Fall 2005 Issue                   From the Teaching & Sharing Center                    www.wsharing.org


Creation Is Eagerly Waiting

"The earth is the LORDíS and all that is in it,the world, and those who live in it;"

- Psalm 24:1 NRSV

"For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are."

- Romans 8:19 NLT

"All creation anticipates the day when it will join Godís children in glorious freedom from death and decay."

- Romans 8:21 NLT

Then Jesus shouted, "Lazarus, come out!"

- John 11:43 NLT

In case youíre not familiar with that last passage itís where Jesus is raising Lazarus from the dead. Jesus is calling him out from the tomb where Lazarus had been buried. 

There are those who say the atrocious treatment weíve been giving to all of Godís creation has now put us into our graves. That ecologically we are already dead, but the news hasnít quite caught up to us yet. Maybe, maybe not, but we have been "dead" and in the tombs of ignorance, apathy, and greed with regard to the rest of Godís creation, for a long, long time. Perhaps it is time for the "children of God" to step forth from those tombs, "come out" and embrace life with a new perspective. 

Departing Board Members

Kim Winchell, after serving on the initial Board of Trustees of the Teaching & Sharing Center this past year, has begun a call to full-time Diaconal Minister for Earthkeeping Education in the ELCA. 

She has resources on the theological/biblical foundations for Earthkeeping and how to "green" your congregation, materials to bring an enhanced awareness of creation to worship services, information on related networks and conferences, information on ecological issues and ways to make a difference, as individuals or congregations, and advocacy how-toís and opportunities to make your voice and concerns heard on environmental issues with the government. 

To contact her for information or assistance:

Kim Winchell, DM
2405 Bay Rd.
Saginaw, MI 48602

Sarah Gibbons, who served as the first Board Secretary, also did not run for re-election since she will graduate with her MA from Michigan State in the spring (after one more trip as an assistant to Ireland) and sees it likely she will be moving, if she chooses to pursue her PhD. Sarah headed up the Fall Color Cruise & Island Festival encampment for us this year. While some participants expressed a desire to raise funds to "fly her back" next year, thatís up in the air for now.

Three New Trustees Elected to Board

We have three new trustees on the board. Kim Zipple is a long time advocate of the T&SC. Caroline Thurston is relatively new in her relationship with us, but is the daughter of Kenn & Dot Kuester [Dot was on the Grey Feathers Advisory Council which recommended incorporation] who have been connected here for quite some time. Jackie Blanc has been exposed to our work for a number of years in her role as naturalist for Eaton County Parks. We welcome them and look forward to their guiding input as we enter our second year as a non-profit corporation (12th year total). 

Board Needs a Secretary

We have President (Paul Pretzlaff), Vice-President (Joan Nolf), and the Treasurer (William Gibbons Jr) positions filled, but nobody has stepped forward as Secretary for the board (corporation). The responsibilities would be taking and preparing minutes at and for the quarterly board meetings, sending the annual meeting notices and proxies, and occasionally sending out a government required form. Guidance and instruction are provided if needed, and since this is a volunteer trustee position, it qualifies you for Center Circle membership. Please call or email the Center, or approach any board member, if you are interested in helping by handling this much needed role.

Pow Wow (Fleece Test)

As a result of the FCC&IF success, we are considering whether or not to participate in other area events. One such possibility would be the Riverbank Traditional Pow Wow (June 2006) in Lansing. This can only happen if we have volunteers step forward to look for grants for the equipment we need (plus the vendor fee), people to staff the tent, and someone to function as coordinator for the event. This would be a more direct presentation of the various dynamics of the T&SC, including a Cherokee History display by CBTC and materials on being Christian on a traditional Native American path. If you would like to see this happen, and are willing to help, contact the Center. 

Fall Color Cruise & Island Festival

As mentioned, FCC&IF was a grand success. We were blessed with no rain, and Sunday was a particularly beautiful fall day. Many visitors stopped to see the encampment and hear the history of 17th, 18th and 19th century Michigan. A dozen, or so, of those visiting asked to be added to our mailing list. If you did not attend or participate, you missed a fun time. Itís not always all work. 

Voyageur Canoe

A visitor to the FCC&IF encampment saw the photos of the Lakewell canoe from previous years and mentioned that he had one for sale. Mike George, a member of the Board of Trustees, did some follow-up but unfortunately we are not organized enough to be in a position to take advantage of opportunities like this. These canoes sell for $20,000 to $30,000 new. The $5000 asking price was likely within range of finding a grant, but we need members willing to seek them out (a 7% commission is approved). 

williamís perspective

When Jesus asked his disciples "who do you say that I am" (Matthew 16:15, Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20), I donít think he was confused and looking for guidance or confirmation. Yet, we as Christians often ask the church "who am I" in a "what am I supposed to be" sort of way. The end result of this is we wear a lot of masks in the Christian Church. 

Of all the ills beseeching the Christian Church, I believe this is one of the most destructive. Externally and internally, it is where we get the reputation for being a bunch of hypocrites. Look at most any category of societies ills, and Christians will likely be participating at roughly the same percentage as the general population. What does this say about us? It says weíre real human beings just like everybody else. Most of us know this. But, weíre afraid to speak openly about it in churches or Christian circles because of the finger pointing and judging from other "masked" Christians who have been taught to play the game. If you are like me, being "a new creation in Christ" does indeed have a tangible reality, but how or what is taking place remains a mystery, since almost all of the old "stuff" is still there to be dealt with. Thatís just the truth of it, and thereís no reason to pretend otherwise. Growth depends on honesty.

Making that point, in his book "Amazing Grace" Philip Yancey tells the story of a prostitute relating her dire situation. When asked why she didnít go to a church for help, "Church!" she cried "Why would I go there? I already feel terrible about myself. Theyíd just make me feel worse." 

A few years ago I read an article about someone who was involved in Internet child pornography, and they made the statement that what they wanted most was to be accepted by others, as they were. That really struck me at the time. Here is a person involved in an activity almost universally condemned, expressing exactly the same human need as the rest of us. And, you know what? Until we can respond with a "yeah, thatís a tough one," as if their "sin" challenge were no different than our own, it is highly unlikely that any change will occur for either of us. Divide and conquer works just fine for the dark forces within us all. I am not appalled or surprised by revelations of "revolting" behaviors. Our "Christian" masks, and hypocritical condemnations, provide fertile ground for such happenings.

A friend once told me about an advanced spiritual growth class where one of the assignments was to list the worst five things you would never want to see written about you in the headlines of a newspaper. I donít remember the full explanation, but part of the purpose was to acknowledge the "but for the grace of God" there go I dynamic of humility. I believe all of us carry the seeds of destruction within us. What kind of a foothold they get depends heavily on how alone we feel we are left to deal with them. 

I once wrote a short poem which says, "the more wisdom I gain, the more I realize what little wisdom I have." To climb even a few rungs up the spiritual growth ladder is to see that each new perspective expands the scale of that still to be achieved. Even in the practical matters, what once was presented as black and white takes on shades of gray. Someone recently declared to me that they "know the difference between right and wrong." While I am not a person who sees everything in terms of relativism, I am not at all certain I know what falls on the "right" side of the fence, and what belongs in the "wrong" category. I do know that much of what I was taught as "right" has turned out to be blatant lies. An example of this I deal with daily, is how and why Indians, particularly the Cherokee, were subjected to the way the new Americans treated them. Manifest Destiny, the Puritan ethic, God versus those savages, as it turns out was not at all about being "right." It was mostly about greed, racism, power brokering, expedience, and the might of superior technology and numbers. Some people, I suspect, actually believed they were "right" in the "big picture" with these actions. But, the more I read and learn, many, including those in key positions, knew the gravity of "wrong" being done, and either simply followed orders, or went along with the consensus mob attitude that it was "right." So, where does that leave us with regards to right and wrong? It causes me to remove the masks of right and wrong and leave them along the road while I simply seek the truth. Let those of ignorance or arrogance declare the truth as right or wrong. And, by the way, a-r-r-o-g-a-n-c-e is just another way to spell ignorance. I know that well.

Gullibility has been a constant companion in my life. In its best form it manifests as trust. Sometimes it becomes stumble and fall, feel humiliated, then try to get up and dust yourself off. I tend to pull back at those times, typically seeing them as "failures" instead of lessons. Then I remind myself why I have taken the path I am on. That it is OK to be however I am, while compete and compare remain great pillars of destruction.

By now it should be clear to you. If you are one of those people who sees me as an exceptional example of a Christian, please donít. I struggle with as much as everybody else. Someone once told me that my poetry and writing reflects an openness they would never be able to let people see. But, even the willingness and courage to stand before the world in my nakedness, I have compared more to that of the circumstance of the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, than anything grand or noble.

I mentioned just the other day to a close friend that the first ten years (after leaving State Farm) was simply about trying to find my way, discover who I really am, and what God wanted me to do with that. I said I need to refocus on those and be careful my life doesnít become all about trying to make the (T&SC) non-profit corporation succeed. These are two distinctly different endeavors. The first is all about being real, both in darkness and the light. The latter usually turns into putting a good face on things to accommodate everyoneís sensibilities. In all honesty that would feel like a betrayal of my journey into truth. Thatís why you wonít see me pushing very hard to fill empty positions, or make things happen otherwise. The corporation is a group endeavor, or it is nothing, and I see it as such. And even though I am a significant piece in that puzzle, and it is a significant piece in my life today, I experience it as distinctly separate.

Like everyone else, I am whoever, however, and whatever I am. I am also constantly changing. This is the way God created me. It is my quest not to apologize for it or hide from it. I must trust there is purpose in this process, or why would God have chosen to make it so. Believe in God ó trust in the process. It is as simple as that. Itís just not always easy.

Godís peace,                                     




The opinions and philosophies expressed in "williamís perspective" are solely those of the poet william. They do not necessarily represent positions or views of the Teaching & Sharing Center, its board of trustees, or other members of the non-profit corporation.


An Introduction to Vitamins, Herbs and Going Natural

We have some new programs for 2006 being discussed. Already a "go" is a class introducing the "why" and "what" of natural alternatives and supplements. It is being offered on the third Wednesday of each month at 2:00 p.m. and again at 7:00 p.m. [beginning November 16th through early 2006]. Pre-enrollment is required. Maximum class size is 10. Minimum enrollment for a given time slot to take place is 4. In keeping with the philosophies of the T&SC, the class itself is free, however, there is a $10 (must pre-pay) materials fee for non-members of the T&SC. Call, email, or stop by the Center to reserve a spot. Non-member reservations will be held for three days without payment of the materials fee. The instructor is william. 

Other Possibilities Being Considered

It has never been the way of the Center to create a bunch of programs then wait and see if anybody shows up. We step forward on something because interest is being expressed. If you want to see more classes and group participation options available here, you cannot just sit back and hope it will magically happen. At the very least, you need to let someone know what you are wanting to participate in. On the "best" end of things, you would be willing to help make it happen, or even function as a facilitator. 

Possibilities currently being discussed include a hands on "how to" instructional class for making rag rugs, and a book study group on the new perspectives in Christian discipleship as presented by Marcus J. Borg "The Heart of Christianity" using a study guide, "Experiencing the Heart of Christianity" by Tim Scorer (forward by Marcus Borg). 

Volunteer Positions Still Open

The board previously approved several volunteer options for those wishing more involvement with the Center. 

Library Director would oversee the Lending Library, including processing new materials so they are available for checkout. As other volunteers stepped forward to help, the director could consider a materials outreach program for the homebound, and senior or assisted living facilities. 

Membership Director simply sees to it that membership applications get processed and library cards get mailed. If so inclined they could work on trying to expand the T&SC membership base as well. 

Membership Services Director might be broken into two positions. One, a person as Communications Director handling the newsletter, and basic letters and emails, (official corporate business comes from the board Secretary). The other would be the WBC (Wholesale Buyerís Co-op) Director. The WBC has the potential to become a significant and frequently used benefit. It is available to all Center Circle members (both volunteer and financial options). 

Grants Supervisor was authorized as a volunteer position to oversee the grants process and keep track of who is doing what so we are not stumbling over ourselves. Those actually seeking grants receive a 7% commission on the grant amount received. 

There has been some discussion about adding a new Programs Director position to the list of volunteer possibilities which qualify for Center Circle status. Also the idea of a volunteer Operations Supervisor has emerged, to coordinate those willing to volunteer time to staff the Center so it could have a few regular open hours. 

These positions are simply some ideas and options for those who have said they would like to help. But, weíre not about creating structure and trying to push people into it. If you have something else you would like to do, just let any trustee know what it is and theyíll take it to the board. If you are willing to participate through one of the already approved positions, please phone, stop by, or email the Center (TSCenters@comcast.net)

Large Financial & Property Gifts

Also on the drawing board is a Lifetime Center Circle designation formula for an individual making a significant one-time contribution to the T&SC as a 501c3 non-profit corporation. If you would like to have some input on this, contact any trustee. 

If You Have Email

We cannot emphasize this enough. If you have an email address, even if you have selected to receive newsletters and other primary communications from us by regular mail, be sure we have added you to our email listings. Because there is no additional material expense, sometimes the email lists get something not generally sent out. Or, as was the case with the An Introduction to Vitamins, Herbs and Going Natural class, an email notification preceded the mailing of this newsletter by over a week.  Donít miss out on anything ó email us at TSCenters@comcast.net so we can add your address to the appropriate email list.

FREE PRINTER: We have an HP 960c Inkjet Printer we are no longer using. Contact the Center. First come basis.

Love Those Senior Citizens . . .

A college student at a recent USC football game challenged a senior citizen sitting next to him, saying it was impossible for their generation to understand his. 

"You grew up in a different world," the student said loud enough for many nearby to hear. "Today we have television, jet planes, space travel, man has walked on the moon, our spaceships have visited Mars, we even have nuclear energy, electric and hydrogen cars, computers with light-speed processing . . . and . . . uh . . ." 

Taking advantage of a pause in the student's litany, the old geezer said: "You're right. We didn't have those things when we were young; so we invented them, you little *@#!*#*. What the hell are YOU doing for the next generation?" 

A Little Humor To Close Things Out

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex standing in the foyer of the church staring up at a large plaque. It was covered with names with small American flags mounted on either side of it. The seven year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, "Good morning Alex." "Good morning Pastor," he replied, still focused on the plaque. "Pastor, what is this?" asked Alex. The pastor said, "Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service." Soberly, they just stood together, staring at the large plaque. Finally, little Alex's voice, barely audible and trembling with fear, asked, "Which service, the 9:45 or the 11:15?"  

Mini7News is sent quarterly to members of the Teaching & Sharing Center 501c3 non-profit corporation and those who are on "the poet's circle" mailing list. Permission is granted for complete reproduction of original articles and graphics only. If you have received this by email or regular mail in error and you wish your name taken off the poetís circle mailing list, simply email TSCenters@comcast.net or phone 627-7366 (toll free 877-wsharing) and request that your name be removed. A confirmation of your request acknowledging removal will be sent by email or regular mail depending on how it was received.


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