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View past issues of The Searchlight here.

September 2020 Searchlight

To read the September 2020 Searchlight on this page, scroll down or click the on-page links below to see specific articles:

From the Minister – Worship Arc 2020-21 – How do we do this?

Although the origins of the phrase are lost to history and misattribution, it has long been quipped that one might effectively curse a foe by wishing them, “May you live in interesting times.”

Surely we are now living in quite interesting times! We are encountering challenges we never quite imagined. We don’t know how to do any of this: How to live well through climate change, threatened democracy, anti-racist revolution, and global pandemic. But through the power of community I believe we can weather these interesting times not cursed, but blessed by one another and by our shared compassion and wisdom.

This year’s worship arc is a simple and pressing question: How do we do this? Each month we will wrestle together with one of the practical questions that are arising for us in these unprecedented times. How do we…

  • Navigate Uncertainty?
  • Transform Rage?
  • Keep Going?
  • Seek Delight?
  • Stay Grounded?
  • Love Well?
  • Pay Attention?
  • Nurture Beauty?
  • Find Belonging?

Join us and perhaps together we can find out.

September’s Theme – How Do We… Navigate Uncertainty?

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don‘t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what‘s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”

– Gilda Radner

The uncertainty of this year has been forced upon us, and yet it has also uncovered a spiritual truth – that our pursuit of certainty was always illusory. Join us to reflect on how we can find our bearings amid painful uncertainty, how we can find possibility in ambiguity, and how we can be held by community when we’re not sure where to turn.

With Love,
Rev. Molly

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September Worship – Sundays at 10:30 a.m. – Online Only

Sunday, Sept. 6 – Rev. Dr. CW Dawson

Join the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson Jr. for the last sermon of his residency as Philosopher-in-Residence (and rest assured he’ll be back to guest preach again soon). Also plan to join us for coffee hour to celebrate his time with us!

Sunday, Sept. 13 – “Shifting Ground” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

These times are peeling back our illusions of certainty, and it can all be too much. What are some of the spiritual tools we can engage to traverse shifting ground? Where can we find surer footing in deeply uncertain times?

Sunday, Sept. 20 – “On the Brink” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon and DRE Jamila Batchelder

Join us on the Sunday before the Fall Equinox as the light and dark balance at the turning of the year. We’ll share a contemplative service on all that balances on the brink and all the places we seek greater balance in our own lives.

Sunday, Sept. 27 – “What Does Love Require?” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

On the 250th anniversary of John Murray’s famous sermon proclaiming Universalism to America, we will ponder a question that can ground us and give us a way forward, even amid uncertainty: What does Love require of me, right now?

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 assist!

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

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

You can also join by phone: 312-626 6799 – Webinar ID: 380 411 489

Services are also streamed live to Facebook

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

You can also join by phone: 312-626 6799 – Webinar ID: 652 315 354

If you have any trouble accessing the technology to join us, please send an email with your contact information, and someone will reach out to you to assist!

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Online pledge payments

UUCC members and friends can easily continue their regular pledge payments online while we engage in virtual worship. Just fill out this brief form to make your payments.

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President’s Perspective – A Summer Pause

By Rebecca Graves, 2020-21 President

Not much has happened in the past four weeks, for which I am grateful. The Board of Trustees will hold its annual retreat in September. Weather permitting, we will be meeting part of the day in person – physically distant, outdoors and masked, of course.

As the retreat is an opportunity for the board to come together and synchronize as an ensemble, we feel it is important to be together in body as well as spirit. (Speaking of the body, there’s also only so much attention it has for Zoom.) Visioning will also be on the agenda, as I mentioned in my last column.

I hope you had time and space to pull back from the confusion and distress of these past few months. Even if, like me, it was a couple of weeks where the pace of work was slower, calmer, and the summer views from my work-at-home office in the kitchen were memorable for the hummingbirds, the green of the leaves, and the drama of thunderstorms. Even better if you were able to travel, to rest (however that looks for you), and to be with loved ones. We do need to love each other, and that includes ourselves. We need to have strength for the work ahead. (There is always work ahead.)

As the fall gears up, I anticipate that there will be more news to report. As a reminder, board meetings are open to all members and our governance structure and information is available on our website.

Do contact me, or other members of the board, with any questions, concerns or comments you have on how we can best serve you and the church.

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Board selects President-Elect and appoints COVID-19 Task Force

Tim Dickerson was selected as President-Elect at the regular monthly meeting of the Board of Trustees on Aug. 20. He will become President July 1, 2021.

The board also appointed Jan Swaney, Rosie Geiser, Susan Even, Barbara Carter, Cande Iveson and Larry Lyle as members of the COVID-19 Advisory Task Force. As the board representative on the task force, Jan Swaney will convene the group’s meetings.

According to the charge adopted by the board in July, the task force is to make recommendations to the board and the minister about 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 meet and report to the board and minister at least monthly.

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Membership 101 Online! – 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13

For those interested in becoming members of the UUCC Congregation

To register, email Barbara Carter

New Member Ingathering during the worship service at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 27

Rev. Molly’s online office hours

Rev. Molly’s weekly online office hours are Tuesdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and Thursdays from 2 to 3:30 p.m. via Zoom.

She is also very happy to meet by appointment. You can schedule by emailing her. Please reach out if you’d like to chat about life, find your place in the church, process something difficult, find a listening ear, or discuss a project.

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Thanks to Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson

The Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson’s time as our Philosopher-in-Residence will end Sept. 6. Please be sure to let him know that you have enjoyed the worship, educational opportunities, meditations and office hours he has provided this summer.

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Weekly activities to stay connected

Wednesdays at noon – Midweek Mid-day Centering Moment – Hosted by Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

Join your fellow UU Churchers for a 30-minute midweek check-in with a chalice lighting, reading or practice, and time for sharing joys and sorrows.

Wednesdays at 7 p.m. – Virtual Choir Hangout – Hosted by Jeremy Wagner

Fridays at 1 p.m. – Crafting Club – Hosted by Robin Yoerger Duple

Join UU crafters and friends to share ideas or simply chat while knitting, crocheting or crafting from the comfort of your home.

You can find the Zoom links for these virtual activities on the Zoom Links page.

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Festival of Sharing – September 2020

For the month of September, the Festival of Sharing focus is on the “Missouri Family Food Boxes” project. These are targeted for families with low incomes. We are asking for donations for this project because of the coronavirus-driven need for these products. Each box will consist of the following items:

  • 3 different cans of vegetables
  • 3 different cans of fruit
  • 3 cans of chicken
  • 3 cans of tuna
  • 1 can of pasta sauce
  • 1 lb pasta (any type)
  • 3 packages macaroni and cheese
  • 1 jar of peanut butter

There is a great need for the food boxes – in 2019, there were requests for 6,953 but only 2,119 were provided. In 2019, your generosity allowed UUCC to provide 11 boxes.

Collection boxes are available in the church Greeting Area, or leave the packs at the administrative office.

– Bonnie Johnson, Festival of Sharing Chair

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Grounds Team recommends outdoor meeting spaces

While the church building remains closed (see the UUCC website for details), the Grounds Team has created some outdoor meeting spaces that may be very user-friendly as the summer starts to cool. If you are looking for a shady spot on our grounds for your small group meeting, the team recommends:

  • 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, including masks and social distancing, and enjoy our grounds.

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Social Action Team news – Faith-to-Action recipients announced, meetings planned

Faith-to-Action recipients

The Social Action Team is pleased to announce that all 20 nominations for Faith-to-Action recipients have been accepted. Collections will start in September. View brief descriptions of each organization or project.

The recipients will be:

  • Centro Latino de Salud
  • Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture
  • CoMo Crisis Shelter
  • Festival of Sharing UUCC annual project
  • First Chance for Children
  • Heart of Missouri CASA
  • Honduras Education Fund
  • Loaves and Fishes SAT Fund
  • Minority Men’s Network Educational Foundation
  • Missouri Faith Voices
  • Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
  • Missouri Rural Crisis Center
  • No More Deaths
  • Race Matters, Friends
  • Room At The Inn
  • Russell Chapel Food Pantry
  • True North of Columbia
  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
  • UUCC Honduras Ministry
  • Worley Street Roundtable

Social Action Team meeting plans

The Social Action Team meets the first Sunday of each month at 1 p.m. via Zoom.

Any deviation from this schedule will be noted in the church calendar. This is a fairly painless way to check out the SAT if you are interested in helping your fellow UUs connect to issues of social justice and community need.

You can email SAT Chair Fred Young for an agenda… or just zoom on in!

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UUCC Social Action Team T-Shirt!

Your $20 helps UUCC with our many social action projects.

Contact Caya Tanski, Allie Gassmann or Sarah Wolcott for more information.

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Honduras Ministry update

Honduras is under strict lock-down orders due to the pandemic, and this has affected the fragile economy tremendously. Cito and Keyla, our liaisons in Honduras, are continuing their education online to become teachers but are struggling financially. They are available to give Spanish lessons via Zoom. If anyone is interested, please contact Allie Gassmann.

The small community of El Pital, where the Honduras Ministry has done its projects in the past, continues to be COVID-19 free. This is something the community, under the leadership of Cito and Keyla, has worked hard to accomplish. Our ministry continues to send monthly donations to the health clinic in El Pital.

Allie Gassmann
Honduras Ministry Chair

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CROP Hunger Walk – Sept. 20, 2020

For more than 25 years there have been interfaith community CROP Hunger Walks to raise funds for hunger relief around the world, in the US and in each community. Because of the pandemic, this year there will not be a communal hunger walk.

Instead please gather with friends and family and participate in a “Micro Walk” at a location of your choice. Take a selfie of your group and post it on your and Columbia CROP’s Facebook pages. Plan a self-guided “CROP Hunger Walk Food Partners” tour to all five of our local partners and post five selfies. The partners are:

  • Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen
  • Russell Chapel Community Food Pantry
  • Destiny Worship Center Food Pantry
  • Fifth Street Christian Church Food Pantry
  • Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture (as a supporting partner, CCUA will not receive funds raised from the CROP Walk).

Form a team, collect funds, and then come by the CROP Hunger Walk “Donation Drop-off” in the parking lot of Broadway Christian Church, 2601 W. Broadway, Columbia, from noon to 3 p.m. on Sept. 20. You can also donate online to the Columbia CROP Hunger Walk.

Or, email contact Columbia’s CROP Hunger Walk Treasurer, Linda Reed Brown or 573-256-0091 for information about mailing donations. Questions? Email Allie Gassmann of the Social Action Team.

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Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team update

The Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team has been helping a Honduran asylum-seeking family settle in here in Columbia and supporting their sponsor as well.

We are happy to report that Yadira’s work permit is on its way, and their lawyer is inquiring as to Edler’s work permit, which she thinks should be coming soon as well. The girls are looking forward to school.
If you would like to get involved with our team, email Dave Gibbons or Allie Gassmann.

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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.

  • Do you need temporary meals at home?
  • Do you need telephone contacts?
  • Do you have a financial emergency?

Email Meredith Donaldson or call the church office at 442-5764.

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Donate to others during the Covid-19 emergency

UUCC benevolence funds

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

Other community organizations

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

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

COVID-19 Crisis Shelter for the Unhoused

Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri COVID-19 Response

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Adult Religious Education

Current class – book study

The current study of The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone will continue on Aug. 25 and Sept. 1 and 8. The class is facilitated by the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson. Read more.

Future programming

Rev. Molly and the Adult R.E. Team are currently developing plans for future classes. Watch your email for details.

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Programs and Events

Green Sanctuary Team meeting

The Green Sanctuary Team will meet at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3 online. Email Ellen Thomas for information.

UU Life Writers

10:30 a.m. Saturdays, Sept. 5 and 19 – UU Church unless weather forces a move to Kiwanis Park

“We write because…..we have stories to tell!” The UU Life Writers Group will begin its fall 2020 session at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 5. We will meet at the picnic table area (just above the Memorial Garden) ,which will allow for distancing as we write and share. Bring your own beverage.

This will be the start of our 21st year! We will meet the first and third Saturdays in October, November and December – places to be announced. Everyone is welcome. For further information please email Fran Reynolds.

Non-toxic Masculinity Men’s Group will not meet Sept. 7

They are available to support members with burning issues. Contact Jeff Ordway at 573-476-2834 or by email.

Conversations, Etc. – Noon Thursday, Sept. 10

Conversations, Etc. the UUCC women’s group will meet via Zoom and by telephone conference at noon Thursday, Sept. 10. 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.

UUCC Book Discussion – 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 11 online

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

Men’s Group – 8:15 a.m. Sept. 12 and 26 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.

Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team – 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 online

Email Allie Gassmann, co-chair of the Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team, for details.

Revelio Como – 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 13 online

The local “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” group meets on the second Sunday of each month from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Join us to use rigor and sacred practices to explore along with the podcast.

For more information, email April Rodegghero or Jamila Batchelder. Check out our Facebook page.

Kaleidoscope Pagan Gathering – 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19

Zoom link

M’bon, the Second Harvest, and the Equinox. Once again the Earth stands for just a moment in perfect balance, then, as always, falls to the side once again, this time into darkness. Gather with Kaleidoscope at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19 at the church or via Zoom, depending on COVID 19 situation.

Check announcements or contact Barbara Carter for further information. The gathering may be in person or hybrid, depending on COVID-19 status. All are welcome, no matter what their personal paths.

Loaves and Fishes meal – Sept. 20

The procedure in September will remain the same as our last few months. The Social Action Loaves and Fishes Team requests that chicken, beef or vegetable boxed meals be provided by congregants. Recyclable containers are available for your use. Sign up here.

You can also support this effort by making an online donation, specifying “Loaves and Fishes Fund.” Email Diane Suhler for more information.

Status of unlisted meetings

Please contact your team leader if you are unsure of meeting status.

There will be no Walk on the Wild Side in September

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DRE’s September Message – Plans for R.E. in 2020-2021

This year will be unique and different! We have tried to develop a variety of R.E. plans to meet the needs of children of all ages and who learn in a variety of different ways, within the constraints of our need to remain physically distant from each other until the pandemic has passed. The R.E. Year will begin on Sept. 13. Read on to see what we have planned:

Home Spiritual Practice Kits

Families that register to participate will have kits that cycle between families every two weeks (with the option of a quarantine phase at the church for families that request it). Each kit will have a chalice and a different simple spiritual practices to explore as a family (some of which are familiar from our centering moments in church and some of which will be brand new to families).

Sunday Morning Tea Party (all ages, but targeted at pre-K to K) – Sunday at 10 a.m.

We will meet via Zoom and get a chance to see each other’s faces, say hi, and share a story together, And because each tea party needs pastries and fabulous attire, we will also have a (optional) muffin recipe suggestion and costuming suggestion for each Sunday.

Family Movie Night (all ages, but targeted at K-4th grade) – Friday at 6:30 p.m.

In place of a Sunday RE class for K-4th graders, we will instead have a movie night where we will show a Pixar short film, and follow it with discussion questions. Families can choose to join in a Zoom discussion with other families or can log off and discuss with their families alone.

Twilight Zone Class (5th-6th grade) – Sunday at noon

We will watch a Twilight Zone episode (created by UU Rod Serling!) and discuss the big ideas that are explored in the episode.

YUUTs Online Collective Journal (7-8th grade)

Instead of another Zoom class for our Zoomed-out junior high schoolers, we will create a collaborative journal for them to contribute to with a combination of deep reflection and deep silliness.

Service Sundays (all ages) – first Sunday each month at noon

We are taking our service project programming online! Families will have the opportunity to register in advance, and a kit of materials will be delivered to your house. For those who want to, we will meet via Zoom to keep each other company as we work on our service projects.

Junior Youth (6th-8th grade) – 2nd and 4th Fridays each month from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

We have been having so much fun in Junior Youth this summer that we are increasing our meeting time to twice a month. We will meet via Zoom for a variety of fun activities, from movie watching, to playing games, to cooking challenges.

YRUU (high school youth group) – Sunday, 4-6 p.m.

We will meet in a combination of socially distanced in-person events and online (depending on pandemic conditions in Columbia). The teens will use their first meeting to brainstorm activities.

Interested in volunteering?

We are looking for volunteers to lead our movie nights and host our Sunday morning tea parties. We would also love help with our Service Sundays. Please email Jamila Batchelder if you are interested

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Our Staff

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister
Online Office Hours via Zoom:
    Tuesdays from 9 to 10:30 a.m. and Thursdays from 2 to 3:30 p.m.
    By appointment (including evenings and weekends)

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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