Nancy and Richard Bechtolt Full-Tuition Scholarship
January 22, 2013Meadville Lombard is honored to receive this addition to our scholarship offerings for students entering the Master of Divinity degree program in 2013-- a full-tuition scholarship for one full-time student preparing to serve in a congregational setting. We are so grateful to Mrs. Nancy Bechtolt for helping to strengthen Unitarian Universalist ministry while honoring the memory of her late husband through this scholarship.
A note from Mrs. Nancy Bechtolt:
I discovered Unitarian Universalism as a young adult many years ago. With it came the exhilarating feeling that there were others also seeking purpose in life through reason and action. And that there was a church committed to encouraging and inspiring such thinking. With this scholarship I am able to support the church I love and help a new minister welcome others to a freer more thoughtful life, as I was once led.
My husband Dick and I met at the University of Chicago and were married at the Graham Taylor Chapel, by a Congregational minister who came with the chapel. It was a compromise between his strict Lutheran background and my more liberal Methodist training.
After a move to New Jersey in the 1960’s we started looking for an appropriate religious experience for our young children. This led us to the Unitarian Church in Plainfield, N.J. Since the church was in the happy situation of bursting its bounds, we were asked to help found a fellowship in nearby Westfield, N.J. We met in a YMCA (My children learned to play pool during coffee hour). Dick served as president and I headed the religious education department and played the piano.
After living for a decade abroad (Japan and Belgium) we returned to join the Westport, CT Unitarian church where Dick sang in the choir.
During this time we bought a summer residence at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state and help reestablish a summer fellowship there. I served a term as board chair and for the past twenty years I have had the delightful opportunity of inviting ministers as weekly speakers. I also founded an annual ethics lecture series, now in its 17th year.
When Dick retired and we moved to a Phoenix, AZ suburb, we became early active members of what became the Unitarian Church of Surprise. In the course of our 20 years there, both Dick and I served terms as board chair.
Two years ago, after Dick’s death I moved to Pasadena, CA and am now a member of Neighborhood church in Pasadena, where my daughter’s family are also members.
As we moved from church to church over the decades, I have been repeatedly impressed with the caliber and commitment of our denominational leaders. So it gives me great pleasure to be able to help extend that powerful tradition into the future through this scholarship.