Grow Gracefully

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.



Christ’s Liberation Equips Our Ministry

Pastor Vince Ramos, State Coordinator Barnabas UpliftThe man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with him; but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” So he went away, proclaiming throughout the city how much Jesus had done for him.  Luke 8:38-39

After Jesus liberated the man who had many demons, Jesus sent him away, back to his home so that he could tell everyone what God had done for him. Here is where we learn an important point about liberation. With liberation we become equipped to do ministry.

I have seen firsthand with the Barnabas Uplift Network, how Christ’s liberation equips ministry. Barnabas Uplift liberates people from the demons of poverty by assisting them in becoming trained for and obtaining jobs as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA’s), and other health care related positions. Individual taxpayers, especially in rural areas are also helped with tax assistance. All the volunteers and other folks who work with and support Barnabas Uplift are working with people equipping them for their ministry.

When our students graduate from CNA training, and take positions in a nursing home they are doing the work they have been liberated to do: caring for our loved ones. When taxpayers are helped out and receive their earned income tax credit so they can pay some extra bills, put an extra bag of groceries on the table or buy clothes for their children, they will tell their family and friends what the volunteers from Barnabas Uplift have helped them accomplish. Christ’s liberation does indeed equip us for ministry and encourages participants to go out and spread the message.

As volunteers with the Barnabas Uplift network we can keep this principle in mind. In our baptism we have been liberated for our neighbor. As we assist our neighbor in shedding the demons of poverty we are equipping them for their ministry in our communities.

For more information, or to schedule a Barnabas Uplift Sunday, contact Pastor Vince Ramos, State Coordinator Barnabas Uplift. Office: 319-233-5561 or Cell: 319-296-6400, or Email: [email protected] Visit us on the web at

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