We have been busy growing in health and wholeness at St.Timothy’s!
Our biggest venture towards a healthy congregation has been to start a parish garden. The garden has been a dream of the parish for some time, but this year we finally took the risk of getting it started. We are fortunate to have a sunny field that gets nine hours of sun each day — however, it was challenging to convince some in the parish that a small garden was the best use of this space. In working through all the appropriate groups, we have found a place where the garden works for all. And as it has grown, the complaints have vanished! We wanted to include different groups from the parish in the garden, so our youth built the raised beds and mixed in the compost. One of our Abraham Project interns helped us secure a seed donation from Seed Savers. Our children started the seeds indoors and then transplanted them in the garden with the help of one of our parishioners who has recently become a master gardener. Our children’s ministry made plant markers, and our Sunday morning formation groups set up sprinklers.
For churches not sure where to begin improving the health of their members, a garden has been a great place to start for us! A garden can include everyone — even that grumpy church member who doesn’t love church but does love to garden! Agricultural imagery can be found throughout scripture, so a garden is a great learning tool. Most importantly, we have found that no one can argue that a well-tended garden is a bad idea! It has brought our church together, young and old, as we all hope to make things grow — ourselves included!
In hopes of helping our children connect further with the garden, we moved our Sunday morning formation class outside to meet on picnic tables in the garden. While surrounded by God’s creation in progress, our kids have explored the Biblical stories of creation and Jesus’ commandments to feed people. We harvested lettuce and shared with the neighbors close to the church. Today we harvested squash and the children were so proud! I shared a healthy squash recipe with the families and encouraged the children (in front of their parents!) to take home the squash they picked only if the child was going to eat it. Surprisingly, all but two squash went home with kids! I look forward to hearing about how the families use the fresh produce each week. With the produce that isn’t eaten by people in the parish, we are sharing with our neighbors in need in nearby Miller Park.
The success story above was submitted by Katie Bryant, PHW Liaison at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem, and under the leadership of Fr. Steve Rice. If your congregation would like to put your faith into action by prioritizing the health of your members, please visit the PHW website at www.healthandwholeness.org.
-Willona Stallings, PHW Program Coordinator
Partners in Health and Wholeness is an initiative of the North Carolina Council of Churches. PHW aims to connect health as a faith issue. Please visit our website to sign your personal pledge to be healthier, and to find out about grant opportunities for places of worship in NC.