Caring for Our Outdoor Church
By Cybelle Shattuck
This summer, the Green Sanctuary and Building and Grounds Committees are developing a land management plan for People’s Church. The grounds are a part of our church; they provide space for spiritual practices, religious education, remembering loved ones, and cultivating right relationships with animals, insects, and plants. Our goal is to create a management plan that helps both humans and nature flourish by simplifying the maintenance work while enhancing the ecosystems under our care.
The Memorial Garden is one area with stewardship challenges. First, there are invasive species (swallow-wort and autumn olive) that need to be removed before they overrun other plants. Second, there is no room to plant additional trees without overcrowding the garden, which would undermine the health of the beautiful trees already there. We need to encourage greater appreciation for the option of placing plaques on the Memorial Wall. One idea is to add an accessible path and benches along the wall to make it easier for people to spend time there.
The labyrinth also presents challenges. Walking its winding course is a lovely centering practice, enhanced by the surrounding native-plant garden. However, weeding the paths requires many hours of volunteer labor so we are exploring options for replacing the stone-bordered paths with a turf labyrinth that would be easier to maintain.
These are some of the ideas being considered as we strive to express our values by being good stewards of our grounds and of the volunteers who maintain them. We will present the plan and ask for suggested improvements in the fall.