Healthy tomatoes, peppers, and squash plants are growing in my backyard raised vegetable garden beds, but so far, I’ve only harvested a pair of lunchbox peppers because we didn’t plant anything until late May. Our community garden is also just getting started with some great looking young squash plants. However, we’ve already harvested much spiritual fruit this year. We’ve welcomed more new people into membership through baptism, professions of faith and transfer this year than in any of my previous four years with the church. In two community meals, we’ve provided radical hospitality and fed hungry souls. Our own spiritual leaders Ken Spears and Corey Railey will bear fruit through the proclamation of the gospel on the first two Sundays in July.
Later in July, while I am "sowing seeds" during a sermon planning retreat, our speaking schedule will continue in its variety. JSU Wesley Foundation Director, Rev. Dr. Jay Robinson, will join us to share the good news on July 21. The next Sunday, July 28, we will welcome Ms. Jesse Hoyer, Regional Director for the Alabama Gleaning Network of the Society of Saint Andrew (SoSA). The SoSA sends volunteers into fields to glean food remaining after harvest, bringing Old Testament practices into the 21st century. This organization’s mission, “Gleaning America’s Fields; Feeding America’s Hungry,” shares much with our vision of a “garden" of discipleship and a community flourishing in Christ. Finally, in August, we will begin a church-wide series called “Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations,” based on a book authored by United Methodist Bishop Robert Schnase. This series will provide an extended focus on our “flourishing garden” vision and will promote opportunities to continue bearing spiritual fruit in our community.
It brings me great joy to watch the seeds we’ve sown mature to produce new disciples and spiritual fruit. After her visit, our Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett commended our church on our ministry with the community. She wrote in an email, "I was happy to deliver the vegetables that Weaver First so graciously gathered for Upper Sand Mountain Parish. Rev. Woody Woodin and the people of Upper Sand Mountain Parish are very appreciative of your generosity.”
May we continue glorifying God as we plant, tend and harvest in His Garden!
Your co-laborer in Christ,
(Image: Bishop Debra-Wallace Padgett preaching near some of the vegetables harvested by church members on June 23.)