Judy D’Arcangelis grew up attending Fountain Street Church, a non-denominational liberal church in Grand Rapids where she was active throughout her childhood in religious education programs, choirs and high school youth group.
She first attended People’s Church in the early 1990s when her children Daniel and Debbie were children.
“I wanted them to have a strong religious education program where they would learn about a wide range of religious though and then be able to make their own choices regarding religious thinking and churches,” she said.
“While the religious education program was wonderful, the divide in the church membership was not comfortable,” Judy said. “I chose to leave when the church split and the Portage UU church was formed. Our family stopped attending church for a number of years.”
Judy returned to People’s in 2016 with her grandchild, Grace, for whom she and her husband Aurelio are guardians.
“We returned after hearing my niece’s husband, Nic Cable, preach at People’s,” Judy said. “We came because I was seeking a church community for myself and a religious education program for Grace.
“In addition, trying to make a difference in social justice is important to me,” Judy added. “I was looking for an inclusive church community with intentional focus on reflection serving the wider community, and I was seeking a strong, open-minded religious education program based on principles and thinking for oneself.”
Judy said at People’s she found was she was looking for. She also appreciates the thought-provoking sermons, music and time for reflection.
“And I have found a wonderful group of people of all ages with whom to connect,” she added.
Judy draws religious wisdom from nature, spiritual reflection, humanism, poetry, the arts.
“Serving the wider world is important,” she said. “The beloved community we strive to be is most important to me.”
Judy has served as a RE greeter and this year is beginning to assist with special projects on those Sundays when children have choices of activities. She also serves on the People’s Church ISAAC core team. She has worked at the bazaar as a greeter, baker and bean provider and gave input to the Widening our Welcome team.
Eventually she would like to become more involved in adult education opportunities and lay leadership.
“I wish we had greater ethnic diversity in our church.” Judy said when asked what she would like to see happen here.
(Judy, 66, is Director of Elementary Education for the Kalamazoo Public Schools. She lives with her husband Aurelio D’Arcangelis and two grandchildren, Grace D’Arcangelis. 9, and Aurelio Clark, 4.)