Having just celebrated the third holiday season in my home in Kalamazoo, MI it seems natural to reflect on how I feel about the move. Given the circumstances, it was a good choice, and I am quite happy living next door to my youngest daughter.  Do I miss some things about living in the Milwaukee area? YES! The main thing I miss is the UUCW church community and its many wonderful people and longtime friends. Although I have joined an inviting UU church here, with the pandemic looming, it has been difficult to feel as connected with folks as with those one has known for years.

This year is the 60th anniversary of my joining what was then Unitarian Church West. It is also the 60th anniversary of its chartering. I am not a charter member. At the time it didn’t quite feel right to sign the charter just to have your name on it. My husband and I joined a few weeks past the deadline to sign, finally convinced it was the right place for us. It has been a home for our family. My Kalamazoo daughter loved the church and became a UU minister. Although she no longer serves a church, her association with the denomination has been an important influence in her life. My oldest daughter has been an active member and leader in her Vermont UU church for the past 23 years. All of our lives have centered around a church community providing a spiritual context, warm support, caring friends, broadening views of the world and the responsibility we each have in it, and so much more. Although an adult when I joined the church, I feel like I grew up in it just like my children did. I continue to be a member at UUCW despite moving away.

As I think about making my annual pledge, I cannot help but recall all the ways that I benefited by belonging to the UUCW community. Throughout my life there have been challenging times, changes in relationships, births, deaths, marriages, illness, and also smaller concerns. The ministers, staff, and church community have always been an important source of caring and support. Last summer a dear friend took her life. I didn’t understand how difficult things had become for her. It was devastating to me and many other of her friends. Both of our ministers were an extraordinary support and a source of understanding and strength in beginning to cope with the loss. Rev. Denise led a deeply meaningful and healing memorial service and eulogy. It was very helpful in attempting to understand suicide. I continue to read my copy of the service when needing to renew my understanding of that loss and regain some sense of peace.

Continuing to make a thoughtful and generous pledge helping to provide adequate funds for our ministers, staff, and care of our building is one way to express my appreciation and assure that now and in the future others who are looking for a church home will also be able to belong and grow from being here.

Ann Terwilliger