By Ardyce Curl
Deb Beyer was raised in Grand Rapids in a large Presbyterian Church. At about age 12 she began questioning portions of the teachings, especially when an older sister became a Roman Catholic, causing a great upheaval in her family, she said.
After graduating from Western Michigan University, Deb reconnected with a small socially active Presbyterian Church in Illinois, first as a draft and abortion counselor and later as an elder to help the board retain the church’s social program.
“But what I call the “mental tap-dancing” around the teachings and creed eventually sent me searching again,” Deb said.
“I first connected to the UU church in St. Louis, MO and finally felt “at home” with a church that allowed for continual learning and seeking through texts and teachings from varied world religions,” she said.
When she returned to Michigan in 1984 having a UU church nearby was a requirement she said. She was a member of People’s in the late 1980s and early ‘90s when her five children were young.
“Then life responsibilities, the 30-mile drive and the upheaval within the church at the time caused me to stop attending regularly,” she said. But she continued to keep in touch by “lurking” on the People’s Church Facebook page for years, watching the succession of interim ministers, she said.
“After Rev. Rachel was named as pastor, I reaffirmed my membership in 2016 after downsizing and moving into Kalamazoo,” Deb said.
“Since I believe wisdom can be found everywhere, both within and without, I appreciate that UU draws from various religious texts as well as poetry, essays, art and experiences and encourages learning, evolution and growth,” she said.
Deb has been a life-long writer who spent 40 years doing medical and non-profit marketing. She also ran a farm and vineyard while raising her family and doing freelance writing for regional and national publications. After retiring as a campaign manager of the Van Buren County United Way she took classes in Chicago and spent six years as a stand-up comedian, writing her own material. At People’s she works on the annual bazaar committee. Her hobbies include swimming, reading, travel and musical appreciation as well as volunteer work.
Deb, 70, currently volunteers at the Air Zoo, the hospital Hospitality House and a service organization in Paw Paw. She has five grown children: Rachel, self-employed stay-at home mom of Deb’s two grandsons; Rosemary, medical research coordinator in Chicago; R. Abram, who does predictive analytics at Northwestern University; Ramsey a book illustrator and nanny in Philadelphia, and R Graham, a park ranger, currently working toward EMT certification.