I am Gisela Moffit and I am honored to share with you my journey from the Lutheran Church in Germany to the UUs in Mt. Pleasant. It tells the story (in brief) of an uninvolved congregant to an active member and participant in a thriving fellowship.
Unlike America, Germany does not have a separation of Church and State. Until recently, everybody was paying a church tax to the government, which would be distributed to the Lutheran or the Catholic Church or to charity.
What effects did this have on the church and the people in it? Since ministers and staff were paid by the state churches, congregants did not have strong ties to local churches or ministers and mainly attended at Christmas and Easter. And they also called on the church for baptisms, weddings and funerals.
When I came to America as an exchange student in my senior year in high school, I lived with a wonderful family in Duluth, Minnesota. They were Lutherans and much to my surprise, they went to church every Sunday and every Sunday they joyfully donated money when the basket came around.
I could not understand what prompted their generosity. But my American mother explained that it costs money to maintain a building, pay the minister and staff and most of all, support the mission of the church. She also said that she loved to go to church because it was like family where people love and help each other and where you learn how to lead a moral life.
Fast-forward to 2001, when Tom and I learned that there was going to be a Unitarian fellowship in Mt. Pleasant. We were thrilled as there was no liberal church here. We became founding members, but it took another four years and much prodding from Jim Dealing before I volunteered to be on the membership committee. Why was I reluctant? I thought I was too busy and did not have the knowledge and skills. But Jim kept insisting, “I think you would be really good at this”! BTW, he says that to everybody, but darn it, he was right.
I am a good organizer and pay attention to detail. I like to work with people, but (according to Tom) I enjoy even more to be in charge! So it was no surprise that I served on many different committees including six years on the board.
And it was during the time of my first presidency that we faced a big crisis. Art Reach was selling this building, which we had rented for our Sunday services for nine years. There was no way that we could buy it, we thought. But we got together and took a leap of faith and made an offer. With the help of a generous “angel” and a 3-year capital campaign we were able to buy and remodeled it to suit our purposes without having to get a mortgage.
I am still very proud of our achievements and this is what I learned from it:
I want to thank this fellowship for helping me to transform myself. You have given me ample opportunities to develop leadership skills, becoming an active participant to fight for social justice, and to put my money where my mouth is.
I want to invite you to invest in our fellowship for your personal and society’s benefits. Give generously of your time, talent and money so that together we can change our world for the better.