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Minister finally reaches her goal

August 02, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

On June 1, the Rev. Valerie Wills reached a destination she set out for in 1989.

Wills was named pastor of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown by its congregation after two years of working there part-time and years of struggle and sacrifice.

"It's an enormous joy to me to have reached this point," she said.

As a wife, mother and full-time elementary school teacher, finding time for her religious studies was sometimes difficult, she said.

"I didn't always know I would be able to do it. I think it's a miracle," said Wills, who lives in a Hagerstown apartment while her home is being built in Maugansville.

Her husband and daughter reside in a Virginia apartment and plan to move to Washington County when their home is completed, she said. She also has a son who is a graduate student in Ohio.

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Family problems and other obstacles she faced over the years have made her a better minister, she said.

"My early experiences have given me maturity and insight," said Wills.

Her congregation must agree. Wills was voted in unanimously for the full-time job.

Having a full-time minister strengthens the church and shows commitment, said parishioner Gerri Coyle.

"Valerie is dynamic as a spiritual leader," said Coyle.

"It's a big step for us and we're joyful of that," said church member Marion Chalfant of Chambersburg, Pa.

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown meets for services Sundays at 10:45 a.m. at Girls Inc., 626 Washington Ave.

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