The UPPC Story Project: Mel Spitler

Long time member Mel Spitler is living proof that an “old dog can learn new tricks.” Since 1976, Mel has considered University Place Presbyterian Church his church home.

“Well, I have only been here a short time, 44 years,” Mel jokingly said.

At the age of 80, he has seen and experienced a lot, which has left him with many stories to tell.

Raised in a small town in Pennsylvania, Mel grew up attending the only church in town, the Evangelical Congregational Trinity. It was when he attended college at Drexel University in Drexel, Pennsylvania that he first attended a Presbyterian church.

“My roommate suggested I go to the Presbyterian church associated with the University of Pennsylvania which was closed to us. So, that was how I became a Presbyterian,” Mel said.

Soon after marrying his wife Elizabeth, the newlyweds moved to Tacoma. After a brief hiatus from the area when the family lived in Oregon, the Spitler’s finally came to live in University Place. He and his wife have five boys together and a total of 11 grandchildren.

“We settled in University Place for the school system and came to UPPC and liked it,” Mel said.

At UPPC, Mel has served as an elder, taking part in the mission committee.

Currently, he is part of a men’s bible study. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the group has to meet via Zoom. However, the fellowship Mel has with these men is still impactful. He feels very close to them and acknowledges them as people who have been able to give him strong advise and speak wisely into his life.

During his time at UPPC, Mel has helped out with childcare for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). His time serving with this ministry turned into quite the touching experience for Mel.

One story that has really impacted Mel comes from a moment of true communication with a toddler he was helping care for.

“This one little girl came in and she cried and fussed. The other childcare workers tried to calm her down, but they didn’t get much accomplished.” Mel said. “I stopped whatever I was doing and said, ‘What do I have to lose?’. I went over and all I remember is that I got down on my knees so I was eyeball to eyeball with her. And, I started talking to her and I can’t tell you a word I said, but then she looked me over looked over the room and the next thing I knew she put her arms around me and her head on my shoulder.”

For Mel, in that instant he felt like he was able to understand the little girl’s heart.

“She communicated I am afraid, I miss my mother, I am trusting you, I want you to take care of me all loud and clear,” Mel said.

This impressed Mel immensely and reminded him of the gift God has given us in the various
ways to communicate as well as God’s ever present love and care for his children.

Currently, Mel is continuing to work on being a life-long learner by engaging with topics such as communication through touch and being made in the image of God.

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