Local Projects: St. Mark’s & St. John’s, Rochester, NY

This week’s ECN local-project spotlight features the E.D.E.N. Garden of St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church in Rochester, NY.

Here is a church that has “mowed grass, picked up trash, pulled weeds, spread compost, handed out food, anointed those who sought healing, danced with our kids, watched the sun go down on the front steps with our neighbors, canned salsa and sauce, and tried to not take ourselves to seriously”!

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In 2017, the Episcopal Church approved 44 Stewardship of Creation grants for local ministries. Every Thursday, to help highlight the exciting work happening across the Body of Christ and to provide examples of what your own parish or diocese might do, we highlight one of the grant winners here.

According to a church press release, St. Mark’s and St. John’s Episcopal Church received $2,800 for “communication, theological resources and meditation bench for the hoop house project.” The hoop house is part of the parish’s Every Day Eating Naturally (E.D.E.N.) Urban Gardens, which you can learn about on the church website:

“For decades SMSJ was emblematic of what was happening in our neighborhood. We were losing members, money, having to heat and keep up a large physical plant, while all the while professing to be a beacon of hope for those who needed it. In 2012 the church’s leadership decided to chart a different course. We stopped praying for our own institutional survival and started praying that God would direct our hearts, minds and hands in a way that we could make our neighborhood a place more reflective of God’s dream for all of us.

“In 2012 we stopped attending meetings and literally started digging. Since then we have started three urban vegetable gardens. Tangible signs that transformation, life and health are possible NOW. We’ve nurtured and harvested thousands of pounds of vegetables and distributed them to our most vulnerable sisters and brothers and their children.”

An amazing story that churches across the country could benefit to hear. Thank you for your example, SMSJ, and for being a shining light to us all!

Picture via SMSJ’s public Facebook group EDEN Urban Gardens. Full disclosure: ECN’s new volunteer deputy editor was a member of the committee that awarded these grants. Both volunteer editors are now volunteers on the task force that will administer the next round of grants.

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