By working to create community connections, the Garden of Hope at the Community of St. John Baptist (CSJB) has captured the attention of the Creation Care Agrarian Ministries Team from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s office as a Good News Gardens model. Recently, five of the team members came to Mendham to see the garden for themselves:
- Jerusalem Greer - Staff Officer for Evangelism for the Presiding Bishop
- Phoebe Chatfield, Program Officer for Creation Care and Justice - Office of the Presiding Bishop
- Sarah Alphin - Program Officer for Evangelism, Creation Care, and Reconciliation, Office of Presiding Bishop
- Brian Sellers-Petersen - Coordinator, Good News Gardens, Office of the Presiding Bishop, Founder of Podcast SpadeSpoonSoul
- Charlotte Hand Greeson - Consultant, Good News Gardens, Office of the Presiding Bishop and Member of LifeLong Learning at Virginia Theological Seminary
Through collective partnerships and resources, the Garden of Hope has been renovated with three primary goals: increase yield of fresh vegetables, creation of a pollinator plot, and creation of sacred space for community use.
Partners and resources have included Brookside Community Church; Church of Messiah, Chester; The Sharing Project; Grow It Green; The Sisters of Charity; Flags of Gratitude; and members of Boy Scout Troop 1 including two Eagle Scout projects.
Produce from the garden is provided to local and regional food pantries, Chester Area Senior Housing, and is used for meals at Homeless Solutions.
The Good News Gardens program is part of Agrarian Ministries Creation Care initiative promoted by Michael Curry two years ago and has grown across North American.
Petersen, Greeson and Geer are published authors who serve the Episcopal Church in many roles. In his book Harvesting Abundance: Local Initiatives of Food and Faith, Petersen reminds us that as Christians, we are called to be good stewards of the land and to share its produce. His book you can learn how congregations, schools, and organizations across the Episcopal Church are reaching out to their neighborhoods to share God's story of abundance through a variety of agricultural initiatives, offering inspiration to all of us to nurture our own relationship with our creator--and with each other--by planting a garden and feeding the hungry.
Greeson is involved with Building Faith, whose mission is to equip and inspire churches and individuals for the ministry of Christian education and faith formation.
Geer’s work focuses primarily on the Christian theology of place as it is expressed in both daily and congregational life including her work At Home in This Life: Finding Peace at the Crossroads of Unraveled Dreams and Beautiful Surprises.
Since the tour, Peterson and Geer have reached out to myself and Superior Sister Moncia Clare to do a podcast for SpadeSpoonSoul to share stories about the Garden. The Community is exploring how to create a sacred space next to the Garden of Hope to offer Sharing Circles.
Any group or individuals interested in the Good News Garden movement or Agrarian Ministry opportunities can contact Sister Linda Clare at the Convent at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how you can transform your land to serve others.
Julie Crawford is an Associate of the Community of St John Baptist, Mendham, and a member of Church of the Messiah, Chester.