By ROB STROUD, Mattoon Journal Gazette & Times-Courier
MATTOON, Ill. (AP) – As vehicles speeded past on nearby Illinois Highway 16, members of the First Presbyterian Church pulled up and took time on a recent Sunday afternoon to appreciate a new oasis garden on the church campus.
Parishioners participated in a dedication ceremony for an eco-friendly prayer garden at the northeast corner of Highway 16 / Charleston Ave and First Street. The garden was planted this summer after First Presbyterian received a $ 9,000 grant from Faith in Place through the Mattoon-based Lumpkin Family Foundation, the Mattoon Journal Gazette & Times-Courier reports.
“Our goal is to help believers better manage creation,” said Faith in Place policy coordinator Christina Krost of Mattoon. She added that the efforts of this non-profit, multi-faith environmental justice organization include reducing energy use and capturing more carbon dioxide through nature-based landscaping strategies.
Krost said Faith in Place was excited to work with the First Presbyterian Green Team, which advocates for a healthier, environmentally sound community, and with the Lumpkin Foundation to do ‘our little bit’ to capture carbon and improve quality. air at Mattoon.
“We are just grateful for this partnership, so let’s continue,” Krost exclaimed at the ceremony.
First Presbyterian acquired the corner property of Highway 16 and First Street two years ago and began to consider possible uses for this former house lot, which sits to the west of the church. This lot is south of a Fit-2-Serve community garden lot.
Their brainstorming culminated in the Alwerdt Gardens in Altamont, creating a prayer garden that includes trees, such as the Prairie Expedition American Elm, and pollinating plants and tall grasses, such as the Black-eyed Susan and the switchgrass.
Rev. Matthew Froeschle said the garden includes vegetation native to east-central Illinois that will replenish the soil and preserve the environment. He noted that the garden also includes a bench made from recycled plastic bottle caps and which is dedicated to the memory of Barbara A. Hill and Raymond W. Jones.
“The garden is a place of prayer, inspiration and Sabbath (rest),” Froeschle said.
The Lumpkin Family Foundation, a private foundation established in 1953 from the estate of Besse A. Lumpkin of Mattoon, provides grants to help build sustainable communities in east-central Illinois and across United States.
The first Presbyterian member, John Swick, noted during the ceremony that the prayer garden had also received support from other members of the community who thought it was a laudable goal, including a donation from the Mattoon Lions Club for two. additional trees.
Green team member Jean Jones said she thinks everyone who worked on the prayer garden project did a great job. Jones said seeing the completed garden in place was “awesome” and that she was especially looking forward to seeing the trees fully leafy and in bloom next year.
“They are pretty little trees. They will be so pretty in the spring, ”Jones said.
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