Allen Webb and Cynthia Pietras were married by Jill McAllister at the Kalamazoo Nature Center in 2006 and the couple began attending People’s in 2007. Allen had earlier attended People’s for a few years. He attended a Presbyterian church while growing up.
Cynthia said her family was not especially religious, but she had gone to a protestant church a few years when her family lived overseas during her father’s military service.
Asked why she came to People’s, Cynthia said, “I wanted to build stronger connections with people in our community and I felt an affinity with the principles of UU.”
“People’s has become an important part of our lives,” Cynthia said. “We value the connections we’ve made, the learning and growth we’ve experienced, the friendships we’ve found, the support that has been given our children, and the fulfillment that comes from working with others towards common goals.”
Allen said he wanted to find a community of like-minded people, concerned with issues of justice.
He added, “I think this is a good community in which to raise children. Our daughters are now 5 and 8. I agreed to serve on the church board because I believe we have an important role to provide leadership to address the most pressing problem facing life on earth: climate change.”
Allen added, “I am 100% atheistic, meaning I don’t believe in a god or gods, in divine beings or spiritual powers beyond the senses. At the same time, I have a strong sense of morality of how important it is to care for the whole human family and for the web of creation of which we are a part.”
He said, “I believe in democracy as a concept, though I don’t believe democracy is possible when there is extensive inequality.”
Cynthia said, “I generally look to science as a method for learning about the world and for discovering ways to create a better world, but I also find wisdom from religious teachers, stories and nature.”
As members of People’s, Cynthia and Allen participated in Chalice Circles and found them rewarding. Allen co-led the Coming of Age Program in 2010-11.
Since then Cynthia has volunteered to teach in the RE program…
“I enjoy the curriculum and working with the other teachers and I also enjoy seeing the children learn, be creative and have fun,” Cynthia said, “The RE program is a wonderful part of people’s Church, and I’m grateful our children and I have been involved with it.”
Cynthia said her greatest joy comes from spending time with family and friends and that her other passion is horses. Allen said he loves the out-of-doors and is a retired mountaineer who has climbed in the Andes and the Hindu Kush.
“I’ve become especially interested in the human response to climate change and what we can do to change behavior to better address it,” Cynthia said,
Allen believes shutting down attempts to reduce greenhouse gasses, ramping up coal, oil and gas production will cause hundreds of millions of deaths, force migrations of billions and speed up global extinction. He serves on the church board and would like to see folks at People’s face the reality of climate change and help provide leadership to transform it.
Allen Webb, 61, is a Professor of English at WMU. Cynthia Pietras, 49, is an Associate Professor of Psychology at WMU. The couple have two daughters, Ari and Lexie.