committee
Dear Candidate,

Welcome to People’s Church!

The Ministerial Search Committee is thrilled that you are interested to learn more about our beloved church. We hope this packet will give you a broad understanding of who we are and the work that we do and will introduce you to the wider community in which we live.

As you read below, the search committee members have a wide diversity of history and involvement with the church and perspectives to bring to this process.

We are excited to exchange information with you and wish you well on your search.

Sincerely,
Zoe Valette
Chair of the Ministerial Search Committee

Zoe Valette

Zoe Valette

I am a third-generation UU and have attended People’s Church for most of my life. My parents met at a singles group hosted by the church, and I met my own husband here. I grew up in the R.E. program here, moved away after high school, and returned to the area and rejoined the church later in my 20’s. I attended the UU Congregation of Princeton (NJ) in the interim. Since moving back to Kalamazoo, I have spent several years as one of the high school group facilitators, and am a trained 7-9th and 10-12th grade OWL facilitator. I have also been involved in the Transition Team, Social Justice Coordinating Committee, and our Holiday Bazaar, among other activities. I was selected for the search committee to represent young(ish) members and families, because I have a unique history with our church, and because I felt very strongly about being on the search committee. I stay home with my two-year-old daughter and am a fiber artist and instructor and a birth doula.
Don Miller

Don Miller

I grew up in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and was raised in the Catholic Church. In my mid 20's after a stint in the Air Force and college I joined a Catholic Religious Order and studied theology in preparation for becoming a priest. After four years I found that Catholicism, as I knew it, was too narrow an approach for me and I left the religious order and moved to Kalamazoo. I had family here to support me in my transition and I eventually went back to school to become a therapist. I was married in 1992 to Wendy Dawson . In searching for a religious home and a place to raise our boys we discovered People’s Church (around 2000). We've found ourselves at home here and I have found that the UU values are compatible with my personal psychology and Buddhist Philosophy. Here at People’s I have become a baker, a writer, and a teacher in the Religious Education Program. I've served on the Board and on the Transition Team. I've been asked to be on the Search Committee because I have skills in working with groups. My background in religion and psychology seems to fit here as well.
Rick Johnson

Rick Johnson

I was lucky to have been raised in a Unitarian Church in a large southern city in the 1950s. This unique environment of religious diversity and appreciation, I’m sure, helped lead me, as an adult, into the Peace Corps. I taught school and lived in a small village in Liberia, West Africa. It was a wonderful, life changing experience. In 1970, I returned to South West Michigan to pursue further education and to eventually settle and teach in the area. I joined Peoples Church in 1995 and over the years have served on the Board and participated on many committees such as the ISAAC Core Team, Arms Around, Publicity, Social Justice, Building and Grounds and Long Range Planning. I am also a happy singer in the choir. My religion is expressed through my activity as a contributing member of this church and my social justice work in the community. I am very pleased to be part of this Search Committee and to help in this important quest for a new permanent minister.
Jeme Baker

Jeme Baker

I came to People’s church about 13 years ago. I had found here something that I didn't even know I was looking for, it just felt like home to me. I had been raised in the Catholic church/school and knew that wasn't where I belonged. I have been involved in many aspects of the church over the years, from participating on the RE Committee, to being the assistant to the RE Director for several years, working on the Auction for a couple of years, attending dozens of middle school and high school CON’s as a chaperon, participating in Midwest Leadership School, teaching RE and more. I was excited to be asked to be on the Search Committee to make sure the voices of those of us with families were represented. I am a stay at home mom of 3 kids (ages 9, 13 and 20) and have had one child go through the RE program and two working their way through. Being on the Search Committee has been a wonderful and fascinating experience and I am grateful to be a part of it.
Rochelle Habeck

Rochelle Habeck

People’s Church is the only UU church I've joined, although I attended several over the years of graduate school and early career - in Richmond, Madison, Minneapolis and Seattle. My growing up years were in the Lutheran Church. When I married and moved to Kalamazoo, my husband had been un-churched and could not imagine the need to find a religious home. After visiting People’s, he recognized his kindred and we joined 25 years ago. My experiences in the church have been with our Holiday Bazaar, the Board of Trustees, Committee on Ministry, Social Justice Committee, and our involvement in ISAAC (the interfaith community organizing network for direct social justice action). Peoples Church has shaped and inspired my life journey, especially in the last 15 years. Currently, I work very part time as a chaplain in our local hospital, which has an excellent CPE program, and participate in a meditation group.
Marj Lightner

Marj Lightner

I started attending People’s Church in 1955 when I was 17 years old. The minister lived in the church and held a Student Roundtable on Sunday evenings. Although my attendance was a little spotty while I was in college and for the four years I lived in a nearby town, I have been involved with the church ever since. My first twenty five years were devoted to Religious Education. I served on that committee and the Adult Education Committee, taught classes in both programs and was the RE Director from 1974 to 1986. I have also served on a variety of other committees including Archives, Personnel, Green Sanctuary, Social Justice, Arms Around and Long Range Planning. In terms of spiritual faith I consider myself a Naturalist with mystical overtones and have been involved with a meditation group for a number of years. I agreed to serve on the Search Committee because I thought I could bring a depth of experience with the church. Having learned much from the previous four settled ministers and 5 interim ministers, I am eagerly looking forward to what the next one will bring to us.