Current Newsletter


Options for reading the current issue of The Searchlight, our monthly newsletter:

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View past issues of The Searchlight here.

January 2019 Searchlight

To read the January 2019 Searchlight on this page, scroll down or click the on-page links below to see specific articles:

Minister’s Monthly Worship Message

Our 2018-2019 Theme is Loaded Words – January’s Loaded Word is . . . SOLIDARITY

If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have
come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.”

– Lilla Watson

Unitarian Universalism celebrates the worth of every person and all the ways in which we are connected. At first blush, solidarity would seem to be an uncomplicated word for us… we simply live into our principles! And yet, as a movement, we haven’t always lived up to the potential loftiness of the word.

Solidarity is the bone-deep knowledge that our liberation is bound up with each and all. It is the understanding that we are working for justice, not because it’s the right thing to do or because we are helping some “poor other,” but because our very own souls are at stake.

People with privilege of varying degrees often struggle with this truth. We have an easier time seeing the liberation at stake for others, a harder time acknowledging the liberation at stake for us. This month, we’ll explore how we can stop being helpers and start being human together – vulnerable, and hopeful, and working together to get free.

See you in church!

In Faith,
– Rev. Molly

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January worship services

Sundays at 9 and 11 a.m.

Sunday, Jan. 6 – Special Guest Preacher – The Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson

Join one of UUCC’s favorite guest preachers for a rousing and thought-provoking service. The Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson is pastor of Dawson Journeys Ministry and teaches philosophy and religion at several area colleges.

Sunday, Jan. 13 – “The Rest of the Story” – Alexis, Intern Minister

Being in solidarity can call us to rethink the stories we tell ourselves and others. How might we go about rethinking our personal narratives, and what might we do with what we learn?

Sunday, Jan. 20 – “The Lonely Justice-Maker” – MLK Jr. Weekend – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

History tends to lift up saints and heroes of our justice movements, but in truth, movements must be full of leaders and interconnected in order to succeed. Join us to explore the collective stories behind the individuals.

Sunday, Jan. 27 – “Across Generations” – Founders Day Sunday – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon and Guests

Join us to reflect upon the history and future of Unitarian Universalism in mid-Missouri as we celebrate our Founders’ Day. What is the vision that connects us across generations?

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Evensong 2019

We have scheduled a number of Evensong events in the first part of 2019. The first two are scheduled:

  • Jan. 19 at 5 p.m.
  • Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

Please join us for an evening of prayer, meditation and song.

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Forum – January 2019

The UU Forum, an adult discussion group open to the public, meets on Sundays from 9 to 10 a.m. Conversation and light refreshments are offered along with the discussion. Forum coordinator: Bill Clark, 573-474-4510.

  • Jan. 6 – Kathie Bergman will tell tales of her time as UUCC church administrator.
  • Jan. 13 – George Lombardi, former director of the Missouri Department of Corrections, will return to tell about the “puppy” program in the prison system.
  • Jan. 20 – (Tentative) Caya Tanski will talk about UUCC’s work in Honduras.
  • Jan. 27 – Dr. Jack Colwill will discuss health care now and in the future.

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A message from Alexis, our ministerial intern

Greetings! I enjoy the conversations I have been having with many of you over coffee, during committee meetings, and on Sunday mornings. I’d love to have even more such interactions, so please know you’re welcome to send me an email to see about arranging a good time to meet.

Mondays and Tuesdays after 10 a.m. and before 1 p.m. are particularly good times for me, but my availability is not limited to those days and times.

As I think about last month’s theme of faith and this month’s theme of solidarity, I think about how risk is involved in both. Acting in faith and acting in solidarity is not easy – there are no guarantees regarding the outcome of our efforts, and mistakes will be made. Having a community of people who, as we say every Sunday, covenant to “seek the truth in love, and to help one another” helps make that work possible as we support each other in our efforts. As I said in my last sermon, I’m very grateful to be doing this important work with all of you.

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President’s Perspective – Change is not easy

By Barbara Rupp, 2018-19 President

Plastic bags have become ubiquitous in our world. We know, and have known for some time, that they are extremely harmful to our environment, yet we continue to produce them, and we continue to use them – vast amounts of them. Some countries have banned them, and California has banned them – yet Missouri has the dubious distinction of being one of 10 states to ban any possible future ban on plastic bags.

Clearly, change is not easy, but we try. We try to carry our own bags to the supermarket. We try to use biodegradable wraps in place of ziplock bags for food storage. When we do use a ziplock bag, we try to wash it and get multiple uses out of it. If we need extra bags at the market, we try to ask for paper vs. plastic. We do try. But sometimes we fail. I know I fail more often than I care to admit. Still, I keep on trying, because I know change is difficult and requires effort before it feels comfortable and easy. It is getting easier, which is encouraging!

Forgive this imperfect segue, but change is also difficult for congregations. As a congregation we face some decisions in our future that will require transitions and patience, and perhaps the occasional setback, but we need to keep trying to move forward. UUCC has not had a major renovation or expansion in the last 20 years. In the coming months, with the assistance of many, including professionals and input from many of you, we (the Building Needs Task Force, the board and Rev. Molly) plan to gather as much information as possible to help us make wise choices.

Please join us in working through these changes for our church. While there are differing opinions about the direction and scope we should pursue with these changes, I have high hopes that we can come together as a church community to make the decisions best for our future. As a start, I hope you will read the report submitted by the Building Needs Task Force on page 5 in this newsletter and that you’ll submit, if you have not already done so, responses to the six questions at the end.

Change is not easy, whether it’s trying to decrease the use of plastic in your life, or trying to come to agreement as a congregation about choices for our future, but I know we can do it. We just need to listen to each other, support each other, and move forward through the process. We can do this.

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Our facility and our future

On Sunday, Nov. 18 immediately after our 11 a.m. service, the Building Needs Task Force hosted an informal meeting to share information and to give interested members a chance to ask questions and express opinions about our current facility and your dreams for our future together. The team was appointed by the UUCC Board of Trustees in 2017 and charged with the following objectives:

  • Discern the desires of the Congregation regarding changes to and/or expansion of our current church facilities.
  • Research practical solutions to meeting these desires, including the possibility of relocating or adding satellite location(s).
  • Present to the Board at least three well-researched options for meeting the congregations’ aspirations regarding our facilities.

What follows is a brief synopsis of what was presented. Each of you are encouraged to submit your thoughts to the team via the feedback form that is available on the church’s website, or you can simply use the list of questions at the end of this article. The presentation began by posing two questions:

  • Did you know that unlike many churches, our membership has been steadily growing for the past decade?
  • Did you know that it has been two decades since the UUCC has undergone a major renovation/expansion project?

The presentation continued with some of the highlights of our congregation’s history, from its founding in 1951 to purchase of the land and construction of the original church on this property in 1970, followed by the hiring of our first minister in 1980. Our second minister, Rev. Haney, served from 1989-2009. In the 1990s we hired a church administrator in 1992, followed by our first director of religious education in 1995. A major renovation/expansion to this building was completed in 1998. We called our third settled minister, Rev. Molly, in 2012. We added solar panels to the building in 2014 and made other changes to reduce our carbon footprint by more than six tons per year, resulting in annual savings of $2,500 on our electric bill.

At the present time, there seems to be a consensus that there is a need to address some deferred maintenance items (e.g., carpeting, resurfacing of parking lot, two old AC units) along with the long-time unmet need for an elevator. The cost of these items ($130,000-150,000) could probably be addressed relatively easily with a modest capital campaign.

However, our present facility has some additional shortcomings that may limit our growth and our ability to meet our mission and vision for ourselves. Based on our current membership of 280 and anticipated growth over the next decade, it seems likely that our current sanctuary’s seating capacity of approximately 145 seats will regularly be exceeded, even with two Sunday services.

Other important facility shortcomings have been identified by our staff and members, including: The need for more office space and storage space; possible conversion to a commercial kitchen; expanded parking; and expansion in size and number of meeting rooms.

During the Sunday presentation, three options for addressing these facility short-comings were described in a very preliminary way:

  1. Tackle the immediate needs and put off other shortcomings until later.
  2. Relocate to another facility and/or build a new facility at a new and more central location.
  3. Renovate and expand the current facility.

Option 1 would be do-able for about $150,000 and could be completed in about one year.

Option 2 is likely to cost $4-8 million and would require that we find a buyer for our current facility, which is unlikely. However, we plan to have a local commercial realtor keep us informed about potential properties in and around the city of Columbia that might meet our needs.

Option 3, a significant expansion and renovation of the current facility, might be achievable with a $1 million capital campaign along with a $1 million mortgage.

The next step in this process is to work with a local architectural firm to begin a long-range planning process to help our congregation plan for its future. We will also be taking advantage of free consultants from the UUA to help us plot out a responsible path to move forward. We welcome your questions and comments.

Please consider addressing the specific questions below on the church website – Building Needs Feedback Form. Your responses also can be submitted anonymously on paper to the Church Administrator (in her mailbox or under her office door).

  1. How do our current facilities meet your needs? How do they not?
  2. What do you think we need in order to provide the kind of ministry you would like to see?
  3. What do you see as our most pressing building need right now?
  4. How do you think we could enhance our ability to provide a moral beacon to Columbia?
  5. If we were to make changes to our facilities, what improvements would you like to see?
  6. What would you like our congregation to look like in five years?

Respectfully submitted,
Larry Lile, Barbara Rupp,
Kevin Fritsche, Matt Bossaller

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Do you care? Will you serve?

Are you passionate about our mission of forging a community of radical welcome and deep connection that moves us together to heal the world?

If so, you are a great candidate to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees or as a delegate to the UUA General Assembly. Both jobs are great opportunities to live our mission in very immediate ways.

If you want to learn more, please contact Nominating Committee members Kevin Fritsche, Peter Holmes or Todd Iveson.

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New Year’s Day Hike

Meet at the church at 1:30 p.m. Jan. 1, 2019 for our annual New Year’s Day hike. Join us for an interesting and energetic walk in the good company of esteemed UU members and friends. This is a chance to get off the couch, take a break from screen addictions, and burn off holiday calories.

The length and route of the walk will depend on the weather and who joins us, but the tentative plan is to hike at Three Creeks Conservation Area. Halfway through the hike the group will stop and build a small campfire. Bring nibbles to share.

If you have questions, email Peter Holmes.

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Want to learn more about meditation?

Substituting in February for the usual Mindfulness Meditation sessions, “Meditation Basics” will be offered from 10:05 to 10:50 a.m. on Sundays – Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24.

The sessions, to be held in the Centering Room or the Schweitzer classroom, will allow participants to discuss and practice the basic elements of mindfulness meditation.

Facilitated by Peter Holmes, Ph.D., the sessions will be suitable for complete beginners as well as experienced meditators. It is not necessary to attend all four sessions.

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Founders’ Day Service Auction – Jan. 26, 2019

Let’s make a deal! You give us $10, and at the Founders’ Day Service Auction at 6 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, we’ll give you:

  • A festive evening of fun and fellowship
  • Heavy appetizers and beverages
  • Two raffle tickets
  • Free child care for those who need it (with pizza, games and movies for the kids)
  • The opportunity to bid on services donated by our members and friends
  • The pride of knowing that you helped UUCC
  • Freedom from remorse over missing our premier fund-raising event of the year

We’ll gather for tasty snacks and beverages from 6 to 8 p.m. and bid on things like computer help, professional or business services, fancy meals… on and on the list will go.

Your help is needed to make this church fund-raiser a success:

Go to and:

  • Purchase auction tickets for $10/person on the Auction Tickets page. (No tickets are required
    for children who will be in childcare.)
  • Donate services. Can you change someone’s oil? Host a game night? Cut someone’s hair?
    Bake cookies? Donate time at your vacation cabin? Provide babysitting? Shovel snow? Provide
    professional or business services? You can find more ideas and make your donations on the
    Auction Service(s) Donation page. Feel free to come up with your own service ideas!
  • Contribute food/drinks and/or volunteer to help with setup and cleanup on the
    Auction Food/Drinks and Help page.

If money is tight, there are still ways to participate:

  • Volunteer to help with one of the Saturday night tasks.
  • Donate a simple service that costs you little to nothing, e.g. several hours of yard work, a game night with simple snacks, or co-host a soup and movie night with a friend! It doesn’t have to be fancy or budget-busting, and you get the fun of the group event that was won at auction.

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Sanctuary Team Report

Your UUCC Sanctuary Team (Immigrant Justice Ministry) continues to monitor the difficulties that immigrants face here in Columbia and at the borders of the United States.

Three of our members have recently traveled to see first hand the plight of our immigrant and refugee friends. Dave Gibbons wrote about his volunteer work in Brownsville, Texas, in last month’s Searchlight.

Dottie Mathews participated in an interfaith pilgrimage to demand the closure of the children’s internment camp at Tornillo in early November, and Caya Tanski has recently returned from a trip with the UUSC (UU Service Committee) to Honduras where she learned more about the history and causes of our country’s role in creating this humanitarian crisis.

Our report this month includes the links below that will take you to an article about the history of the movement to protect rights of immigrants and other articles about present-day examples of that movement.

Because we believe strongly that this struggle is completely consistent with our Unitarian Universalist Principles, we encourage you to take a few minutes to read the following articles and ponder what role you might have in helping to work for justice for our immigrant and refugee friends:

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January focus for Festival of Sharing

For the month of January, the Festival of Sharing focus is on the “Missouri Paper Products Pack” project. Each pack will consist of the following items:

  • 3 wrapped packages of toilet paper with 4 double rolls each (unable to receive 12 rolls in one package)
  • 2 rolls paper towels (good quality)
  • 2 facial tissue (large rectangular boxes)

In 2017, there were requests for 4,769 packs state-wide, but only 928 were provided. Paper products are critical for low-income families because food assistance coupons cannot be used to purchase them.

Collection boxes are available in the church greeting area.

– Bonnie Johnson, Festival of Sharing Chair

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UUCC Caring Ministry

The UUCC Caring Ministry Team needs many hands and caring hearts!

Contact Meredith Donaldson by email or call the church office at 573-442-5764 to volunteer.

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Honduras Ministry Trivia Night Fundraiser – Feb. 23, 2019

The Honduras Ministry‘s Sixth Annual Trivia Night Fundraiser will be held at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at UUCC to benefit our Honduras work. Our own Caya Tanski went on a study trip to Honduras recently, and she reports that the political situation there continues to be dire. Funds raised at the Trivia Night will be used for urgently needed El Pital clinic supplies and to support the microfinance group Adelante.

Tickets are $20 or $15 for students and can be purchased at the door or at the church on Jan. 27, Feb. 3, 10 and 17.

The event will feature childcare, good food, a silent auction, 50-50 raffles, a chili cook-off, and, of course, much trivia fun! Bring chili to share by 5:45 p.m. for a chance to win a beautiful Honduran bag!
For more information email Allie Gassmann.

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Social Action Team invites you!

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. SAT email.

– Caya Tanski, SAT Chair

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Welcoming Team Announces: For Our Newcomers – “Getting to Know UU”

For all those who want to know more about us.

On the first Sunday of each month in the minister’s
office after the 11 a.m. worship service for
about 30 minutes.

Child care is provided.

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Adult R.E. – Winter 2019

Our Adult Religious Education offerings will continue beginning Jan. 15. We will begin with an optional kick-off potluck starting at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 15. Classes will run from Jan. 15 to March 19 every Tuesday evening from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Childcare will be provided. We will have two new offerings and two talented new facilitation teams!

Spirit in Practice

Led by Caya Tanski, Rosie Geiser and Peter Holmes

The Spirit in Practice series was created for new or long-time Unitarian Universalists to develop regular disciplines or practices of the spirit. These practices can help you connect with the sacred ground of your being, however you understand it. While participants of these workshops will come from various spiritual or religious paths, the series affirms that diversity, while seeking unity in our communal quest for meaning and wholeness and offering a forum for learning, sharing, and growth that can enrich all faith journeys. You will be invited to reflect, share, and explore ways to nurture your connections with the sacred in everyday life. You will be encouraged to try new lenses through which to view and engage the depth and dimension of your life.

  • Workshop 1: Toward a Rich and Meaningful Unitarian Universalist Spirituality
  • Workshop 2: Personal Spiritual Practices
  • Workshop 3: Communal Worship Practices
  • Workshop 4: Spiritual Partnerships
  • Workshop 5: Mind Practices
  • Workshop 6: Body Practices
  • Workshop 7: Soul Practices
  • Workshop 8: Life Practices
  • Workshop 9: Justice Practices
  • Workshop 10: Looking Back and Moving Forward

Come to any or all of them. Although the individual offerings of Spirit in Practice can stand alone, a deeper sense of community and connection will develop over the 10-week series if you are able to participate in as many of the sessions as possible.

Building the World We Dream Of

Led by Chuck Swaney, Kim Wade and Jill Graham

Through a series of interactive seminars, participants will explore topics that increase their understanding of race/ethnicity and systemic racism. The curriculum is designed to help us move personally and as a community toward an anti-racist, multicultural congregational transformation. Topics will include:

  • Telling Our Story: Multiple Truths and Multiple Realities
  • You Are How You’ve Lived: Exploring Individual and Group Identity
  • Dominant Culture and Identity
  • Whiteness and Privilege
  • Voices and Perspectives
  • Building Multicultural Competence as Personal and Spiritual Practice
  • Resistance
  • Commitments

All are welcome to attend one, some, or all sessions.

For more information, contact Ellen Thomas at 573-445-2928 or by email, or Lisa Fritsche at 573-289-4162 or by email.

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Programs and Events

Non-toxic masculinity men’s group – Jan. 7, 14, 21, and 28

The Non-Toxic Masculinity Men’s Group meets at the church at 7 p.m. Monday evenings.
The group serves cisgendered, straight, white men who are actively working to detoxify their masculinity and privilege so that they can stop doing damage to others and learn how to become active allies of other, more marginalized, groups.

For more information, email Jeff Ordway.

Conversations, Etc. – Jan. 9

Conversations, Etc., the UUCC women’s group, will meet at the church at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 9. Come enjoy the company of friends.

For information, call Melinda Farhangi at 573-445-6325.

Men’s Group – Jan. 12 and 26

The UUCC Men’s Group meets on the second, fourth, and fifth Saturdays of each month at 8 a.m. at the Holiday Inn Executive Center. The group is open to all men. There are no fees and no reservations are necessary.

The agenda is an open discussion of whatever is on the minds of those in attendance – and breakfast!

For more information contact Wiley Miller at 573-864-8574 or by email.

UUCC Book Discussion – Jan. 12

The UU Book Discussion Group will meet Saturday, Jan. 12 at noon at Bamboo Terrace, 3701 W. Broadway, Suite 101. Bring a book you have read to share briefly.

If you have questions, call Pam Springsteel at 445-0642.

UUCC provides Loaves and Fishes meal on third Sundays – Jan. 20

UUCC provides the evening meal at Loaves and Fishes on the third Sunday each month – Jan. 20 this month.

Please sign up here to prepare food for this meal and/or to help set up, serve, and clean up.

Serving meals at Loaves and Fishes is a project of our Social Action Team. Email Diane Suhler for more information.

UU Life Writers – ‘Our Stories… Our Voices’ – Feb. 2 and 16

UU Life Writers are taking January off to cure writers’ cramp! We will meet again on Feb. 2 and 16 with a new theme and prompts to be arranged. All are welcome to come write stories. For information contact Fran Reynolds at

Kaleidoscope Pagan gathering – Feb. 2

Join Kaleidoscope as we celebrate Imbolc, also known as Brigid’s Feast. The first stirrings of life after the long winter appear. Brigid shines the light of creativity upon us. Growth begins.

Gather with us at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2 at the church. We will join in ritual, followed by a potluck and friendship. All are welcome.

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DRE’s January Message

In the month of January, we will be exploring the theme of solidarity at UUCC. As I reflected on how this word connects to parenting, I found its greatest relevance in the relationships I have formed with fellow parents. I remember a friend telling me once that most of us are a little naively arrogant when we first become parents that we know how to parent not just our children, but all children. We have read up on the most recent research and philosophies, and we feel ready. And then… we meet our children, with their own unique temperaments, we are surprised by life’s twist and turns, and we find we don’t know for sure about, well, anything.

One of the greatest sources of strengths in all of this is the solidarity of other parents. Not because our children are the same or because any bit of parenting wisdom will be applicable to each others’ children, but because we can recognize in each other that same struggle to do the best for the amazing and one-of-a-kind children that have entered our life. Raising a child can make us more open-minded to each person’s unique path that we can never understand completely, but can support each other on.

This month, take some time to appreciate the solidarity you receive and give to other parents in your life. And try not to think too much about the solidarity our children find in their teen years talking about us!

Jamila Batchelder
Director of Religious Education

New Year’s Day Hike – 1:30 p.m. Jan. 1 – Meet in UUCC parking lot

One of my favorite UUCC community events is our annual New Year’s Hike. It is a wonderful opportunity for children to get to interact with people of all ages in our congregation while exploring nature. We hike at a relatively slow pace with plenty of breaks, but it is a long hike, so it’s not suitable for the littlest hikers.


High School OWL sexuality education classes begin! – 12:30 p.m. Jan. 6 – YRUU Room

Our High School OWL Class will run from Jan. 6 to March 17.

If your teen is not yet registered but you would like your teen to participate, send email to Jamila Batchelder at


Junior Youth Night – 6:30-8 p.m. Jan. 13

For our January Junior Youth Night, the youth will be cooking for Loaves and Fishes.

January R.E. Schedule

  • Jan. 6 – Regular R.E. Classes
  • Jan. 13 – Regular R.E. Classes
  • Jan. 20 – Service Sunday Bake Sale
  • Jan. 27 – Regular R.E. Classes

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Our Staff

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister
Office Hours:
    Tuesdays 1-4 p.m. at church
    Wednesdays 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Kaldi’s Coffee Downtown
    By appointment (including evenings and weekends)

Alexis, Intern Minister
Office Hours: By appointment

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

Marques J. Ruff, Interim Music Director
Rehearsals on Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

April Rodeghero, Sunday Morning Assistant

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2018-2019 Board of Trustees

Barbara Rupp, President
Mindy McPherson, President-Elect
Todd Iveson, Past President
Patty Daus, Treasurer
Sam Buffaloe, Secretary
Mark Johnson
Gretchen Maune
Elaine Martin

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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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