An Open and Affirming, Just Peace Congregation in Columbia, Maryland

CUCC Newsletter






Pastor’s Pondering –


January 26: Hymn-sing Sunday

As we reflect on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., and pray during this Week for Christian Unity, perhaps the following notes on our music for January 26th will be of interest:

Freedom songs powerfully evoke the passion and purposefulness of the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1950s and 1960s.  In his 1964 book Why We Can’t Wait, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. explained that civil rights activists “sing the freedom songs today for the same reason the slaves sang them, because we too are in bondage and the songs add hope to our determination that ‘We shall overcome, Black and White together, We shall overcome someday.’”

King further noted that “The freedom songs are playing a strong and vital role in our struggle…They give the people new courage and a sense of unity. I think they keep alive a faith, a radiant hope, in the future, particularly in our most trying hours.” Of the 100 or so freedom songs sung on Civil Rights Movement protests, this Sunday we will sing together some of the best-known and most influential:

“This Little Light of Mine” is a gospel song written for children in the 1920s by Harry Dixon Loes. It was later adapted by activists in connection with the civil rights movement. The words have a Biblical theme, but is not necessarily based upon specific verses. Many versions of this song are available.“Oh, Freedom” is a spiritual dating back to slavery times.

“We Shall Not Be Moved” is also a spiritual, originally titled I Shall Not Be Moved. This song describes how the singer is “like a tree planted by the waters” who “shall not be moved” because of faith in God. It gained popularity as a protest and labor union song during the civil rights movement.

“Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” was first publicly performed as a poem in celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The poem was written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson in 1905.

“We Shall Overcome” is a gospel song which became a protest song and the unofficial anthem of the Civil Rights Movement. The song is lyrically descended from “I’ll Overcome Some Day,” a hymn by Charles Albert Tindley that was first published in 1900.

Many of the classic freedom songs such as “Oh Freedom” derive from black sacred musical traditions. But many other songs like “We Shall Overcome” resulted from dialogue with, rather than isolation from, white hymnal and folk-music influences. In this way these songs represented the best hopes of many activists of that time, a time when integration, biracial cooperation and unity were touchstones for the Civil Rights Movement. May singing them together this Sunday represent our best hopes as well.

“People Get Ready”: Music and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Brian Ward, Professor of American Studies, University of Manchester

Songs and the Civil Rights Movement. MLK Jr. Research and Education Institute, Stanford University

Freedom Songs. Wikepedia, the Free Encyclopedia

CUCC 50th Anniversary –

CUCC’s History:  As we celebrate the 50th birthday of the founding of Columbia United Christian Church, here is a bit of history about our earliest years. The following is reprinted from “A History of the Years 1970-1982” by Ellen K. Hinton; Chapter 3 “You Are the Church”, Section A. “Childhood 1970-1974”

Led by Richard Rodes, the first worship sevice [sic] was held on Palm Sunday 1970.  OMUC (Oakland Mills Uniting Church)  received from both UCC (United Church of Christ) and COB (Church of the Brethren) leadership aid for five years from 1970 to 1974. OMUC illustrated strong commitment to social issues by reading names of war dead in Oakland Mills Center Mall on Good Friday in 1971 and showing support of a Peace Rally in Washington, DC on April 24, 1971.
Although one of the sponsors of OMUC was the Columbia Cooperative Ministry and sharing the resources of this ecumenical organization was inexpensive, the congregation became concerned with the partnership.  The congregation worshiped at first at the home of a member, then at various community buildings in Oakland Mills, ending in The Other Barn.  Another concern of OMUC was the lack of a Sunday School program.  In 1971 we began investigating the question of our involvement in the Interfaith Center of Oakland Mills.
Guidelines for organization were approved by the Executive Committee on April 12, 1972 and accepted by OMUC at congregational business meeting on April 23,1972.  The election of the first Church Board occurred on June 18, 1972.
OMUC was chartered by the Chesapeake Association, UCC as a Congregation on Sunday, September 24,1972; and was given congregational status by COB at the Mid-Atlantic District Conference held October 13-14, 1972.
In November 1972, Richard Rodes resigned effective the first Sunday of January 1973.  Ray Bird served as interim pastor for six months while OMUC performed a self-Examination, goal setting process which resulted in the call of Howard Miller as pastor in July 1973.  On November 4, 1973 Howard was installed in a Festival of Calling and Becoming when we acknowledged the mutual commitment and responsibility of pastor and congregation.  Howard, Lena, David and Jeffrey joined our church on February 3, 1974.

History articles and remembrance essays will appear in the newsletter periodically.  The Birthday committee hopes that your memories and photos can also be included.  If you feel inspired to write something about CUCC, send it on to and we will strive to include your memories and photos.

Save these Dates as We Celebrate CUCC’s 50th Birthday!

– Sunday, January 26:  During our Hymn-sing Worship, Fran Donaldson and Howard Miller will present a brief history of CUCC’s early days- Sunday, March 22:  CUCC’s actual birthday. In 1970 this was Palm Sunday. Come and celebrate with us. More details as date gets closer

– Saturday, April 26:  CUCC’s Annual Auction – a tradition dating back to our early years. Plan to attend and plan to donate dinners, events, services, food, etc. for purchase

– September 25-27:  Bethany Beach Church Retreat

– Sunday, November 15:  CUCC’s Big Birthday Celebration! Celebratory worship followed by a luncheon. Details are in the planning stages

Announcements – 

– Sunday Worship on January 26:  Hymn-sing featuring hymns of the Civil Rights Movement
– CUCC Board Meeting, January 26th after Sunday Worship

Please keep Jeanne Bolton and family in your prayers upon the sudden passing of her husband, Charlie.  

WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY, JANUARY 18–25, 2020:  Annually, leaders of faith communities throughout the world gather together to arrive at the theme for the annual celebration of Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. This year’s theme finds its origins in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 27: 18 – 28: 10), They Showed Us Unusual Kindness (Acts 28: 2)

Fr. James Loughran, SA, Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute noted that “as we gather annually throughout the world to pray for the unity of Christians we are reminded of the importance of need for “unusual kindness” in the dialogue the leads to growth in unity. We do this in a world where separation and division hinder the quest for Christian Unity. In 2020, we are being called to show unusual kindness towards one another.” During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, Churches of all faiths are called together to form a vibrant and prayerful witness for Christian Unity by heeding Jesus’s prayer “that they all may be one.”

Creation Care –

Styrofoam Recycling at CUCC!  Bring your intact styrofoam in to church the next time you worship or drop by the Interfaith Center. A member of the Green Team will deliver it to the special receptacle JUST for styrofoam at Alpha Ridge landfill!

You CAN make a difference! Click on the following link to see 52 ways to care for creation, suggested by Creation Justice Ministries. Creation Justice Ministries educates and equips Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God’s creation.

Upcoming Events –

COLD WEATHER SHELTER:  CUCC will be partnering with Living Hope Church in Laurel, MD, January 26th – February 2nd, to provide a safe, warm place for homeless women to sleep on winter nights. We need help with food, supervision (particularly folks willing to stay overnight), laundry and transportation. Contact Jeanne Bolton at if you have any questions. The link for the signup sheet can be found here:

At Oakland Mills Interfaith Center –

LIFE REVIEW: The Hospice Musical (This Story Begins At The End…), Sunday, January 26th at 7pm, OMI, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia: “Life Review: The Hospice Musical” is a new musical in early development. We are thrilled to present the East Coast premier of this work. Columbia Jewish Congregation, along with the Interfaith Clergy Council of Oakland Mills Interfaith Center, is hosting this event. This presentation is a full-length one-act musical, featuring dialogue and twelve songs, all performed live by local actors with piano accompaniment. It is a dramatic comedy with humor, lively fun, poignant moments and moving ballads. For more information contact 410-730-6044