This is the brief talk I gave to our two worship services Sunday morning. If a community garden is something you’d like to do, I’d be happy to share our successes and stumbles as we went through the process!
I’m going to give you a little background on why we chose to do a community garden, what is happening right now with the garden, and how we plan to bless others with this ministry. How many of you have heard the old phrase, “garden variety?” In the 1920’s this phrase came into vogue, referring to vegetables that were common to the average garden. For example, tomatoes and green beans were considered “garden variety.” We now use it to describe something that is commonplace and ordinary.
In some ways, Park Street is a garden variety church. We have what is common to most congregations: Bible teaching, prayer, service, worship, fellowship, discipleship, and outreach. But God called this unique group of people together to move beyond what is common and do something a bit uncommon and extra-ordinary for the kingdom.
Several years ago our church volunteers were distributing groceries to food insecure families at Montgomery Elementary school. The school social worker and I talked at length about the alarming number of kids that come to school hungry. Through that experience, I had this inkling that our church was to do something different for our community that involved helping people with food.
Fast forward to almost two years ago, and we hired Nate, whom I would argue, is not your garden variety pastor. Nate is neither common nor ordinary. 🙂 In one of our extra-ordinary conversations about outreach ministry, Nate posed the question: if Park Street church moved away from this area, would anyone in our neighborhood notice or care? Outreach team leader, Dick Bryant, piggybacked on that statement and wondered: if any of our neighbors moved away from this place, would we at Park Street notice or care?
To begin to show our neighbors that we care about them, our outreach team canvassed 75 houses in proximity of our church building, asking neighbors what they thought their neighborhood needed. Many suggested a community garden and the inkling I had several years ago about providing food and helping others turned into an idea that our outreach team enthusiastically embraced.
Across the street we have 14 raised beds, several being gardened by our neighbors, many that don’t attend Park Street. Our design team and building teams have done a tremendous job of making this happen, from planning the layout, building the beds, and securing quality soil and other materials. Right now, our main work is to clean up the area surrounding the raised beds and making the garden area more attractive. There’s always more work to do and if you’re not involved we’d love to have you join us.
God is at work through us and the garden for the sake of others. The garden is a great opportunity to build relationships in our neighborhood as we work side by side, and to follow Jesus’s command to love our neighbors. And we can’t wait for the days when we give away our harvest to our neighbors and families in need.