his first poem in 1967, while still in high school. It was written in German,
as best he could, because that was one of his favorite classes. It was about
love. Following only a handful of writings, it was not until 1973, a year
after graduating from Michigan State University, that he wrote about God.
He did not have a religious upbringing, and it would be another dozen years
before he would go looking for God in earnest.
In 1985, after
a metaphysical experience hospitalized him, the poetry floodgates opened,
and continued for most of the next decade. In 1983 (below left photo) william
was still taking pictures with a small Kodak Instamatic camera. But, by 1990
(below right photo), he had become fairly proficient with a Canon 35mm camera
he had purchased 4 years prior in 1986 after his 17 year marriage ended in
divorce. Photography was now a central theme in his life. But he decided it
was his desire for it "to remain a small business, and a big pleasure, rather
than becoming a big business, and a small pleasure." So, his career focus
remained on operating his State Farm Insurance office, begun in 1975.
The search he
started in 1985, culminated in 1988 on August 28th when he was baptized in
the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in a northern
Michigan river by Pastor Richard Kennedy, a personal friend. Richard, and
another friend, Tom Coby, had been at lunch with william earlier in the year
when the topic of baptism came up. At first william balked at the idea claiming
he had already felt baptized by fire those past few years. Why would he need
to go through some ritual to validate his relationship with God? After much
discussion leaving william unswayed, Tom leaned over to him, looked him in
the eyes, and said, "Jesus thought it was important enough to have it done
to Him." That was the end of the debate. william turned to Richard and asked,
"when can we do this."
Six years later,
in October 1994, william would be leaving his 20 year State Farm career,
to start the Teaching & Sharing Center as the official physical location of
a touch of william, plus the various other aspects, and activities,
related to his walk with God, utilizing primarily his photography, and poetry,
plus responding to whatever else he felt God called him to do. In the early
years, he did not refer to himself as a domestic missionary, and struggled
whether to call what he was doing a ministry, or a mission. When asked about
it, he would often say he saw himself sort of as a troubleshooter, going where
God directed, and doing whatever God asked. Throughout the course of over
two decades, however, he found that people accepted his role more easily if
he simply referred to himself as a domestic missionary. As close as any other
description, it was an understood concept that others felt comfortable with.
Over the first five years, the T&SC changed and evolved as God guided things.
However, a touch of william remained fairly constant, particularly
with the distribution of william's Poetry & Pictures books. Everything
else grew under the spiritual focus of a touch of william. Then, at
the end of 2004, from the consensus of a group of advisors william utilized
for big decisions, he filed the paperwork for the creation of the Teaching
& Sharing Center[s] non-profit corporation to be effective January 1,
2005. Pastor Richard McKenzie, and Pastor Paul Pretzlaff rounded out the three
incorporators required by law at the time. a touch of william, along
with Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center (which had developed as
a major focus of william's activies under God's guidance), became an
Independent Affiliated Ministry of the corporation. 2006 introduced a major
health issue when it was determined william needed quadruple by-pass open
heart surgery. The operation was performed on March 13th. Exactly five months
later on August 13th (below left photo, right image from 15th), thankful to
God for his health, william was back enjoying nature and taking photographs.
In 2015, a
touch of william, Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center, and
most of william's mission assets at the Teaching & Sharing Center
of Grand Ledge were merged into a new branch of the Teaching & Sharing
Centers non-profit called william's works. As the volunteer director of the
branch, william, plus his wsharing website, continues functioning
as an independent domestic missionary utilizing the william's works
platform provided by the organization.
What began as the sharing of his photography and poetry,
reached a peak in 2020 with a program highlighting the heart of all that had
been done in the preceding 26 years. The In His Steps book by Charles Sheldon,
Peace Pilgrim materials, and Matthew 6 beginning at verse 24, have had a huge
impact on all aspects of william's activities and decisions. The above
link will take you to the new In His Steps groups page in william's
website. Additional information about the other dynamics of william's
outreaches can be found by clicking on the wsharing.com links below.