Annie and Joe Hampel both grew up in the Catholic church. They began attending People’s early in 2017 after being invited by Michelle Weemhoff.

Joe said, “We both had been interested in Unitarianism since we were in our 20s, but we didn’t ‘take the plunge’ until Michelle invited us.”

“I wanted our daughter to have spiritual and moral guidance and a community to feel connected,” Annie said. “And I was looking for more spiritual growth in my life, seeking deeper connection with others and seeking a more purposeful life where I can contribute to my community.”

Joe said he was looking to fill a basic need for religion and community and that need felt stronger as their daughter grew older. He said he has found a community of people with similar values who serve great potlucks.

“I’m just getting to know the people and how things work but I feel more and more connected with every visit or church activity we participate in,” Annie said. “I enjoy the service on Sunday as a time to reflect on the week, be present and connect with myself, my family and friends.”

She said it’s important to her that a church home be inclusive, have religious education for kids, have a variety of meaningful activities and meaningful services with music.

Joe said “We feel welcome here.  Reverend Rachel, Diane [Melvin] and the guest ministers send consistent and important messages that help me try to be a better human being. It’s important that we embrace AND serve our diverse world.”

Annie said People’s gives her an opportunity to explore spirituality and to contribute and make a difference. She teaches 6th and 7th grade Religious Education and co-facilitates the high school youth group. Her special interests are running, hockey, reading, traveling and cooking.

Joe helps with A/V and tries to chip in at other events like the bazaar. He enjoys photography, golf and cooking.

Joe, 38, is a lab animal veterinarian at Charles River, Mattawan (formerly MPI Research). Annie, 39, is a school counselor at Gull Lake Middle School. Their daughter Violet is 4.

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