Our new Director of Music Ministry

We are so pleased to announce that Violet Vonder Haar will be joining
us at the UU Church of Columbia as our next Director of Music Ministry!
A singer in a white shirt stands behind a microphone.
Violet Vonder Haar performing at Roots and Blues Music Festival.
 
With a degree in K-12 Music Education and a thriving teaching practice in the Columbia area, Violet brings us the skills to nurture a love of music for all ages of our congregation.
 
With experience leading a variety of groups in song, Violet is well positioned to build community through music within our congregation.
 
And with well connected roots in the local Mid-Missouri music scene and a new community music center project in the works, Violet is ready to nurture our congregation’s own musicians and build relationships beyond our church walls.
 
A row of children and an adult are photographed from behind singing to a crowd.
Violet Vonder Haar leads a children’s choir in singing at a march.
 
You may know Violet’s gifts for song-writing and performance as a fan of her band Violet and The Undercurrents, who most recently performed at the Roots and Blues music festival. Or you might have gotten in the spirit of a local justice-making demonstration with the music of Violet and her wife Phylshawn, who frequently play at protests and marches in our community. If you’ve encountered Violet you know that her music is spiritually grounded and prophetic in naming the world we seek to create.
 
A musician stands with a guitar among many protest signs.
Violet Vonder Haar leads music at a local protest.
 
We are so excited to welcome Violet to the UU Church of Columbia as we begin this new chapter in our congregation’s life, and as we re-connect with one another and the wider Columbia community through the power of song.

 

 

President’s Perspective – So much good is going on!

By Timothy Dickerson, 2021-22 President

Hello, beloved UUCoMo community,

So much good is going on at 2615 Shepard Blvd. as we UUs live our mission. First off, a big shout-out to Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Director of Religious Education Jamila Batchelder, the COVID Task Force, and all you other stellar UUs who have put in so much time, passion and love to make it possible for us to safely worship in person while still maintaining our much-needed online presence. It has been encouraging and uplifting to see many of your eyes and different masks, but mostly YOU and your inherent worth and dignity, as we once again worship IRL (in real life).

The Accessibility Task Force is planning for an elevator, automated doors, new carpeting, and other necessary improvements to ensure that all who enter our church community feel welcome and empowered to access all the many amazing nooks and crannies our beloved church home provides.

Your board had its annual retreat on Saturday, September 18, and WOW, what a wonderful, thoughtful and compassionate group of humans I get the honor and pleasure to serve with. We started the day with inspiring worship provided by Rev. Molly. She asked that each of us bring an object that we feel represents our spirits and tell their stories. I brought my stuffed Winnie the Pooh that have had for as long as I can remember. If you are curious why, feel free to ask, but be prepared for me to ask to see what object represents your soul and its story.

We spent the rest of the day in deep conversation using the book The Nested Bowls that Rev. Molly gifted us before leaving on sabbatical. We worked through the great thought-provoking questions it provides, ate some yummy food, and learned a lot about and from one another by practicing deep intentional listening with one another.

Your board and minister are very committed to UU ALL and ensuring we continue living our mission and creating a beloved community.

In LOVE,
Tim Dickerson

 

Easy text and online donations now available

We are excited to announce that we have launched a new system giving our members and friends the ability to give to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia by:

  • Text message from your smartphone, or
  • Online

This new system has been arranged through the Breeze Church Management System, our new church database. It replaces our previous Paypal portal, which is now inactive.

You can find complete details about the new system at https://uucomo.org/give.

As fewer people are using checks or carrying cash, we wanted to offer a safe, secure and convenient way to easily support our church through giving by text message or online.

As some of our members, friends and visitors are continuing to stream our worship services online, we hope this new system will be more convenient than mailing a check or using our previous Paypal portal.

Our new system will allow you to give using a credit/debit card or bank ACH transfer. The system will ask for your card or bank account information the first time you use it, and you can change that information later. You can use the system to give whenever your choose, and you can also set up automatic recurring gifts.

Our church will pay a small transaction fee to process online payments, but we feel the fee is well worth the convenience. If you choose, you will be able to cover that fee for the church when you make an online gift.

We believe these new tools will allow us to continue to serve you well. We want you to know we greatly appreciate you and your spirit of generosity as you continue to support UUCC and our mission of radical welcome and deep connection that moves us together to heal the world.

 

Three membership events planned

Newcomer Picnic – Sept. 26

All newcomers and new members are invited to join us for a newcomer picnic in the backyard of the church at noon Sunday, Sept. 26. Lunch will be provided. RSVP by email with number of people and dietary restrictions.

Membership Class (required to join) – Oct. 7 or Oct. 10

Choose either 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 7 via Zoom or noon Sunday, Oct. 10 outdoors in person on the church grounds. RSVP by email.

New Member Ingathering in Worship – Oct. 24

Sunday, Oct. 24 online and in-person. RSVP by email.

 

September update from the Covid Advisory Task Force

Mid-Missouri, like much of the state, is facing challenges – the extremely contagious Covid delta variant and an insufficient number of vaccinated persons. This has led to rising numbers of Covid infections, hospitalizations and deaths. While there is still much to learn, we have better knowledge of how to reduce the risk of getting and spreading Covid infections. We will be using all available strategies so we can hold in-person gatherings at UUCC this fall. We are counting on all those 12 and older to obtain Covid vaccinations and urging those who have not been vaccinated to do so as soon as possible. Also, it is important for adults and children with any symptoms to remain at home.

When weather allows, Sunday services and Youth RE will be held outdoors, observing social distancing and masks optional. We will wear masks for indoor services and activities and maintain social distancing and good hand washing. Our sanctuary and greeting areas have high flow air exchange rates that meet Covid safety standards. Children will not participate in services in the sanctuary this fall.

The task force advises no indoor congregational singing at this time, and instead quiet humming behind masks. In the sanctuary, vocal soloists and musicians will perform from the raised stage and will use appropriate protection and distancing.

The situation in Columbia/Boone County is constantly changing and new scientific information becoming available. The Covid Task Force will continue to meet monthly and review all of this as it relates to our gathering practices and make recommendations to the Board to maintain a safe and welcoming environment for all members and visitors.

 

Faith-to-Action nomination deadline is Oct. 1

The Social Action Team will accept nominations of your favorite charitable organization until Oct. 1 Please click this button to make your nomination:

2021-22 Faith-to-Action Nominations

Following is the current list of nominees in the order received:

  • Heart of Missouri CASA
  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  • Stop Human Trafficking Coalition of Central MO
  • First Chance for Children
  • Children’s Grove Kindness Libraries
  • Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace & J ustice
  • Honduras Education Fund
  • Festival of Sharing (Sept. 5)
  • UUCC Sponsorship of Guatemalan family
  • Centro Latino de Salud
  • UUCC Honduras Ministry
  • Missourians for Alternative to the Death Penalty
  • Minority Men’s Network
  • Loaves & Fishes
  • Room at the Inn
  • C.W. Dawson Ministries
  • Haiti Earthquake Relief (collected Aug. 22)
  • The Wardrobe
  • Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture

 

Religious education registrations requested

It has been a long time since our religious education classes have gathered in person, and a lot of our information is out of date! Please go to our website and register for our RE program. We need registration for each child in our program, even if you have registered before.

Nursery-8th graders: Register at the following link:
https://uucomo.org/first-re-registration-or-changed-information/

High School Youth Group:
You have several forms to fill out and return. You can find them at the following link:
https://uucomo.org/yruu-high-school-group/#Overview

 

Rev. Molly and DRE Jamila Batchelder outline re-gathering plans

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon and Director of Religious Education Jamila Batchelder have outlined plans for re-gathering in September after 18 months of online programming.

From Rev. Molly:

Dear ones!

Your Board of Trustees, Covid Advisory Task Force, and staff team have been hard at work on a safe, inclusive plan for gathering together this fall after 18 months of all-online programming. We want to acknowledge right up front that things are not where we hoped they would be with the pandemic and that the local situation and therefore our plans will continue to evolve. We thank you for joining us in the difficult/beautiful spiritual practice of moving through uncertainty together. Here is what we know:

  • Beginning Sept. 12, we will be re-gathering at the church, outdoors for now, with worship services and children’s religious education programs. We will also continue offering online worship. We will continually assess local transmission numbers, congregational comfort levels, and, of course, the weather, to determine when we will move inside.
  • Our outdoor service will be at our usual 10:30 a.m. time on church grounds, and because simultaneous live-streaming outdoors presents many technical difficulties, we will be offering a separate online service at 9:30 a.m. on Sundays while we are outdoors. Children’s programs will be offered at 10:30 a.m. alongside outdoor services.

For those joining us online, note the time change and join us as you have been these many months! We will continue to offer online coffee hour.

For those joining us in person, we request universal masking, and we invite you to bring your own coffee, water, or other morning beverage. We are working on shade and good sound as I write. We will have chairs available but invite you to bring a lawn chair if you’d like and spread out.

We know that this is a highly vaccinated, socially responsible, warm and flexible community. We also know this evolving time of re-gathering may be awkward, or anxious, or have some false starts. Let’s lead with love and be gentle with one another! And, let’s remember to look out for new faces to warmly welcome the beloved ones who have previously only been with us online. It will be an adventure, but we’ve always been on an adventure of the spirit here. Onward!

– Rev. Molly

Note: Rev. Molly and Susan Even, chair of our Covid Advisory Task Force, presented a re-gathering webinar via Zoom on Thursday, Aug. 26. You can view the webinar by clicking the image below.

From DRE Jamila Batchelder:

We are going to begin in-person Religious Education classes starting Sept. 19, at 10:30 a.m. I am so excited to finally be together. But a few things will be a little different! First and foremost:

WE WILL BE OUTSIDE…

…at least for the first quarter of the year, as our community gets a handle on its Covid infection rates.

  • Potter Class will meet just outside their regular classroom, beside the lower parking lot.
  • K-7th graders will meet at Shepard Park under the shelter.
  • Coming of Age class will meet on the church grounds at a yet to be determined location.

Other changes: As we reintegrate to church life, K-7th graders will do a group curriculum focused on reconnection, relationship building and the joy of play. We will begin with a story to center us on our core values and then have a combination of structured and less structured activities for children to choose from as we rebuild our R.E. community. We will also build in service projects that allow us to put our faith into action.

Teachers and children will continue wearing masks when we are together, even outside. We will continue to re-evaluate our plans as conditions change here in Columbia and Missouri.

If you are interested in volunteering, please contact me. It is an amazing opportunity to be a part of creating a community of love, care and growth for the young people of our UU church.

Note: Jamila Batchelder presented a video on Sept. 3, 2021 in which she discussed plans for R.E. classes this year. Click the image below to view the video.

 

Connie Ordway elected as Secretary

At its regular monthly meeting on Thursday evening, Aug. 19, our Board of Trustees elected Connie Ordway as Secretary for the 2021-22 fiscal year that began July 1.

The board elected Melissa Ensign-Bedford as President-Elect and Ginny Winter as Treasurer for the 2021-22 fiscal year at its July 15 meeting. Under church bylaws, Melissa will become President for the 2022-23 fiscal year that will begin July 1, 2022.

 

Chalice Circles offer new and continuing choices

Members and Friends of UUCC:

Are you looking for a way to connect with fellow UUCC members and friends? Seeking opportunities to share your heart in a safe/brave space? Finding new connections and opportunities to discover ways that UUCC can be meaningful in your life? If so, find a Chalice Circle program that suits your needs. Learn more about Chalice Circles.

Current Chalice Circle members: You are encouraged to consider joining a new group this year. We realize that it may be difficult for you, after being involved intimately with the lives and ideas of the particular people in your covenant group, but we ask you to think of this change as an opportunity to build relationships with new people and to provide new people the opportunity to develop relationships with you. Since the new covenant group members coming in will have different spiritual experiences and ideas, this will also provide you with the opportunity for more spiritual growth.

2021-2022 Chalice Circle options will be:

1. Traditional eight-session Chalice Circles, meeting once a month for an hour or two from early October through the end of May. There is a 10-member limit in each circle. The groups are facilitated by fellow volunteers, exploring a topic planned in coordination with the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon. Regular service project opportunities are chosen by members of the group and enhance bonds of friendship. Your commitment is for one cycle of eight sessions.

2. Monthly one-time Chalice Circles, for those who just want to try out a circle or are unable to make a multiple session commitment, meeting once a month at the church from early October through the end of May. These groups are will be facilitated by fellow volunteers. No registration is required – drop-ins are expected. Childcare will be offered in the church nursery. The schedule will be announced in September.

All Chalice Circles will be open for signups in September on the website, on signup sheets at the church or by email. To sign up on the website, click this button:

2021-22 Chalice Circles Signup

 

Board selects President-Elect and Treasurer

At its regular monthly meeting on Thursday evening, July 15, our Board of Trustees selected Melissa Ensign-Bedford as President-Elect and Ginny Winter as Treasurer for the 2021-22 fiscal year that began July 1.

Under church bylaws, Melissa will become President for the 2022-23 fiscal year that will begin July 1, 2022.

President Tim Dickerson said the board expects to select the Secretary at its next meeting on Aug. 19.

 

Financial contributions sought for Guatamalan family

Thank you, UUCC, for your support of our sponsorship of a Guatemalan family seeking asylum. The mom Lilly, her 5-year-old son Manuel, and her 8-month-old daughter Lakshmi, arrived in Columbia on May 26. Church member Christine Heath has generously offered to host the family in her home. Many of you have indicated a willingness to offer financial support of the sponsorship, and we greatly appreciate your interest in helping. There are two suggested ways to consider making contributions.

Give to the church

Please designate contributions to the church for the “Sanctuary Fund.” If donating at https://uucomo.org/donate/, please select “Other” and specify “Sanctuary Fund.”

Contributions to the church are tax deductible. We as a congregation have expressed a willingness to see the sponsorship of an asylum-seeking family as an extension of being a sanctuary congregation.

Although we are unable to make a direct transfer to the family of contributions made to the church, the Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice (SIJ) Team will do its best to use money in the Sanctuary Fund wisely. The financial needs of our sponsorship of Lilly and her family are significant, and we anticipate using money in the Sanctuary Fund for that purpose. However, there is also the possibility that money in the Sanctuary Fund may be used for other immigrant justice purposes, such as helping with unexpected expenses for the Honduran family we have been helping to support, or if there is an unexpected need for sanctuary that UUCC agrees to provide.

Give to the family

At this time please send contributions for the family to Allie Gassmann at 1700 Princeton Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. Please make checks payable to Allie. Allie and Dave Gibbons, as co-chairs of the SIJ Team, and Christine Heath, as host of the family, have opened a joint account for the sponsorship needs of Lilly and her family. They will coordinate all expenditures from the account for sponsorship needs and make a periodic accounting to the SIJ Team. Contributions sent to Allie as gifts for the family are not tax deductible.

We truly appreciate the interest of people at UUCC to help support the sponsorship of Lilly, Manuel, and Lakshmi. The immigration courts are significantly backed up, so our sponsorship could be for quite a while. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, or if you need any additional information.

With much gratitude,
Allie Gassmann and Dave Gibbons, Co-Chairs
Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team

Budget approved and board members elected

After our May 2 online Annual Congregational Meeting, 82 members cast written ballots that overwhelmingly approved our 2021-22 operating budget and elected three new Board of Trustees members. The number of ballots far exceeded the quorum requirement of 44.

The budget can be viewed here.

New board members who will take office on July 1 are Melissa Ensign-Bedford, Susan Even and Connie Ordway. View their photos and biographical statements here.

Leaving the board at the end of their terms on June 30 will be Mark Johnson, Past President Mindy McPherson and current Secretary Jan Swaney.

President-Elect Tim Dickerson will become President July 1. Other current board members who will continue on the nine-member board are current President Rebecca Graves, current Treasurer Jeremy Duke, Ginny Winter, Kara Braudis and David Leuthold.

The newly constituted board will elect the 2021-22 President-Elect, Secretary and Treasurer. This election usually takes place at the board’s July meeting.

 

UU Life Writers’ Group publishes its second anthology

The UU Life Writers’ Group is pleased to announce the publication of its second anthology, Stories, Just Stories. The stories are mini-memoirs about family, growing up, social activism, romance and pets. A big section of poetry is included. The anthology also contains tributes to those writers no longer with us.

Copies are $8 and can be ordered by email to Fran Reynolds. Pay on the UUCC donation page by selecting the “Other” option and specifying “Life Writers Anthology” as the purpose of the donation.

March is Women’s History Month. UU Life Writers will be writing stories about women who have been important to them, the church and the community. Everyone is welcome to join us on Zoom. We will meet March 6 and 20 at 10:30 a.m. For more information contact Fran.

 

Please help sponsor the UUCC Honduras Education effort

Our congregation has for many years been in a relationship with a community in the Cangrejal River Valley of Honduras. Groups of UU Churchers have visited every couple of years to work on projects and have maintained relationships between trips with communications and material support for things like the health clinic. This has been mutually rich in learning and connection for both communities.

Two years ago our Social Action Team undertook a project to establish an Education Fund to aid community leaders in furthering their education and building skills to help in their community. The Honduras Education Fund provides scholarship funding for these local leaders, but it is currently running low on funds! The team is seeking individuals or families to pledge $160/year (about $15/month) for two years to keep the Education Fund up and running! One time gifts of any amount are also accepted on our online donation page – select the “Other” option and note “Honduras Education Fund” for the explanation.

Can you help? Email Caya Tanski with any questions.

 

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.

 

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

 

 

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
https://cfcmfoundation.org/donations/covid-19-regional-relief-fund/

COVID-19 Crisis Shelter for the Unhoused
http://comocrisisshelter.com/

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri COVID-19 Response
https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/weblink.aspx?name=E164454&id=77

 

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
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.

 

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.