Fred Teal grew up attending a Southern Presbyterian church in Washington DC. Beliefs were very rigid there as well as in his home. The church was not a source of comfort and acceptance. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a liberal arts degree and was drafted into the US Army in the fall of 1958. He served in Germany where he met his first wife Erika. After his tour of duty ended, they came back to the US and started a family. They both wanted some religious background for their kids but one with an open, accepting atmosphere. The UU church seemed right and they began attending Paint Branch UUC in 1965.
Fred was a stalwart at Paint Branch. His children with Erika and then with Teresa Meeks were all raised up in the UU tradition. Eventually, he and Teresa spent a few years not attending. After retiring in 2013, Teresa began looking for another congregation and liked UUCSS. Fred followed shortly thereafter. They both found UUCSS warm and welcoming, and soon Fred began serving both as chair of the Dream Builders and a member of the Board. Both roles were difficult since seismic shifts were occurring in both ministry and in defining realistic building plans for the church. Time and wise decision makers resolved the issues. He has since become one of the key people in advancing our building plans, doing detailed analysis of proposals, and negotiating with contractors. The process has required more time than expected but many useful changes have emerged, and Fred has continued to contribute.
When asked why UUCSS, he said, “I experienced growing up in a home and a religion based on rules and rigidity. I needed a home of compassion and kindness and a religion that sees the value in every human being. In addition, community is of great value to me. We all need community, and this church has true community. That’s why I’m here. I want to be needed and accepted and I know I have that at UUCSS.”