Minister sends spiritual dispatches to teens around world
By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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Carl Hanson, who has preached at the Church of Christ at Cherry and A streets in Port Townsend for 29 years, sends out a daily dispatch of biblical wisdom to a 1,500-person mailing list with a worldwide reach.
The dispatches, which are aimed at teenagers, are usually only a few paragraphs long.
“I give them something they can get through in three or four minutes,” Hanson said of the messages which are dubbed “teEn-Mail.”
“I don't want to give them too much to read.”
Hanson began the emails in 1998 for the benefit of local teens. They were forwarded around the country “and it took off from there,” he said.
Aside from the email communication, the daily messages are posted online at www.teenmail
There, Hanson says his messages go out to people in 20 states and two foreign countries — Ghana and India.
Hanson begins each day by reading the Bible, from which he gleans ideas for his messages.
He also may find a topic from the daily news, a bumper sticker or a conversation, he said.
Or he may get the idea during one of his daily walks, a 4.6-mile route between his home and the post office.
During these walks, he carries an iPod where he dictates the ideas as they may emerge.
Hanson, 59, stays in shape on these walks and is a familiar sight to people around town.
Some in need of on-the-fly spiritual advice have stopped him for “roadside counseling.”
His interaction with the teEn-Mail subscriber list is not as intimate but no less profound as he is often approached directly by teens in need of advice.
This begins a correspondence that can last until the problem is addressed, but sometimes takes an unlikely turn.
“I do respond personally,” he said.
“But the other day there was a first for me when I said a prayer for someone over email.
“I've offered prayers by phone but this has never happened before.”
The daily messages are part of a cycle for Hanson, sometimes the messages become the basis of a sermon and other times the sermon is condensed into a message.
In either case the teens embrace the spiritual advice, Hanson said.
He refers to himself as a preacher or a minister and steers away from the “Reverend” label, although to those on the receiving end of the e-mails, he answers only to “Carl.”
When Hanson began writing what evolved into teEn-Mail, he didn't think he'd be able to come up with a new message every week but he soon discovered the ability to write something seven days a week.
While it is posted daily to the website the email dispatches are less consistent due to 500-message-per-day limits imposed by his Internet Service Provider.
For this reason the messages are staggered with e-mails sent every three days that include three different topics.
Hanson said he is pleased with the continuing popularity of the messages and was excited when he heard that a subscriber in India was translating them into the Telugu language.
Hanson marks teEn-Mail as only a part of his service to the community.
He also serves on the board of the Community Outreach Association Shelter Team, or COAST, a network of churches that helps to operate a Port Townsend winter shelter along with Olympic Community Action Programs and the American Legion.
The shelter, housed in the American Legion Hall basement at 209 Monroe St., is open from 4 p.m. to 8 a.m. each day from late November to mid-March.
“I'm connected to this community in so many ways,” Hanson said.
“It's very gratifying.”
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: February 03. 2013 6:11PM