the Teaching & Sharing Centers
After a year of relative stability and improving finances in 2011, even with a major sewer repair project, the "Beyond These Walls" organizational campaign began in 2012. Rick McKenzie's "Theology Pub" was added as a new Independent Affiliated Ministry (IAM). And, fundraising began for the purchase of Kuester Cottage on the Eaton Rapids Holiness Campgrounds, which will be developed as a "christian life programs" working tribute honoring the lives of Kenn & Dot Kuester, early members of the T&SC.
2009 and 2010 brought many changes. Some due to the tight economic times, and others just natural progressions. The original Center was reduced in size by giving up space to the building owner for an apartment, the (land line) phone was eliminated, and the board discontinued MLHE participation in Grand Ledge's fall festival due to health and time issues of the members the T&SC was supporting there. On the plus side, the corporation established the www.tscenters.org website, and the many changes brought the T&SC to a level of simplicity which positively impacted its ability to sustain things financially. In January 2010, a touch of william (including the wsharing website) and Cherokee Bill's Teaching & Trade Center re-established as Independent Affiliates (IAMs) of the T&SC under a new single agreement.
In 2008, the FBI Reading Club (Bob Buckley) became the first new (not previously connected) IAM of the Teaching & Sharing Centers non-profit corporation.
In July 2007 the Teaching & Sharing Center corporation added an "s" to its name becoming the Teaching & Sharing Centers, recognizing projects such as the Michigan Living History Encampment as separate "teaching and sharing" endeavors from the original Center. The original Center was designated as the Teaching & Sharing Center of Grand Ledge.
After ten years of functioning as a piece of the a touch of william sole-proprietorship, the Teaching & Sharing Center became a Michigan non-profit corporation on January 1, 2005. At the board meeting of May 7, 2005, two other pieces, christian life programs and the poet's circle, were officially accepted as DBAs (assumed names - doing business as) of the new T&SC corporation. The T&SC corporation works in harmony at the "Center" location in Grand Ledge with a touch of william, but is governed separately by its own Board of Trustees.
The below history is from prior to incorporation.
(from SHARING #0206-14, June 2002)There was an item in the news several months ago about a janitor cleaning up a room full of trash at an art museum in England only to learn that the entire room was actually an exhibit. They painstakingly put every item back where it had been. While something like this seems quite humorous to most of us, it got me to thinking.
Part of understanding my role and relationship to the Center is to realize that the whole thing is like a giant work of art, as opposed to a business endeavor. I felt lead by God to create it, and to continue to create and maintain it until it becomes clear whatever purpose it serves is completed, or I am told to move on to something or somewhere else.
Itís not the only thing I do of course, but it is a big part of what I do and usually figures into much of the rest of a touch of william because it is functional and informational space as well as a sensory and experiential work of art.
Of course, beyond the artistic side, maintaining the Center, creating and implementing the systems which allow things to function here, as well as creating products and ministry tools which flow out from here involves a lot of work . . . My choice. I feel called to this work and believe it makes an important contribution to the world around me.
Small perhaps, but much needed.
(from SHARING #0001-12, January 2000) . . . All of a touch of william comes together at the Center, and that makes it the most confusing of the various aspects. Why confusing? Because it was never intended to be the primary focus. And that is difficult for people to understand who look at the Center and see it as what I do. Unfortunately, I too, have contributed to that misperception.
When I left my career with State Farm five years ago (end of 1994), I wasnít really all that clear on exactly what it was I thought God was asking me to do. People expect you to have an answer when they wonder why you abandon 20 years at something. It simply became easiest to point, or refer, to the Center, with its library, products, prayer room, and classroom. It was something tangible. It certainly beat the looks I can imagine if I said I write poems, take pictures, put them into little books and give them away. Which is, in a nutshell, the real heart of a touch of william, but is far more likely to provoke thoughts of how long have I had a developmental disability. After all, from this societies perspective, who in their right mind gives up career security, income, and a little community prestige, for cutting paper and stuffing photos?
Well, I bought into the question too. So for the first few years, much of my effort did focus on the Center and the various features within it. Trying to see if one or another of them was what I, my work, was all about. That was a lot of brick walls to run into. And, a long way to travel, only to come back to where I started. The Center is an aspect, not the feature. It is putting the materials Iíve used on my journey onto shelves available to others, rather than away in a closet. It is having the prayer room I built for my own use (while still in the insurance business) open to anyone. It is having a limited product area, for items which supplement the other aspects of a touch of william, as well as my personal works. But supplement is the key word. Each feature of the Center, or any one of the atow aspects, could be a full-time job in and of itself. For a while things got kind of crazy around here, as I kept expanding each one wondering what was the key, to allow me to feel valid. Five years later it turns out the key was not to try to feel valid, as this society deems it. But to find what felt most harmonious and balanced. What felt genuine.
Good things happened to the Center as a result of that journey. Some just settled down. The library is still here, but I do not rush to expand it. There is a distinct product area, but only for things which come to my attention and relate. I do not speed around trying to fill it. The prayer room is still the most used, but thatís because I use it daily . . . . . . there is a feeling of peace around here these days, which has been a long time coming. I donít hurry over to get it opened, or to get things done. There is a time for every thing and every purpose under heaven. There is a priority, and a new perspective.