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

CUCC Newsletter


Announcements –

The Oakland Mills Interfaith Center is closed until further notice. More details may be found in the “At Oakland Mills Interfaith Center” portion of this newsletter

CUCC on Facebook and Zoom: The Executive Committee of CUCC’s governing board made the decision to not have any personnel or members of the congregation live-stream our Sunday worship services from Oakland Mills Interfaith Center. Instead, we will stream from both Facebook and Zoom. If you are in our Breeze “database,” you will receive an invitation to join the service via Zoom. Or, if you prefer, you can view the live-stream from CUCC’s Facebook group page:

Ways We Hope to Use Zoom:  We will continue to find ways to keep the congregation connected through social media platforms. Beginning next Wednesday, April 1, the “Words for Wednesday” Carl sends out will not include a “Pastor’s Pondering.”  Instead, Phil will share what he’s thinking via Zoom. This will allow us to stay connected and it will be more interactive. Please suggest what time of day might work best for you to join the conversation. Send Carl or Phil an e-mail indicating a time preference (if you have one).

This Sunday, March 29, Communion will be built back into our live-stream worship experience. Please consider beforehand what you will use as the elements.

Pastor’s Pondering –

Altered Forever and Adapting as Fast as Possible…
The only reason I cannot love cars is because cars cannot love in return. But,“man oh day,” I really, really, really like cars (and trucks). In fact, one of my life’s regrets was in selling “Jimmy” before we moved from one pastorate to the next. Jimmy was a 1970’s something dirt colored Ford F-150XLT. We bought it for a song ($500). The exhaust manifold needed to be replaced, but that wasn’t too bad. Because it had some age on it, when I popped the hood, there was an incredible amount of space for shade tree mechanics like me to work. In fact, I could see the ground because everything was spread out.

Like my dad’s 1972 Chevy Nova, “Jimmy” had a wing nut to hold the air filter lid on. And, when you took the lid off, the carburetor was laid bare. In the middle of the carburetor there was a flap. It would open or close depending on how much pressure was applied to the gas pedal.  The flap, in dad’s car, often got stuck. And, because it did, the car had a rough idle. So, dad would say a few cuss words, open the hood, take off the air filter lid, and spray some carburetor fluid at it to loosen things up. Today, I can do some things on our cars, but they have become more complicated.

Use whatever phrase you like best: “We aren’t in Kansas anymore”; “The times, they are a changin’”; “Time waits for no one.” But, however you name it, the sentiment remains: this pandemic has not allowed us to ease into change. Instead, like a tornado, it has blown through our lives and uprooted us. And, having landed in unfamiliar places, we are trying to find our way; or, as a sailor might put it, “we need to get our land legs.”

Like any life-altering event, we are experiencing deep trauma. If you will allow me to say so, one of the most traumatizing feelings I know is to be made vulnerable and not have any control or say-so over how the triggering event resolves. Obviously, this pandemic is a kazillion times worse than an engine’s design; but, one day you’re able to work on a truck yourself, then the next year’s model has everything cramped together. You can’t see all the parts, let alone the ground.

We have been hit hard. Our lives have been severely altered. And I, for one, do not see how we return to who we once thought ourselves to be: invincible. We have been changed and forever so; but God is with us in this new time and we still have one another to share the journey.

Be Well. And, please bear with us as we institute social media platforms to remain connected. We’re peddling as fast as we can. And, if you would kindly keep your eyes open for a “Jimmy” type truck that can be bought for a song, please let me know.

Philippians 4: 6-8.



Philippians 4: 6-8

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, beloved whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Corona Virus Information – 

Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety John Sharp, MD(Harvard Medical School)   
Worrying about all the news on the new coronavirus and the illness it causes? Well, that makes good sense. If you’re wondering how to cope with anxious feelings that are surfacing, this blog post can guide you through steps that may be helpful to many people.

Steady yourself around worries about the coronavirus

Knowing how to manage your own anxiety always takes a little thought. Ask and answer these questions:
  • What typically happens to your body when worries mount?
  • How worried are you?
  • What do you fear the most?
  • What usually helps you handle worries?
When anxiety rises because we’re facing a distressing threat like the new coronavirus, we need to focus on what tends to work for us to ease anxiety — that, plus doing a little bit more of some actions and a little bit less of others.

Keep these thoughts in mind. You’re fully prepared to help yourself. You can take steps to calm and steady yourself. Remember what works for you — because as fellow humans we’re not so dissimilar, but we do tend to have our own preferences and best practices.

Try doing these things more

  • Connect with friends and loved ones through video chats, phone calls, texting, and email. It really helps to feel the strength of your connections to your friends and loved ones, even though you may not be with them in person.
  • Stick with sources of credible medical information, so you can avoid misinformation about the virus and the illness it causes.

Try doing these things less

Please don’t overdose on hype or worry or misinformation. I get some regular updates from credible sources in the morning and check again briefly toward the end of the day. There’s no need to stay tuned in 24/7 — it can actually make your anxiety much, much worse.

Take practical steps to lessen risk of coronavirus

Three healthy, sensible steps we can all take:
  • Avoid unnecessary travel and crowds.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water (or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer) for 20 seconds (see video).
  • Keep your hands away from your face, especially your eyes, mouth, and nose.
Many people infected by the coronavirus develop symptoms like a fever and dry cough during the incubation period. However, some people may not seem symptomatic. The virus can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Viral droplets that travel several feet through the air may be breathed in or — much more likely — may land on surfaces that other people touch, such as a door handle or elevator button.

We do have to be careful and cautious. But once we adopt key precautionary measures, we can take a deep breath and do our best to calm ourselves. It’s not necessary or helpful to be on high alert all the time. This will wear you down emotionally and physically. So try to adjust your level of alertness to your immediate surroundings. Then once you come home, wash your hands really well and find ways to relax and feel safe. Safety is a basic need for all of us.

How can you relax despite coronavirus worries?

Here are some tried and true ways to relax:
  • Yoga. Not a yoga person? No need to start now unless you’d like to try it. Sometimes trying new things and discovering new activities you can benefit from and enjoy can be a welcome, healthy distraction. Yoga Studio and Pocket Yoga are good apps to consider.
  • Meditation. Regular meditation is very calming. Many apps teach simple forms of meditation, such as Headspace or Calm.
  • Controlled breathing. One simple technique is called square breathing. Visualize your breath traveling along a square. As you follow the instructions to inhale, hold your breath, or exhale, count slowly to three on each side. Try it now. Inhale up the first side of the square. Slowly count one, two, three. Hold your breath across the top. One, two, three. Exhale down the other side of the square. One, two, three. Then hold your breath across the bottom. One, two, three. After a few minutes of this you should be feeling calmer and more centered.
Tap into other ways you like to relax, too. Maybe you like reading a good book or watching a good comedy. Eat the familiar foods that you always enjoy. Stay in contact with your friends and loved ones. Reaching out can help you and help them.

We’re all on this journey together. News about the virus will likely grow worse, then grow better. Listen to public health experts who can help us navigate the path ahead. Take sensible steps that can help us all: get your bearings, practice good hygiene, use calming strategies that work for you — and maybe try something new. Making healthy, reasonable choices about what to do and what not to do will make a big difference in being able to stay as safe and as well as possible.

Humor –

Sometimes it helps for a bit to laugh rather than cry. If you wish to send an amusing offering for inclusion in future newsletters, please email

When it comes to mission and ministry, “knowing the way” is very important…

The Reverend Billy Graham tells of a time early in his ministry when he arrived in a small town to preach a sermon. Wanting to mail a letter, he asked a young boy where the post office was. When the boy had told him, Dr. Graham thanked him and said, “If you’ll come to the Church this evening, you can hear me telling everyone how to get to Heaven.” The boy hesitated for a moment. “I don’t think I’ll be there,” he said. “You don’t even know your way to the post office.” 

CUCC 50th Anniversary –

Last Sunday, March 22, marked CUCC’s 50th birthday. Although the disruption of the Coronavirus Pandemic prevented us from physically gathering together, it is perhaps fitting that we began CUCC’s next 50 years with our first-ever live-stream gathering for worship. Between those assisting Phil with the service and those who watched via Facebook, over 40 folks participated in our inaugural effort! Here is the link if you are interested in viewing it:

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

– 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 –

It’s Official! CUCC’s creation justice statement was accepted and we are now recognized as a Creation Justice Congregation

Tues, March 31, 7-830 pm, online free film – Current Revolution, a film which examines how a combination of distributed energy (like rooftop solar) and a robust electric vehicle infrastructure can massively improve our electrical grid.  Solar United Neighbors is  hosting a free online screening of this film, with live chat during the movie and a Q&A session with Solar United Neighbors staff after the movie. It’s a fascinating look at how we can grow the economy, improve environmental justice, and support our national security interests. RSVP now here and they will send you the details on how to watch together online.


Earth Day Week April 20-25  collaboration between Earth Day Network, Exponential Roadmap and We Don’t Have Time  Together they will broadcast more than 20 hours of live talks, solutions, and events from almost all continents on Earth. With so many physical events closing down – online conferences are the future! Join online for the third annual #WeDontHaveTime international climate conference. This will  explore how businesses, activists, and experts come together to leverage climate engagement and an open climate dialogue to transform our economy, societies, and lives in the coming years. Sign up here.  There are many resources for Virtual Earth Day from 350 resources on Covid19 and earth day

At Oakland Mills Interfaith Center –

From Michael Shaw, 
OMI Building Manager
410-730-4090 ext 302

As of 5 pm this evening (Monday 3/23) , all non-essential businesses most close, according to Governor Hogan.
I have cleared any remaining business meetings we had contracted for, for the coming 2 weeks. We will no longer maintain our normal 9-5 Monday thru Friday business hours.

As an agent for the corporation,  I or Victoria will be making a daily visit to the facility to ensure its security and upkeep (that no one has broken in or vandalized, that the plumbing and other vital components are in tact, etc.) We plan to do that between 10 am – 2 pm, and will hopefully be able to receive mail during that time, if so we will put mail in the congregational mail slots.

For those congregations that plan to continue streaming, if you plan to come in to here to do that, you will need to make your own determination as to whether religious streaming is essential according to the governors executive order.  If you do plan on continuing streaming from here at OMI, you will need to contact me to discuss how you want to do that, (who will disarm and arm the building for that).

Same for mail.  I cannot advise you on whether you are legally able to come to the facility for your business operations, if you feel that as an agent for your business, and  you need to and can legally and safely do so,  please contact me on any of those plans.  There may be an emergency need to pick up something for the office.  We plan to have our doors locked between 10-2 when we are here at the the facility.  If you contact us ahead of time we can watch for you during that time.

I will follow up with more information as it becomes available.