Justice Seeking People of Faith

Getting to Know MFSA through the People Whose Passion Fuels the Movement.

Bill Watts

Bill is a lay person in the East Ohio Annual Conference, MFSA Treasurer, serves on the Executive Committee, on the MFSA Board of Directors and a justice-seeking, peace loving person of faith.
 
Who are you?
I am a child of God! Shaped by my upbringing and the two great commandments!
 
Where do you come from?
I was born and raised on a small dairy farm in Ohio. Although, growing up I did not realize my family was poor compared to our neighbors (no running water, no inside bathroom, etc. until my senior year) because I did not lack anything since the farm provided all the food (from the garden and from various animals) my family needed except for flour, sugar, and spices. In short, I did not want for anything and was taught a work ethic that one always gives 100 plus percent. My mom always said anything is possible, one just has to determine what you want and go for it. In high school, I was told by my guidance councilor that I probably should not go to college and just be happy being a farmer. Well, that was enough motivation, so I graduated with chemistry major from Otterbein College and joined Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company in 1968. I went to graduate school in the evening to obtain a Masters of Polymer Chemistry from Akron University. Then I decided to take advanced MBA classes at Case Western. I worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company for 48 years (42 full time and 6 as a part time consultant) and am known all over the world as a Rubber Mixing Technology specialist. I have received two Goodyear Spirit Awards and the Dinsmore Award—the most prestigious technical award. I am married toJoy for 46 years, have 3 children and 5 grandchildren.
 
Why are you here?
I grew up United Methodist went to Sunday school and church every week. I understood the most important commandments were to love God with all of your might and love your neighbor as yourself. Even though I’m an optimist by nature, I was scared to death for my daughter Andrea twice in her life.  Once when she had spinal meningitis and once when she came out in 1995. The illness was cured by good medicine, doctors in white lab coats, and a smothering of parental love.  But when we faced homosexuality where was the good theology? Where were the spiritual leaders?  At first, I told her it was a sin; she remembers how those words felt. But I took those words back quickly. I was her papa!  I had driven her to Sunday School and church, youth group, conference council of youth ministries, Lakeside Institute, and I had faithfully kept stats and cheered her on (GO, Andrea!) in a zillion track and cross country meets!  She won almost every award her high school had to offer.  I knew she was a GOOD girl. I knew she did not choose evil.  My love as a father defeated the bad theology I grew up with. I was just always there for my sweetie.  I did fear for her though. What would people think of her?  Would she be safe?  Someone told us, gay guys are beaten up.  Lesbians are raped.   Why would we tell anyone? In college she had a sign taped to her wall which read, DON’T LET THE PEOPLE WHO DWELL IN FEAR AND HATE GOVERN HOW YOU LIVE.  She was braver than I was. I began to realize silence was not love.
 
What are you most passionate about?
 
So with the encouragement of Alice Cromwell and my wife Joy, in 2010, I became more involved with East Ohio Reconciling Ministries and East Ohio Methodist Federation of Social Action leadership not only because it is the just and right activity for a social justice seeking person but in those organizations and several congregations, it’s like being able to breathe again and feel God’s goodness again. So today, I am here to continue the love to change the church, my state and the nation to be totally inclusive! Which not only means working for LGBTQ issues but for all social justice issues that are related to peace, poverty, people’s rights, progressive issues and of course justice within the United Methodist Church. 
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