By Todd Iveson, 2017-18 President
You’ve probably all heard by now that we have hired an Interim Music Director for the coming year.
His name is Marques Ruff, and he has an impressive resume. Check him out in a YouTube video. He’s the one singing lead.
I’m excited about Marques joining us and look forward to the new sound he will bring to our worship. But it also reminds me that our long-serving and well-loved Desi Long will no longer be a fixture at the piano and in front of the choir as she has been for all of the 19 years I have been coming to UUCC.
I’m feeling a little nostalgic as I write. It is 19 years this month since my family and I moved to Columbia. I don’t remember exactly when we started attending UUCC, but it would have been shortly after Labor Day. At the time, we were holding services in the basement of Shepard Boulevard Elementary School across the street while the expansion of our building was being finished. We moved back into the expanded church the next spring.
I have been through three ministers, five youth R.E. directors, and now two (soon three) music directors. Only Kathie Bergman, our administrator, remains in her post from my first days. She remains our institutional memory and a source of invaluable guidance for me and many others.
Yet as we change, there is a core in this congregation that is still recognizable from my first acquaintance. We still have fabulous music that is an integral part of our spiritual life. It has only grown richer as new sources of talent and inspiration have been added over the years.
We are still a welcoming congregation. In fact, my observation is that we are more welcoming than ever. I usher a lot of mornings and so have the opportunity to observe the milieu in the Greeting Area before and after services. Our Welcoming Team does a great job, but what really makes me smile is how all members of our congregation reach out to newcomers and do their best to make them feel at home. I thank you all for helping me, a confirmed introvert, to do the same.
We still care about injustice and seek to be a part of healing our world. But here, too, we have grown. More of us are more actively involved in marching and phone-banking, feeding and sheltering the homeless, and helping those who need our help. We can never do enough, but we are making an ever greater contribution.
Finally, we still feed our spirits at UUCC. We come here to learn, to be comforted, to be emboldened, to talk some and to listen more. Through our music, our welcoming, our social action, our Sunday services and our small group ministries, we come to our church to refresh our souls and renew our love of the world and each other. May that always continue to grow and change – and yet remain at its center the same.