and the next four photos show work on latrines.

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

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

Dec. 31, 2019

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

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

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

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

Fiesta and concert fun photos

Todd, Cito, Keyla, and Kristine.

Jan. 1, 2020

Another wonderful day here!

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

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

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

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

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

Jan. 2, 2020

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

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

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

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

Jan. 3, 2020

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

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

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

Jan. 5, 2020 – reflections on our trip

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

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

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

Urgent Update: Guapinol Water Defenders Trial in Honduras

Take Action for the Guapinol, Honduras Water Defenders

Honduras in Crisis: How You Can Help

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Founders’ Day Weekend – Jan. 25-26

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

Founders’ Day Service Auction – Jan. 25

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

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

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

Congregational Input Meeting – Jan. 26

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

 

Building Task Force Congregational Input Meeting – Jan. 26

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

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

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

 

Founders’ Day Service Auction – Jan. 25, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

Be creative. What makes you special? Share it!

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

Founders’ Day Service Auction – Jan. 25, 2020

 

Sabbatical – A time for renewal and exploration

Dear UU Churchers,

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

Sabbatical is a long tradition in ministry and academia alike, allowing for an extended time of study, reflection, rest, and renewal… all ingredients for effective ministry. In our Unitarian Universalist tradition, sabbatical leave is part of the congregation’s covenantal agreement with the minister, who generally earns one month of sabbatical per year of service up to a limit of six months.

I know this opportunity for extended renewal is a rare gift in our American culture of overwork and grind, and I am humbled and grateful for the chance to recharge my batteries in this way.

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

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

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

In deep gratitude,
Rev. Molly

 

President’s Perspective – Our need to elevate our mission

by Mindy McPherson, 2019-20 President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing you blessings in the New Year.

 

 

January Social Action Team news

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

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

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

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

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

 

Sharing our space with Missouri Faith Voices

From Rev. Molly:

Brittany Hughes

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hans Bridger Heruth – our new staff collaborative pianist

Hans Bridger Heruth

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

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

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

 

Why is that rug in the sanctuary?

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

 

Intern Minister Alexis to explore new path

From Intern Minister Alexis:

Dear UUCC Community,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Gratitude,
Alexis

From Rev. Molly Housh Gordon:

Dear UU Churchers,

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

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

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

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

In Faith,
Rev. Molly

New Director of Music Ministry – Jeremy Wagner

From Rev. Molly and the Music Director Search Team:

Jeremy Wagner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rev. Molly’s new office hours

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

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

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

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

 

Fragrance sensitivity? We’ve got you (or at least your chair) covered!

On Sunday, March 24, the Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry (AIM) Team presented the lay-led service, “Living Up to Radical Welcome,” and made a small change in the sanctuary while we were at it. As we’ve heard a number of questions about this change, we thought it was about time we shed some light on it.

If you’ve been to services during the past couple of months, you have likely noticed a section of chairs in the back of the sanctuary topped with yellow pillowcases. This sunny addition was inspired by feedback we’d received from congregants who have fragrance and chemical sensitivities. These individuals had been unable to enjoy services because of the migraines, allergies, and other reactions caused by these products, which many of us don’t think twice about applying. While we can’t control what products each person uses before joining us for worship, we can create a space in which people who live with sensitivities or allergies to those products can, hopefully, be more comfortable and feel more radically welcome.

The AIM Team requests that the fragrance-free seating area be reserved for individuals who are not wearing perfumes or scented products. We thank you for your help with this step towards being more accessible to and inclusive of all members and guests.

– Gretchen Maune, Chair
Accessibility and Inclusion Ministry Team

Social Action Team makes UUCC T-shirts available

After a two-year lapse in the availability of UUCC T-shirts, the UUCC Social Action Team now has three designs of T-shirts available for purchase at $20 apiece. The shirts are perfect for rallies and other activities and events. Look for them in the Greeting Area.

Some of the shirts feature the design that first became available in 2017 before the UUA General Assembly. On the front this design includes the official church logo and the church motto. On the back, it features the logo and the following words from our Mission Statement: “Courageous Love, Radical Welcome, Deep Connection – Healing the World.”

The other two designs are specific to the Social Action Team.

You can see the shirts in the photo slideshow below. Click the arrows to see the next or previous photo.

 

 

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

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

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

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
Constant.

 

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

April

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.