The final candidates for your search committee are in!  Here is a short biography on each candidate. The congregational vote will happen on Sunday, March 30th. We encourage all members to attend in person to ensure a quorum. If you are unable to attend due to extenuating circumstances but still want to vote, you can contact Missy Howse-Kurtz at or by phone at 269-779-6630. We will be electing five of these candidates.

Thank you,

Your Nominating Committee Members

Jeme Baker, Tim Bartik, Nadine Godin-Nassaney, Sarah Hill, Missy Howse-Kurtz, Rick Johnson, Bob Wallis

Jeme Baker 2Jeme Baker

Jeme Baker is married to Mike Rutherford and they have three children, Keelei (20), Gavin (12) and Liam (8).  They have been attending People’s Church regularly for about 11 years.  She has served on the Religious Education Committee, The Sabbatical Committee – acting as Diane Melvin’s stand in while she was on Sabbatical, worked as the assistant to the Director of Religious Education for about  5 years, co-chaired the White Elephant Room for the Bazaar for 3 years, headed up the Service Auction one year, attended the Midwest Leadership School, been a delegate at General Assembly, attended a multitude of Elementary Sleepovers, Middle School & High School Cons, and is currently teaching 3rd grade Religious Education.  She spends her spare time enjoying her family, knitting, being creative and exercising.  She hopes to run her first 5K this summer.

Rochelle Habeck-HuntRochelle Habeck-Hunt

Rochelle Habeck-Hunt joined the church in 1990, soon after marrying Allan and moving to Kalamazoo. Their daughter Hilary was born in 1991 and went all the way through the RE program here, including the OWL program and YRUU. Rochelle is especially grateful to the adults who provided inspiration and accessible connection to her daughter during the teen years. Rochelle served as an RE teacher and on the RE Committee. She helped create our Social Justice Coordinating Committee and our affiliation with ISAAC and serves with those groups, and supports the ARAOMC effort. She was on the Board and served as President. She currently co-chairs the Bazaar but has no co-chair and needs one. She has served on the Committee on Ministry, which has been expanded to serve as the Transition Team.

Dyrk HamiltonDyrk Hamilton

Dyrk Hamilton moved to Kalamazoo from the Appalachian Foothills of Eastern Kentucky in August 2013.  He has spent most of his career in service related fields including 10 years combined military service in the US Air Force and Air National Guard. He graduated from Eastern Kentucky University at age forty and utilized his degree in psychology to serve Kentucky families through social work and addiction treatment.  He is currently taking time off from full-time work to transition his external gender presentation from female to correctly align with his internal identity as male.  Dyrk’s active involvement at People’s Church includes membership on the Sunday Service Committee, participation in two chalice circle discussion groups, and regular attendance in an ongoing dream circle.  He enjoys songwriting, studying Kabbalah, and is a strong believer in the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism.

Marj LightnerMarj Lightner

Marj Lightner started attending People’s Church when it was located downtown, on the corner of Park and Lovell. She was in high school and was disillusioned with the Methodist Church she had been raised in. Since then she has known four ministers and four interim ministers in this church. Her first R.E. experience was as an assistant to the 3 and 4 year old class in the basement of that old church when she was in college. Her 3 daughters were raised in this church and RE was her first passion. She taught, served on and chaired the RE Committee and, from 1974 to 1985 was the RE Director, a half-time position. Over the years she has served on a number of committees including Adult RE, Personnel, Long-Range Planning, Archives, Hospitality, and the Sesquicentennial. She’s attended GAs (3Xs), typed cookbooks, made endless pots of soup, played in the bell choir, facilitated the Adopt-A-Highway program, organized sales of Fair Trade coffee and cleaned the refrigerator a number of times. Since retirement ten years ago, her focus has been on social justice and the environment through involvement with the Social Justice Coordinating Committee and Green Sanctuary. Prior to retirement Marj worked as a case manager, therapist, and supervisor with Allegan County Community Mental Health for 18 years.

Diane WordenDiane Worden

Diane Worden came to Kalamazoo for college 59 years ago and joined People’s in 1963 upon returning with a young family after four years in Kansas. Enrolling three children in the church school then at Park & Lovell began volunteering in R.E. through their high school graduation, first as teacher and later as R.E. Committee member and/or chair at People’s as well as Michigan’s earlier district (UUDoM). She’s sung in the choir since 1972 and served in other ways:  cookbook and roadrally co-organizer; girl’s and coed softball team coach; Hungarian dinner go-fer and cook; General Assembly delegate (3Xs); Interdistrict R.E., Investment, Canvass, Kitchen Remodeling, Lake Geneva UU Summer Assembly Planning; Ministerial Search, Nominating, Personnel, Sunday Services, Sesquicentennial, Long-Range Planning, Building Construction, Feeding Our Flame, and Commitment Campaign committees; and Board of Trustees (2Xs).

Zoe ValetteZoë Valette

Zoë Valette is a third-generation UU and second-generation People’s Church member. She is married to Steve Dibble, and they have a 1 1/2 year old daughter, Hayden. After finishing high school, she fled the area for an extended adventure on the East Coast that included classical ballet, fashion design, program management, and pharmaceutical event planning. She returned to Kalamazoo and People’s Church, older and somewhat wiser, and has been involved in various church activities including the Social Justice Coordinating Committee, leading middle school and high school R.E. classes for several years, and becoming a certified Our Whole Lives instructor and teaching that curriculum. In her spare time, Zoë enjoys designing, knitting, fixing up old houses, and making fantastical couture art garments.

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