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Southern Church Celebrates God’s Creation

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The stately stone building anchors the block of a quaint Chattanooga, Tennessee neighborhood, complete with slate tile roof and Celtic cross.  Its surrounding lawn is perhaps what you would expect near a house of worship, except for small differences in the details.  Clover is allowed in otherwise tidy stretches of grass.  

Generous areas are mulched and filled with native plants. Absent are those small white flags that indicate toxins have been sprayed on the lawn by a typical lawn care service.  Century-old trees look healthy and well cared for.  A parking lot median is planted in vegetables free for the picking, instead of decorative flowers.

Grace Episcopal Church, GreenFaith congregation in Chattanooga, TN
A visitor to Grace Episcopal Church gets the message that God’s Creation is important, before ever entering the sanctuary.  That’s intentional.  Grace is the first Episcopal church in Tennessee to join the GreenFaith Certification Program.  During Sunday morning breakfasts and Wednesday dinners, efforts are made to include wholesome, locally grown food.  Utility and maintenance work is done with a measure of care. Leader Marion Pound of the local GreenFaith Team explained, “We’ve changed all of our cleaners to green cleaners and we switched all of our light bulbs and we have recycling programs and composting programs, so now nothing’s wasted inside.”
Native plants fill large planting beds near mature shade trees

Sunday school classes spend time outdoors to enjoy a butterfly garden and bluebird houses.  They even have creation care included in their curriculum.  Pound, a mother of two, explained, “I feel like it’s a critical component and especially raising children and their awareness of that connection between creation care and their spirituality.  We’re hoping that they are well educated from the beginning that that’s a part of their Christian responsibility.”
Church member Jerry Evans mulches a “free picking”
vegetable bed with newspapers before adding pine straw 

Grace Episcopal Church is doing much more to minister to its neighborhood outside the church walls.  Tomorrow, see what else is growing there!
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