The Seed was planted when we became aware of our neighborhood circumstances: we are located in a food desert and Indianapolis is fraught with homicides.
The Seed germinated in 2015 when we realized we had space on our property we could use to create broader awareness for both.
THE GROWING SEASON
We turned a portion of our grounds into a garden to help decrease food insecurity, and to simultaneously use the garden to remember and call attention to those dying from violence. Located on a prominent half acre of our front yard, St. Alban’s Peace Garden has three primary purposes:
- As Indianapolis’ homicide rate rivals that of larger cities, we place a cross in the garden as a witness to the life and death of each victim;
- Located in the midst of the worst metropolitan food desert in America (USDA 2015), the garden annually provides 4.5 tons of fresh produce to food pantries in areas most impacted by the violence; and
- As neighbors work together and the plants envelope the crosses, the garden demonstrates how God, working through the Body of Christ, can transform a barren field of crosses into life giving food for the poor. As life triumphs over death and people are fed, the garden becomes a visible sign of resurrection.
The garden ministry is incorporated into the congregation’s liturgy in several ways. The garden is blessed each year during a Rogation Sunday procession; the memorial crosses are presented at the altar during the offering; the murder victims are remembered in the Prayers of the People; achievements and new workers in the garden are celebrated during mid-service announcements; and the garden is often referenced in sermons on Scriptures relating to the Body of Christ, harvests, vineyards, and sowing seeds.
The garden has become an evangelism tool. Passers-by stop to inquire about the crosses, signs and activity; neighbors ask for food and/or volunteer to help; friends ask parishioners about their ministry; and the media pays attention to the message of hope seen in the plants covering the crosses. Each of the above provides opportunity for us to “proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ.” Additionally, this ministry has turned our focus outward into the community resulting in new partnerships with pantries, private funders, other churches and non-profit organizations.