Current Newsletter

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

  • Read it in the body of the email announcing availability of the current issue
  • Read it below on this web page
  • View/print the PDF version
  • Get a printed copy in the mail (available only by special request to the Church Administrator)

View past issues of The Searchlight here.

July 2022 Searchlight

To read the July 2022 Searchlight on this page, scroll down or click the on-page links below to see specific articles:

Minister’s Message – A Decade of Shared Ministry

August 1st will mark my 10th anniversary of service to the UU Church of Columbia and the completion of a decade of shared ministry together. In this month before that milestone, I find myself in a period of reflection and reminiscence.

In some moments it’s hard to believe that it has already been 10 years. We’re still just getting started! In other moments, I see the work of our decade of ministry together bearing fruit in so many beautiful ways. We have deepened our connection and presence to the wider community in ways that continue to grow and bring opportunities for greater solidarity our way. Our worship life is ever more sustaining. Our study of anti-oppression is entering a new period of commitment with our adoption of the 8th principle and accessibility and disability justice work. Our programs for families and children are thriving and growing.

After a decade together and two years of pandemic learning, I believe that we stand on the precipice of a new era for the life of the UU Church of Columbia. There is a fresh wind of energy blowing in, and I am ready to continue learning and experimenting and dreaming and nourishing what is already beautiful together with you.

I want to tell you that I believe myself to be one of the luckiest Unitarian Universalist ministers in the United States (and therefore, really, the world). Your collective spirit of warmth, creativity, flexibility, passionate commitment, and relational health is a minister’s dream come true. I am grateful for the ways you have loved me and my family as it has grown. My children are so lucky to be a part of our merry band of UU kids growing up in an atmosphere of spiritual exploration surrounded by caring adults of all ages. You call me to be my best self, and I strive every day to reflect the same back to you. Thank you for a truly wonderful decade of life in community… I can’t wait to see what the next one holds for us!

I hope you’ll plan to join me on Aug. 13 for our “UUCC Elevated” celebration of our shared ministry – a Gala fundraiser planned by our Accessibility Fundraising Team. Our next decade together will certainly be more accessible! Look for the invitation below and in your email inbox.

See you in church,
Rev. Molly

Back to Contents

July Worship – 10:30 a.m. Sundays – in-person and online

Sunday worship is at 10:30 a.m. If you have trouble accessing the technology to join us online, please send an email to our Tech Team.

Sunday, July 3 – Guest Preacher Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson Jr.

Join the Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson for a rousing service this holiday weekend, along with special music from Pack Matthews and Sam Otten.

Sunday, July 10 – “The Miracle is You” – All-Ages Service – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

Join us for another installment of Pop(corn) theology, this time as a community of all ages contemplating the lessons of the hit Disney animated film Encanto.

Sunday, July 17 – Pop(corn) Theology – Strangers with Candy – Julia Bonham Hardy

Join lay leader Julia Bonham Hardy to learn why comedy series Strangers with Candy has been so meaningful for her!

Sunday, July 24 – “Caffeinated Questions” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

Have you ever watched the Comedy Central show Drunk History? This is not that. BUT, Rev. Molly will be offering a question box service where she will attempt – with the help of some morning caffeine – to answer your most pressing spiritual and theological questions in real time! Bring your curiosity!

Sunday, July 31 – Pop(corn) Theology – X-Men – Alan Arnold

Join lay leader Alan Arnold to hear his takeaways from the popular X-Men franchise.

Back to Contents

Worship Zoom information

Worship services are offered in-person and via Zoom at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

The Zoom address for our 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship is:
You can also join by phone: 312-626 6799
Webinar ID: 380 411 489

Services are also streamed live to Facebook at:

The Zoom address for our coffee hour is:
You can also join by phone: 312-626 6799
Webinar ID: 652 315 354

Back to Contents

UUCC Elevated Gala Celebration – 7-10 p.m. Aug. 13

Get Gala tickets and register for childcare or accessibility needs here.

Back to Contents

President’s Perspective – Finding joy through service to the church

Dear UU Beloved Community,

I am very excited to serve as the 2022-2023 President. This last year as President-Elect has brought me back into the folds of church life after the chaos of the pandemic. When I accepted the nomination to be on the board, I was burned out and felt disconnected from life. I was worried that I might be taking on too much. However, I have found that taking on this responsibility has rekindled a flame I thought wouldn’t burn inside me again. I have found joy in my heart by returning to the roots that hold us close through service and fellowship.

In July, our new board members, Iyesatu Kamara-Bush, Taylor Gill and Fred Young, join our board. My biggest hope is that they find the same joy and satisfaction that I have found as a board member. I am really looking forward to working with all three of them and our returning board members over the next year!

Our church is going through some amazing transitions; as we start the church year:

  • The work for the accessibility updates to our church continues.
  • We begin our journey to embrace the 8th principle and tackle systemic issues around race and oppression.
  • We continue to find ways to enhance and improve the technology that makes fellowship and church possible.

All these things prove we are living our mission and forging that community of radical welcome and deep connection that moves us together to heal the world. But we can’t do these things without you. If you are at that place where your flame is flickering and your fire needs stoking, perhaps leaning into the work of our church will help you as it has helped me.

– Melissa Ensign-Bedford, 2022-23 President

Back to Contents

Summer Poetry Group with Rev. Molly

First Thursdays – July 7 and Aug. 4 – 7 to 8:30 p.m.
UUCC Centering Room with Zoom option 

Join us for a contemplative series with poetry at the center. We will reflect on spiritual and theological questions using poetry as our source text. We will share some of our favorite poems. We will write, whether you prefer to journal or write your own poetry. And we will share our reflections, and perhaps our writing, with one another.

Please join us for any session even if you can’t make the whole series, and feel free to join in-person, online, or alternating how you attend. Please bring a notebook and pen and a favorite poem to each gathering! The in-person participants will gather in the Centering Room downstairs at church. 

Zoom info:
Meeting ID: 890 7122 4964
Passcode: 790328

Back to Contents

Friday Pie Day returns this summer

Second Fridays – 7 p.m. July 8 and Aug. 12

Bring a pie to share for this casual chance to socialize, connect and enjoy delicious things together! Can’t bring a pie? Come anyway – we’ll have plenty. We may break out the board games or just sit and chat. We’ll choose whether to meet outside or inside the upper level in response to weather and current Covid numbers.

Back to Contents

July 10 music event – Community Sing after worship

If you can’t keep from singing, join us on July 10 after the worship service for a fun group sing event – YO(UU) KIDS SING. This is for anyone and everyone, whether you’re just a shower singer or love belting it out in the choir. This will be a fun and interactive set of not-just-for-kids songs! From a love song to waffles to penguins drinking tea, laughter and joy are guaranteed. Come prepared to shake and sing your sillies out!

Back to Contents

Get to Know our Board of Trustees

After worship services July 10, 17 and 24

The board would like to let you know that on July 10, 17 and 24, we will be hosting an informal meet-and-greet so you can get to know our board members. We hope you will join us.

There will be at least two board members present at each session. This provides an opportunity for you to get to know some of your board members as well as ask questions. Grab a cup of coffee and head back to the Greeting Area to connect with your board members and others in our beloved community. See you then.

– Tim Dickerson, Past President

We elected these UUCC members to our Board of Trustees at our May annual meeting:

Christine Heath
1-year term
Taylor Gill
3-year term
Iyesatu Kamara-Bush
3-year term

Fred Young
3-year term

Read brief biographies of our new board members here.

Back to Contents

Faith-to-Action nominees to date

As of June 22, these are the organizations that have been nominated for Faith-to-Action collections in the 2022-2023 church year:

  • The Wardrobe
  • Heart of Missouri CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)
  • Dawson Journey Ministries (CW Dawson)
  • UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee)
  • Centro Latino

There’s room for more! If you are thinking about nominating an organization, now’s the time! The online application form can be accessed from the green button near the top of the home page or directly here. Guidance on FTA nominations appears on the nomination page.

Please try to submit your applications by July 15 so the team has time to compile and evaluate the applicants and submit a list to Rev. Molly for scheduling, starting with September worship services.

Back to Contents

Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team sponsorship update

Lilly has settled in well in her job at MU. The next most important step is to find a place for Lilly and the two kids to rent. Learning to drive and buying a car will also be important. If you are willing to help Lilly learn to drive and/or have information on cars and places to rent, please contact us!

Since it will be some time until Lilly can be independent in her transportation needs, there is currently an increased need for drivers. Host Christine Heath and co-chair Dave Gibbons are doing a lot of the transportation but will need backup drivers sometimes. Lilly needs transportation to and from work, and drivers are needed to take the family to appointments and take Lakshmi to and from her Head Start location. We put out a call for volunteers monthly, and volunteers can select when they volunteer based on their schedules. People willing to help should please contact Joe Donaldson at 573-289-0725 or for more information.

May 26, 2022 was the anniversary of UUCC welcoming Lilly, Manuel, and Lakshmi to Columbia and committing to their sponsorship. We are so grateful for the generosity of Christine Heath in offering her home to the family. One of the goals of sponsorship, however, is to help immigrants transition to independence. If Lilly were single, she would be well on her way. However, when we agreed to sponsor a single mom with two small children, we knew transitioning to independence would be more challenging. Consequently, our sponsorship of the family will need to continue to assist with their current financial needs and to prepare for the upcoming additional expenses of rent, utilities and transportation.

We would greatly appreciate your financial
contributions to our sponsorship efforts!

If you would like to support the work of the Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team, which currently includes our sponsorship of the family, you can make a tax-deductible donation to the church with Sanctuary Fund in the memo line. If you would like to make a non-tax-deductible donation to the family directly, you can send a check made out to Allie Gassmann at 1700 Princeton Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. This money will go on a joint account from which the family’s expenses will be paid directly.

If you would like to get involved on the team, please contact co-chairs Dave or Allie.

Dave Gibbons (email)
Allie Gassmann (email)

Back to Contents

Celebrating the Americans with Disabilities Act in July

On July 26 the ADA will be 32 years old, an exciting birthday that Disability Justice and Inclusion Team (DJIT) members love to celebrate! This civil rights law has increased accessibility and inclusion for millions of disabled Americans. However, there’s still a lot more to do, as many businesses, municipalities and websites fall short.

Learn more, find support, and take action by joining DJIT. Among other summer activities, we’ll be reading Disability Visibility by Alice Wong.

We join together over Zoom the third Sunday of each month from 1:30 to 3 p.m., and all are welcome. Contact Chair Gretchen Maune with questions at 573-489-0986 or by email.

Back to Contents

July Festival of Sharing

For the month of July, the Festival of Sharing focus is on the “Missouri Reading and Writing Pack.” These packs are for elementary school students who could not otherwise afford these supplies. Place all items in a large ziplock bag (2 – 2.5 gallon).

  • 2 70-page spiral or tape bound notebooks
  • 6 new pencils with erasers
  • 1 pencil holder
  • 4 folders with pockets
  • 1 12-inch ruler
  • 1 pair of child-sized metal scissors
  • 1 large eraser
  • 1 box of 24 crayons
  • 1 box of 10 markers (only 10)

2,997 of these packs were requested in 2021, but only 1,387 were shared. Collection boxes are available in the church greeting area.

– Bonnie Johnson
Festival of Sharing Chair

Back to Contents

UUCC Caring Ministry

The Caring Ministry Team is based on the belief that we are all 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, transportation or other needs. 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.

Back to Contents

UUCC Chalice Circles

The intimacy of the UUCC Chalice Circle groups is one way to enrich our members’ lives with greater depth of meaning. Each Chalice Circle has seven to 10 members and meets at least once a month.
Email the Chalice Circle leadership if you have any questions or if you want to sign up but have not yet done so.

Back to Contents

Rev. Molly’s office hours

Tuesdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.
at Uprise Bakery downtown –
either on the patio if it’s nice, or indoors if it’s not

Thursdays from 2:30 to 4 p.m.
on Zoom at the following link:

You can also make an in-person or online appointment with Rev. Molly here.

Back to Contents

Social Action T-Shirts

Your $20 purchase helps UUCC continue our social action projects. Email Allie Gassmann or Sarah Twaddle-Wolcott.

Back to Contents

Consider donating to others

Minister’s Discretionary Benevolence Fund

Community Foundation of Central Missouri’s Covid-19 Relief Fund

Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri

Back to Contents

Programs and Events

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

‘Talk and Do’ group – 1:30 p.m. Fridays

Join your fellow UUs for some informal conversation from the comfort of your home! Come as you are, and feel free to work on a project as we chat – it’s okay if your attention is divided!
This is an informal and casual group where it is okay to not be totally focused. Just tune in at:
(Zoom ID: 840 3014 3959, Passcode: 345079).

While you work on whatever, you can chat! For more information email Robin Duple at

UU Life Writers

UU Life Writers are taking July and August off to rest their writing hands and brains! We will begin again in September. More information is available by contacting Fran Reynolds at 573-881-3828 or by email.

BUT! A new journal group is starting to explore different kinds of journals and their purposes. It will be a small group, so signups are necessary. This group will meet on Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. July 2, 16 and 30 and Aug. 6 and 20. Email or call Fran Reynolds for more information.

Conversations, Etc. – 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6 – online and by phone

Conversations, Etc., the UUCC senior women’s group, will meet via Zoom and telephone.
We gather to enjoy the company of women friends. If you would like to join the group, email Pam Springsteel.

Green Team – 7 p.m. Thursday, July 7 – online

Email Allie Gassmann for details about the Green Team‘s monthly meeting.

Men’s Group – 8:30 a.m. July 9 & 23 – online

The UUCC Men’s Group previously met in person on the second, fourth, and fifth Saturdays of each month. The group is meeting online during the pandemic. For more information, contact Wiley Miller at 573-864-8574 or by email.

UUCC Book Discussion – 3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 9 – online and by phone

The Book Discussion Group will meet online and by phone to briefly discuss books each has read. Email Pam Springsteel for more information.

Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team – 1:00 p.m. Sunday, July 10 – online

Email Allie Gassmann for details about the Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team‘s monthly meeting.

Loaves and Fishes – Sunday, July 17

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 4:15 p.m. The volunteers who assemble the boxed meals also are asked to be at the church by 4:15 p.m. Please sign up here.

You can also support this effort by making a donation to the church specifying “Loaves and Fishes Fund.” For information, email Diane Suhler.

Non-toxic Masculinity Men’s Group – 7 p.m. 1st and 3rd Mondays – July 4 (canceled); July 18

For more information, contact Kevin Fritsche at 573-289-4536 or by email.

Kaleidoscope Pagan gathering – 4 p.m. Saturday, July 30

Lughnassad, the Feast of the First Harvest. Juicy ripe tomatoes, and zucchini everywhere. The Earth once again gives of Her bounty. We join to celebrate Her gifts.

Gather with Kaleidoscope at 4 p.m. Saturday, July 30 at the church. All are welcome, no matter what their personal paths.

Please bring snacks and drinks for yourself as desired. Masks and the possibility of a return of potlucks are under advisement at this time. Watch for updates as the date approaches. Email Kaleidoscope leaders if you have questions.

Unlisted Meetings

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

Back to Contents


DRE’s July message

Summer is a good time for daydreaming about the year ahead and imagining what new programs, projects and activities we might want to begin in youth religious education.

Here are some of the things on my mind that I am hoping can take flight:

  • Starting an inter-generational team that meets monthly to prepare a a meal for the Mobile Soup Kitchen
  • Regular potlucks for our R.E. families
  • Creating an outdoor play space
  • Creating an activity outside of regular R.E. time for children and parents to develop a sacred connection with our church grounds
  • Revamping our church library
  • Creating a check-out system for our spirituality kits
  • Having the children’s choir take off
  • Kicking off a UU parenting small group ministry

It is a big list, and who knows how much will come to fruition? But I hope it gets you excited to start dreaming too of what we can build together. What ideas do you have for our R.E. program that you want to become a part of creating? I would love to hear your dreams!

– Jamila Batchelder, Director of Religious Education

Friday Pie Day – 7 p.m. July 8

If you are looking for fun fellowship and delicious pie, join us for our Friday Pie Day event. You can bring a pie to share, but it isn’t required! We will eat pie, chat, and play. Weather permitting, we will be at the picnic tables behind the church. Otherwise, we will meet in the Greeting Area.

Volunteers Needed!

We need volunteers for our R.E. time at the park this summer! It is very fun and very low key. If you are wanting to get started in R.E. volunteering, but aren’t ready to lead a lesson, this is the ideal opportunity for you! Let Jamila know if you would like to help out.

July RE Schedule

July 3: R.E. Summer Classes
July 10: All ages service, no R.E.
July 17: R.E. Summer Classes
July 24: R.E. Summer Classes
July 31: R.E. Summer Classes

Back to Contents

Our Staff

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister
Office Hours:
  Tuesdays – 10:30 a.m. to noon – Community Office Hours in-person at Uprise Bakery downtown
  Thursdays – 2:30 to 4 p.m. – online via Zoom
  Or by appointment

Suzanne Clark, Administrator
Office Hours: Monday-Friday 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m.
Telephone: 573-442-5764

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

Violet Vonder Haar, Director of Music Ministry

Phylshawn Johnson, Sound Technician

April Rodeghero, Sunday Morning Assistant

Back to Contents

2022-2023 Board of Trustees

Melissa Ensign-Bedford, President
Tim Dickerson, Past President
David Leuthold
Connie Ordway
Susan Even
Christine Heath
Taylor Gill
Iyesatu Kamara-Bush
Fred Young

Back to Contents

Searchlight publication information

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

Co-Editors: Suzanne Clark and Steve Scott

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.

Back to Contents