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Sow and Grow: Celebrating Earth Day

In the heart of Chula Vista, at St. John’s Episcopal Church, a beautiful collaboration unfolded in celebration of Earth Day called “Sow and Grow.” Twelve spirited 10th and 11th graders from the Bishop’s School joined preschoolers from the ECS Head Start program to nurture young minds and plant seeds of environmental stewardship.

As the Bishop’s School students arrived, the air was filled with anticipation and excitement. The Rev. Roger Haenke welcomed the group to the church campus and Diane Lopez Hughes, Diocesan Creation Care Committee Co-Chair, gave a brief presentation to the students before they met their young companions. 

Diane asked the gathered teenagers, “Why do you think that we Episcopalians, or any people of faith, would want to care about the Earth?”

A student immediately spoke up, and said, “It was gifted to us by God, and we want to honor what God gave us.” 

Affirming the student’s answer, Diane concluded, saying, “When we plant, we grow more than trees. We also grow hope for the future. And we fulfill our baptismal promises.” 

Now, with the presentation complete, the teenagers were guided over to the preschool classrooms. The connection between the generations was instantaneous as the teenagers introduced themselves with warm smiles. With gentle guidance, they ushered the preschoolers into the world of plants–starting with story time. Dividing into pairs, the teenagers joined classrooms full of children and began telling earth day stories.

With story time complete, it was time for the hands-on experience. The preschoolers were given clear plastic cups, filled with rich soil, awaiting the eager hands of the preschoolers. With careful precision, they used their little fingers to poke a hole in the soil and nestle a seed into its new home. The children decorated popsicle sticks with their name and the name of the soon to be planted seed in bright colors. The final piece was to poke the stick into the cup, marking it as their seedling. 

But this was only the beginning of their journey. With each seed planted—a promise was made to nurture and protect the green shoots as they emerged from the earth. And, under the watchful eyes of their Bishop’s School mentors, the preschoolers began a journey of growth and discovery.

ECS and St. John’s are proud to work together as Partners in Ministry to respond to the needs of the San Diego community and create a more equitable society through faith in action. 

St. John’s Head Start is one of 18 ECS Head Start locations across the South Bay area. ECS Head Start offers early childhood education at no cost to qualifying families with children ages 0-5. Head Start’s wraparound services such as family and community engagement programs, parenting education opportunities, child developmental screenings, services for children with disabilities, services for pregnant women, behavioral health services, referrals, and other comprehensive developmental services ensure that the educational, emotional, social, health, and nutritional needs of children are met.

Head Start uplifts the children in our community through quality education, accessible childcare, and wraparound services that support all of their needs and the needs of their families. ECS currently serves more than 2,000 families in San Diego each year and hopes to continue building a bridge to a brighter future. 

As the weeks pass, the seeds will begin to stir, sending tender shoots upward under the watchful eyes of the preschoolers. And true to their word, a group of new students from The Bishop’s School will return, eager to guide the preschoolers in transplanting their seedlings into the church’s garden.

This program is new to The Bishop’s School this semester. The teenage students all self select to be a part of a team that interacts with the preschoolers over a number of months. This trip, for Sow and Grow, was the fourth trip Bishop’s School has made to St. John’s in order to get through the number of students interested in the program. Bishop’s School has always encouraged their students to engage in service to the community, and service has become a foundational ethos to the culture of the school.   

We believe in the call to care for all of creation, recognizing that every plant, every creature, is a precious gift from God. Through their generous participation in Sow and Grow, the Bishop’s School students showcased ECS’ core values of belonging, respect, empowerment, exploration, and stewardship. It was inspiring to see the young leaders of tomorrow giving back to their community.

It is not just a garden that flourishes within the walls of St. John’s Episcopal Church—it is a people bound together by a shared vision of service. And this fall, when the preschoolers gather once more, to celebrate the fruits of their labor, they will begin to recognize their part in a journey of care, of growth, and of the endless possibility of creation.

To learn more about ECS Head Start, click here

To learn more about St. John’s in Chula Vista, click here

To learn more about The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, click here

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Category: #Advocacy, #Creation Care, #Service, #Worship & Formation, #Youth, Children, & Families

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