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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

St. Andrews UCC Builds Community Garden

St. Andrews UCC Builds Community Garden

“Seeds of Hope” is the way Rev. Don Boutté described the community garden that members of the St. Andrews UCC church 0f Perkasie, PA constructed in July beside the St. John Baptist church in New Orleans. St. Andrews is a Churches Supporting Churches (CSC) partner with St. John Baptist, along with CBC and four other churches in the Philadelphia area.

In a letter to Rev. Scott Hutchinson, pastor of St. Andrews, Boutté said the seeds are already beginning to develop fruit. “Your work has sparked the interest of many of the residents and some have asked how they could be helpful in maintaining the garden,” he said.

The project was organized by Chuck Hill, a member of St. Andrews who has attended most of the Churches Supporting Churches (CSC) task force meetings at CBC. Hill planned several fund-raising events to finance the trip, including the Chili Cook-Off attended by several CBC members. (CBC also contributed $1,000 from a communion offering.)

Hill recruited 13 participants at St. Andrews and made two trips to New Orleans to survey the site and to purchase building supplies that were placed in a storage facility until the project began.

The work group built a number of raised beds surrounding a meditation plot with a large cross in the center. “This is only phase one,” Hill said. Phases two and three include planting fruit trees, installing benches and a tool shed, and possibly providing an on-site water source. The garden was built on an unused parking lot adjacent to the church that already had a chain-link fence on three sides. The group installed a picket fence on the front of the property.

Hutchinson said the trip was more than a work project; it was a spiritual high point for the participants. In a sense, we didn’t want to face the pain in New Orleans, he said, and there was a lot of introspection once the group arrived, Feelings came to a head when the group visited the recently rebuilt home of Rev. Charles DuPlessis (a CSC pastor who ministers in the Lower Ninth Ward). “We moved beyond being ‘missionary tourists’ and discovered why we were there,” Hutchinson said.

“On the way to the airport,” Hutchinson continued, “Chuck pulled off the highway and said, ‘We can’t go into the airport without stopping to pray.’ And everyone prayed.”

Boutté told St. Andrews that the rewards from the community garden will go beyond the vegetables and fruits that are harvested. “We have been able to begin the discussion of healthy lifestyle choices within the community,” he said. “Thank you for sharing in our vision of holistic ministry.”

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