“A couple of weeks ago, I went down on my motorcycle, got all banged up, put in my resignation here, and I told my wife that it was time to file the divorce papers and it was like the worst week ever. There’s this group of ministers that meets each week…I told them that and then I said, ‘But I’ve got really high hopes for next week being better!’ because I think the odds are really in my favor.”
After a year at the People’s Church of Chicago and of being a professional Unitarian Universalist minister, Seth Fisher is leaving due to foundational problems involving inadequate funding and administration.Through dropping out of undergraduate university and developing an alcohol addition, the 42-year-old found direction during rehab in the practice of Unitarian Universalism where he wasn’t obligated to devote himself to one religion. Rather, he was able to integrate beliefs of various religions, one being Zen Buddhism, which he also practices.
Concurrently, Seth and his wife of two years, Julia, are in the process of getting a divorce. He says it has been difficult to initiate because aside from the weekly counseling sessions they attend, there is no progress in their relationship, and Julia is resistant to sign the papers.
“It came to a point where she was starting to drag me down, to a point where I was starting to get depressed again and I had been there before and I was not gonna go there again…I guess the marriage is really hard because I had really high hopes and it was supposed to last a lifetime, so I’m going to be processing that for a while.”
Seth has to wait about eight months until he is chosen for a position at a new church, but in the meantime, he will fill in for other ministers and officiate weddings. He says he is excited to spend Christmas with his family in Washington. He’s also been looking to perform in comedy shows- a passion he’s had since practicing theatre at University of Iowa. For now, the self-proclaimed introvert is finding solace in solitude, especially in the quaint, one-bedroom apartment that he moved into in October where he meditates, smokes an occasional cigar, and creates makeshift inventions like one of the pipes in his collection.
“As an apartment, it’s not nearly as nice [as his old one], but it’s a sanctuary. I love it. It’s my own little space and I’m happy there. I can be happy. It’s so nice.”
On one of his last days at People’s Church, members of the Church expressed sentiments of appreciation for Seth’s presence as Minister. In his office that was almost completely cleared out, he pointed to the light hanging from the inside window. Founder of People’s Church in 1912, Reverend Preston Bradley created the soap opera “Guiding Light” with a main character who, too, was a reverend who left a burning lamp in his study each night for those in need of help. Seth, often living his life through meaningful metaphors, bought a light to provide connection with Bradley and symbolize his own willingness to offer assistance to the community around him.
“The church, as sad as it is, I knew there were some big challenges when I came, and the final thing that made me decide to come here was not wanting to look back at the end of my career, at the end of my life and think ‘what could I have done if I had gone to People’s Church?’…and I will leave here sad, knowing that I wasn’t able to do everything I wanted to do here and ultimately it didn’t work out, but there’s a lot of stuff that did work out.”