Arthur Pfaelzer's first experience with the Redeemer was walking down the aisle to marry his first wife in 1963. His family was heavily involved at Trinity-Copley downtown, but he had become distant from it, living in Concord and worshipping at St. Paul’s in Dedham for 20 years.
Carol, who would eventually become his second wife, brought him to the Redeemer after they met in 1992 at a dinner party the year after Francoise had died. On their first date, Carol and Arthur talked about churches and God. Arthur knew she was the one for him when she served him tea using the same china rose pattern his mother owned.
Arthur has loved a number of Redeemer ministers over the years. “They cared about the people, the individuals, in the church. (They were) not just following protocol and giving nice sermons.” He also credits others in Redeemer lay leadership for being very religious and contributing to the feeling of care.
Arthur now feels that the church is part of his extended family, but having had religion forced upon him at a religious boarding school growing up, he was set against religion for some time. “(At the school) there was a lot of hazing despite the ministerial presence. I didn’t see their teachings as living the Good News, they were never connected to compassion and kindness, just abuse."
Still, he felt he always believed in God, no matter what was going on in churches and religious schools. He was happy when former Rector Rev. Dorsey McConnell started weekly Bible studies. “For the first time, Dorsey made us really understand the Bible,” a tradition that Arthur says has continued under Interim Rector Rev. Cathy Hagstrom Georgeand Rev. Mike Dangelo.
Unofficially, a women’s Bible study had been going on for 20 years, and Carol has been a part of it, leaning on the women in the group in times of need. When the official women’s study started under Dorsey, she joined that, too. “Sometimes we do more Bible and sometimes we do more comforting of people’s concerns,” she says.
She had joined the Redeemer when she had moved to Chestnut Hill in 1973 because it was the neighborhood church. She stayed a member through a divorce and becoming a single mother, although she did try other churches. Later, when her children were grown and she was contemplating a move to be closer to them, a parishioner told Carol that there would be a void in the parish if she moved. She stayed.
Arthur is a frequent attendee of Men’s Bible Study and other adult education programming. Carol still attends the Thursday morning Bible Study, is a leader of the Redeemer Rockers and volunteers on the Pastoral Care team.
“The Spirit of God is still here,” Arthur says.