Janelle Bidne, Coordinator of Communications
Contributors: Russ Finkler, member, Grace Lutheran Church, Davenport, IA
Rebecca Wiese, diaconal minister, Grace Lutheran Church Davenport, IA
In the beginning, there was an idea and the idea was “to grow”. Four members of Grace Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa had an idea to cultivate Grace’s ministry through a vegetable garden that would promote fellowship and support ELCA World Hunger. Starting with just two garden plots rented from the city of Davenport and financial support from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Grace members sowed the seeds in 2008 for what has now become “Graceful Garden.”
The first bloom of ministry in Graceful Garden came long before the seeds sprouted: the ministry of fellowship. Throughout the growing season, church members gathered together on Saturday mornings to tend to the garden by tilling, planting, weeding, and watering. An estimated 500 hours was spent in the garden by at least thirty congregation members. As the garden grew, the ministry of fellowship also progressed with congregation members sharing their gardening knowledge with others through learning sessions held at the garden. The ministry of fellowship expanded as Pastor Nestor Eduardo Alvarez Cabrera from Grace’s church partner in Guatemala, Iglesia Luterana Guatemaltecca, spent time tending the garden with Grace congregation members during his visit to Davenport. Grace has also shared their garden with international clergy students at Wartburg Seminary and members of congregations from Tanzania and China.
With Grace Garden in full bloom and ripe for picking, the congregation supported ELCA World Hunger through the garden’s produce. Every weekend, produce from the garden was offered to anyone attending Grace’s church services in exchange for a free will offering. The proceeds from the offering was then given to ELCA World Hunger. Members supplement the garden’s harvest with produce from their own gardens to help raise funds for ELCA World Hunger. Just this past August, a member donated 300 ears of sweet corn to the garden ministry and helped Grace reach their largest free will offering weekend. Through the end of September, offerings to ELCA World Hunger have exceeded over $1,000.
As one can see, a seedling idea “to grow” that simply began with four congregation members has certainly developed by promoting fellowship and supporting ELCA World Hunger. May Grace Lutheran Church’s “Graceful Garden” continue to grow gracefully as a witness to ministry.