6th Annual Report
The Garden Church 2020-2021
Feed and be Fed in body, mind and Spirit.
“How glad I was when they said to me ‘Let us go to the house of the Lord!’ And now our feet are standing within your gates!” -Psalm 122:1-2
A Message From The Pastors
What delight it was just a few weeks ago to resume in-person worship at the Garden Church! Even with a shortened service, masks and social distancing, we rejoiced in being together again, as we welcomed in members of our community who had been unable to join us online. Our goal for the next few months is to return by small, cautious steps to our full Sunday program of working together, worshiping together and eating together.
We are proud to report that the pandemic did not curtail the scope of our ministry. Our two garden locations were tended by a small and dedicated group of volunteers. We conducted participatory, online worship every Sunday, and created virtual forms of our special worship services, classes and workshops. And every Sunday we offered a meal to our food- and housing-insecure neighbors. A meal is always about more than just the calories. We were reminded over and over in conversation that our neighbors who had come to eat together time came not only for the physical nourishment but to be part of a community that welcomed them just as they are. At the gates of the Garden, or simply when we were traveling around San Pedro we are able to stay connected with many of our most marginalized community members.
To be sure, we went through difficult times, including the unexpected deaths of two members of our church community. We sorely missed all the in-person gatherings we had to put on hold, and in particular, the children, the special needs adults, the high school students, and general public we could no longer invite into the Garden. We prayed for those who lives were put into disarray. We deepened our anti-racism work and social justice advocacy. And we allied ourselves with local efforts to meet the needs of those in our community who were struggling to make ends meet.
In these pages you will hear the details of how we adapted, endured and prospered. We are grateful for the patience, flexibility, creativity, resourcefulness and team-spirit of our church community. And we pray that we will continue to have your continued moral and material support as reimagine church as a place where all are welcome to the Lord’s table to feed and be fed in body, mind and spirit.
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mitchell and Rev. Dr. Amanda Adams Riley
Throughout the pandemic we have continued our “eat together time” which has taken the form of a grab-and-go style meal provided by church members, community members and area congregations including Wayfarers Chapel. In addition to our weekly meals, we also offer “meal replacement bags” for those with greater need.
In a new venture, Feed and Fed in conjunction with the San Pedro Faith Consortium, Feed and be Fed and the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce established the Harbor Neighborhood Relief Fund. Feed be Fed holds the funds and today is managing the distribution with the San Pedro Faith Consortium, and representatives from community stake holders. The fund has distributed more than $200,000 in 12 months to neighbors in need and provided food through a meal voucher program (supported by LA County Supervisor Janice Hahn’s office) and weekly meals during Lent thanks to the Handshake Foundation.
The Garden Church has been vocal in support of Black Lives Matter, has helped in the efforts to boost participation in the 2020 US Census, and held for its members an educational forum on local and statewide ballot propositions ahead of last fall’s election.
We have hosted a story-telling event and a peace dinner. These have been moved to online formats. In alliance with neighboring churches, we have been helping to provide mobile showers, food and clothing for our unhoused neighbors.
We continue to advocate for the food- and housing-insecure, workers’ rights and tenants’ rights with particular attention the redevelopment of the affordable housing project at Rancho San Pedro. We are holding the developers accountable to their promises to provide affordable housing to existing residents.
Feed and Be Fed
Feed and Be Fed continues to farm at two locations: our original lot on West 6th Street, home of the Garden Church, and at the Vic and Bonnie Christensen Science Center of the Los Angeles Unified School District. This last year we entered into an MOU with the LAUSD which formalized our relationship with them. We have added new raised beds, while continuing phytoremediation of the existing soil, which had been contaminated by the breakdown products of DDT.
Both farm sites have been maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers, who enjoy the safely distant masked social interaction during a time of isolation, as well as the opportunities to learn urban gardening and composting skills. Some of our produce has been sold at our gates and at the recently relocated Friday Farmers Market in Little Italy. And some has been delivered to elders self-isolating at home and to the Family Promise Program for unhoused families. We also make available seedlings and potted succulents.
While closed the public, we have been building a Children’s Garden area at our West 6th Street location. Also under development is a redesigned Prayer Garden.
Worship and Education
Living and praising God through this last year of the pandemic has required us to re-imagine church. Fortunately for us at the Garden church re-imagining has always been one of our guiding principles. In this last year we have maintained weekly worship through zoom and expanded to post our sermons on our facebook page, and in the month of April due to a significant decrease in case counts in our area were able to move to an abbreviated in person worship service in our garden sanctuary. During Holy Week we held our worship services on zoom and introduced two new worship experiences the first was a Holy Thursday vigil in the garden from 8pm-12pm. During that time family units or individuals were invited in for a socially distanced opportunity to sit and pray as Jesus asked the disciples to on the night he was betrayed. The garden was set up with prayer prompts, scripture passages, candles and objects from the Bible passages upon which people could reflect. We also added an Easter sunrise service on zoom. We encouraged worshipers to sit outside or near a window and we incorporated pictures of the sunrise over the port submitted by one of our members.
Throughout the year we looked for opportunities to make the zoom worship experience more interactive including asking those in attendance to unpack different parts of the tabernacle from their own worship spaces. We held interactive prayer stations through zoom by distributing supplies to members ahead of Sunday worship. In the fall as children returned to zoom school, we distributed bracelets reminding them they are loved and “busy packs” of sensory toys to allow them to fidget when they are expected to be still. Last summer in an effort to better connect our families we distributed “tiny tabernacles” miniature kid-friendly versions of our tabernacles. In January our annual MLK Day Teach-In took place on zoom and included a rich discussion with members of the local NAACP. At the request of our members, in March we formed a Liturgy team which collaborates in the creation of sermon series, and worship planning throughout the year.
Our flagship adult Education program Theological Thursdays continued online this year. Topics were wide-ranging and responsive to the events in our city, nation and world. Following last summer’s racial uprising reckoning in our Nation, Revs. Jonathan, Amanda and Board Chair Elizabeth Sala co-led a multi-week anti-racism study. The group included church members, area clergy and community members. This spring Revs. Amanda and Jonathan received training from Faith & Grief Ministries and alongside clergy from the San Pedro Faith Consortium are co-leading an 8-week Faith and Grief Workshop.
“Since joining the Garden Church my life has changed so much for the better.” Naomi
· For ongoing connection with God and one another through worship on zoom and then to in-person
· Two new members to our church in this last year.
· Three new board members who said yes to service and have jumped in with both feet.
· For financial support from consistent donors and for PPP loans.
· For the garden volunteers who grew hundreds of pounds of food and rescued hundreds more pounds of compost from the landfill.
· For the ability to supply produce delivery to our seniors during the height of the pandemic.
· For continued creativity in worship whether in person or on zoom.
· For the opportunity to celebrate our 5th Anniversary with our founding Pastor Rev. Anna Woofenden including worshipers from throughout the USA and Australia, and to welcome back Rev. Asher O’Callaghan for our 6th Anniversary.
PO Box 5257 | Location 429 W. 6th St | San Pedro, CA 90733
(310) 929-0547 | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.gardenchurchsp.org