In December 2020, Steve Dick died unexpectedly. This was a shock to his many friends, including many of us in EUU. In recent years, through his work as Executive Director of ICUU (International Council of Unitarians and Universalists) and his visits to EUU fellowships and retreats, many got to know him and appreciate his good humor and thoughtful comments.
But not everyone is familiar with his early years in EUU: He was one of its founders and also instrumental in establishing the fellowship in the Netherlands. You can read about this in the pdf EUU history that covers years up to 2010.
Below are some memories from EUU “old-timers.”
John Eichrodt’s tribute to Steve can be found in a separate post.
When my family moved to Denmark from Chicago in 1980, I sorely missed our UU community. Roger Brewin, our minister at Beverly Unitarian Universalist Church, gave me the address of CLF (the UUA’s Church of the Larger Fellowship), which I promptly joined so I could receive newsletters and family RE mailing packets. In one newsletter, I found a little box with information about EUU, which was quite new at the time. So I wrote to the address given and started a correspondence with Steve, who was the part-time director of EUU. He produced the newsletter (Die Gedanken Sind Frei), organized the retreats, including RE, etc. I explained that I had no money to contribute but that I was quite desperate to have the contact, and I asked to receive the newsletter. Steve encouraged me; and finally, in 1986, by tacking the retreat onto a business trip for my research, our family made our way to our first retreat in Zeist, the Netherlands. It is no exaggeration to say that that first retreat changed our lives.
In 1987, soon after our son had his second birthday, I expressed to my mother that we were looking for an alternative to the Lutheran and Catholic choices offered in our area of Germany. Now that we were a small family, we needed something of a spiritual nature to be a part of. Fortunately, my mother had recently joined a UU congregation in Kansas and put me in touch with a former member, Mary Diehl, living at that time in Wiesbaden Germany. It was from her that I learned about EUU, and she gave me the phone number of one of its founders, Reverend Steve Dick. Rev. Steve had a very friendly and reassuring voice on the phone, and he invited us to attend our first retreat in Zeist, Netherlands.
When Rev. Steve found out we were musicians, he encouraged us to bring our instruments and asked us if we could play in the Sunday service, which we did. Because of Steve, our first retreat was a smashing success and we looked forward to them twice a year. Steve’s manner was incredibly warm and pleasant, and this was present in his thoughtful Sunday services as well as his pastoral care. Though John and I had managed a professional life in Germany, we led a pretty lonely existence for many years. We found German cultural acclimation as difficult to overcome as the gray, cloudy weather and the dark winters.
Steve began sending us the Die Gedanken Sind Frei newsletter, which he wrote, edited and published. It was this newsletter that inspired me to later become the editor of the EUU’s newsletter The Unifier. Steve also helped our family connect to the Church of the Larger Fellowship. His engaging personality brightened our existence and gave us confidence to surmount the difficulties of feeling isolated and alone, as we tried to raise a family in a foreign country. We owe him a debt of gratitude for his successful efforts to establish an English speaking UU presence in Europe and for many years providing a safe haven for our religious growth. We send our heartfelt sympathies to his wife, Jenneke, and daughter, Esther.
Charles VanDenBroeder (now a Unitarian minister in the UK, early member of NUUF):
I was surprised to learn of Steve’s passing. I can remember a few things about the early days. When he was studying for the ministry, all his spare time was devoted to what would become the EUU. Steve was the instigator for the re-founding of the Netherlands Fellowship and was the one who baptized my son Alex.