What’s Happening at the Garden Church?

December 2014 
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Dear Friends of the Garden Church,

When watching an infant grow, it's those early weeks and months where change seems to happen at exponential rates. From the first smile, to laugher, to sounds; the lifting of one’s head, rolling over, inching, crawling. As the child gets older, the progress continues, but evens out and it’s not every day that something new appears. But in that infant state you blink and the development in the child is immense. 
 
Apparently this is true of baby churches as well! I look back over the past six weeks since our last newsletter and shake my head in wonder at all that is growing and evolving in this baby church plant.
  • We’ve had two Gatherings, both of which were rich in development and forming who we are as a community and extending into our broader community (see more below). 
  • We have received the official minutes that recognize us as a congregation in the Pacific Coast Association of the Swedenborgian Church of North America. We are delighted to be part of the PCA and continue to celebrate working with our Swedenborgian regional neighbors in this work.
  • We have engaged an extensive crowd-funding strategy and received incredible support from so many of you! We have also received abundantly generous gifts from two angel donors, and are deeply grateful for the outpouring of support from across the world for this work.
  • We have received the final project from our first intern, Adri, and now have a complete community mapping chart and documents as a foundation for the next steps in finding land and a home within our community.
  • Thanks to Worship Times web design and the generous and endless volunteering of Trish, our new website is close to being presentable to the world and we celebrate that! Check it out at: gardenchurchsp.org
  • We’re grateful for visitors and out-of-town guests who have come to our past two Gatherings and lent their musical talents, energy and support.
  • Our Core Team continues to meet and develop and engage and evolve the vision—and be church and community together.
  • The Board of Directors continues to hold and develop the infrastructure and strategy that we need to move forward as a healthy organization.
  • Our networking and meeting with potential community partners continues to grow by the day, as we engage with local clergy groups, community groups, and individuals throughout our community who have overlapping visions for bringing more goodness, food, and connection to this community.
And the list goes on. Just like that parent who could go on for hours about how their child found her tongue, or can roll over in a new way, I too could write for pages about the amazing ride of facilitating and nurturing this new baby church. It is a community effort on so many fronts, and we continue to breathe prayers of gratitude for the amazing people and energy that is circling around this vision.
 
As we walk towards the Light of Advent, I am grateful to pause and name the ways I see the Holy One bringing light and hope, transformation and peace, into a world that cries out for the Light.
 
With gratitude and blessings,
Rev. Anna Woofenden
Garden Church Gathering 11.23.14
On November 23rd we gathered to work, worship, and eat together at a local park. Rachel and Janis planned a wonderful project for us all—we planted pots of lettuce seeds in beautifully decorated pots inscribed with “feed and be fed.” We planted thirty pots and each took two home, one for our bit of Garden Church in our kitchens and one to give to someone in our lives that we felt could use some love and goodness. It has been a joy to hear the stories of who people gave their pots to, and to share the wonder of these little lettuce seeds popping out of the earth.
 
Our time of worship was enhanced by the gifts of our guests Ian and Lisa, who along with Cory’s consistent leadership, brought music and song for us to join together in. We shared stories about how the Lord calls us to engage and act in relation to our neighbors as we explored the call in Matthew 25 to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirst, clothe the naked, and care for those around us. We gathered around the table and shared the Sacred Meal, remembering both the way that God is present and feeding us, and looking up to the faces and eyes of those around us and seeing God’s light in the people we meet.
 
Our meal was another rendition of Lorie’s fantastic wraps, supplemented by beautiful salads and fresh fruit. We ate clustered around the picnic tables, looking out over the incredible sunset and wondering at the beauty of God’s creation.
 
Here’s what one participant said about the Gathering: "This is such a great community. I've been loving being a part of it and having my kids enthusiastically love "church" because of this reimagined church. I encourage everyone to support this re-imagination, even if they can't attend, because the more places like this in the world, the more possibilities there are that more will pop up."
Upcoming Events
 
Holy Hike 12.28.14
In honor of carrying the Light forward from Advent and moving into the New Year, we will meditate and stop and reflect in nature together as we walk and worship.
 
Core Team Retreat 1.11.15
Our Core Team (all who want to be part of it are welcome!) will meet for the day to brainstorm, plan, create, and discern what will come in this next season of the Garden Church.
 
Gathering 1.25.15
We will be having our Gathering at the Harbor Terrace Senior Living Home in downtown San Pedro and partnering with their residents and staff to re-plant the two vegetable and herb garden beds in their back patio.
 
 
Give a Christmas Gift to the Garden Church! 

Trowels and chairs and napkins, oh my! Include the Garden Church in your Christmas shopping this year and bring smiles to many a face. 
Wish List 

Garden Church Gathering 12.14.14
On December 14th we gathered to work, worship, and eat together and started out with a fantastic couple of hours of gardening with Green Girl Farms. Green Girl Farms grows fresh produce in backyards and empty lots in an environmentally-responsible manner and makes it available to the local community through donations and markets. The organization’s mission is to increase access to healthy fruits and vegetables while empowering and educating people to grow their own food. “Our vision is to lead the effort to build an environmentally sound, viable and socially just food system that benefits everyone”, says Lara Hughey, Master Gardener and founder of Green Girl Farms.
 
We have found an obvious and immediate affinity with the work of Green Girl Farms and were delighted to garden with them in the lot that they are transforming into a space overflowing with food and beauty. It was energizing to get our hands in the dirt and be doing a tangible piece of growing things right here in our community. Lara reported afterwards that: “Together, we planted more than 150 plants, including kale, purple-sprouting broccoli, German butterball potatoes and bok choy. In addition to the edibles, we planted several varieties of flowers that will attract and feed beneficial insects.” We look forward to continuing to offer our hands to this plot of land and to our connection with Green Girl Farms.
 
After immersing ourselves in the garden, we moved across the street to a beautiful strip of park on the bluff and shared in a time of worship while the sun set spectacularly behind us. We were joined by Swedenborgian House of Studies student Thomas Muller, and friends and former St. Gregory of Nyssa interns Lauren Lukeson and Jeff Dodge. Lauren taught us a new alleluia chorus and led the group in it as Rev. Anna chanted the communion prayers. We shared a message together as we reflected on wrestling with darkness and light, Advent and chaos.
 
After enjoying sandwiches together around the table with the sun setting in the background and the chilly wind picking up, we packed up the tabernacle and closed with a blessing. Some of us weren’t done with the eating and visiting together, so instituted a new tradition of Garden Church After Dark down at the local brewpub. What joy to experience community being built!

Crowd-Funding Success!

 
Thank you for being part of the growing root system that is providing the support and nutrients for the Garden Church to grow!
 
In this great adventure of re-imagining church, re-imagining the funding sources is an integral piece. As the church and the world moves from established, institutional financial resources, it offers us the opportunity to establish a more intricate, broad-reaching, multi-faceted and grass-roots based funding strategy. This continues to be a new adventure for us as we experiment and pray and learn from the best practices of others who are doing similar work.
 
Our crowd-funding campaign represents one of our strategies, as we put this vision out into the world and invite people to be part of it. And if this strategy were a soil test, we’re here to report that this is fertile ground—this vision is being called for and we need to continue to cultivate it. We are celebrating and so grateful for the 73 donors! We raised over $4,600 as well as monthly pledges to the tune of $1,090. (We’re still looking for generous souls who would like to pledge monthly for 2015 and for three angel investors to give $5,000 each. Let us know if that might be you!)

Thank you, through your generous gifts and pledges, and for sharing of the vision and joining the team that is committed to bringing this dream into reality. Our commitment to you is to stay connected and continue to invite you into the joy of being part of this budding community from afar. Know that your gifts make an essential difference in this early stage, and it is because of you that we have the privilege of continuing to do this work.
ALL GIFTS CAN BE MADE TO THE GARDEN CHURCH AND ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE THROUGH THE PACIFIC COAST ASSOCIATION OF THE SWEDENBORGIAN CHURCH.
The Garden Church
P.O. Box 5257
San Pedro, CA 90733
www.annawoofenden.com/garden-church 
Copyright © 2014 The Garden Church, All rights reserved.
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