FORT JEFFERSON — Beth Vieira quit her job as a Manhattan attorney to forge ahead on a new path in her life.
Ten months ago, she was assigned to become pastor of the Fort Jefferson United Methodist Church, her first charge in this journey called life.
“This church is so special in its fellowship,” said Vieira. “It may not be a big church but there is more love and acceptance in these walls than I’ve ever seen in my life.”
She is still residing in Cincinnati, but husband Rick, also an attorney, comes here on the weekends, and she goes back home later on in the week.
“It’s all a part of Jesus,” she said.
Vieira said she had been chaplain of Christ Hospital in Cincinnati for three years.
“I taught in the psychiatric ward in emergency care,” she said. “I teach them a spirituality class. I had worked with five to eight people a week for three years as part of the chaplaincy team. Psychiatric people are so receptive; they’ve just had a rough time.”
She’s found her niche in Darke County.
“I was a lawyer in Manhattan for 30 years and my husband and I raised two sons,” said Vieira, who is working on her doctorate. “One day I was just reading from Matthew in the Bible on my back porch, where it said, ‘Follow me.’ God meant me for me.”
It was at that time, she decided to tell her law partners about her future plans, and said that her husband was extremely supportive.
“I’m actually a country girl,” Vieira said. “Grandpa Robert Dorsey was a farmer in Clermont County, and my grandmother had 12 children, three who became pastors. Paul, the youngest of the 12, is still alive in Florida and was encouraging me to do this.”
Vieira said she considers herself a “Methocostal.”
“I believe in miracles in the present day,” she said. “I’m full of the Holy Spirit right now. That’s an amazing gift. The church here is so talented and intelligent. This year has been one of the most amazing years of my life. If anybody is looking for a place to really find God and a loving community, this is the church for them.”
She said the congregation does a lot of pastoral visits.
“I spend two full days visiting in the community at the Brethren Retirement Community and on hospital visits,” she said. “Letitia DeWeese is an amazing mission partner. We have strong, independent women here.”
Others who work diligently for the church, she said, are Marilyn Bridges, the Sunday school teacher; and Sue Horner, church pianist for many years. Those helping just this week to make vegetable soup to distribute to the community were Letitia DeWeese, Helen James, Iris Hathaway, Virginia O’Dell and Norma Crawford.
“Marilyn is a delegate from the church to the jurisdictional conference,” Vieira said. “She’s really something.”
The pastor also emphasized that there are a lot of men who help out as well.
The minister said last week she spent time teaching children of the church how to pray.
“I am hoping to do a confirmation class with the older children,” she said. “I have four baptisms next month.”
She met her husband while studying for the bar exam in New York.
“I saw him across the crowded room and thought he was the most beautiful thing I ever saw,” she recalled. “It took a couple of weeks for him to notice me, then he took me home to meet his mom.”
Now, they have two grown sons, Andrew of Cincinnati, working in the hospitality industry; and Michael who lives in Florida and studying for his medical boards.
“My daughter-in-law, Michael’s wife, is from the Philippines and is in nursing school, ” said Vieira proudly. ” I believe in worth, value and potential for those who have dreams.”
Vieira herself is a cellist.
“I got my undergraduate degree in music,” she said. “Here at Fort Jefferson we are growing the music program. We have chamber music; Marilyn on viola, Carol Hathaway on trumpet, Vivian Kinnison on piano and me on cello.
The pastor, whose hobbies are music and gardening, concluded, “I feel like I am one of the community. Everywhere I go here I find wonderful people. I am pleased as punch to be here.”