It all started with a request from the now retired director of Lutheran Community Services (LCS) Delaware, “Please plant a strip for LCS”. Lutheran Community Services supply of fresh vegetables had been drastically cut and the various churches supporting LCS were being asked to plant vegetables to help fill the gap. This request, along with the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Wilmington, DE being involved in the LEAD (Living Everyday as Disciples) process, pushed Good Shepherd, a suburban church with ample green space, to reconsider how we use and steward our resources.
With an ideal location for a garden, funding by grants from partners including the Delaware Dept. of Agriculture and the New Castle County Conservancy and a Girl Scout working on her Gold Award project, Good Shepherd built three 4’x16’ raised beds in the spring of 2017. The Shepherd’s Garden had been born. A blessed growing season and many excited hands to work the beds allowed Good Shepherd to deliver 675 pounds of fresh produce to St Stephens Food Pantry (one supported by LCS). Feeling like we could do more, Good Shepherd received a grant from the our Delaware-Maryland Synod through the Creation Care team and expanded the garden to seven beds in 2018. We were able to increase our supply to the food pantry to 780 pounds.
At this point Good Shepherd had reached the maximum amount of beds that the congregation alone could tend, but there was still ample space. We looked into the possibility of creating a community garden space where beds could be rented out to the public. Another grant from the Delaware-Maryland Synod’s Hunger Task Force and two Eagle Scout candidates working on their projects, allowed Good Shepherd to build fifteen 4’x8’ raised beds. They were quickly claimed by local neighbors with a desire to try their hand at gardening. The requirement on the community gardeners was that they donate 10% of their harvest to the food pantry. They well exceeded that requirement. We are happy to report that through the this growing season, the Shepherd’s Garden was able to donate over one ton of food to the food pantry!
God’s abundance is on full display in the garden. It is not only about the number of pounds donated, but also the wide-ranging ministry this project created. Many local businesses donate to the garden, area high school students are involved, and congregation members devote hours to tending the garden. Not only is it a place for hard work, but a place of relaxation and building dreams. We have sponsored an internship for a college student in the garden, and a small business was born there. Our community gardeners gather and share stories, and have a desire to do more. The leaders of the ministry have been asked to speak about faith based community gardens at the Delaware Horticulture Society by the University of Delaware. And, our congregation is once again connected in a tangible way to our immediate community. We don’t know where the garden ministry will lead next, but following the lead of the Holy Spirit has been a wonderful experience.
For information on how you might begin a garden ministry please contact the Shepherd’s Garden at [email protected] The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Wilmington, DE. Nov, 2019
To support either or both of our Delaware-Maryland Synod Creation Care Team or Hunger Team, feel free to Give online! At https://demdsynod.org/. Just choose the ministry you wish to fund!
35,000 meals packed! Such incredible connections and work happening in our synod supporting local hunger needs. This story celebrates the service that happened on God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday in Baltimore City and Baltimore County in coordination with CLAIM and 24 churches that packed 25,000 meals, but also proclaims the efforts of just one congregation, Good Shepherd, Frederick, who last week packed 10,000 meals. Together we do God’s work with Our Hands all year long!
We begin hearing about the meal packing that happened in Baltimore in September. Each year, individual churches take the time to plan projects for God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday. These are normally programs that are designed to help others. In March 2019, CLAIM (Coalition of Lutherans Advancing in Mission) launched a plan to bring together churches in Baltimore and Baltimore County to provide 25,000 meals to schools, churches, and organizations in the area. We needed to raise $6,250, recruit 100 volunteers and identify places that could use the meal packets – by September. Throughout the Summer, 24 churches worked diligently to reach our goals and The Hunger Task Force provided a grant of matching funds of $3,125. St. John’s in Parkville offered to host this event and The Outreach Project agreed to help by delivering the supplies and providing guidance in packing the meal packets. On God’s Work, Our Hands Sunday September 2019, nearly 180 volunteers from 24 churches gathered together to package 25,000 meals! People from 8 to 80 years old worked diligently to accomplish this mission. What an amazing site to see such a diverse group of people coming together to help those in need! People were having fun, laughing and getting to know each other as they worked toward a common goal. As volunteers were leaving, many asked if this was something they could do again, expressing their joy and fulfillment. A local service sorority group told us how much they enjoyed working on this project and how pleased they were to have donated their time and money to the project. More than 23 churches and organizations received packets for distribution. These are being given out in food pantries (many in our own churches), area assistance centers, homeless shelters, feeding programs, and schools. Rev. Sandra Alexis (First English) took packets to a local school. “When Lans and I took the packets over, the staff at Barclay School said they were happy to have something to pass out to students in need. Having a supply of meals that were shelf stable gives them the flexibility to keep them on hand until needed. They said weekends and holidays when schools are closed can be particularly tough on some of the students”. Thanks to the generosity of so many, more than $5,800 was raised in addition to a generous grant from the Hunger Task Force. To ensure that these funds are used for programs providing food to those in need, CLAIM is accepting applications for grants to churches located in Baltimore City and those located in Baltimore County, near the Baltimore Beltway to begin new programs or enhance existing programs to provide nutritional meals in their community. This how we are connected and care for our communities. Learn more about CLAIM at: https://demdsynod.org/claim/ or donate to CLAIM by going to our synod site and clicking on the Give On Line: https://demdsynod.org/ and choose CLAIM.
It’s important to know though that individual congregations can also do meal packing events. Again, this Fall, Good Shepherd, Frederick, had a meal packing event on November 3rd. After services, the youth and social ministry folks coordinated this meal packing event. With 50 volunteers assisting, including people of all ages from elementary aged children to retired adults, men and women, members of Good Shepherd and members of the community, Good Shepherd packed 10,000 meals that filled almost 50 boxes of meals. These meals will be picked up and distributed by the Frederick Foodbank which is operated by Frederick Community Action Agency (FCAA). Good Shepherd was able to fund this incredible hunger ministry by raising over $900 through VBS and other donations plus an additional $300 came in from the sale of the cool Jeep bed we used as a photo booth to promote VBS. Plus in Partnership with Good Shepherds Social Ministry Team, all money donated to Gift of Love in the month of October was put towards the meal packing event. Learn more about the great work of Good Shepherd, Frederick at: https://www.goodshepherdmd.org/
Learn more about our synod Hunger Task Force at: https://demdsynod.org/connectedness/hunger-task-force/ or offer a donation by going to our synod site and clicking on the Give On Line: https://demdsynod.org/ and choose Local or ELCA Hunger.