By Ardyce Curl

Zoë Valette and Steve Dibble

Zoë Valette and Steve Dibble met at People’s, were married in the Memorial Garden underneath Sarah Gertz’s tree and honeymooned in Peru.

Zoë’s parents, Denise Valette and Mark Gernsback, also met at People’s through a single’s group and have been members for many years.

Zoë attended religious education at People’s until she graduated from high school and worked in Pittsburgh in dance, New York City and Italy in fashion design, and for a pharmaceutical company in New Jersey.

She attended a UU church in Princeton, N. J., and when she moved back to Kalamazoo where she received her B. S in textile and design, she returned to People’s.

“I was looking for an open and accepting community of liberal religion seekers and questioners, and a practical way to find ways to help me live out my values.” Zoë said. “At People’s I found community involvement, interesting conversations, and ideas that challenged me and my thinking. I found ways to engage and grow spiritually and intellectually. And a husband.”

Steve grew up attending the Lutheran Missouri synod church in Livonia where his family was active.

“Dad was an elder and church president and Mom was on various committees.,” Steve said. “I was in youth programs, the brass choir and an acolyte. I had perfect attendance pins for 12 years.”

“When I moved to Kalamazoo I looked for Unitarian churches. I was looking for a group of like-minded seekers who are not satisfied with pre-packaged answers from my past religious institutions.”

He found what he was looking for. “I like that the sermons draw on many traditions and sources and I like it when we have time for the congregation to respond,” Steve said. “I also like to visit with everyone.”

Steve has participated in the AV and stewardship committees.

Zoë is currently on the Board of Trustees, is involved in anti-racism and sanctuary work, has taught RE including high school OWL and the social justice coordinating committee, volunteered at Lincoln School, served on the transition team when Jill left, chaired the search committee that recommended Rev. Rachel, baked pasties, cleaned classrooms and volunteered at the bazaar.

One of Zoë’s first memories of church is Roger Greeley dressed as Santa sliding down a rope to the stage. The high schoolers came on stage before he did, wearing antler headbands and jingling bells. And she remembers snippets of montages, especially the one narrated by Pat Pratt about the birth of a child at Christmas time.

Zoë would like to see more intergenerational interaction and understanding and more acceptance and cultivation of change. “Building on our past while not being bound by it and our memories,” she said. ’Working on ways to better meet the needs of those who don’t have a 9-5 schedule, families with small children and addressing other barriers to participation.”

Zoë would like to see a service in an alternate format not so bound by tradition”

Steve said, “Maybe the joke about UUs reading ahead to see if they agree with the words is true, but I would like to see a little more enthusiasm during the songs.”

(Zoë, has a B. S. in textiles and design from WMU, now works part-time as a birth doula, helping women during labor, providing support to mother, infant and family after childbirth. She enjoys knitting, weaving, fashion design, wearable art, and ballet. Both she and Steve enjoy ballroom dancing, traveling and cooking.

 Steve, 44, is a self-employed consultant in Data Science and Project Management and a Ph.D. candidate in interdisciplinary program evaluation at WMU, currently working on his dissertation. He also enjoys music (piano, trumpet and AV) reading non-fiction and photography and has traveled in Europe, Asia, South America, Mexico and India.

The couple have two daughters.)

Leave a Reply