LifeSource Starts New Community Outreach Ministry
» A community garden next to LifeSource Adventist Fellowship, in southeast Denver, is abuzz, not only with the visiting bees that are attracted by it. It is not the usual neighbor to a church.
There is motivation behind the idea that truly shows the pure attitude of Christianity. Like many others, this piece of land is intended to be shared and gardened by many people, in this case the immediate community around the LifeSource church. Individuals can plant things like fruit, vegetables, flowers and more in their personal plots. For LifeSource, this is a ministry with hopes to make their presence in the community even more welcomed.
In an interview with NewsNuggets, Katie Morrison spoke with Dany Hernandez, senior pastor at LifeSource. He explained what was behind the project and shared lessons about the benefits and challenges that came along with starting a community garden.
Where did the inspiration for the community garden come from?
Here at LifeSource, we are always trying to find ways to connect with our immediate neighbors. Most of these neighbors live in apartment units. A couple years ago, we threw out the idea of a community garden but never really had anyone available to take on the project. In 2014, a few of our members decided they would just plant a few things on the plot of land and see what happened. During the early months of this year, we decided to put a bit more effort into creating a garden for our community. We wanted to see how much interest it would create. Ultimately a group of about eight individuals started meeting in January and put a plan together for creating our community garden.
What were some challenges to starting the garden?
It was obvious that finding finances and volunteers to keep up the garden were immediate challenges to opening the garden project. Those two things usually are the biggest challenges for any church when it comes to new ideas and projects. We partnered with CREATION Health and received a small grant that helped us tremendously in making the community garden happen. We are still trying to complete different aspects of the garden that, because of the weather and lack of time, have not been able to complete.
Please describe some of the benefits your community garden provides.
The response we received from our neighbors was more than we could have imagined. Since most of our neighbors live in apartments, they don't have the ability or the resources to plant a garden. This provides that opportunity for them. Since the garden began, I've had so many opportunities to meet new neighbors I never would have met if not for the garden. You drive by almost any time of the day and you'll see someone working on their plot.
What does LifeSource hope to achieve with this community initiative now and in the future?
For us the community garden is about making connections with our community and gaining the trust of our neighbors. Every Wednesday night, we set up picnic tables, take out the grill and provide a meal for our neighbors. It's fascinating to see the friendships developing with those involved in the garden. If anyone is in the area on Wednesdays between 6-8 pm, swing by our campus and enjoy a meal with us right next to the garden. You can check out the garden for yourselves!
One can sense that there might be more you can share?
Here's another thing... We always talk about what would happen if our church disappeared. Would our neighbors miss us? That's a question every church should ask. Not would our members miss us; I hope the answer to that is yes, of course! But would our neighbors, our immediate community, miss us... We want to make sure that with all of the neighborhood initiatives we provide, if LifeSource burned down to the ground, our neighbors would truly miss our presence in the community. That's what we hope and I can honestly say that we are getting closer to that happening. [Katie Morrison; Photo by Katie Morrison]