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Current News

On this page:

Meet Our New DRE – Shanon Dickerson
Planning for a Second Worship Service
Grounds Team Combines Work and Fun
Green Sanctuary Team Investigates Summer Activities
Marriage Equality
Summer Adult R.E. Program
Creating an Anti-Racism Study Group
Lunch with TED
Searchlight Goes to Year-Round Schedule
Food Bank Collections Continue Year-Round
The Sound of UU Music
Garden Dreams Become Plans and Move Toward Reality


Meet Our New DRE – Shanon Dickerson

Shanon Dickerson

Our DRE search team is very excited to introduce to you our new hire for Director of Religious Education, Shanon Dickerson.

Shanon comes to us from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Bloomington-Normal, Ill., where she is a member. Shanon is an experienced educator with nearly a decade of experience teaching Spanish to all ages and sociology, international studies and women's studies at the college level.

In her current position, in addition to teaching, Shanon runs the international studies program and has led cultural trips abroad for students, faculty, and administration.

Our search team was particularly impressed with Shanon's combination of creativity, compassion, and administrative skills, as well as her commitment to Unitarian Universalism. We are excited about her unique collection of gifts – she has what it will take to run a growing program with vision, excellence, and care.

Shanon and her husband Tim know and love Columbia from years visiting family in the area, and they are excited to move to our town. Shanon will join us in person starting Aug. 1, but will soon be getting started with the work remotely as she and Tim prepare for their move.

I know you will join me in showing Shanon a warm UUCC welcome!

– Rev. Molly

[From the July 2015 Searchlight]

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Planning for a Second Worship Service

To UUCC Members/Friends from Rev. Molly:

Church growth experts tell us it's time to add a service when you're averaging 80% of desirable seats full… and we've been averaging more like 100% of desirable seats full on most Sundays. So, we have taken the following steps:

In order to address this wonderful problem of growing attendance, we have decided to add a second Sunday morning service during the program year.

To discuss this with the congregation, we held two open meetings for the whole congregation in April, as well as meetings with the Forum group and the choir. We also sought written feedback on posters in the sanctuary.

At these meetings, in addition to discussing the simple numbers and logistics of the situation, we discussed our mission of radical welcome and deep connection – we know we need to balance both as we seek to include more people in our community. We also discussed our articulated desire to keep making room for those who seek our message. After hearing from you, we developed a plan.

Here's the Plan

1. We will have two Sunday morning services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. These services will have the same content (same readings, same sermon), but will be slightly different in structure.

The 9 a.m. service will be interactive, intimate, and family-friendly. We will put the chairs in a circle to enhance the feeling of intimacy. We will share joys and sorrows in a spoken-aloud format and add other interactive elements to the service when possible. We will create an expectation that movement is welcome, and a beautiful visual order of service posted on a board will help youngsters and all of us know what's coming next. Music will vary in style with special performances from musical church volunteers and regular offerings from small vocal ensembles. Childcare will be offered during this service, but there will be no children's R.E. program at 9 a.m. at this time.

The 11 a.m. service will be inspirational, reverent, and more traditional. Chairs will face forward, and there will be less expectation of interaction. The children will be present for the first 15 minutes including a story for all ages and a clergy-led ritual of joys and sorrows, and they will then exit to their regular religious education classes. Music will vary in style with special performances from musical church volunteers and regular offerings from the choir. Nursery care and our full R.E. program will be offered during the 11 a.m. hour.

2. Occasionally, both services will occur in the more lively multi-generational style we have developed.

3. We will form a Fellowship Team to ensure that we are creating regular opportunities for deep connection and fun together outside of worship. We will charge this team with creating appealing multi-generational activities to build community and help us feel that we are all still a part of one congregation. Let me know if you're interested in serving on this team! As part of our work on fellowship, we will survey the congregation regarding monthly potlucks to find a time when many of us can gather for fellowship and food without drawing people away from one of our two services.

We know that this decision is an emotional one, as well as logistical, and that change brings both excitement and fear.

Our Hopes and Fears

Your Worship Team took all of the feedback we received from our meetings as data, and we developed the above plan particularly to build upon our hopes and opportunities while also addressing some fears and challenges posed by our growth. Here's what you told us:

Hopes Fears
• Chance to add new/old, interactive elements to new service.
• Chance to appeal to different learning styles and a more diverse array of people.
• An additional chance to spread our wonderful message.
• Chance for people to teach Sunday School and attend a worship service.
• Would we become more age segregated?
• Would we lose a sense of being one community?
• Would we have the energy and volunteer capacity to sustain both?
• What if we can't fill up two different services and one feels empty?
• Will we lose our occasional intergenerational worship?

We think our plan helps address many of these opportunities and challenges, and we will stay accountable to these hopes and fears as we continue making adjustments and making our two services both as good as they can be.

Follow-Up

We will proceed as planned starting in September, and we will refine as needed to work out the inevitable kinks. We will survey the congregation in January to discern how we can improve the experience that is emerging. And, of course, your feedback is always welcome. You can email me or the Worship Associates.

We look forward to expanding the Sunday services of this warm and wonderful community and making our community available to all who seek it!

– In Faith, Rev. Molly

[From the July 2015 Searchlight]

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Grounds Team Combines Work and Fun

The UUCC Grounds Team is having a busy summer. We're excited about the progress that we've made on some important projects, thanks in large part to the help and support of the congregation.

Our workday June 6 was very successful – and a lot of fun! With the help of many team members and Chalice Circle volunteers, we replanted the entire parking lot island bed with native plants – butterfly weed, purple coneflower, little bluestem, and calamint. These drought-resistant perennials should thrive in their new home!

We're sending a big "thank you!" to all those hard-working volunteers, and to Joann Vest, who donated a native witch hazel shrub for our native plant project. We are also very grateful to have received $1,000 from the church's recent garage sale proceeds. This money will go a long way toward the conversion of our planted beds to native plants.

If you want to enjoy the fresh air while helping the Grounds Team, join Patty Daus and other volunteers every Friday morning starting at 8:30. We will be removing invasive Japanese honeysuckle from our woods and do some weeding and watering as needed. If you want to help with honeysuckle removal but aren't available Friday mornings, contact Carol Arnold at 474-1787 or by email to work with her other times.

Watch this space for more updates on Grounds Team projects that will enhance our church's outdoor space while supporting our UU Principles.

– Jeanne Murphy, Team Member
– Peter Holmes, Team Leader

[From the July 2015 Searchlight]

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Green Sanctuary Team Investigates Summer Activities

The transportation group of Green Sanctuary Team continues to encourage congregants and friends to ride bikes or carpool to church activities when possible. For assistance on routes and carpooling, contact Ellen Thomas.

In the spirit of non-harm to the environment, GS Team is encouraging the church to purchase environmentally friendly products. As older products run out, the church administrator will be replacing them with products that do less harm to the environment, especially water. Look for new dishwasher detergents, dish soap, toilet paper, paper towels, cleansers, etc.

GS Team is considering a summer camping or canoeing trip. These plans are very preliminary, and Peter Holmes is investigating possibilities. If you have some ideas, please contact Peter and share them.

The June vegetarian potluck for Meatless Mondays was a big success. The next potluck is at 7 p.m. July 20. All are welcome. Please bring a vegetarian dish to share and your own table service (so clean up will be minimal). Lisa Guillory will post the recipes used each month. Please send the typed recipe or the link to the site of the recipe to Lisa by email. Everyone is encouraged to read the ethical eating guidelines on the UUA website. We will be discussing many of these issues and look toward lively discussion and sharing of new knowledge about how our food choices affect the world.

The Harvest Supper is set for Saturday, Oct. 17. Chelsea Otten will chair the event, and either Jan Swaney or Lisa Guillory will co-chair. They need a committee! Please contact Chelsea or Lisa if you want to participate in this super fun event. It is very rewarding to volunteer for this event!

[From the July 2015 Searchlight]

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Marriage Equality

Rev. Molly circulated the following news release to local news media on Friday, June 26, immediately after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality:

Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia to Hold Marriage Equality Reception
and Minister to Offer Free Officiant Services to Same Sex Couples

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia celebrates the Supreme Court's historic ruling in favor of equal marriage for same sex couples. We believe in the worth and dignity of every person and every loving relationship. We celebrate with great joy the extension of one fundamental right to LGBTQ couples, and we commit ourselves to the continued fight for full equality under the law and non-discrimination protection for LGBTQ individuals.

To celebrate that marriage equality is now the law of the land, we will be holding a Marriage Equality Reception at our church, 2615 Shepard Blvd., at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 11 with cake, punch, and dancing. Same sex couples will be invited to cut the cake and participate in a "first dance." This event is family-friendly, free, and open to the public.

Additionally, the Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, will be offering her services as legal marriage officiant to same sex couples free of charge for the remainder of the summer, starting July 5 and subject to availability. She can be reached at 573-442-5764.

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Summer Adult R.E. Program

The Adult Religious Education Team has planned a summer discussion series on "The Good Life." Join us in the Centering Room from 12:15 to 2 p.m. for lunch and lively discussion of the following topics:

  • June 7: What is the good life?

  • June 21: How much is enough for the good life?

  • July 12: What's love got to do with the good life?

  • July 26: In living a good life, what do I owe others?

  • Aug. 9: How do aging and the different stages of life affect the good life?

Each session will focus on a short reading (one to five pages) for discussion. Readings will be available here before each session.

No need to register. Just come to those sessions you can or want to attend.

Childcare can be provided if requested in advance of the meetings.

Questions can be submitted by email.

[From the June 2015 Searchlight]

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Creating an Anti-Racism Study Group

I have heard from many of you a desire to engage with the national dialogue on race, emerging particularly after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and the protests following his death.

I share your desire. This summer, we will begin an ongoing study of race and racism in the United States and develop the tools to become anti-racist as individuals and as a community.

Meeting frequency and times will be determined by the availability of interested parties.
Contact me by email to sign up.

– Rev. Molly

[From the June 2015 Searchlight]

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Lunch with TED

Do you watch TED talks? Do you wish you had conversation partners to discuss the ideas these talks raise?

Join us over your lunch hour the third Thursday of each month throughout the summer to watch a TED talk together and discuss. Bring your own bag lunch.

Your suggestions of favorite TED talks are welcomed by Rev. Molly by email.

This is a drop-in offering open to all from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursdays, June 18, July 16 and Aug. 20.

[From the June 2015 Searchlight]

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Searchlight Goes to Year-Round Schedule

In the past The Searchlight has been published only from September through June.

Starting this summer, our newsletter will be published monthly year-round, including July and August.

The deadline for submitting information for the newsletter will continue to be the third Monday of each month.

For more information, contact Church Administrator Kathie Bergman at 442-5764 or by email

[From the June 2015 Searchlight]

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Food Bank Collections Continue Year-Round

Thanks to all who brought food for the Easter food hunt and the upstairs food barrel.

And thanks to the religious education program for organizing the hunt and to the kids and parents for bringing the food!

You provided 233 pounds that went to the Central Pantry of the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

Unfortunately, hunger continues to be a major problem, so please keep feeding the food barrel during the summer!

[From the June 2015 Searchlight]

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The Sound of UU Music

Wow – what a great year this has been! Thanks to everyone who has sung in the UU Singers, played an instrument, been part of a small ensemble or participated in any other way.

It’s time now for summer vacation, but don’t forget that UU Singers will be starting up again in August with our traditional potluck/first rehearsal on Wednesday, Aug. 19. Potluck will start at 6 p.m., and we will start on music for the fall at 7 p.m.

Also anyone interested in being part of the Music Associates and helping to plan our music program is invited to our first meeting on Sunday, Aug. 9 at noon. Molly will be providing a light lunch. I will send out a reminder email announcement closer to the time.

And remember – if you haven’t found your “place in the choir,” August would be a great time to join us. Have a great summer.

– Desi Long, Music Director

[From the June 2015 Searchlight]

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Garden Dreams Become Plans and Move Toward Reality

Plan for front gardens, drawn by Sue Bartelette and colored by Jeanne Murphy.

Energy and excitement have been building among the members of our UUCC Grounds Team. We've been envisioning the church grounds as an embodiment of our heartfelt valuing of the interdependent web of life.

We've been dreaming about the woods of which we are the designated stewards. We've been dreaming about the life-giving water that enters and flows across our land. We've been dreaming about the gardens in front of the building. And as we dream, we have tried to form a vision of what is truly possible.

We've had consultations with foresters, native landscapers, hydrologists, and we've gotten great tips from a professional entomologist. We've spent hours outside tending the plant life and examining the trees and topography. We've spent hours inside thinking about choices facing us concerning the needs of the congregation, the conventional methods our culture uses, and our moral stance in relation to all factors. Our brains have been swimming. But we have organized some of this complexity into a few plans.

Most recently, we've been honing in on the particulars of a plan for how we can improve our front gardens to enhance their life-giving biodiversity, and at the same time enhance their capacity to welcome and encourage the humans who come to this place. At our request, a professional native landscaper has created this plan for transformation of our front gardens. It's a solid plan, backed by knowledge and lengthy experience.

The plan features a great variety of native plants which evolved with our native insects. Milkweeds will provide nurseries where Monarch butterflies can lay eggs. Summer blooming coneflowers will provide nectar just when butterfly populations are expanding in late spring, and later they'll produce nutritious seed for wintering goldfinches. Late blooming asters will attract a lively insect party late into the fall.

The same continuous bloom that keeps the insects and birds interested all through the seasons will also be a delight to our members and visitors as the visual display changes from week to week with every bud, bloom, and fruit appearing in natures proper time. And, consideration has been given to other human needs like maintenance effort. These plants are ones that, when established, will not need us to baby them with spraying, watering, or pruning.

Additionally, their arrangement will serve to welcome us to our beloved place. For example, on the parking lot island, lower plants and additional stepping stones will naturally lead our eye toward the entrance, rather than sending up a symbolic barrier.

The members of the grounds team are really excited about this plan. And, truth is, we wish we could make our dreams come true right now! We did get a rough bid for potentially having this done professionally (anybody have $9,000 handy?) But in reality, the long process of doing this transforming work ourselves step-by-step may be the only way we will manifest our dream. The long process may also be the truest expression of our caring relationships, and of our commitment to stewardship of the interdependent web of all existance of which we are most definitely an integral part.

Knowing that so many in our congregation share a deep connection with the natural world, we want to keep you informed of our plans, and invite you to join us on this journey. I've told you about many hours that our team has devoted to this task, but for myself and I think for the others, it has been a labor of love in respectful community that we find fulfilling and pleasant.

– Carol Arnold, Grounds Team Member

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