Responding to a growing need in the world today.
Our world needs more life-giving ways for us all to live and work together so that we may foster greater spiritual wellbeing and ensure the survival of our earth and species. We believe that people find greater meaning and purpose for their lives through transformative connections to self, others, God and creation. These are the roots of true spiritual wellbeing. Our Theory of Change is that this nurturing of spiritual wellbeing will lead to healthy people living healthy lives and building flourishing communities where all benefit, especially those forced to live on the margins of society or who have all but lost hope.
Located in “The Collegium” in the Tierra Vida community in East Pasco, WA, we operate a “third space” (other than home or work) where people can casually meet, enjoy a meal or coffee together, and over time develop stronger social networks and a deeper sense of connection. It is from this “community of practice” that we learn, teach and spread nurturing around the globe.
CFS was birthed out of a series of short term mission trips of perspective that the Broetje family took to Mexico in the 1980’s. They learned that poverty, corruption, and lack of assessable resources were forcing people to leave their land and head north. In 1986 the Center For Sharing was formed around simple advocacy programs for women and children in Mexico. Later we began to see the need to move from charity to development in order to prepare people to lead themselves; in the places they live and work.
A call was sounded for believers who would serve Christ among vulnerable, under-served groups. Informal, grassroots-type outreaches of service were organized in the basement of Pioneer United Methodist church.
By January 1991, we had outgrown the church basement so we moved into the three-story J.C. Penney building we had purchased and remodeled on Main Street in Walla Walla. We set up individual spaces for outreach programs to become more formalized. We also set up a central administrative staff and instituted regular group meetings for small groups that emerged around each new program that came into being.
In 1995, these outreach programs were re-organized as mission groups. A Servant Leadership Development (SLD) mission group was formed in order to teach and monitor consistent mission group structure for all programs within the umbrella of the Center for Sharing. A goal was put in place that all existing programs would become financially sufficient within five years.
The same year, we held our first 9-month “Servant Leadership Development” course for existing CFS staff. It was open to the public as well and included 27 participants split into 3 groups for weekly reflections. We were mentored for this initial course by members of the Servant Leadership School of Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C.
We continued to offer SLD classes to the public. Many participants came as a result of being clients of the various service programs offered in our center, and other ministries began to be birthed.
By 1998, CFS trustees began to sense that we should consider moving to a needier region. A branch office was opened in Pasco in order to explore a possible presence there. When we finally did move to Pasco, there remained only two employees: Glenn Cross and Cheryl Broetje. We continued to offer SLD courses from a small office space. In addition, we had come to believe that servant leaders try to share power in ways that are de-centralized so as to make room for more leaders to emerge within communities that share leadership.
CFS chose to settle into the newly developing community of Tierra Vida because we believe that the principles of servant leadership are best taught when theories are connected to real communities of practice. The values of servant leadership provide guidelines for positive growth and development as families continue to move into the neighborhood and become part of ‘the way we do things around here’ for the benefit of the common good.
CFS continues to operate in the Tierra Vida community in East Pasco, providing a ‘third space’ where people can casually meet and get to know each other, while over time developing stronger social networks and a deeper sense of connection. As people feel led, we offer a series of servant leadership courses to further the exploration of purpose and call, as well as mission group development in the places that people live and work. As Richard Smith says:
“Servant leadership turns leadership into a territory, a field of action in which various people can operate depending upon their individual abilities and capacities to serve the mission of the enterprise and the people who make it all happen.”
One of our guiding scriptures comes from Mark 3: 13-15
Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.
He appointed twelve, designating them apostles, that they might:
1) Be with him; and
2) Go out to preach and have authority to drive out demons.
This speaks to the ‘inward-outward’ journey of faith that Jesus calls us to as servant leaders.