At our March 25th meeting, the Board of Trustees, in recognition of her 22 years of invaluable service to this congregation, paid heartfelt tribute to Eleanor VanDeusen, Foothills’ director of family ministry, and affirmed the granting to her of three months or up to 14 weeks of paid sabbatical leave.
Eleanor has nurtured generations of Foothills children to grow in spirituality and community since she began leading our Religious Education program in 1999. Some of the students in the RE program when she arrived are now raising children of their own in Foothills’ embrace, completing a full cycle of the spiral of life in our community, a cycle that has been nourished and empowered by Eleanor’s deep and abiding care, creativity, energy, and wisdom.
Under Eleanor’s tireless coordination, two decades of inclusive, responsible, and emotionally healthy Our Whole Lives sexuality classes have helped affirm and empower thousands of youth in our community.
Eleanor’s spirited and joyful collaboration has made Foothills’ annual Buckhorn Family Retreat an end-of-summer tradition knitting connections across generations year after year, strengthening the fabric of Foothills as a community and a congregation in profound and lasting ways.
Under her leadership, the annual Chalice Camps have transitioned a generation of younger children into their summer vacations and given older Foothills youth some of their first work and leadership opportunities as camp counselors.
Week in and week out, Eleanor has generated creative and inspiring rituals and worship opportunities for youth, coordinated youth music programs, and nurtured religious education teachers in their invaluable contributions to our congregation.
As a board member of the Liberal Religious Educators Association, Eleanor has been a national leader in our larger Unitarian Universalist movement and has mentored up-and-coming religious educators in their professional development.
It is not possible to elaborate the full scope of Eleanor’s impact on Foothills Unitarian Church and the larger community. Nor is it possible to fully express the gratitude, admiration, and love that our congregation holds for Eleanor VanDeusen. But both will echo on for generations to come.
Sue Sullivan, on behalf of the Foothills Unitarian Board of Trustees