The Pumpkin Patch Gospel
By Patrick Scriven with the Rev. Shane Moore and Terri Entze
and when our churches are living that love out,
that is a message we must be willing to share.”
-The Rev. Shane Moore
Just after lunch on a beautiful, late October day, the first graders of Highland Elementary School were heading to church to get some pumpkins.
About a half-mile from the school is their destination – Clarkston United Methodist Church (Clarkston, Wash.) and its large garden that produces over 2000 pounds of fresh food each summer for the local food bank. Last May, kindergarten and first grade students were invited to plant pumpkin seeds and now these children were back to see what had grown. Last spring’s first graders were taught a lesson in giving as their pumpkins were to be harvested by a new class of kindergarteners the following day.
Tana Truscott, a member of the Church helped to start this new expansion of its garden ministry, recruiting volunteers from the congregation and the Asotin County Master Gardeners group. The well-organized team helped the first graders rotate through pumpkin picking and cleaning, a couple of fun learning components, and also provided a variety of tasty pumpkin-based snacks.
In the spring of 2012 the Church’s outreach community began to explore how it could partner effectively with the local elementary school. As the idea of planting pumpkins surfaced, they worked intentionally with the school to see how the project could complement the work of teachers in the classroom. Science classes are using the event as an opportunity to talk about seeds, germination and how something like the pumpkin is produced in a variety of ways into things we can use and eat.
The Rev. Shane Moore, Clarkston UMC’s pastor, expressed what he loves about this project of the church: “What’s great about this ministry is that it runs without micromanaging from the pastor. The idea, planning, and implementation are laity driven. They are excited about using the garden to reach local children.”
Like a proud parent, he was also eager to share with people what Clarkston UMC is up to. With the laity on top of the details and implementation of the pumpkin patch, Moore turned his attention to helping the church communicate the good work it is engaged in with the surrounding community.
“I spent time intentionally working to spread the word about the pumpkin patch,” shares Moore. “Too often we are afraid to share our stories because we worry that it will come across as bragging. But what we must remember is that we have a message that needs to be shared.”
Moore reached out to an employee of a local non-profit to get help in writing a press release that the church then distributed to the local newspaper, television station, and school district. Their partnership with the Master Gardeners group also led to a member of that group willing to produce a short video of the project.
Still, some might question why a church would spend time reaching out to the local press or in sharing about an event on the Internet. But for Moore, the answer is clear: “The love of Christ is the most important message we carry and when our churches are living that love out, that is a message we must be willing to share.”
visit its Facebook page at bit.ly/clarkston-umc-church.
Patrick Scriven serves as the director of communications for the PNWUMC.
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