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

CUCC Newsletter






Pastor’s Pondering –

What’s the Motivation?

In the March issue of Sojourner’s Adam Russell Taylor writes about one form of the question: what’s the motivation? After writing about his desert experiences, times when his spirit was dry and parched, he shares what being there has taught him. He names three things in particular, and it is the second that speaks to where many of us currently find ourselves:

“Second, time in the desert provides a time for purification. Many justice leaders burn out because their starting point is righteous indignation rather than steadfast love. Contemplation grounds and sustains faith-inspired activism. As Christian leaders and activists, we must constantly resist the dangers of self-righteousness, absolutism, and, at worst, demonizing and hating our opponents and enemies, which has become all too common…” 

I saw this steadfast love of which Taylor speaks in Chaparral, New Mexico. Wikipedia calls Chaparral an “unincorporated community,” and, technically, that is correct. But, in actuality, it is a “colonia.”  Colonias are concentrated in Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. Literally translated, a colonia is a “suburb.” But, unlike the suburbs of most major U.S. cities, where there is infrastructure of paved roads, drainage, and waste management, these “suburbs” are populated by “Spanish peoples” who have no voice or influence in county government. Some of the residents of the colonia live in fear of the officers who sit in wait at the end of the road to catch the undocumented folk who live there. Without the work of organizations like “Faith in Action” or the local order of Roman Catholic nuns (Sisters of the Ascension), hope would be in very short supply.

Motivated by a steadfast love for God and God’s people, these groups empower residents to stand up to the “powers that be.” For instance, the Sisters of the Ascension stood alongside the residents of Chaparral to stop those who wanted to put a landfill in their backyards. The sisters acted not solely from a place of anger at the system, but more importantly because they love the people with whom they serve.

Righteous anger is one of the emotions we come wired with. But, anger cannot fuel a movement or our lives. In fact, sustained anger will burn us up and burn us out. Steadfast love, however, energizes us for the long haul.

“What’s the motivation?” is a good question when it is asked from genuine interest. Indeed, we do well when we ask it of ourselves: “What is motivating me to ___________?”  Is it anger? Is it love? Is it self-serving? Is it life-giving?

This holy season calls us ask these and so many other questions. The wide open spaces of the desert gives us the freedom and the courage to hear the answer.

With Gratitude for This Season,


Announcements – 

Giving Up – Give Back for Lent:  Are you giving something up for Lent this year? Chocolate?  Binge watching on FB, YouTube or TV? A favorite drink at Starbucks? Ice cream? Diet Coke? A bad habit? Consider this, if you can put a time value to what you are giving up for Lent, sign up to help in a committee or church event for that time. Consider this, if it’s a bad habit you are giving up, donate a talent that you have to the April 25th church auction for someone to purchase and benefit from. Consider this, if you can put a monetary value on what you are giving up for Lent, put that amount in the offering basket each week of Lent. Give back your time, talents and resources for Lent!

Upcoming Events –

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

– Sunday, March 22:  CUCC’s actual birthday (In 1970 this was Palm Sunday). Come and celebrate together CUCC’s “official” birthday with a special time of food and fellowship immediately after our Sunday Worship

– Saturday, April 25:  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

Creation Care –

On this Ash Wednesday, members of the CUCC Green Team urge you to check out Laura File Long’s Creation Care Lenten Calendar. Read her message below and click on the link for to download your own Lenten Creation Care Calendar: 

Friends in Christian churches:  Lent, which begins next Wednesday, February 26th, is a time when Christian communities repent, reflect, sacrifice, and listen for God. This year, I am especially looking forward to using the Lenten Creation Care Calendar with my home congregation, Silver Spring United Methodist Church. I am hopeful that as we partake in the daily readings and practices, we will grow closer to God and to Creation, and have deeper conversations about what it means to faithfully respond to climate change as a church community. You’re invited to join us — and friends from throughout the region — in taking on a Lenten Creation care practice. Each day calls on us to take a different action and each of these actions will help to preserve God’s great gift of Creation. May this season serve as a wake-up call to be mindful of the ways that our daily choices impact everyone, especially our neighbors throughout the world most impacted by the effects of climate change. This year’s calendar is produced in partnership with our friends at Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and we invite you to photocopy it double-sided and share with your community as a bulletin insert this coming Sunday or on Ash Wednesday. Download the calendar for Maryland.

NOW AVAILABLE: Download the calendar in Spanish / Descarga el calendario en español.

Peace and blessings during this season,

Laura File Long
Operations Manager
Interfaith Power & Light (DC.MD.NoVa)

It’s Official! We’re a “Creation Justice Church”  Rev. Brooks Berndt, Minister for Environmental Justice, recently sent the following e-mail to Phil.In it, Rev. Berndt expresses his joy on account of our efforts to help make the planet more sustainable and, also, approved our congregation’s Creation Justice Church application. We, of course, are grateful to CUCC’s Green Team for the heavy lifting. Special thanks to Lois Joellenbeck for organizing and drafting the application. Others involved in the process were RoseMarie Meservey, Ruth Alice White, Ann Singleton, and Jeanne Bolton. Thanks to each of them for helping us expand our witness of justice!

Dear Rev. Philip Curran,
I was able to read your congregation’s Creation Justice Church application just now, and I am happy to share that you are now officially a Creation Justice Church! I am so excited to learn about your ministries and to connect with you all. From worship to advocacy, your church embodies the creation justice ethic and commitment. To every Creation Justice Church, I offer to send a large vinyl Creation Justice Church banner. If you want one, I only ask that you find a place for it to be displayed and that you take a group photo with it that I can share in the Pollinator. I am attaching some photos so you can get a sense of what it looks like.

I am excited to connect with you!

All the best,

Rev. Brooks Berndt
Minister for Environmental Justice

See the many exciting bills that are Maryland Climate Coalition priorities this year covering electricity,  transportation, composting and more at this link. A member of our CUCC Green Team is leading volunteers working on  bill that requires the Public Service Commission to consider the climate crisis when approving power plants or other electricity related infrastructure.  You can support this bill, HB0531/SB656, by sending sending an action alert to your Maryland representatives here.   And to get more involved, contact Ruth Alice White at

Ways to Care For Creation:  Change Light Bulbs to Eco-Friendly Types
CFL and LED bulbs can emit 25-80% less energy than traditional incandescents, plus they last longer! Consider this greener alternative when it comes time to replenishing those bulbs. You Can Make A Difference!

CUCC 50th Anniversary –

CUCC’s History, Part 3:  As we celebrate the 50th birthday of the founding of Columbia United Christian Church, here is a bit of history about our earliest years. Reprinted from “A History of the Years 1970-1982” by Ellen K. Hinton; Chapter 3 “You Are the Church”, Section C. “Young Adulthood 1980-Present”

At the December 1980 Congregational Business Meeting, O.M.U.C. voted for an Ad Hoc Committee of three to evaluate the situation and report back with recommendations for the future of the church within six months.  Mike Clark, Lowell Maughan, and Dick Miller agreed to serve.  The 1980 budget, with inflation adjustments was extended through June 1981.  After dedicated commitment of time and energy, the Ad Hoc Committee report was presented to the church Board.  After review by the Board and negotiations with the pastor, O.M.U.C. continued its journey.  The priorities of Worship, Pastoral Care, and Christian Education were chosen and the amount of time that Howard [Miller] would spend in each area were negotiated.  The participation by lay members had been increasing the last few years and now includes much more of the administration of the Church’s programs.

Chapter 4:  “We Are the Church Together – Traditions”, Section A. “Celebration”

O.M.U.C. celebrates with innovative worship services tuned to the expressed needs of the congregation.  The use of drama, dance, and music gives us opportunities to share our talents and actively participate in celebrations.

Drama – All participate and many create and lead.  We use different forms including seasonal celebrations, Youth group, and Sunday School Class presentations, puppet shows, and the O.M.U.C. players.

Dance – First performance in September 1980 by the Youth Ensemble; mixed group at Christmas 1980. The Sacred Dance Ensemble performs two or more times a year.  Choreographers are Diane Blakely and Lee Ann Hartman.  Lee Ann directs the group and also dances.

Music – Music takes many forms at O.M.U.C., not the least being congregational singing and special music by various soloists, groups and instrumentalists.

The Choir evolved from the music group which performed at Christmas time 1975.  Eleanor Rowe, director from the beginning, inspires the group to tackle ambitious projects and enjoy rehearsing and singing together.

John Himmelheber’s guitar and voice blend with the voices of Leah Oxley, Ruth Vargas and Karen O’Steen in folk music.  This group began in 1981.

On This Rock – On Palm Sunday in1979, Bobbi Maughan sand Day by Day when the O.M.U.C.’ers first played rock/gospel with Julius Knapp arranging.

Starting in 1981 two children’s groups began rehearsing after church on Sundays.  The Children’s Choir taught by Sue Nicholson and the Elementary choir led by Ellen McDaniel sang several times during the year.  This is one of the ways our children are involved in the program of the church.

In Our Community –

SUPER STEAM SATURDAY:  March 7th 10am-1pm; Ages 2-12; $5 per child (parents are free);  North Laurel Community Center

Enjoy hand-on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math activities from local vendors that work with Howard County! Vendors include, Abrakadoodle, Bricks 4 Kidz, Chess Wizards, Club Sci Kidz, Idea Lab, KidzArt, Little Medical School, Learn Music,  Mad Science, Miszko Dance, PlayWell, & Silver Knights! Also see what the North Laurel Community Center has to offer; rentals, programs, events and more! Preregistration is encouraged to save your space.  Click here to register! For additional information, please contact: Christine DiGioia
Special Event Coordinator, Howard County Recreation & Parks 410-313-4843

SAVE THE DATE for Soup’r Sundae 2020!  This year, the event will be held on Sunday, March 15th from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm at Wilde Lake High School. Soup’r Sundae is Howard County’s BEST FAMILY FUNDRAISER! Come and enjoy all the soup, bread and ice cream you can eat! There will be a Silent Auction, musical entertainment and face painting for kids. Tickets are STILL $20 for adults and $5.00 for kids under 12. All proceeds go to support Grassroots crisis services. Information regarding volunteer opportunities for soup pick up, event set up and serving the day of will follow shortly.

At Oakland Mills Interfaith Center –