WPC Oral History: Interview with Diane Schwarz

Author: Katie Lee
April 24, 2020

As a Christian Education Intern, I was asked to develop a personal project for WPC. After some consideration, I decided to pursue an oral history project. I think this church’s history can best be preserved through the individual histories, memories, and perspectives of its members. In the global church, the PC(USA), and our own WPC, the church is in a moment of transition. We need to look both backwards and forwards in order to understand where we want to go. As I’ve learned through the study of the past, our future is contingent on our present decisions. I hope these interviews inspire dialogue of recollections of the past and opportunities for the future.  Diane is my wonderful second family mother through the Ukirk College Ministry Program. She kindly offered herself as a guinea pig for this project! Here are a few of her responses. If you are interested in listening to the full interview, view the YouTube video below!  

–Katie Lee, Oral History Collector and WPC Christian Ed Intern

Selections from Interview with Diane Schwarz


Do you have a story of a time you relied on faith?

I think when I most relied on it was when I lost my job, and I felt absolutely rudderless. After the death of one of our staff members, I said “I’m just so angry, and this just isn’t fair” and our former director of educational ministries told me “Well, God expects us to be angry. God expects us to yell at him, and that draws us closer.” So, I was really angry with God, and I did exactly what he said. I went through all the emotions in my conversations with God, but I really relied on scripture and my private words. If I had not been for my faith, I’m not sure I would have gotten through that time as successfully as I did. 

What is the purpose of the church?

That is an answer I am still defining. As a child and as a young adult, the purpose of the church was a place for me to go and “receive.” A place to feel a sense of faith and “everything’s gonna be okay,” but it was receive, receive, receive. As I have been a member of this church, the two things that come out to me now are a sense that we are meant to embody the work of Jesus as a church congregation and it’s a lot more about giving than receiving. However, through giving, you receive things you would never have imagined. The church, just like an organization, needs a strong administrative and organizational structure, which is a part of giving. If you are not working to help the church be healthy, you’re not going to get what you need from the church. Partnership and outreach is what I’ve landed on now. I realized we have to be out in the community, which can be a little daunting and confusing right now as organized religion is on the decline.

How would you like to see this church change?

I’d like to see it embrace diversity more. I’d like to see us become a “More Light Presbyterian Church,” to be accepting of people no matter who they love or what gender they associate with. And that’s hard in a church that’s mostly caucasian, of a certain age group, and fairly conservative as many Presbyterians are. That is my biggest hope. 


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