To advance God’s work, some religious communities ask for your tithe. Others ask for your life. Increasingly, congregations are asking for the latter. They have a growing awareness that God’s Creation is being undermined and our souls are at stake.
Biblically speaking, the enemy is us. Like Adam and Eve, we blame each other and Creation itself. But increasingly we are hearing a small gentle voice crying for the wilderness. Increasingly we are recognizing the covenant underneath it all – that to generate blessings requires that we love all of God’s family with our whole hearts and minds and bodies and souls. Increasingly, congregations in Alachua County are turning to caretend the gardens of Creation.
We have only begun to name the ways:
Westside Baptist has converted to solar power.
Holy Trinity Episcopal is feeding the hungry before worship.
B’Nai Israel has hosted the Florida Interfaith Power and Light Environmental Coalition.
Temple of the Universe teaches simplification of living.
Highlands Presbyterian distributes crops from its community garden.
Spiritually oriented Waldorf School has rain barrels to catch water from its roof.
Quaker-inspired Loga Springs Academy has held an energy fair with solar ovens, panels & windmills.
First Assembly of God has inspired park beautification.
The Hoda Islamic Center offers a free health clinic for the poor.
United Church of Gainesville maintains an urban forest.
Gateless Gate Zen Center demonstrates natural harmony.
Open Door Ministry has organized the restoration of abandoned habitats.
Hari Krishna provide earth-caring vegetarian diets.
We are learning to trust that our partnerships within the spirit of Creation can bless us all and that our lives can be worthy of the blessing. Evangelicals and contemplatives are standing together, awed by the whirlwinds, enchanted by the stillness, moved by the winds of a spirit that caresses the leaves of grass and the galaxies of light. The North Florida wilderness has been God’s revelation to the villages of Alachua County for 10,000 years. It shows us that Creation is more delicate and more powerful than we ever knew. It calls us into God’s world of sacred waterways and holy gardens. It asks for our blessing. It asks for our lives.
contributed by Jack Donovan, pastor of Highlands Presbyterian Church and former Gainesville city commissioner