Reprinted with permission from the May – June 2009 issue of The Fourth R.
In Service to Westar
Barbara and Maurey Yackel are among the most dedicated Westar Associates. You can find them at most every Westar event that takes place in California, from Jesus Seminars on the Road (JSORs) to more than 20 semi-annual meetings in Santa Rosa.
“We just love the intellectual stimulus,” said Barbara. “My special interest is language and translation issues,” Maurey added. Barbara likes the atmosphere of the meetings. “There is discussion, there is debate, but there is also harmony,” said Barbara. “Differences are honored. I don’t have even an associate degree, but the scholars have always been most respectful and gracious to me.”
Both have life-long interests in religion. Barbara was raised in Sacramento in the United Methodist Church, but became a Unity Church member as an adult and then a Licensed Unity Teacher. Her work as a teacher brought her in contact with Westar. “The work of Westar has given me greater awareness of the misinformation given by the church over the centuries,” she said. "My hope is that freedom from religion will give future generations the courage to grow; to learn the joy of just being good people; to toss away the burden of the ‘God who is out to get you’.”
The information that she has gotten as a member of Westar, Barbara reports, has helped her in her role as a chaplain and in hospice work. “The questions hospice families ask usually come from an old fear of ‘God as boogie man’ instilled in Sunday school and never released,” she said. “Sometimes I shock a patient who has been burdened by old deeds by telling them 'God don't care!' When they smile and express relief, I know that they are finally ready to release the old ideas.”
Maurey is a native of Redwood Falls, Minnesota, and was pursuing studies in the Lutheran ministry when he was pulled into the Korean War, where he served in Air Force intelligence in Japan and Korea. The service also got him to Sacramento State University, where he studied accounting and met Barbara. Both spent their careers working for the State of California, contributing a combined 53 years of service. They also raised three children and have four grandchildren.
Maurey’s religious interests surfaced again later in his adult life when he turned toward spiritualist ministries and the Pyramid Church of Truth and Light. The two participate in each other’s churches, and their discussions flow into Westar.
“Westar is so very important to us, but also to everyone’s understanding of the Bible and religion in general,” said Barbara. “I encourage my students to give to those organizations that enlighten them spiritually and intellectually. For us, Westar embodies that ethic. We give whenever we can, and as much as we are able. We want to make a difference.”