By Susan Curtis
In October 2015 Heather Kleiner’s 20 years of supporting Partner Church activities with the Unitarian congregation in Okland, Romania are being recognized. Building on the leadership of Jane and Bruce King and others from the mid 1990’s to mid 2000’s, Heather’s leadership of UUFA’s Partner Church Committee in the past decade has led to close friendships between the two congregations and support of building projects and high school stipends in the Transylvanian village.
The Connections Lay Ministry Cluster led by Michelle Leebens-Mack in coordination with the Volunteer Recognition Team surprised Heather with a CD of folk music and letters from the Kelemens during the October 11 services. Eva Kelemen’s sentiments spoke to Heather’s commitment to Okland’s Unitarians:
It has been over 20 years since we’ve met for the first time, in January of 1995. We still have your image in front of us, as you greet us, welcome us. I have dug out some pictures of that wonderful and memorable trip that was just the very beginnning of many fun and wonderful memories over the years.
You were with us when Levente had the kidney stone problem, you held our hands in those hard moments too. But you were with us every time we had the chance to visit you, were an eternal strong basis for the partner church projects.
During the 20 years many things have happened. Many common projects- bakery, mill, farm, the embroidery project that you still keep doing, the scholarship funds and the visits and so many other things!
There are many wonderful people in the Athens church who kept this relationship in their hearts. But I think that we all agree that without your strong commitment, without your energy this relationship sometimes could have sunken. You keep telling us that we do so much, but in fact it is YOU who do a lot more than us! You are an example to us, your wonderful , cheerful spirit inspires us and helps us keep going when we think we can’t go any further.
Words cannot really express our gratitude for your friendship, for your love, for your work! You are in our hearts forever! May God bless you and keep you in the palm of his hand!
We love you very much!
The Kelemens and the Okland congregation!
In addition to the Partner Church Committee, Mchelle’s Connections Cluster also encompasses denominational and regional concerns such as Chalice Lighters, the Communications Committee (Michelle, Lee Cornell, Shaye Gambrell, Rev. Alison and Aleta Turner), UUFA public relations, and print and online publications.