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Interview with Rev Jane Bechle: What’s next?

Your trusted reporter interviewed Reverend Jane about her plans for Life after Retirement.  Here is a brief synopsis of our discussion:

TR (trusted reporter):  You’ve picked a specific date:  December 31, 2015.  Why that date?

RJB:  (Reverend Jane Bechle) By then I’ll be 68 years old, and I feel my age catching up. Also, like many people my age, I have to say that I didn’t sign up for technological ministry—it’s time for a new minister, younger, with new ideas.

TR:  Do you have specific plans?

RJB:  I have two siblings who may be retiring at the same time.  I’ll probably use Springfield as a home base, and travel, looking for a place to settle.  I love the West but my family seems to want to stay on the east coast.  I definitely don’t like winter, so nothing too far north.

TR:  After 40 years of ministry do you think you may just take a few years away from church?

RJB:  I will be a very active UU member wherever I end up.  I’d really like to do part-time community ministry affiliated with a UU church—possibly focusing on some form of social action.  Or I could get involved in environmental, reproductive rights or animal causes.  I’m also drawn to one-on-one elderly care.  So many older people have no one to act as their advocate.

TR:  What are you most looking forward to?

RJB:  Not having so much responsibility.

TR:  What are you dreading?

RJB:  The lack of schedule.  I have a tendency to read all day if I don’t have a schedule.  That will be the first thing I establish.

TR:  How do you plan to stay motivated now that you are officially a “lame duck”?

RJB:  I really got a shot of energy at General Assembly and I want to use that energy for the church.  I’m serious about the practice of Kindness and people may find that I’m more assertive.

TR:  As we start a search for a new minister do you have any advice?

RJB:  This church is on the verge of supporting a full-time minister if you can find the right one.  You’ll need someone energetic, focused on community involvement, and bringing some technological expertise.  The UUA has a process, but it starts with electing a search committee.  Rely on the UUA process to see you through.

TR: Any plans to publish?

RJB:  I doubt it, but you never know.

TR:  Tell me a little bit about 41 years as a minister.

RJB:  I was ordained in 1973, when women ministers were rare.  I got my first solo church a year later—Irvington United Methodist in New Jersey, bordering Newark.  The congregation was totally welcoming and accepting, but some of my colleagues in ministry were not happy to see a female in the ranks.

I used to handwrite all my sermons, and I used the same sexist language everyone used at the time. I phased that out by my second year.   Now I am writing my sermons and reading them from my laptop, I read email for hours every day , and  I’m no longer a liberal Christian.  Instead, I consider myself a Spiritual Atheist.  A lot can happen on a spiritual journey in 41 years.  I’ll be on this journey for the rest of my life.

TR:  Any advice for the new minister?

RJB: (laughing quietly) Love them for all you’re worth.  Communicate with them for all you’re worth.  Do your best to channel their wonderful energy into practicing acts of kindness.



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