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Tag Archive | "sanctuary"

Sanctuary vs. Nature Center


By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

A nature sanctuary has a primary purpose for preserving the native species that inhabit ecosystems evolved in a particular environment. A nature center’s focus provides education and human experiences in nature to help people understand the intricate workings of the natural world communities.

Sanctuaries and nature centers can serve both purposes to some degree. I receive calls and e-mails from people interested in exploring Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary. Visitors are welcome even though the sanctuary is a privately owned sanctuary. We appreciate groups and people to call or e-mail to request permission so we know when to anticipate use or schedule guided activities. Donations are welcome to support management. The trail system traverses native communities in various stages of plant and animal habitat succession.

We manage the oak upland forest ecosystem to include early succession field, shrub, and pioneer forest stages that attract and maintain the greatest variety of species as habitat communities develop to the mature forest. Similar management in the wetland forest community maintains areas in early stages of community development for more sun-loving wetland plants and animals within the forest.

The management helps more than 250 plant species, 24 mammal, 11 herps, 51 butterflies, and over 100 bird species thrive. We have not surveyed dragonflies, fungi, fish, or other taxonomic groups well but are in the process. Management focus provides suitable living conditions for the greatest biodiversity of native species. Part of the sanctuary focus is to help people learn about native communities so we welcome visitors to come and learn even though primary focus is ecosystem biodiversity preservation. Hopefully people will gain ideas for managing a portion of their property to enhance biodiversity.

Visitors should support safe survival of species that make Ody Brook their home. Create minimal disturbance when hiking Ody Brook. During the 20 years I was director at Howard Christensen Nature Center, our focus was experiential education for Kent Intermediate School District groups where we taught science, social studies, language arts, and mathematics core curriculum to support classroom education with real world experiential education. This was accomplished in native communities and their associated habitats. To teach in native habitats it was necessary to manage the nature center in a manner that preserves natural communities while providing exploratory activities. Both preservation and education were part of the vision for the nature center.

Guided hikes to explore nature niches at Ody Brook can be organized for fee-based programs tailored to personal or group needs. This spring consider an evening watching the woodcock mating display, wildflowers walk, tree identification, bird watching, or other ecological explorations.

Mickey Shortt Jr., a fellow naturalist from North Carolina, recently shared the vision for the role of naturalists and interpreters of our natural and cultural heritage. He said: “At our sites, we are the voice: of the place, of the life within our site, and for conservation and preservation of our natural and historic areas.” I encourage each of us take responsibility for our personal home sites to ensure healthy nature niches greet future generations.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433 or call 616-696-1753.

Posted in Ranger Steve's Nature NicheComments Off

Safe space is sacred space


Ronnie McBrayer

By Ronnie McBrayer

While I am no died in the wool traditionalist, not by a long shot, I sometimes have a bit of a problem with the words we now use to describe the places we gather together as the church. They are called “worship centers” or “multi-purpose buildings” or “auditoriums.” I much prefer the word used by our grandparents: Sanctuary. Because anywhere the church gathers, it should be a safe place, a place where people are welcomed and made to feel at home.

I once participated in a retreat where several young people gave their unbridled, unedited assessments of the church. At times, their words were immature. At other times their words were blisteringly accurate. One young lady who spoke was Charis, a 30-year-old wife and mother who had spent her three decades in the church. Her father was a seminary professor, and Charis herself holds a Masters degree in theology. She was no cynical, jaded outsider. She has been a determined follower of Jesus most of her life.

At one point in her talk she said through her tears, “I don’t want church. But I do want love, transformation, and community.” Love. Transformation. Community. Isn’t this, at least in part, what the church should be about?

We have spent too much collective time and energy focusing on the drivel, rather than on loving people. We fight and bleed over worship styles, which version of the Bible is the actually inspired one, and drawing up rules and restrictions for who can come to the Lord’s Table and or who can or cannot speak in a pulpit. We build all this structure and all these regulations on who is allowed in and who should be excluded, creating standards so impossibly high, Jesus Christ himself couldn’t get in the door.

And meanwhile, people who are lonely, who are dying on the inside, who have had the absolute life beat out of them, who are racked by addiction and loss, who are burdened so low by the cares of this world they cannot lift their heads, will not even look in the church’s direction. They cannot imagine that the church could somehow relieve or support them.

We must recognize these mercy-killing behaviors for what they are, and by God’s grace let Christ remove them. For when the church becomes a place of welcome–a sanctuary—it becomes safe space, and safe space is sacred space.

Ronnie McBrayer is the author of “Leaving Religion, Following Jesus.” He writes and speaks about life, faith, and Christ-centered spirituality. Visit his website at www.ronniemcbrayer.net.

Posted in Keeping the FaithComments Off