Cybelle Shattuck grew up in Northern California where she was introduced to Buddhist meditation by her father and to Hinduism by her mother. She sometimes attended a Presbyterian church with her grandmother and a Catholic church with a friend’s family.
“My paternal family is mostly Quaker, and my grandfather was a Quaker minister,” Cybelle said. “The best definition of how I grew up is “Californian.”
In 1999 Cybelle was invited to give a presentation for the forum discussion series at People’s. She returned several times to make presentations on topics such as Hindu Goddesses, Women in Islam, and Ecology and Religion.
She began attending Sunday services in September 2011 after seeing a note in the Kalamazoo Gazette that said the church would have an environmental theme that fall.
Cybelle said, “My spiritual worldview mostly aligns with South Asian traditions in which the universe is described as a manifestation of divine energy and the goal of religious practice is to become aware of that underlying energy in oneself and all other beings.”
She continues, “The idea that mental frameworks and perceptions play major roles in defining one’s experiences in life makes sense to me. It leads to emphasis on transformation of knowledge as the key to spiritual growth rather than forgiveness by a capricious deity.”
Cybelle says, “For me, People’s is more a place for community and social justice than for spirituality.“ She said her own spiritual development involves practices of study and meditation that would not be appropriate in a worship service where people have such diverse religious beliefs, but that she loves to share fellowship, sing and reflect on life’s challenges and collaborate on committee work with a community of people who share her concerns for the environment and social justice.
Cybelle helped restart the Green Sanctuary Committee and continues to serve on it. She has also served on the Committee on Ministry and now is on the Sunday Services Committee. She has given a few sermons over the years and organized events focused on earth care such as a World Religions and Ecology adult education course.
She also helps with environmental stewardship by participating in the Spring Work Day on the grounds and the 10th Street Cleanup.
“Weeding the labyrinth and planting flowers in the Memorial Garden are such fun,” she said. “I get to spend time with my hands in the dirt and hang out with wonderful People’s people. Catherine Niessink’s plant knowledge is amazing.”
Cybelle adds, “Perhaps my main contribution to the church is writing reports.” She contributed to the Green Sanctuary Certification process, the Church Land Management Plan and the Committee on Ministry’s evaluation report for Rev. Rachel.”
Cybelle, 52, is on the faculty at WMU with a joint appointment in the Institute of Environment and Sustainability and the Department of Comparative Religion. Her husband, Dr. Brian Wilson, is also in the Department of Comparative Religion.