Throughout the months of April and May, churches throughout the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego took part in the 2023 Year of Service by hosting or joining in creation care projects–many in partnership with community organizations.
During the Creation Care Month of Service, churches throughout the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego engaged in numerous projects and engaged with various community partners. It is so impressive! These projects and events allowed church members to connect with and support local community organizations, serve together and meet new neighbors. They provided opportunities to get out into and enjoy nature; learn about animals, plants, and conservation efforts; and build memories while working together.
Doug Thompson from St. Paul in the Desert called their volunteer maintenance work to preserve a natural habitat in Palm Springs with the Oswit Land Trust “laborious fun!”. And Jacky Dyess, the coordinator for St. Paul’s Cathedral’s clean up with I Love a Clean San Diego shared that her daughter “really liked helping and was happy to do it with a group of kids her age.”
The Rev. Hannah Wilder, Vicar of St. Mary’s in Ramona said, “We had hundreds of people show up to Sustainable Ramona’s Earth Day Festival, which we hosted at St. Mary’s, to listen to music, hear speakers, shop at booths, and learn how to take better care of the earth. I was blown away by the event, all the hard work of the volunteers, and how much learning and celebration took place. It was a positive event and one we hope to support again next year.”
The EDSD Creation Care Month of Service was a wonderful opportunity to proclaim the good news to all of creation. Jesus calls us to love our neighbors as one of the most important ways to follow him and live out our Christian faith. These projects allowed us to love our neighbors by connecting with them, supporting their ongoing conservation efforts, learning together, and caring for our common home which sustains us and whose health is vital to the health and wellbeing of all of creation.
In Mark 16:15, the risen Jesus called his disciples to “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” I love this, as it is a call to love, respect, and care for people and the earth. Care for the earth, God’s creation and an amazing, life-giving, and sustaining gift to us, is an essential way to love God. As we care for the earth, we care for all who live in it and proclaim the good news to all of creation.
What we do changes the world. Check out these amazing creation care service projects that EDSD churches and their neighbors participated in!
All Souls’, Point Loma joined the I Love a Clean San Diego Creek to Bay Cleanup on April 22 for a multi-generational, multi-community ecology support event. Mary Brown from All Souls’ Point Loma said, “Today was a special day of friendship and good work and learning to garden! What a great kick-off to All Souls’ participation in the diocese’s creation care work. It was a beautiful day with great people, and we got so much done!”
Christ Church, Coronado has been improving the recycling programs at their church and school during April and May, distributing EDCO (a waste and recycling company) pamphlets to their church and school communities, and installing drought-tolerant landscaping on their church property.
Good Samaritan, University City collected used socks to recycle through the Smartwool Second Cut program.
Grace, San Marcos partnered with their local Lions Club for the 2nd annual butterfly festival at Grace Episcopal Church on May 13.
St. Andrew’s, La Mesa planted native plants in their garden. They are also planning to plant trees in their neighborhood through Growing Trees in Community, the Diocese’s tree planting project coordinated by Rachel Ambasing.
St. Andrew’s by-the-Sea, Pacific Beach joined forces with the Pacific Beach Public Library to do a beach clean-up on April 16th with parishioners and neighbors.
St. Bartholomew’s, Poway offered “Chaparral Chapel”, a reflective nature walk on April 15 at Blue Sky Ecological Reserve and a Clean-up Hike on April 16 where St. Bart’s members and friends hiked on the Pomerado Trail connected to their church campus to clean up trash. The hike was followed by some planting.
St. David’s, Clairemont participated in a clean-up at Mission Bay High School.
St. Dunstan’s, San Carlos joined Patrick Henry High School’s Environmental Club to pick up trash at Lake Murray on April 22 as part of an ongoing partnership.
St. John’s, Chula Vista began the Sow and Grow project with children at the Head Start program on their campus. The children decorated popsicle sticks that mark their very own plant. After planting seeds in a plastic cup and setting them in the sun, the children will watch the seedlings grow until they’re eventually planted in gardens around the church campus. When the children return in the Fall, they will see the fruits of their labor and harvest the vegetables from their very own plants! The Rev. Roger Hanke said, “It’s a great project to do with children.”
St. Margaret’s, Palm Desert hosted a community event on their church campus on Creation Care Sunday, April 23, highlighting their ongoing work with community partners to care for the earth and provide education and care for their neighbors. Their partners include Desert Compost, The City of Palm Desert, Palm Desert High School Ecology Club, Desert ARC, Palm Desert Rotary Club, and Burrtec of Palm Desert. They served fair trade and local, healthy food; had demonstrations on pesticide alternatives, garden journaling, and backyard composting; gave tours of their native plants garden and pollinator sanctuary; shared information about a local composting facility; and sold shredding bags and local produce.
St. Mary’s in-the-Valley, Ramona hosted the 2nd Annual Earth Day Festival on April 22. It was coordinated by Sustainable Ramona and took place in the Ramona Community Garden on St. Mary’s church property. The day included music, speakers, food, and booths selling items and educating event guests.
St. Michael’s by-the-Sea, Carlsbad partnered with the Carlsbad Village Association for their monthly Carlsbad Village Cleanup and also participated in the water distribution at the Carlsbad Village Street Faire on May 7.
St. Paul in the Desert, Palm Springs hosted a clean-up day on Friday, April 28 with the Oswit Land Trust in Palm Springs. The Trust purchases open land for the preservation of natural habitat, and the properties require maintenance. Church members volunteered and helped with the basic maintenance of this natural habitat.
St. Paul’s Cathedral participated in a Balboa Park Clean Up and Picnic at the Redwood Trail on April 22. St. Paul’s also joined in a Hillcrest Clean Up through I Love A Clean San Diego. But picking up trash is only one way to care for creation. Recycling is another effective way to be a good steward of the land. St. Paul’s collected used socks for a recycling program where old socks, socks without pairs, and socks with holes are recycled into new items! You can learn more about this recycling program here.
St. Philip-the-Apostle, Lemon Grove planted trees on their church property as part of the Growing Trees in Community Project this spring.
There is still time to participate. Care for creation is on-going and important all year long! Church communities throughout EDSD are continuing to engage in care for the earth, and support is available to help you find ways to adopt greener practices on your church campus and/or connect with environmental organizations and work in your local community. Did you know that we have a Creation Care Community (CCC) you can join? This ministry leads our diocese’s work to care for creation and supports churches in this work. The CCC is a perfect way to meet new, like-minded people and churches who are engaging in work to heal, protect, and preserve our environment. To help churches get started with this work, the CCC created the EDSD Creation Care Community Church Guide. If you would like to get started or engage further in creation care at your church, check out this guide. And to learn more about and connect with the CCC, reach out to Diane Lopez Hughes at email@example.com. It’s wonderful to do this work in community. It allows us to share ideas as well as struggles and to celebrate and be encouraged by each other’s work.
Throughout 2023, the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is continuing to celebrate a year of service. Next month, in June, the churches throughout the diocese will be participating in service projects oriented toward migration. If you are interested in learning more about the upcoming service projects in June–including trips to Tijuana–visit www.edsd.org/migration-ministry or contact Robert Vivar, Migration Missioner, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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