Steps planned to reduce noise as worship begins

A note from the Worship Associates Team

Our members and friends may recall that we had a couple of “Congregational Conversations” in February and March as part of our search for a new Director of Music Ministry. The Worship Associates co-sponsored the first conversation because it specifically explored the relationship between music and the worship experience. Those conversations raised some concerns about our worship together that we want to address.

One of the things mentioned repeatedly was the level of noise in the sanctuary during the prelude. The prelude should be a time for congregants to center themselves and prepare for worship. In our congregation, it has become common for people to continue their conversations while entering the sanctuary, or after they’ve taken a seat, and sometimes even raise their voices over the music. Many found this disruptive to their own worship experience and/or disrespectful to musicians who’ve come to share their gifts of music with the congregation.

We know this isn’t intentional – we are just a gregarious lot! And, as a congregation, we have not been all that clear about what we expect at the beginning of service. The Worship Associates have now identified several steps intended to rectify this situation. We will be experimenting with these ideas over the summer to see which have the most merit, and we wanted to let you know what to expect.

First, please be aware that the prelude starts a few minutes before the scheduled service time. We will let you know that the prelude is about to begin by ringing the bell, just as we do now. There will also be an announcement from the pulpit, for those already seated. Ushers will then close all but one of the sanctuary doors. Signs on the doors will remind folks to enter quietly at that point – and also serve as a reminder for those remaining in the greeting area during the service that they should be mindful of how easily sound carries into the sanctuary.

The Worship Associates hope congregants will find that these changes help improve their worship experience. We will be revisiting what we think works (and doesn’t) at future Worship Associate meetings. We would welcome comments and suggestions as we test the process this summer. Feel free to contact us by email.

June 24 worship at 9 a.m. to view UUA General Assembly worship

Rev. Susan

On June 24 our worship service will start at 9 a.m. instead of the usual summer time of 10:30 a.m. because we will be live-streaming the Sunday Morning Worship at the UUA General Assembly in Kansas City. The service will end at 10:30 a.m.

Plan to virtually join the more than 3,000 UUs who will worship at G.A. under the leadership of the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, the first elected woman president of the UUA. She was lead minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix from 2008 to 2017 and previously served as minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, Ohio.

The worship service will feature the General Assembly Choir led by Anne Watson Born, who is the Director of Music Ministry at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Newton.

If you are unable to attend in person on June 24, you can view the live stream by going to If you cannot watch the service at 9 a.m., it will be available shortly after 10:30 a.m. on YouTube.

President’s Perspective

Thank you for the privilege of serving

By Todd Iveson, 2017-18 President

This will be my last newsletter column as president. It has been my pleasure and privilege to serve our congregation in this capacity and to share some of my thoughts about us in these articles. I will miss this but am excited to pass the baton to President-Elect Barbara Rupp, who I am confident will be a wonderful president.

In this final message, I want to encourage all of us to seek out ways we can each fulfill our ministries through service in this church. Many say that you get out of any endeavor what you put into it. I believe from my own experience that this is particularly true for participation in this congregation.

It is okay to be a religious consumer, dropping in on Sunday mornings for worship and youth religious education but with little other involvement in church life. We are here for you and welcome you when you grace our door. But I believe you are missing out on so much more that we have to offer you.

Through the many opportunities I have had to serve over the years, I have developed an understanding of the multitude of ways in which we serve our congregation and our community. I also have a much greater appreciation of the contributions each of you makes that help make this all possible. As a result, I can also appreciate how my small contributions combine with all of yours. I am very proud of what we do together.

I want to put in a specific plug for service on our Board of Trustees. I believe firmly that our board and congregation are best served by having as diverse a board as possible, including age, race, gender, physical ability, theology and skills. There is no single “ideal” board member. If you are willing to listen, ask questions and speak out, you are a good candidate for the board. It is a job, but being on the board is the best way to learn about the many facets that make up UUCC. You won’t regret it if you choose to serve.

Thank you all for the privilege of serving as your president. In particular, I want to thank my fellow board members who have been so forgiving of my many shortcomings – Jenny, Sam, Patty, Peter, Mark, Gretchen, Mindy and Barbara – and also our wonderful staff members, who keep it all going for the rest of us – Rev. Molly, Kathie (we’ll miss you!), Jamila, Marques, Arun and April.

P.S. This isn’t goodbye. I still have another year on the board and plan to remain active in our congregation for many years to come. See you all around!

2018 Festival of Sharing planning begins

Our Festival of Sharing Team is beginning to plan for our church’s 2018 Festival of Sharing activities. This year 30 different denominations in Missouri are participating.

The team’s goal is to promote projects and programs that can make a difference in the lives of people in need.

The Festival of Sharing booklet available in the Greeting Area provides information about 25 different projects you may enjoy participating in. You can also download a PDF copy of the booklet.

The team began meeting to plan activities on May 27. Future meetings generally will be held after the worship service and will be announced in advance.

For more information, or if you need a ride, call coordinator Marian Hjelmfelt at 573-449-5118 or 573-999-2265 or send her an email.

Faith-to-Action nominations requested

The UUCC Social Action Team is requesting nominations for Faith-to-Action Collection recipients for the 2018-2019 church year.  The team is accepting nominations immediately and will review applications over the summer.

Nominations can be made by completing an online form available here – or on a paper form available here or from the Church Administrator. If the paper form is used, put the completed form in the Social Action Team mailbox at the church or mail it to Social Action Team, Unitarian Universalist Church, 2615 Shepard Blvd., Columbia, MO 65201.

Selection Criteria: Nominees may be local, regional, national, or international organizations, programs, or agencies that align with our church mission and vision.  Preference will be given to local or regional efforts with which the congregation has an ongoing working relationship.  For non-local efforts, preference will be given to those with an established connection to the UUA, UUSC or a regional UU ministry.

Memorial for Naoma Powell

From Kathie Bergman, Church Administrator:

Naoma Powell was a member of UUCC and one of its most dedicated supporters. For 30 years, she designed and created our banners and provided flowers and other adornments for our sanctuary. Each year, she wrote a poem on the theme of water, and for many years that poem was part of a choral reading for our fall water ceremony.

A few years ago, Naoma died in poverty – not destitution, but a chosen path in life. She was trained as a potter and dedicated her life to bringing potting and other art forms to people whose opportunities were limited. She used her own resources to create Access Arts for young people with serious handicaps. She became a skilled grant writer to develop a fine facility that is still in our community. She used none of those grants to support herself, but lived simply and frugally.

If there was ever a person in our midst who would qualify as a saint in other religious traditions, it was Naoma Powell. Some of us who treasure her generosity would like to dedicate a bench in our memorial garden to her memory. We can do it for about $800. If you knew Naoma, or if you value what she stood for, please consider a contribution to the Naoma Powell Memorial Fund. Checks should be made out to UUCC with Powell Fund in the memo line.

UUs to Gather in KC, Mo. for General Assembly June 20-24

The 2018 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association will be held June 20-24 in Kansas City, Mo. Read more.

Our six delegates to G.A., selected by the Board of Trustees, are Kathie Bergman, Margaret Harder, Todd Iveson, Gretchen Maune, Connie Ordway and Steve Scott. The delegates will be able to vote on issues brought before the assembly at plenary sessions.

Other members and friends of our church are welcome and invited to attend, either in person or by viewing proceedings online. With the proximity of this year’s location, we’re hoping for a good turnout from our church.

Sanctuary Team reports shower installation progress

With the shower drain stopped up, Larry Lile tests the flooring underlay material that will be topped with tile for water-tightness. Click photo for larger version.

Our Sanctuary Congregation Team continues to prepare for the day when we are asked to provide sanctuary to someone with precarious immigration status. When you are at church, take a look at the progress being made in remodeling an upstairs bathroom to include a shower.

Larry Lile is doing the remodeling with the help of volunteers. Allie Gassmann assures that Larry gives patient, encouraging instruction to those who offer their help.

Please volunteer for this effort by emailing Dave Gibbons.

UUCC-sponsored refugee family

Several years ago the UUCC Social Action Team sponsored a Sudanese refugee family (the Tota family). Over the years, church members and friends have provided assistance to the family in a number of capacities.

This year the last of the family’s five children needs to acquire citizenship, which costs $1,370. This issue was discussed at the last monthly meeting of the SAT, and the team voted approval to reimburse the Tota family from the Social Action Operating Fund. We would like to offer our congregation the opportunity to replace the money in any amount so the SAT can continue to have funds available for extraordinary needs.

Please make checks payable to UUCC with “Refugee” or “Tota Family” in the memo line and mail or bring to the church.

Soon there will be a display of more information about the Tota family in the Greeting Area.

Please thank ushers and tellers for their service

This church year we instituted a new system for scheduling ushers and collection tellers. Volunteers were recruited to serve in these positions on a once-a-month basis, and other volunteers were recruited to substitute when the regularly scheduled volunteers could not serve.

Please make a point of thanking these wonderful volunteers for helping make our Sunday worship services run smoothly.

Regularly scheduled 9 a.m. ushers through May are:

  • Mark Johnson
  • Patty Daus
  • Bonnie Johnson
  • Dave Gibbons
  • Ellen Thomas

Substitutes for the 9 a.m. service are:

  • Scott Denson
  • Dave Gibbons
  • Todd Iveson
  • Elaine Martin
  • Ellen Thomas

Regularly scheduled 11 a.m. ushers through May are:

  • Linda Lou Brown
  • Dan Harder
  • Rosetta and Wiley Miller
  • Heather Carver and Bill Horner
  • Melinda and Mehdi Farhangi

11 a.m. substitutes are:

  • Jenny Bossaller
  • Scott Denson
  • Dave Gibbons
  • Corinne and Bryan Mann
  • Elaine Martin
  • Chuck Swaney

Collection tellers count and secure the offerings after the 11 a.m. service. Regularly scheduled tellers through May are:

  • Ene-Kaja Chippendale
  • Lisa Fritsche
  • Ruth Milledge
  • Jeanne Murphy

Substitute tellers are:

  • Allie Gassmann
  • Irene Karns
  • Elaine Martin
  • Maria Oropallo
  • Steve Scott
  • Diane Suhler

While we anticipate many of these volunteers will continue to help after May, we will need to recruit more volunteers for the summer months. If you’re willing to help once a month or fill in as needed, please email Usher/Teller Coordinator Steve Scott.

New! UUCC Member Connect Program

The mission of the Member Connect Program is to assist UUCC members and friends in finding their place in our church community through deeper connection, service, and spiritual exploration. To do this a team of connectors is available to have a conversation with every member of the church who is interested. These conversations will give members a chance to reflect on their spiritual journey, their connection with the church, and their level of involvement in church life.

If you would like to participate in a meeting with a connector or would like to volunteer to be a connector, email Peter Holmes or Rosie Geiser

– Peter Holmes and Rosie Geiser, co-chairs

New Chalice Is Dedicated

Rev. Molly lit the new chalice on Jan. 28 from a flame passed from the chalice made by Naoma Powell.

Our observance of the 67th anniversary of our church’s founding at worship services on Jan. 28, 2018 included dedication of a beautiful new metal chalice purchased and given to the church by a member couple.

The late Naoma Powell made the chalice we had been using since 2006 after the congregation’s previous chalice broke, and it was always intended to be temporary. Naoma’s chalice served us long and well, but was showing signs of wear. To protect this beloved artifact, it is being officially “retired” from active duty but will always have a place in our sanctuary and will still be used for special occasions.

The new chalice is larger and will be easier to see from all parts of the sanctuary, in keeping with the needs of our growing congregation. It was dedicated with Naoma’s own January 2006 words of dedication of the chalice now being retired:

Though chalice changes, the flame burns bright.
Not holder, not cup but flame that offers light.
Flame that lights the darkness.
Flame, in its burning, illumines night.
Flame, its double halo, bringing light to shadow, warmth to shade.
Flame, re-igniting


Meet the Chalice Artist

Ryan Schmidt

Our new chalice that was dedicated at the Jan. 28 worship services was crafted by Ryan Schmidt, a metal artist based in Cumberland Gap, Tenn.

Ryan owned and managed a motorcycle repair shop in Kansas City before moving to Tennessee in 2015. Shortly after moving he met a neighbor, William Brock, a traditional blacksmith who taught Ryan the art of blacksmithing. Ryan’s passion is creating custom-made functional objects, ornamental ironwork, sculptures, and furniture. He is a member of several professional blacksmithing groups.

When Ryan is not creating art at his shop, Mitty’s Metal Art (, he likes to get out and explore the surrounding Appalachian region on his Harley or mountain bike. Ryan is not a UU but is familiar with our denomination through friends.

Music Director search extended

From the Music Director Search Team:

Late last spring Rev. Molly formed a search team tasked with finding a replacement for our beloved Desi Long upon her retirement. Our immediate need – music for the summer services – was fairly easily met by our “deep bench” of volunteer musicians, for whom we are ALL most grateful!

The longer-term question of how best to minister through music, to both the congregation and the larger community, was far more complex. Rev. Molly has already described much of that initial process of creating an interim period in earlier communications, so we won’t repeat them here. Suffice it to say we were most fortunate to secure Marques J. Ruff as our Interim Director of Music Ministry. It was our hope that Marques could manage the immediate tasks as well as help us articulate a clear vision for UUCC’s music program and better define the skills needed by candidates for a permanent position.

Our committee met recently to discuss what we’ve learned in this first half of the church year and to review the search timeline we’d originally established.

We have already seen a number of changes. Choir rehearsals are longer and performances more frequent. We have benefited from the addition of Arun Garg as our new professional accompanist for the choir and our services. Both the choir and the congregation have had a chance to experience a diverse musical repertoire. The feedback we hear is largely positive, but we still feel there is much more to learn about music and culture in our congregation – what we love, what is uncomfortable, what is possible, and more. We want to fully engage the congregation in this conversation so that we have a more complete understanding of what we are looking for in a permanent director.

It is the consensus of the committee that our original timeline of one program year (about nine months) did not allow sufficient time for securing and reflecting on your input. We feel it is critically important to take the time we need to listen first, then recruit, select, and hire a permanent director that is the right long-term fit for our congregation.

To that end, we must adjust our search timeline. This is also, in part, because our process is being happily interrupted by our minister’s parental leave, from the end of March to mid-June 2018.

Our revised timeline extends the search process through May of 2019. That also means lengthening the interim period, allowing Marques more time to work with the congregation and with the search committee. We are very pleased to share that Marques has agreed to extend his engagement with us through May 2019. As previously stated, the interim director is not eligible to apply for the permanent position. And we are sure that Marques will be off to impressive new adventures when his degree program ends in May of 2019.

Key points in the revised timeline appear below.

  • Winter/Spring 2018 – Congregational Conversations
  • Spring/Summer 2018 – Finalize job description
  • Early Fall 2018 – Post and Advertise Job
  • Late Fall/Early Winter 2018 – Conduct Interviews
  • By January 2019 – Make and finalize offer
  • June 1, 2019 – Permanent Director of Music Ministry begins work

We have tentatively scheduled two congregational conversations to inform our search. One will occur in February and another in March. Our topics will include your present experiences and future dreams for music at UUCC. You’ll receive more detailed information shortly!

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact any of us.

With all our best,

Kara Braudis
Cande Iveson
Pack Matthews
Neil Minturn

Your Amazon shopping can benefit UUCC

Do you do online shopping at Amazon? If so, your purchases can now benefit our church with a contribution from Amazon of 0.5% of the purchase price.

Here’s how to get started:

1. In your browser, go to

2. Sign in using your normal Amazon username and password.

3. Next you will see a screen with a box on the right asking you to “Select a charity.”

4. In the bottom of that box, where it says “Or pick your own charitable organization,” type “Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia” in the box and click the “Search” button.

5. Next you will see a screen showing our church with the location listed as “Columbia MO,” and there may be other churches listed. Click the “Select” button next to our church’s name.

6. Finally, you will see another screen with a checkbox to indicate that you understand that you must always start at to support our church. After clicking the checkbox, you can click the “Start Shopping” button which will take you to the main Amazon screen.

A tutorial covering the above steps and including screenshots is available in a printable PDF.

In the future, always start your Amazon shopping at so that your purchases will benefit UUCC. You will find all the same Amazon products and prices there as regular Amazon.

Tip: If you have set up a bookmark or favorite for Amazon, be sure to change it to the new address.

Finally, don’t forget that you can also donate to UUCC when you do grocery shopping at Schnucks – read more.

UUCC receives Peaceworks award

Allie accepting award. Click to enlarge.

UUCC was given an award recognizing our social action work and Rev. Molly’s exemplary leadership in social action – particularly our sanctuary work – at the annual dinner of Mid-Missouri Peaceworks on Saturday evening, Nov. 11, at the Missouri United Methodist Church.

Allie Gassman of our Social Action Team accepted the award on behalf of our church.

Allie said, “It was a great honor to be able to accept the award on behalf of our church – especially in the presence of all the seasoned activists in the room.”

The framed award certificate, shown in the photo below, is on display on the credenza in our Greeting Area.

Please welcome April Rodeghero as Sunday Morning Assistant


Please welcome our new Sunday Morning Assistant, April Rodeghero, who began her work with us in October.

April is mother to a seven-year-old and to one-year-old twins. She has worked with MU Adventure Club, Missouri Afterschool Network and the Columbia Housing Authority. Now she works as a postpartum doula, supporting parents in their new roles. She has attended UUCC occasionally in the past year or so.

April will welcome your friendship and your help in the church kitchen – especially on potluck days for setup and cleanup! Please let’s show April our radical welcoming spirit!

Marques Ruff Named Interim Music Director

Rev. Molly Housh Gordon made the following announcement on Aug. 20, 2017:

Marques Ruff

I am very pleased to introduce to you our new Interim Director of Music Ministry, Marques Jerrell Ruff, who will be working with us for this transitional year beginning Sunday, August 20,2017.

Marques comes to us fresh off of several years touring as a member of the Grammy-winning vocal ensemble Chanticleer. A graduate of Central Connecticut State University with a degree in music, he is excited to begin his Master of Music in Choral Conducting at Mizzou this fall!

A lover of classical, jazz, gospel and show tunes, Marques is also a writer and rather good amateur chef. When not listening to and/or creating music, he can be found enjoying nature, new restaurants, and falling down the hole that is video suggestions on YouTube.

Our search team was especially impressed by Marques’ excellence across an extremely wide variety of musical styles, and we are excited to see how he helps our congregation grow musically, as we dream together about our long-term musical hopes and goals.

In faith and song!
Rev. Molly

UUA has first elected woman President

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray

Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray was selected by delegates as the first elected woman President of the Unitarian Universalist Association at the June 21-25 General Assembly in New Orleans. She had been the lead minister of the UU Congregation of Phoenix, Ariz., where she became well known for her work on behalf of immigrants, since 2008. Read more.

More than 4,000 UUs attended G.A., including some 1,800 delegates from more than 500 UU congregations. UUCC’s delegates were Rev. Molly Housh Gordon, Patty Daus, Tracey Milarsky, Jeanne and Dennis Murphy, and Gena and Steve Scott.

Also attending from UUCC were DRE Jamila Batchelder along with four YRUU members and one 9-year-old. The young people carried our UUCC banner in the banner parade at the opening celebration on June 21.

Five of our young people lined up to carry our UUCC banner in the banner parade at the UUA General Assembly. See them in action in the video below.

Our UUCC banner was carried by five of our young people in the banner parade at the Opening Celebration of the UUA General Assembly (G.A.) in New Orleans on June 21, 2017. In this short clip they are seen entering the Great Hall of the New Orleans Convention Center and later proceeding out of the hall.

Read more about the many important actions taken by delegates and the UUA Board of Trustees at G.A.

Grieving Circle restructured

After two years, our beloved Grieving Circle will cease to automatically meet every month. We are restructuring the circle to instead offer support and fellowship “upon request.”

If you or someone you know would like to meet in a facilitated grieving circle, or you wish to be in a place where you can freely and safely express your grief, please contact Rev Molly, Maria Oropallo, Barbara Carter, or Greg Bergman. All of our contact information is in the church directory on our website. Or you can send us an email.

Grieving a loss is personal and can sometimes be overwhelming. A community can provide great support in your time of need. With deep connection, love and patience, we hold your grief in our gentle embrace.

Joys and Sorrows now on website

Joys and Sorrows shared during our worship services and noted for the e-newsletter can now be found on our website on a password-protected page. You will find the page on the Members/Friends tab of the main menu – or you can click here.

You must be registered to access the password-protected pages on the website. Information about how to register can also be found on the Members/Friends tab of the main menu – or click here. Register here if you’re not already registered.

Welcome to the UUCC Woodland!

From left, Erin Osbourne, Jeanne Murphy and Corinne Mann enjoying the new benches.

Members and friends, young and old, have long enjoyed the outdoor spaces behind our building – for peaceful walks, interspecies connections, spiritual regeneration, ceremonies honoring life transitions, and good old fashioned fun. Much has been done by our members to preserve this natural space, to shepherd its good health, and to make it respectfully accessible.

Please feel welcome to explore and enjoy the area behind the church building:

  • A wide walking trail opens near the west end of the property, just yards away from the asphalt drive and continues to the Memorial Garden on the east side.
  • Partway down that woodland trail, two new sitting benches are situated on a flat spot among sheltering cedars.
  • A fire circle with benches can be found between the meadow and the memorial garden.

We are all lucky to have members who are keepers of the woods, and we keepers of the woods are grateful to have woods to keep! While many have helped, special thanks go to Peter Holmes and
Vic Meyer who have worked so consistently in the woods, laying out the trail and fire circle, making benches, and spearheading the ongoing honeysuckle removal.

May we continue to engage with and honor this interspecies home that supports our faith community!

– Carol Arnold

Please Feed the Food Barrel

food_barrelOur Social Action Team sponsors a food collection year-round for the Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri.

Donations of canned meats and fish, stews, peanut butter and powdered milk are especially appreciated, but other non-perishable food items are welcome.

Help us to help individuals in need! If you wish to have a receipt for a tax deduction, talk to Kathie Bergman, church administrator.

Supporting UUCC by Grocery Shopping

Shoppers – support the church with your purchasing power!

If you shop at Schnuck’s Supermarket in Columbia, here is an easy way to earn money for our church! Follow these steps:

  1. Ask for a My Schnucks card at the Customer Service counter.
  2. When next at your computer, go to
  3. Hover over the “Programs” menu and select “Schnucks Fundraising” from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click on “eScrip” in number 2 under “How It Works.”
  5. Fill in the form to become registered.
  6. When you come to the choice of charities under “Select your school or nonprofit,” find “Unitarian Universalist-Columbia, Mo” in the drop-down list and click on the box to mark a check.
  7. Then click Update.

That is all! Just keep your user name and password for the Schnuck’s website in case you wish to return to it. UUCC will get a little bonus every time you shop at Schnuck’s and show your My Schnucks card at the checkout.