ELDERS: Our MKP History

Historian NoteIn an attempt to archive the History of The ManKind Project’s Elders and Elder Council a number of papers have been collected.  These have been gently edited and terms used that will best translate to present day usage.  [i.e.: The term The ManKind Project was not being used in the early years and Elder Body was often used rather than the now common term Elder Council, referring to all Elders gathered at the MKP Elders Business Meetings.

An Early History of New Warrior Elder Council and Elder Activities

[Presented at Hallowood Retreat Center, Frederick Co., Maryland  January 21, 1998]

  • New Warrior Washington was the first Center to begin formal elder activities. When the constitution of the Center was written in 1994, a major role for elders was built into the document. Our two major roles were to design and conduct the processes for selecting a new Center Director, and for choosing men to go forward to certified leadership in the Network. Elders began gathering in June of 1994 to figure out how to play their roles. The gatherings were loose, open to any and all men over 50. By March 1995 we created a formal Elder Council made up of Kirk Balcom, Bruce Barth, Robert Davis, Jim Underwood, Alan Gilburg, and Richard Wiener.  We continued to hold monthly Elders’ Circle meetings at Chris May’s home. An Elders I-Group was formed in 1995.
  • January 1995: The first National Elder Council met in Houston as part of the Network Annual Meeting. The time allotted on the schedule was a 2 hours block.  Don Jones was elected as the first Elder Council Chairman. The group agreed to meet in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 1995 and invited elders from every Center in the Network.
  • June 1995: The first full Network Elder Council Meeting was held at Mission Hurst, Arlington, VA. 25 men attended. The heart of the meeting was the opening circles we held each morning in the meadow, which were extended to check-ins and the telling of grandfather stories. We did a good deal of strenuous work trying to define what elders were to do in the Network.  [More on this meeting and subsequent meetings will be added to these Archives over time.]
  • July 1995: Network Executive Council met in Windsor ONT and Don Jones, Elder Chairman presented the following “identity statement” to the Council:  “We are an order of men called to reclaim the sacred masculine, for our time, through initiation, training and action in the world.”
  • January 1996: At the Network Annual Meeting the Elder Body met for 2 days, recognized new elders, and worked on protocols for elders on the NWTA weekends. Ed Alley (Indianapolis) was elected the second Elder Council Chairman, to succeed Don Jones.
  • July 1996: At the Network Semi-Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, a small contingent of Elders gathered.
  • February 1997: At the Network Annual Meeting in Glen Ivy, Corona, CA the Elder Council met for 2 days. The elders were fully in charge of the opening and closing rituals for the conference. As we were learning to let go and simply “be,” we spent more and more time connecting with each other and being available to men in the network who desired elder blessings. Alan Gilburg (Washington, D.C.) was elected the third Elder Council Chairman. We asked John Phelps (Detroit Windsor), Glen Bacus (Chicago), and Ron Roesler (Seattle) to create an certification process for the role of Ritual Elder. This process was to be comparable to the process for selecting Certified Leaders in the Network. We wanted to make sure our very best men were well prepared to lead the many ritual processes on the NWTA weekend, as well as at other times.
  • July 1997: At the Network Summer Conference in Montreal, the Elders Group met for 2+ days. Many of the Elder representatives did not attend the Glen Ivy Network Meeting in February, and therefore were not prepared to enter the certification process for Ritual Elder. In order to provide an example, Alan Gilburg volunteered to be subjected to the commissioning process and therefore became the first MKP Certified Ritual Elder.*  The Elder Council also met with the Leader Body to air concerns about our NWTA role. We agreed then that the Weekend Leader, Head Elder, and Water Pourer would jointly design and create the spiritual container for the weekend, later to be referred to as the Axis Mundi process.

* The term “Commissioned” was later “dropped” and the term Certified Ritual Elder or Ritual Elder has since been accepted.

Historian Note: As we begin to construct a permanent archive of Elder History, I will periodically add information to this area of the MKP Elder website.  I am using what information I have collected over my time with the MKP.  Admittedly, there is information missing and there may be errors, so I am asking for and will happily accept additions and corrections to this collection.  The nice thing about a digital collection; it can easily be revised.