Photos taken by Jeff Lu
The first service was held in our finished church building on September 7th, 2003. Bob Ditzler, founding member of WUUC and general contractor for the church building, dedicated 2 years of his life to the building of this church. From May, 2002 to September, 2003 he worked all week with his professional crew, then he greeted his weekend volunteer crew of church members/friends and other people who came to help with the building of the church, with bear hugs, assignments, instructions and his patient supervision. On that opening day over 20 years ago, Bob said:
“This congregation has been a very strong, loving and can-do group from the beginning. We have a wonderfully diverse set of talents. What we have done here together is a little short of a miracle. Yesterday was about the most exciting day of my life, right up there with realizing that I would spend the rest of my life with Stephana. To see all the plans and preparation come together in one day – to transform a construction site into a living, breathing incredibly beautiful spiritual home, had me on the verge of tears all day.”
Rev. Dan led the congregation in the dedication of Ditzler Hall during the service on January 21, 2024. In addition to church members/friends and visitors, many WUUC alumni attended the service and there were tearful reunions and many memories shared during and after the service. A special Celebration program was held immediately after the service, and Chick Sweeney, Chair of the Church Building Committee, shared a moving reflection on his memories of the church building experience:
“Bob challenged us to do things outside our areas of expertise and comfort zones, taught us the necessary skills and empowered us to do the work. “Yes you can! Yes, we can!” were his mantras. He gave us the gift of being part of building something greater than a mere building. In all more than 200 volunteers logged over 14,000 hours participating in almost every phase of construction work, preparing a monthly construction newsletter, managing budgets and paying bills, feeding volunteer workers, cleaning the site, and many other tasks. Many of us who worked alongside Bob, now 20 plus years later, look at what we were doing as one of the single most important things we have done in our lives. We were building a community that still stands as sturdy and beautiful as the structure we stand in today. Why did he and we build this place and community? Was it for us? Yes, but it was mostly for you who were not yet here and those that will follow you!” Larry Bridges compiled a 5-minute video of church building scenes he shot 20 years ago, including the many words of love and hope written on the framework of the church building for those who would be a part of this community in the ensuing years.
Stephana Ditzler read Bob’s reflection from Sunday morning, October 27, 2002 “And I say YES”. The WUUC choir sang, “I am saying Thank You” to round out the celebration. After Rev. Dan’s closing words, the new Ditzler Hall sign in the foyer over the double doors leading to the sanctuary, was revealed. The Ditzler Hall dedication and celebration was a fitting tribute to “Bob the Builder” who will be forever remembered by the people whose lives he touched in so many ways. His smile and hugs, his energy which saw no bounds, his concern for those who were in pain, his vitality which showed up in dance, playing with children, and his construction work. He always seemed to have time and energy for whoever and whatever needed him. We will forever be grateful we had the opportunity to walk with this man