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View past issues of The Searchlight here.

September 2019 Searchlight

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

Minister’s Monthly Message

Rooted in Mission

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

– Mary Oliver

This is the time of year for calendars! The school calendar is set, our church calendar is becoming clear, and our personal calendars are filling up.

Here’s a secret: I love the season of calendaring. I often joke with my spouse that planning is my love language. I relish turning ideas into reality by making plans, tracking tasks, and keeping them all penned down on their proper dates.

But plans are just one way to stay connected to a sense of purpose. At their best, they can be a concrete reflection of some much deeper questions.

This month we kick off our church year of reflecting on our mission statement together, and our first monthly theme is “mission” itself. What does it mean to be rooted in a sense of purpose, a big picture vision, a map for where we’re headed and why and how?

These questions about where we are headed, and why we are going there, and how we are journeying all point to deep meaning-making questions about what is important. We seek a mission for our lives because we know, deep down, that they are wild and precious and very short. We seek a mission so that we can spend our days in beauty and love, putting them to the very best use we can find. Join us this month to find our mission.

In Faith,
Rev. Molly

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September worship services

Starting Sept. 8 two worship services will be offered at 9 and 11 a.m.
and Mindfulness Meditation at 10:05 a.m.

Sunday, Sept. 1 – 10:30 a.m. only – “The Politics of Rest” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

As we prepare to celebrate Labor Day, let us give thanks to the labor movement for the long and ongoing fight for a balanced work life, advocating for each day “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what we will.” But who gets to enjoy rest and leisure and how? Join us to grapple with the working culture that surrounds us and the politics of rest.

Sunday, Sept. 8 – 9 and 11 a.m. – “Send Me” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

As we launch our year of exploring our church’s mission in worship, join us to grapple with the idea of mission itself. What does it look like to be sent forth with purpose, and how can we be sure our mission-centering doesn’t turn into missionary-ing?

Sunday, Sept. 15 – 9 and 11 a.m. – “How to Survive the End of the World” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

Join us this Sunday before the launch of a global climate strike to explore how we, in the words of Adrienne Maree Brown, “learn from apocalypse with grace and rigor.” With all that we love at risk in the global climate crisis, how do we create conditions for material and spiritual survival? No clear instructions are promised, but mutual wondering is guaranteed.

Sunday, Sept. 22 – 9 and 11 a.m. – “Music Sunday” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Jeremy Wagner and Jamila Batchelder

Join us to celebrate the tenure of our new Director of Music Ministry Jeremy Wagner with a fun and beautiful all-ages music service. Let us make a joyful noise together.

Sunday, Sept. 29 – 9 and 11 a.m. – “Mission: Failure” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

When we have clarity of mission, we inevitably will fail to live up to that clarity. How do we keep going when we mess it up, re-center ourselves when we get off track, and accept a change of course when our mission no longer fits the calling of the moment? What emerges when failure is part of our mission?

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Forum – September schedule

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.

Wayne Anderson, Tribune travel writer and professor emeritus at the University of Missouri, will present a broad spectrum of topics in September:

  • Sept. 1: “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow: The Life and Inventions of Stanford R. Ovshinsky.” The greatest scientist affecting out modern age that few people have heard of.
  • Sept. 8: “Dropping Back in Time: Exploring America’s Living History Museums.”
  • Sept. 15: Antibiotics are becoming powerless. Why are they losing their power? What can we do about it?
  • Sept. 22: My adventures in Bosnia, following the trauma of ethnic cleansing.
  • Sept. 29: “The End of Gasoline Cars.” It’s coming quicker than you think.

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Congregational Justice-Making Summit – Sept. 7 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Lunch and childcare provided with RSVP

We are very excited to be bringing the UUA’s new “Side With Love” Director, the Rev. Ashley Horan, to UUCC on Saturday, Sept. 7 for a full day of working with our justice-oriented groups and all UU Churchers interested in justice work.

Rev. Horan will help us strategize, clarify priorities, and imagine how to work powerfully together as a congregation to move forward the work we care about. She is one of Unitarian Universalism’s fiercest and wisest social justice leaders, and she has worked with UU Churches across the country for years to strengthen their congregational justice-making work.

If you are a long-time justice leader at UUCC, someone just dipping their toe in the water, or anywhere in between, you are warmly invited! RSVP to Rev. Molly by email so we can provide adequate lunch and child care!

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Would you like to join a UUCC Chalice Circle?

It’s time to sign up for 2019-20

Chalice Circles meet regularly to deepen and strengthen interpersonal connections and encourage spiritual growth. They provide a place to share deeply with each other, to build lasting and caring relationships, and to strengthen our church’s sense of community. Each Chalice Circle has seven to 10 members and meets at least once a month. Available Chalice Circles for 2019-20 and the facilitators are:

  • 3rd Mondays at 7 p.m. – Peter Holmes and Kathie Bergman
  • 2nd Wednesdays at 9 a.m. – Lisa Fritsche and Jeanne Murphy
  • 2nd and 4th Wednesdays at 7 p.m. – Qhyrrae Michaelieu and Crystal Buffaloe
  • 2nd Thursday at 7 p.m. – Christine Heath and other group members

If you would like to join a group, you will be able to sign up on our church website ( or on Sunday in the Greeting Area starting Sept. 1. There will be a special priority signup period from Aug. 25 to 31 for participants who wish to continue in the same group as last year. A signup list will be closed when 10 people have signed up for a specific group.

Read more about Chalice Circles

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Building needs cottage meetings this fall

Your Building Needs Task Force will hold a series of cottage meetings throughout the fall to let you know where our work stands and get your input! Meetings will have 8-12 participants hosted in your fellow UU Churchers’ homes and will occur on variety of different dates and times. We’ll be in the Greeting Area and online starting Sept. 15 to sign you up for a meeting. Childcare will be available at select meetings as needed.

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Adult R.E.

Save the date: On Oct. 1 we will kick off our Adult R.E. fall semester. This fall we plan to use a UU “Social Justice History” curriculum. Join us Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

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X-ennial Supper Club – 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15

If you are somewhere in your 20s-40s and interested in new connections with fellow UU Churchers, join us at the church for this potluck-style dinner and socializing at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.
Child care and pizza for kids will be provided. Please bring a dish to share if you can!

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President’s Perspective – Start from where you are

By Mindy McPherson, 2019-20 President

I was struck by the message that the Rev. C.W. Dawson delivered to our congregation in August, “The Call to Ahimsa in a World of Violence.” I was, perhaps, most touched by the sentiment, “Start from where you are.” As a result, I have spent time reflecting upon how the many dimensions of nonviolence are, or could be, or should be, present in daily life. So, where am I? Where are you? Where are we?

My path to ahimsa starts with building peace with myself. It starts with my family, my interactions with my spouse, and the lessons I share with my children.

I’ve been focused on my children quite a bit lately, as I was able to spend the summer months at home with Axel (7) and Anja (5). During our time together, I found myself continually teaching and reminding them about appropriate behavior. One lesson from parenthood that sticks with me, though often not when I need it most, is that moments of anger, frustration, or sadness are not functional teaching moments. Causing harm to a sibling is not an appropriate communication strategy, but working through such moments of chaos is not the time for instruction. We have to take our deep breaths, calm our bodies and minds, and only then move forward with the gentle reminders of body control, kind words, and thoughtful actions. We start with using our words. We talk about respect, love, forgiveness. We show compassion. We start from where we are.

It is important to have established expectations or ground rules about our behavior. It is important to contemplate and understand the expectations before we’re pushing through difficult times.

Many groups within our church community function by adhering to behavioral norms or covenants. For example, our Board of Trustees uses the following norms to guide its work:

  • “Speak the truth in love” (or at least respect).
  • Do what good readers do: listen with both charity and (constructive) skepticism.
  • Allow time for discussion.
  • Expect discussion.
  • Debate ideas, not people.
  • Monitor your own participation: If dominating, perhaps hold back a bit. If silent, do speak up!
  • Use I statements.

As we move into the new church year, I encourage us, as a connected community, to contemplate how we interact with one another. Where are we? Where are we in a move towards ahimsa? How are we showing compassion? What tools do we have to carry our congregation meaningfully down this path?

Your board attended a retreat in August at which we had the opportunity to spend time reflecting upon our mission, vision and ends statements. As a congregation, as we collectively refocus our intentions and lean in to the exciting work to be done, I encourage us to consider our congregational behavioral expectations. Let’s start from where we are so that we can be ready for the road ahead.

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You are invited to join us for membership classes

If you feel ready to become a member of UUCC, these classes presented by the Welcoming Team are for you:

  • Sunday, Sept. 15, 12:15 to 2:30 p.m. – “History of Unitarians and Universalists”
  • Sunday, Sept. 29, 12:15 to 2:30 p.m. – “Getting Involved at UUCC”

Vegetarian lunch. Childcare provided with one week’s notice. RSVP by email or by calling 573-442-5764.

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September Walks on the Wild Side – Sept. 1 and Sept. 22

The Green Sanctuary Team is sponsoring monthly walks on the fourth Sunday most months throughout the year to explore the beauty of local woods and creeks (Gans Creek, Three Creeks and Mark Twain National Forest). Meet at 1:30 p.m. at the church.

Shrug off your civilized self for a short time and come with us into the peace of wild things.
The walks are suitable for reasonably fit 10- to 70-year-olds. Children are very welcome. There will be plenty of stops along the way. For more information, talk to Peter Holmes.

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UUCC Workday – Saturday, Oct. 5 – 9 a.m. to noon

Please come and help take care of your church building – building community through shared labor.

We will be working on:

  • Cleaning and tidying kitchens, classrooms, Centering Room, Volunteer Office, Elevator Closet
  • Cleaning refrigerators and windows
  • Painting railings
  • Removing Cobwebs
  • And whatever else needs attention

The more the merrier!

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Office hours reminder from Rev. Molly

My weekly Community Office Hours are held at Kaldi’s Coffee downtown on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. I am also always happy to meet by appointment with members, visitors, newcomers, and community partners.

Please do 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 together! You can schedule an appointment with me online here or drop me a note by email.

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September Festival of Sharing

For the month of September, Festival of Sharing will focus on collecting this year’s gifts and delivering them at the Central Region ShareFest on Saturday, Sept. 28 in Tipton, Missouri. The Central Region serves 18 local agencies and nearly 12,000 people in mid-Missouri, in addition to its support of international programs.

Any church member who would like to attend and help us with loading, transportation and delivery is welcome.

– Bonnie Johnson, Festival of Sharing Chair

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UUCC ‘Dinners for 8’ will begin new season

In an effort to bring UU adults together in homes of UUs, we will begin another year of “Dinners for 8.” The dinners beginning in September are a great way to get acquainted and experience good food. The dinners are essentially theme potlucks that are organized in advance. Dates for the dinners in September, October, November, January, February and March will be suggested by the host in consultation with the randomly-chosen members of the host’s dinner group.

In early December we have a Holiday Hors D’oeuvres Party, and in April we have a Spring Finale. Both events will take place at the church. Drinks for both events and entrees for the Spring Finale will be paid for from our dues.

Right now is a good time to email Linda Lou Brown to let her know you are interested in joining our groups. Please send your name, address and phone number, and let her know if you are able to host one or two times during the year.

Dues are $25 for couples and $12.50 for singles. You may pay your dues with a check designated for “UU Dinner Groups” and place it in the offering basket at church. Bon Appetit!

Linda Lou Brown – 573-447-3939
Melinda Farhangi – 573-445-6325

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Honduras Service Trip news

Central America has been experiencing a severe dengue fever outbreak that has worsened now during the rainy season, and Honduras has had the most deaths of all the Central American countries. Although Atlantida, the province where El Pital is located, is not one of the most severely affected provinces, the Cangrejal River Valley (where our UUCC Honduras Ministry Team does our service projects) has had many cases, and just recently two children died there.

We sent $1,500 for use in anti-dengue measures. The money will be used for mosquito repellent, mosquito killer for water where women wash clothes, mosquito nets, acetaminophen, and rehydrating fluids. There is no cure for dengue, so only preventive and supportive measures can be taken. The clinic management predicts that this will take care of their anti-dengue needs for 45 days. After that it can be hoped that the rainy season will just about be over.

Allie Gassmann – email

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Sanctuary Team news

Edler, Yadira and their two daughters, the Honduran asylum-seeking family that our UUCC Sanctuary Team is helping support, continue to do well. The two girls have started school and are very excited about it. Yadira and Edler are both finding constructive ways to keep busy and are making connections with people in our community through Yadira’s delicious Honduran meals, Spanish conversations and the like. Please contact Allie (see contact info below) if you would like to know more.

Since the last Searchlight newsletter, the terrible shooting in El Paso and the massive immigration raids in Mississippi took place. As a result, many of our Latinx friends and neighbors are feeling more vulnerable and scared than ever. We continue to do all we can to help create a world of safety and welcome for them.

For more information or to get involved in the immigrant justice work of our Sanctuary Team, please email the co-chairs, Allie Gassmann and/or Rev. Dottie Mathews.

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(Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty)

Mark your calendars for this annual interfaith effort to raise funds to relieve hunger here in Columbia and Mid-Missouri, across the U.S. and around the world. This event is sponsored by Church World Service.

This year the event will be taking place at 1:45 p.m. Sept. 15 at Stephens Lake Park. Kids are welcome, and the Walk is designed for all levels of ability. Look for the CROP Walk table in the greeting area during the weeks leading up to the walk. You can sign up for the walk and donate either at the table in the Greeting Area or at the Columbia CROP Walk website.

For questions or more information, please send an email to Allie Gassmann.

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A standing invitation from the UUCC Social Action Team

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’s social justice work:

1. Direct Service (e.g. Loaves and Fishes, Room at the Inn)
2. Fundraising (e.g. through Faith-to-Action, fundraisers such as the Honduras Trivia Night, sales of artisan crafts, etc. 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)

Beyond joining SAT, please consider participation in any of our subcommittees or other teams such as the Anti-Racism Subcommittee, Economic Justice Subcommittee, Honduras Team, 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.

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Get your 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 or to place your order.

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Programs and Events

“Getting to Know UU” – Sept. 1, 2019

The Welcoming Team announces – for our newcomers: “Getting to Know UU” (for those who want to know more about us).

Sessions are held on the first Sunday each month in the minister’s office after the 11 a.m. worship service for about 30 minutes. Childcare is provided.

Non-toxic masculinity men’s group – Sept. 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30

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, contact Jeff Ordway.

UU Life Writers – Sept. 7 and 21, 2019

On our life path we come to many crossroads. The road we choose (or maybe it is not a choice) can define us in many ways and for many years. Stories about these crossroads become great and interesting memoirs as well as offer insights into our lives.

“Crossroads” is the fall theme for the UU Life Writers. All are welcome to join the group. One does not have to be a great writer, just one who enjoys writing life stories and hearing others. This is not a critique group. Pens/pencils and paper are the only requirements.

Meetings are the first and third Saturdays of each month in the Centering Room starting at 10:30 a.m. with coffee, goodies and conversation, then writing and sharing. For more information, contact Fran Reynolds at 573-881-3828 or by email.

Dates for this fall are:

  • Sept. 7 and 21
  • Oct. 5 and 19
  • Nov. 2 and 16
  • Dec. 7

Conversations, Etc. – Noon Sept. 11

Conversations, Etc., the UUCC women’s group, will meet at the church at noon Wednesday, Sept. 11. Bring a brown bag lunch. We will be joined by Carolyn Amperan of the Sierra Club and the Columbia Climate Change Initiative. Come and enjoy the company of friends. Questions? Call Melinda Farhangi at 573-445-6326.

UUCC Book Discussion – 5 p.m. Sept. 13

The UUCC Book Discussion Group will meet at 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at Bamboo Terrace, 3101 W. Broadway, Suite 101. Bring a book you have read to discuss briefly. If you have questions, contact Pam Springsteel at 573-445-0642 or by email.

Men’s Group – Sept. 14 and 28

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 provides Loaves and Fishes meal on third Sundays – Sept. 15 this month

UUCC provides the evening meal at Loaves and Fishes on the third Sunday each month – Sept. 15 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.

Kaleidoscope Pagan gathering – Sept. 20

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 on Friday, Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at the church. We will join in ritual, followed by a potluck and friendship. All are welcome, no matter what their personal paths.

Mindfulness Meditation – Sundays at 10:05 a.m.

Join us for Mindfulness Meditation every Sunday from 10:05 to 10:50 a.m. starting Sept. 8 (the Sept. 1 session will start at 9:30 a.m.). We meet in the Centering Room, the Schweitzer classroom, or the Fire Circle when the weather is good. Meditators of all levels of experience are welcome.

This is mainly silent meditation with some instruction, if needed, and with brief selected readings from eminent teachers. For more information, contact Peter Holmes.

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DRE’s September Message

It’s the start of a new year in Religious Education! We have an exciting year planned. Below is a description of what each class will be doing this year.

Spirit Play: We will be learning about some of the history and heroes of Unitarian Universalism. From Thoreau and Emerson, to the Sharps working to protect refugees in World War II, we can be inspired by the UUs who have come before us.

Potter Class: We will return to our beloved Chalice Children curriculum, where children learn about our church and its community, as well as encouraging their sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them. You can read more about Chalice Children here.

Schweitzer Class: We will be learning about Unitarian Universalism’s seven principles and the underlying belief in a beloved community from which our principles arise using the “Love Surrounds Us” Curriculum. You can read more about “Love Surrounds Us” here.

Thoreau Class: We will be learning about UU identity, sources of wisdom, history, and principles using the URUU curriculum.

Adams Class: In our UU tradition of looking at the limitless sources of sacred texts, we will be watching clips from the Harry Potter movies, and discussing the deep themes we find within them.

YUUTs Class: We will be doing our popular Neighboring Faiths Curriculum, where we will learn about the beliefs and practices of different religions and will then visit houses of worship to deepen our understanding.

Please register your children for the new R.E. year!!!

Registration can be done online here.

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

Middle schoolers are invited to our first Junior Youth Night of the year, where we will plan our year together. RSVP by email.

5th-6th grade OWL class

We will be offering our 5th-6th grade sex-ed curriculum (OWL – “Our Whole Lives”) for the first time this fall on Tuesday nights from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

September Schedule

  • Sept. 1: Group Sunday with Music Director Jeremy Wagner (one service at 10:30).
  • Sept. 8: Regular RE Classes
  • Sept. 15: Regular RE Classes
  • Sept. 22: Intergenerational Music Service
  • Sept. 29: Regular RE Classes

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Our Staff

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister
Office Hours:
    Tuesdays 1-4 p.m. at church
    Thursdays 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at Kaldi’s Coffee Downtown
    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

April Rodeghero, Sunday Morning Assistant

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2019-2020 Board of Trustees

Mindy McPherson, President
Michela Skelton Birk, President-Elect
Sam Buffaloe, Secretary
Jeremy Duke, Treasurer
Barbara Rupp, Past President
Gretchen Maune
Mark Johnson
Elaine Martin
Rebecca Graves

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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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