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May 2021 Searchlight

To read the May 2021 Searchlight on this page, scroll down or click the on-page links below to see specific articles:

Message from the Sabbatical Minister:

Creating spiritual gumbo – the UU challenge

I am a man who loves food. I have a wide and eclectic appetite. Soul food, Chinese, Japanese, French, Nigerian, Middle Eastern and Italian cuisines all satisfy my palate. One of my favorites, however, is Louisiana/Cajun dishes, especially gumbo.

Gumbo as you know is a stew made of different ingredients. My father said it was created by taking what people had as leftovers in the kitchen and creatively constructing a masterpiece. Shrimp, filé, onions, okra, smoked sausage, garlic, crawfish tails and claws, and of course rice turned what the upper class called “garbage soup” into succulent gumbo.

I say all this because I believe that one of the biggest challenges we face as we embark on this journey together is to be about the business of creating spiritual gumbo. We have the rare opportunity to be a mixture of different beliefs and faith commitments combined to create the most amazing spiritual gumbo ever made.

Look at us. We are theists, non-theists, Buddhist, Christian, pagan, pantheists, Jewish and more. We are joined together by our commitment to radical welcome, love and justice. Some of us are leftovers from other religious experiences. Yet all of us bring amazing “flavor” to the fellowship. We are spiritual gumbo.

A great gumbo requires intentionality. The cook prepares the ingredients with care, envisioning how the combination will look and taste. The cook knows that combining these different parts well will result in an amazing dish. We must be intentional about our spiritual gumbo. Garlic must not think it is superior to the rice. The onions are not sausage, nor should they be. Christians should be as affirmed and affirming as Buddhists, or non-theists, or pantheists. Pagans contribute to the gumbo as powerfully as traditional theistic Unitarian Universalists. No individual ingredient is more important than another. Only united can the gumbo be great.

Can we affirm our uniqueness in the same type of manner as the gumbo chef? The chef realizes that everyone does not like gumbo. Some people only like what they are familiar with. Alas, such is life. However, there are lots of people who have been searching for spiritual gumbo for a long time. They are in our community. They are everywhere. Our job is to seek them out if we want to make a fantastic spiritual gumbo.

So church, let us make spiritual gumbo. Every religious denomination including the UUA needs to make gumbo, and yet none have been hugely successful. We have an opportunity to give our sisters and brothers a recipe for success. We should take full advantage of this challenge.

In peace and love,
C.W. Dawson, Jr., Ph.D.
Sabbatical Minister

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May Worship – Sundays at 10:30 a.m. – online only

As we continue worshiping online, if you have any trouble accessing the technology to join us, please send an email to our Tech Team with your contact information. Someone will reach out to help!

Sunday, May 2 – Unitarian Universalist Service Committee – “Love and Liberation Beyond Borders”

Rev. Mary Katherine Morn and Rev. Laura Randall from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee will join our Affiliated Community Minister, Rev. Dottie Mathews, to share the history and mission of the UUSC and highlight some of the important work the committee is doing around the world with our support.

Sunday, May 9 – Worship Associates – Annual Flower Ceremony Service

Come enjoy a safely-distanced walking path outside at UUCC with different stations to engage with, musicians to listen to, and poetry to read. We will wear our masks and remain distanced, but it will be a lovely opportunity to see friends and celebrate our community.

Sunday, May 16 – Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr. – “Lessons on Love”

Sunday, May 23 – Worship Associates – Annual Bridging/Graduation Service

We will honor our graduating seniors and welcome them into the adult life of the church.

Sunday, May 30 – Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr. – “Character”

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Worship Zoom information

Worship services are offered via Zoom. Services are followed by a weekly digital coffee hour.

The Zoom address for our Sunday 10:30 a.m. worship is:

You can also join by phone: 312-626 6799

Webinar ID: 380 411 489

The Zoom address for our weekly 11:30 a.m. coffee hour is:

Meeting ID: 951 5226 3717 – Passcode: coffee

You can also join by phone: 312-626 6799

Services are also streamed live to Facebook

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The official stewardship campaign may be over, but it’s never too late to show your love for UUCC!
You can submit your pledge by clicking this button:

Online Pledge Form

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UUCC Annual Congregational Meeting – 1 p.m. Sunday, May 2

For details about the meeting, see the Annual Meeting page.

Zoom Link:
Meeting ID: 961 9458 0014
Passcode: 514267

By Phone
Dial by your location
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
+1 646 876 9923 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)

Meeting ID: 961 9458 0014
Passcode: 514267

Find your local number:

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Rev. Dr. Dawson’s Zoom office hours

Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon
Meeting ID: 960 4716 1907 Passcode: 089681

Thursdays 1 to 3 p.m.
Meeting ID: 975 1214 8919 Passcode: 180937

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Special Events in May

Flower Communion Service – 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 9

Created by Czech Unitarian Universalists Norbert and Maja Capek as a celebration of diversity in defiance of Nazi supremacist ideology, the Flower Communion is one of the most cherished UU traditions. It is a service in which we celebrate the unique beauty and worth of every individual – and how through the diversity that each individual brings to our community, we create together the greatest beauty of all.

We will be holding a flower communion celebration in person on the church grounds! For those who choose to come, we will have a stations-based experience on the church grounds, where you can move along a path engaging with music, poetry, reflection and fun, while getting a chance to see beloved (though still masked) faces. We will also stream the service live for those who cannot or choose not to come.

If you attend in person, please park on the street and in the parking lot of the school across the street. Save street parking spots closest to those with mobility needs. And if you can, bring a flower to add to our collective bouquet.

Bridging Service – 10:30 a.m. Sunday, May 23

Join us to celebrate our graduating seniors as they make their transition from youth to adults in our church community. We will share letters from their parents, offer them blessings, and welcome them into this new chapter of their lives. If you have a youth who will be graduating high school this year and would like to participate in this service, please email DRE Jamila Batchelder.

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The Board of Trustees has re-opened the UUCC building on a limited basis

Worship services will continue online, as will many of the team meetings. Read more about the limited reopening.

The building has been professionally cleaned including the carpets. Clean and shiny tile floors have been brought to you by the hard-working team of Todd Iveson, Jeremy Winter, Dave Gibbons and Kevin Fritsche. We are still moving a few things back to their proper places.

We hope to be more fully in person this fall.

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President’s Perspective – Living our mission at home

By Rebecca Graves, 2020-21 President

I mentioned in my last column that the board has been discussing the status and resumption of our capital campaign to expand and improve our church building. Given the pandemic postponement of this campaign, it is likely to be a couple years before we see any physical change. As we talked about this, we were led to understand that we could no longer wait on installing an elevator. We want to live our mission at home and to practice radical welcome for ourselves and our visitors. So, we have started the process of getting an elevator installed. We will also be replacing the carpet in this same accessibility project. We will be pulling together task forces to work on the project and to work on fund raising. You will be hearing more on this in the weeks to come.

In accordance with our policy regarding nominees for the board, the nominating committee has invited the nominees to the past two board meetings. They also have been assigned mentors, and we have held an orientation meeting to provide an introduction to policy governance and the board’s role in steering the church towards its mission. A shout-out to the nominating committee, Mindy McPherson, Patty Daus, Qhyrrae Michalieu, and Jenny Bossaller, for their great work on this.

A quick update on the Stewardship Campaign: Our pledges came in under our goal, though the final tally is better than we anticipated last month. I won’t go into details here, as by the time you read this the budget for 2022 will be posted and our annual meeting will either be imminent or over. As always, if you have questions, check our website or give me a shout.

In closing, I hope you are well, and that you have hung on through this past year. I miss you all and long to see you in person. With the vaccines getting into arms (I’m halfway through my course) and the blossoms on the trees, I am feeling hope rising. Just a few months more, and we will make it through.

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Sign up to be a delegate or attend the UUA General Assembly

Our Nominating Committee invites church members to sign up if they are interested in being delegates to the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly or just attending GA. The committee will recommend delegates to our Board of Trustees, which will make the formal appointments. Based on our total membership, our church is entitled to appoint five delegates.

When and where is the General Assembly? – For the second year in a row, GA will be held as a 100% virtual event June 23-27, 2021.

What is the General Assembly? – GA is the annual nationwide meeting of our UU churches.

What happens at GA, and why would you want to attend? – You get to worship, attend workshops, connect with other UUs, and as a delegate you would represent our church at the business meetings where UUA policy decisions are made. Read more.

Can non-delegates attend GA? – Yes. While only five of our church members can serve as GA voting delegates, any member with a paid registration is welcome to attend. We have the financial means to assist with registration fees for several members.

Let’s reach record-breaking attendance June 23-27, 2021!

If you are interested in attending this year’s virtual GA and possibly serving as a delegate, please fill out this form by May 28, 2021.

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Social Action Team May report

Faith-to-Action nominations for next church year are open

Most of the funds for social outreach in our church are generated directly from the congregation via the Faith-to-Action collections taken roughly twice per month during the church year. Nominations for groups doing social action and justice work are now open until July 15. Applications are online here.

SAT supports the Community Remembrance Project

The Boone County Community Remembrance Project is associated with the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, MS. As of this writing, a soil collection and rededication ceremony is scheduled for April 29 at the site of James Scott’s lynching. For more information, email Wiley Miller of the Social Action Team.

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Festival of Sharing – May 2021

For the month of May, the Festival of Sharing focus is on the “Missouri Personal Hygiene Pack.” These packs are for adults who have experienced a crisis situation or are experiencing homelessness. Place all items in a large ziplock bag (2 to 2.5 gallon).

  • 1 fluoride toothpaste (6 oz. or more)
  • 1 toothbrush (in original package)
  • 1 bath-size bar of soap (in package)
  • 1 bottle skin lotion (11-14 oz.)
  • 1 bottle shampoo (11-14 oz.)
  • 1 washcloth
  • 1 deodorant
  • 2 razors (disposable)
  • 1 comb or brush
  • 1 hand towel

In 2019, there were requests for 8,749 packs state-wide, but only 3,156 were provided. Collection boxes are available at the church office.

– Bonnie Johnson, Festival of Sharing Chair

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Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team news – sponsorship of Guatemalan family

After some time of discernment and gathering information, the Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team has decided to move forward with steps toward sponsoring a Guatemalan family that is seeking asylum in the U.S. The straw poll the team conducted at a service in April showed that our UUCC congregation is strongly in favor of sponsorship, and several folks have very generously stepped forward with offers of help and even housing.

There are other Columbia community members who are highly supportive, and that includes people at Rock Bridge Christian Church, the other official sanctuary church in town.

The team feels very positive about these developments and will keep you up to date. For more information, email Allie Gassmann or Dave Gibbons.

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UUCC Caring Ministry

The Caring Ministry Team is based on the belief that we are all inherently worthy of care and meaningful connections with others. This ministry provides support in times of celebration and challenge. Support may include cards, calls, visits, meals, and assistance with errands, transportation, or other needs. There are many church members and friends who perform and support caring ministry activities. Please consider joining our team and/or helping out periodically.

Those needing help should contact the team in a time of need.

Email Meredith Donaldson or call the church office at 442-5764 if you need help or want to volunteer to help.

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Grounds Team battles bush honeysuckle

On Saturday, April 17 we continued our battle against the invasive bush honeysuckle in the woods behind UUCC.

If you’ve got a giant green thicket in your woods, you may have a bush honeysuckle infestation. These invasive plants are shrubby natives of Asia. Here in America, where they have no natural controls, they leaf out early, grow fast, spread fast and form dense thickets that crowd out Missouri’s native forest plants.

Bush honeysuckle blossoms are white to yellow, fragrant and bloom in April and May. The leaves are narrower and more pointed than native honeysuckles, and they are attached by short, slender petioles to the main stem.

In comparison, Missouri’s beneficial native honeysuckle is a vine, and its roundish leaves are closely attached to the stem. The blossoms are yellow to red and trumpet-shaped and appear late April and early May. For more great information, see this article on the Missouri Department of Conservation website.

Thank you to all who helped with the cleanup! Are you interested in being notified of upcoming activities? Email Patty Daus or Jeanne Murphy.

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Programs and Events

Check the Zoom Links page for the links to join meetings below

UU Life Writers – 10:30 a.m May 1 & 15 – online

The UU Life Writers will either continue their Zoom meetings or – if the weather is good – meet at Kiwanis Park. The writing theme for May is undecided.

All are welcome – email Fran Reynolds for the Zoom link and/or more information.

Kaleidoscope Pagan gathering – 7 p.m. Saturday, May 1 – online

Join Kaleidoscope as we celebrate Beltane, better known to most of you as May Day. We used to weave paper baskets, fill them with dandelions, and hang them on peoples’ doors. Do you remember? Celebrate fertility and joy and (at last) fresh greens to eat.

Gather with us at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 1. All are welcome, no matter their personal paths.

Email Barbara Carter for further information. The Zoom link can be found here.

Conversations, Etc. – Noon Monday, May 3 – online

Conversations, Etc., the UUCC women’s group, will meet via Zoom and by telephone conference at noon Monday, May 3 We get together to enjoy the company of good friends.

If you have questions or would like to join us, contact Pam Springsteel at 573-445-0642 or by email.

Non-toxic Masculinity Men’s Group – 7 p.m. Mondays, May 3, 17 & 31

Contact Jeff Ordway at 573-476-2834 or by email for meeting information.

Green Sanctuary Team – 7 p.m. Thursday, May 6 – online

Email Allie Gassmann for details.

Men’s Group – 8:15 a.m. May 8, 22 & 29 – online

The UUCC Men’s Group ordinarily meets in person on the second, fourth, and fifth Saturdays of each month. The group has now arranged for online meetings. For more information, contact Wiley Miller at 573-864-8574 or by email.

UUCC Book Discussion – 4 p.m. Saturday, May 8 – online

The Book Discussion Group will meet online and by phone to briefly discuss books we have read. For questions, contact Pam Springsteel at 573-445-0642 or by email.

Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team – 1 p.m. Sunday, May 9 – online

Email Allie Gassmann for details.

Loaves and Fishes meal – May 16

The Social Action Team is looking for volunteers to prepare servings of various dishes, which are assembled into boxed meals at the Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church.

This system requires the volunteers providing food to take the food to Wilkes Boulevard United Methodist Church by 4 p.m. The volunteers who assemble the boxed meals also are asked to be at the church by 4 p.m. Sign up online here.

You can also support this effort by making an online donation at, specifying “Loaves and Fishes Fund.”

Email Diane Suhler for more information.

Social Action T-Shirt!

Your $20 helps UUCC with our many social action projects. Contact Caya Tanski, Allie Gassmann or Sarah Wolcott for more information.

Unlisted Meetings

Contact your team leader if you are unsure of meeting status.

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DRE’s May Message

Our spiritual question this month is “How do we find belonging?” And I have been pondering this as I move back into the church building after a winter’s absence to make space for Room at the Inn.

I don’t think I expected to miss the church building as much as I did. But returning to this familiar and beloved place has been such a homecoming. And I haven’t even been away as long as so many of you!

I know, intellectually, that from a moral standpoint we should seek to feel that we belong to the whole world equally. But the specificity of the places and people that are dear to us, that we can feel that special sense of easiness with – our heart needs that. It is what gives us the space to take a breath and open our hearts outward so that we can love more expansively.

I had a school I attended my entire childhood that was where I belonged more than anywhere in the world. Both of my kids, for numerous reasons, have attended many schools, and I was mourning that they would never have a place of such complete belonging like I had. But then I realized that the church is that place for them, the place they know every nook and cranny of, where there are so many familiar faces smiling at them every Sunday morning.

I hope the church is that place for all our children, and I hope they feel the same sense of homecoming and belonging that I felt as we gradually begin the long slow process of returning.

Our first step in that process will be our Flower Communion service on May 9 that will be held (socially distanced) on the church grounds (see page 3 for more information). Over the course of the summer, we will be holding more outdoor events to continue our process of coming together.

Sincerely, Jamila

Bridging Service – 10:30 a.m. May 23

Join us for our special service in which we honor our graduating seniors as they bridge from youth into adulthood.

May Schedule

May 2:

10 a.m.–Morning Tea Party
Noon–Service Sunday

May 6:

6:30 p.m.–Family Movie Night

May 9:

10 a.m.–No Morning Tea Party!
10:30 a.m.–Intergenerational Outdoor Flower Communion
Noon–Twilight Zone Class

May 14:

6:30-8 p.m.–Junior Youth

May 16:

10 a.m.–Morning Tea Party
Noon–Craft Workshop

May 20:

6:30 p.m.–Family Movie Night

May 23:

10 a.m.–No Morning Tea Party!
10:30 a.m.–Bridging Service

May 28:

6:30-8 p.m.–Junior Youth

May 30:

10 a.m.–Morning Tea Party

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Our Staff

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister
On sabbatical April 5-Aug. 2, 2021

Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr., Interim Sabbatical Minister
Office Hours: 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday and 1-3 p.m. Thursday – Zoom links

Suzanne Clark, Administrator
Office Hours: Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Telephone: 573-442-5764

Jamila Batchelder, Director of Religious Education
Office Hours: Wednesdays 10 a.m.-noon and by appointment

Jeremy Wagner, Director of Music Ministry

Hans Bridger Heruth, Accompanist

April Rodeghero, Sunday Morning Assistant

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2020-2021 Board of Trustees

Rebecca Graves, President
Tim Dickerson, President-Elect
Jan Swaney, Secretary
Jeremy Duke, Treasurer
Mindy McPherson, Past President
Kara Braudis
Mark Johnson
David Leuthold
Ginny Winter

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Searchlight publication information

The Searchlight is published monthly by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, Missouri.

Submissions: By email or postal mail to Church Administrator. The deadline for submissions is noon on the third Monday of each month for the following month’s edition.

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