“Having Faith in Native Gardens”


Final Wild Ones Program of the Year Focuses on Integrating Natural Landscaping into the Mission and Practice of Area Faith Communities

Wednesday, November 15
First United Methodist Church, 212 S. Park St., downtown Kalamazoo
Doors open for socializing at 6:30 pm
Program starts promptly at 7

The final program of the year for Kalamazoo Wild Ones, on November 15, will
feature a panel discussion, “Having Faith in Native Gardens,” a follow-up to the
June 17th field trip to five native-garden projects on the grounds of area
churches. The five panelists will relate their experience of working with faith
congregations to integrate the practice of natural landscaping into their sense
of mission and service to the community.

At the November 15 meeting, panelists will talk about both the challenges and
the benefits of this transition, both for the church congregations and for the
panelists who championed the plantings. Our five panelists will tell you how
they got started, what they learned, and how these gardens have changed the
congregations and engaged the surrounding community. The panelists include
• Ann Klobucar Schoolcraft United Methodist
• Ruth Caputo Portage Chapel Hill United Methodist
• Tom Small Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
• Trish Joseph Skyridge Church of the Brethren
• Catherine Niessink People’s Church

Skyridge Church of the Brethren has adopted the following mission statement
regarding their rain garden:
To care for creation cooperatively with mother nature in such a way as to
increase biodiversity, reduce unsustainable lawn area, and educate
ourselves and our community in the beauty and ecology of native Michigan
plants and wildlife. To provide an outdoor oasis – somewhere to retreat to
for relaxation and quiet contemplation amidst our busy lives.

While all the churches visited by KAWO this past June have different
perspectives, they share a common dedication to serve as stewards of nature.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) presents a somewhat different case
in that Tom Small works with an organization, Community Organized
Regenerative Earthcare (CORE), which has an agreement with the church
pastor and congregation to transform the 5-acre church campus and the
structure itself into a community center, developed according to naturallandscaping
and permaculture principles. The focus is on providing healthy
food, recreation, educational programs, wildlife habitat, and open space for
the entire community. Dedication to serving the broader community is also
something shared by all the churches the panelists work with.