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Garden Ministry Climbs to the Next Level: How to Grow Green Service Projects

On a beautiful Memorial Day (US) weekend, May 28, 2022, over 120 enthusiastic participants from local environmental and faith groups gathered at a Maryland church with an inspired agenda to learn how to rescue the environment. Working at the church’s environmental education garden site and property, they would engage in hands-on gardening and an outdoor service project.

It was the groundwork and vision behind the project, however, that would set it apart.

The garden project was the result of a two-year partnership between the Hyo Jeong International Foundation for the Unity of the Sciences (HJIFUS) Environmental Outreach and the Mid Atlantic Community Church (MACC) Garden/Nature Ministry located on MACC’s fifty-acre property near Annapolis, Maryland.

Unity in action: Youth and adults from various backgrounds assembled for environmental service.  ©Otmar Weinmann
Unity in action: Youth and adults from various backgrounds assembled for environmental service. ©Otmar Weinmann

A variety of youth groups, including boy scouts and college students, as well as families from MACC and various local faith communities, had helped develop an environmental education garden site on the MACC property. The 10 meter by 40 meter educational garden site also produces many types of vegetables that are donated to a local food bank.

The event began with an introductory talk by Gregg Jones, director of the Environmental Outreach department of HJIFUS. He noted that coming closer to nature can bring people closer together as a family—and bring humanity closer to God.

Planting flowers.  ©Otmar Weinmann
Planting flowers. ©Otmar Weinmann

There was plenty of work to do to further the MACC garden project and establish it as an environmental education site. Tasks included extending the greenhouse structure, building a double compost bin with repurposed wood, planting flowers in a circular raised bed, moving piles of dirt with wheelbarrows, setting squash seedlings in mounds, harvesting kale, and preparing and painting recycled wood.

Following the service activities, a youth rally was held inside the church. Speakers included Taylor Swanson from the Interfaith Partnership for the Chesapeake; Austin Simpson, MACC Garden/Nature Ministry member; Pastor James Stewart of the Baltimore Family Church; Pastors Ernest Patton and Achille Acolaste of the Capital Family Church in Washington, D.C.; Pastor Ijeoma Omoru and Prophet Dapo Sanyaolu from Celestial Church congregations in New Jersey and Maryland, and Rev. Joshua Holmes from the Young Christian Leadership Conference.

Taylor Swanson, Interfaith Partnership for the Chesapeake.  ©Otmar Weinmann
Taylor Swanson, Interfaith Partnership for the Chesapeake. ©Otmar Weinmann

Kristi Kahler, MACC church member, summed up the day’s experience: “The garden project was such a glorious collaboration of all ages.”

“We had tremendous help from so many people to help us complete many things in the garden that could not be done by man alone. God used His people, and everyone worked well together,” said Simpson.

Swanson described the event as “fabulous” and praised the “great turnout of people from multiple Christian faiths. It was an overall powerful and very uplifting program.”

Jones envisioned the event could serve as a catalyst for future projects that others can do in their local environment. The deeper purpose and heart behind the work should resonate with many people, he added.

Editor's Note

The Earth & I with contributions from Gregg Jones.


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