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.

August 2021 Searchlight

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

‘Postcard’ from Rev. Molly – Where is your shy soul showing up?

Dear UU Church of Columbia,

I write you this little “postcard” from the final two weeks of my sabbatical with deep gratitude for the time and space I have had to rest, read, write, re-connect with loved ones around the region, and re-ground myself after an intense year of ministry. That last bit about grounding has been the most intangible and slippery to describe, but also the very most important way I have spent my time – connecting with my deepest self and slowing to a pace that allows “the shy soul” (in the words of Parker Palmer) to show herself. I wonder where you have seen your shy soul show up most fully this summer?

I am so very excited to return to my work with you and our shared life and community together, and I’m looking forward to re-connecting with each of you. In response to this short note, will you send me an update from your corner of the world? I’d love to receive a postcard or postcard-length email from you at the church in these next few weeks. How have you been? What’s new? Where is your soul showing up?

With love and anticipation,
Rev. Molly
2615 Shepard Blvd.
Columbia, MO 65203

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

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

Sunday, Aug. 1 – Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr.

On this final Sunday of the sabbatical period, Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr. will offer his last service as Sabbatical Minister. We are so grateful for his ministry during this time!

Sunday, Aug. 8 – Iyesatu Kamara-Bush

Sunday, Aug. 15 – “The Shy Soul” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

In her first Sunday back from Sabbatical, Rev. Molly will share reflections from her time away, and we will wonder together how we create the conditions for the soul to show up, no matter what else is going on in our lives.

Sunday, Aug. 22 – “Knowing Their Names” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon

In her book Braiding Sweetgrass, Robin Wall Kimmerer reflects on the difficulty, complexity and necessity for even those who are not native to become “indigenous to place.” What does it look like to truly root oneself in relationship to the ground on which you live and to get to know the beings whose space you share?

Sunday, August 29 – “Hope As A Spiritual Practice” – Rev. Molly Housh Gordon and DRE Jamila Batchelder

What a tricky time this has been for the concept of hope. How many times in the last 18 months have we let our hopes up and then had them dashed? How any times has pessimism and even cynicism felt like a more reliable choice? Join us to ponder whether and how to choose hope as a spiritual practice.

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Worship Zoom information

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

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

The Zoom address for our weekly 11:30 a.m.
coffee hour is:
You can also join by phone: 312-626 6799
Webinar ID: 652 315 354

Services are also streamed live to Facebook at:

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Family-friendly summer social – ice cream and bingo – 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15

With most of summer behind us, why don’t we all get together for some ice cream and BINGO!? Why not bring the crew down for this family-friendly event with Bingo prizes, ice cream and friendly faces!? Please join us at 4 p.m. Aug. 15 to enjoy an afternoon of good times and loving spirit!

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August update from the Covid Task Force

In light of the significant increase in people with active cases of Covid-19 in Boone County, our local health department issued an important advisory that we want to share with UUCC members and friends.
“While the majority of new cases are among individuals who are not fully vaccinated, it important that community members do everything possible to protect themselves and each other, regardless of vaccination status. It is especially important to help protect those who can not get vaccinated, especially children under the age of 12.” Specific recommendations include:

  • Wearing a mask while visiting indoor public places (no matter vaccination status), except while eating or drinking.
  • Getting vaccinated or completing 2-dose vaccination series as soon as possible and encouraging friends and family members to do the same.
  • Maintaining 6-foot social-distancing in groups where unvaccinated persons may be present.
  • Continuing hand washing, symptom monitoring, and testing for even minor symptoms.

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Chalice Circles – new and continuing choices in 2021-2022

Members and Friends of UUCC:

Are you looking for a way to connect with fellow UUCC members and friends? Seeking opportunities to share your heart in a safe/brave space? Finding new connections and opportunities to discover ways that UUCC can be meaningful in your life? If so, find a Chalice Circle program that suits your needs. Learn more about Chalice Circles.

Current Chalice Circle members: You are encouraged to consider joining a new group this year. We realize that it may be difficult for you, after being involved intimately with the lives and ideas of the particular people in your covenant group, but we ask you to think of this change as an opportunity to build relationships with new people and to provide new people the opportunity to develop relationships with you. Since the new covenant group members coming in will have different spiritual experiences and ideas, this will also provide you with the opportunity for more spiritual growth.

2021-2022 Chalice Circle options will be:

1. Traditional eight-session Chalice Circles, meeting once a month for an hour or two from early October through the end of May. There is a 10-member limit in each circle. The groups are facilitated by fellow volunteers, exploring a topic planned in coordination with the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon. Regular service project opportunities are chosen by members of the group and enhance bonds of friendship. Your commitment is for one cycle of eight sessions.

2. Monthly one-time Chalice Circles, for those who just want to try out a circle or are unable to make a multiple session commitment, meeting once a month at the church from early October through the end of May. These groups are will be facilitated by fellow volunteers. No registration is required – drop-ins are expected. Childcare will be offered in the church nursery. The schedule will be announced in September.

All Chalice Circles will be open for signups in September on the website, on signup sheets at the church or by email.

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President’s Perspective – Hello, beloved UUCoMo community!

By Timothy Dickerson, 2021-22 President

Hello, beloved UUCoMo community! I just have to say this – I MISS YOU ALL, and I truly hope we can be present with one another IRL (in real life) soon!

OK, now that I have gotten that out of the way, let me just say that I am super pumped, honored, and ready to serve as your President for the 2021-2022 church year. Please join me in welcoming our newest board members Connie Ordway, Melissa Ensign-Bedford, and Susan Even. They joined current members Kara Levevre Braudis, Jeremy Duke, Rebecca Graves, David Leuthold, Ginny Winter, and me at the start of July. In our July 15 meeting, we elected two new officers. Congratulations to Melissa Ensign-Bedford for being elected President-Elect and Ginny Winter for being elected Treasurer. We will be electing the Secretary at the August meeting. Stay tuned.

The UUCC Board Accessibility Task Force is making great strides towards ensuring our church is even more accessible and thus even more radically welcoming to all bodies seeking community or sanctuary in our home on Shepard Boulevard. Members of this task force are Melissa Ensign-Bedford, Rebecca Graves, Larry Lile, Gretchen Maune, Ruth Milledge and Ginny Winter. The next time you are in communication with any of these fellow UUs on this task force, please take some time to thank them for the invaluable work they are doing and accomplishing as they help guide us to be even more radically welcoming to those already attending our church as well as all those we invite. Be on the lookout for more information on the many ways this team is helping us live our mission.

Speaking of the task force, we also have another amazing task force that is providing us with thoughtful guidance when it comes to all things Covid-related. This team is made up of Barbara Carter, Susan Even, Rosie Geiser, Cande Iveson, Larry Lile and Jan Swaney. As with the Accessibility Task Force, if you communicate with any members of the Covid Task Force, please take a moment to thank them as well. They have been a tremendous help to our church in ensuring that we continue to live our mission while staying safe for almost a year now. As a member of the board and this church, I cannot thank this team enough for all the thoughtful advice, guidance, time, and planning they have provided and continue to provide. In July’s board meeting, the board voted and provided a charge to this task force to work with Rev. Molly Housh Gordon on a plan for how we might worship safely in person while continuing our online presence this fall and going forward.

Thanks to Rebecca Graves for being a rock star mentor when it comes to my taking on this role as President. I want to thank Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr. for his time as Sabbatical Minister to our UUCoMo flock. What a JOY it has been to have your presence and voice in board meetings and in Sunday services.

Once again, I am so honored to serve our liberal religious community – the beloved community that it already is as well as the one it continues to become.

In Love, Tim Dickerson

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Festival of Sharing – August 2021

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

  • 2 spiral or tape-bound notebooks (70 pages)
  • 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)

You may leave your donated items in the volunteer work room at church.

– Bonnie Johnson, Festival of Sharing Chair

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COMO Community Book Drive – Deadline is Aug. 9

Children’s books, new and gently used, are greatly needed for this book drive for Columbia children. Books can be dropped by the UU church until Aug. 9.

Only a few books have been donated thus far, so PLEASE search your shelves for books your children have outgrown and contribute to this worthy cause.

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UUCC office hours changed

Office hours have changed again (now that the “school marm” is not needed at home). The administrative office is now open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.

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News from the Grounds Team – plants to know and love [graphics]

Growing native plants at church and in our home gardens, Grounds Team members have learned a lot about natives that “go the extra mile.” This month I wanted to spotlight a few plants that may not be familiar to gardeners getting started with growing natives. These plants are exceptionally beautiful, easy to care for, not invasive, and will help attract pollinators and hummingbirds to your yard. These plants are all deer-resistant.

Indian Pink or Woodland Pinkroot (Spigelia marilandica) – This perennial has shiny green foliage and striking small red and yellow blossoms in early summer. Hummingbirds love this plant! It prefers partial shade, and average to moist soil. It will tolerate full sun if planted in a wetter spot. Indian Pink grows up to 24 inches tall and wide.


Purple Beardtongue (Penstemon cobaea) – This plant has gorgeous purple flowers that are larger than those of other beardtongue varieties. It blooms in late spring to early summer, and prefers sun and average moisture. Purple Beardtongue grows 18-30 inches tall and 16 inches wide.



Littleflower Alumroot (Heuchera parviflora) – This is a native version of the “coral bells” plant commonly for sale at garden centers. It has attractive dark green leaves with fuzzy, purple-tinged undersides. Spikes of tiny white to pale pink flowers appear in fall. It prefers partial to full shade, and dry to average soil. Alumroot grows about 12 inches tall and wide.



Threadleaf Bluestar (Amsonia ciliata) – This beautiful native has fine medium green foliage that turns bright yellow in fall. In late spring to early summer the plants are topped with clusters of pale blue flowers. Threadleaf Bluestar prefers full sun and average moisture and grows about 24 inches tall and wide.

For more information please email Jeanne Murphy, or Patty Daus.


UU 7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

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Consider donating to others

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.

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

Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri

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Online payments to UUCC

For pledge payments, go to:
Fill out the brief form there to make your payment.

For other donations, go to:
Be sure to indicate the purpose of your donation.

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Utility late fees

The City of Columbia is reinstating late fees on past-due utility bills beginning with bills issued after Aug. 1, 2021. Find more information at

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UUCC sponsorship of Guatemalan family – financial contributions

Thank you, UUCC, for your support of our sponsorship of a Guatemalan family seeking asylum. The mom Lilly, her 5-year-old son Manuel, and her 8-month-old daughter Lakshmi, arrived in Columbia on May 26. Church member Christine Heath has generously offered to host the family in her home. Many of you have indicated a willingness to offer financial support of the sponsorship, and we greatly appreciate your interest in helping. There are two suggested ways to consider making contributions.

Give to the church

Please designate contributions to the church for the “Sanctuary Fund.” If donating at, please select “Other” and specify “Sanctuary Fund.”

Contributions to the church are tax deductible. We as a congregation have expressed a willingness to see the sponsorship of an asylum-seeking family as an extension of being a sanctuary congregation.

Although we are unable to make a direct transfer to the family of contributions made to the church, the Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team (SIJT) will do its best to use money in the Sanctuary Fund wisely. The financial needs of our sponsorship of Lilly and her family are significant, and we anticipate using money in the Sanctuary Fund for that purpose. However, there is also the possibility that money in the Sanctuary Fund may be used for other immigrant justice purposes, such as helping with unexpected expenses for the Honduran family we have been helping to support, or if there is an unexpected need for sanctuary that UUCC agrees to provide.

Give to the family

At this time please send contributions for the family to Allie Gassmann at 1700 Princeton Dr., Columbia, MO 65203. Please make checks payable to Allie. Allie and Dave Gibbons, as co-chairs of the SIJT, and Christine Heath, as host of the family, have opened a joint account for the sponsorship needs of Lilly and her family. They will coordinate all expenditures from the account for sponsorship needs and make a periodic accounting to the SIJT. Contributions sent to Allie as gifts for the family are not tax deductible.

We truly appreciate the interest of people at UUCC to help support the sponsorship of Lilly, Manuel, and Lakshmi. The immigration courts are significantly backed up, so our sponsorship could be for quite a while. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns, or if you need any additional information.

With much gratitude,
Allie Gassmann and Dave Gibbons, Co-Chairs
Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team

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Faith-to-Action nominations alert

The Social Action Team We received nine Faith-to-Action applications for 2021-22 by the deadline of July 15. There is still time to have your favorite charitable organization considered! Please go to and click on “Faith to Action Applications 2021-22” to fill out your application. Following is our current list as of July 12, 2021:

  • UUCC Sponsorship of Asylum-Seeking Guatemalan family (David Gibbons, co-chair of the UUCC Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team)
  • Festival of Sharing (Bonnie Johnson, chair)
  • Honduras Education Fund (Caya Tanski)
  • Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice (Margaret Tyler)
  • Children’s Grove Kindness Libraries (Lisa Fritche)
  • First Chance for Children (Janice Mericle)
  • Stop Human Trafficking Coalition of Central Missouri (Gena Scott)
  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) (Steve Mudrick)
  • Heart of Missouri CASA (Todd Iveson)

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UUCC Caring Ministry

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

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

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

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Programs and Events

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

Kaleidoscope  Pagan gathering – 4 p.m. Saturday, July 31

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 31 at the church. Please bring snacks and drinks for yourself as desired. Currently, we are not planning to share food due to continued concerns about Covid-19.

All are welcome, no matter what their personal paths. If you have questions, send and email to Kaleidoscope.

The September gathering will be announced in the next Searchlight.

Conversations, Etc. – 1:30 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 4

Conversations, Etc., the UUCC women’s group, will meet at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4 in the Greeting Area of the church and via Zoom for those who cannot attend in person. Pam has contacted all of the local members of this group, and all have been vaccinated.

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.

Green Team – 7 p.m. Thursday Aug. 5 – online

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

UU Life Writers – 10:30 a.m. Aug. 7 and 21

UU Life Writers continue our summer writing gatherings at the UU Church where it is cool! Please use the downstairs door and bring your own drinks so we won’t need to use the kitchen and do super cleanup!

Each meeting will have a fun, different prompt to write by. Everyone is welcome – just bring pencil/pen and paper and be ready to write! Email Fran Reynolds for further information.

Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team – 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8 – online

Email Allie Gassmann for details about the regular monthly meeting of the Sanctuary/Immigrant Justice Team.

Revelio Como – 1 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 8 – 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, or check out our Facebook page.

Non-toxic Masculinity Men’s Group – 7 p.m. Mondays, Aug. 9 and 23

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

Men’s Group – 8:15 a.m. Aug. 14 and 28 – online

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

UUCC Book Discussion – 4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 14 – online

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

Loaves and Fishes meal – Aug. 15

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

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

Please sign up here

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

Unlisted Meetings

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

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DRE’s August message

I have spent the last week reaching out to many of our UUCC families to talk about church reopening, how we are feeling about the pandemic situation here in Missouri, and how it affects reopening. I hope to get in touch with the rest of you in the weeks ahead. Here is what I have learned from the conversations so far:

1. I have really missed you all and really enjoy the opportunity to hear your voices and catch up with each of you!

2. So many of us are carrying trauma from the past year of high stress and constantly being on high alert. So many of us are carrying so much anxiety about what the future will bring. And it is easier to hold this anxiety together than alone. So many of you expressed how talking about it together and remembering the care and sense of responsibility that exists within our UUCC community helped reduce your anxiety. So I deeply hope we will remain in dialogue together as we find our way forward.

3. Risk tolerance levels are personal and unique to each of us, and are informed by many factors. There is no one right place to be. We will strive to create a community that meets the needs of all and cares for all. This likely means there will not be a one-size-fits-all program, but that we create multiple ways for families to engage.

4. There many safety protocols we are planning to put in place when our RE programs begin in person. Some details cannot be finalized until Rev. Molly’s return, but a few steps we will be taking are: requiring vaccinations for all teachers and nursery staff, continued masking for unvaccinated as well as for all teachers and nursery staff, pick up of children from exterior doors instead of via the hallway, and making more use of our outdoor space. Stay tuned for more steps we will be taking to make our program safe.

5. There are many statistics that are very frightening right now in the state of Missouri, but we are reminded that our community is not reflective of the state of Missouri as a whole. We will be most closely following the statistics of the percentage of those who become very ill with Covid who are a) vaccinated or b) children under the age of 12. For now, those numbers remain low enough that I believe reopening can be done safely. However, with the rise of new variants, that could change. We will wait and watch.

I feel so much love for this community, the depths of care that all of you have for each other, and your commitment to making sure we are all safe. There are still so many unknowns, and I appreciate the work that our Covid Task Force is doing to keep us informed of the science to aid our decision-making. I will continue to pray for a safe and joyful reopening come September.

With Love, Jamila

Bingo Night – 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 15

We have a fun celebration planned to welcome Rev. Molly back from her sabbatical. Join us for a night of bingo, silly prizes, and fellowship. This will be an outdoor event, and we will follow the church’s Covid safety policy.



RE Volunteer Training – 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Aug. 28

If you are interested in getting involved in the rewarding ministry of religious education this year, please attend our training! Even if you are an experienced RE volunteer, it will be essential to attend this year to prepare for the unique situation of restarting our in-person program after a year apart and to learn our safety protocols. RSVP to Jamila by email.

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Our Staff

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Minister
Returning from sabbatical Aug. 2, 2021
Office hours will be posted online

Rev. Dr. C.W. Dawson, Jr., Interim Sabbatical Minister

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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2021-2022 Board of Trustees

Tim Dickerson, President
Rebecca Graves, Past President
Melissa Ensign-Bedford, President-Elect
Ginny Winter, Treasurer
Jeremy Duke
Kara Lefevre Braudis
David Leuthold
Susan Even
Connie Ordway

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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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