“Growing a garden church from food scraps and compost”–Article in the Christian Century

When I moved to Los Angeles in 2014 to start a church that connected people with food, the earth, each other, and God, I envisioned a sanctuary created around the table. It would not be built out of stones and stained glass and wood but would be circled by vegetable beds and fruit trees, with sky for ceiling and earth for floor. The vision was to create an urban farm and outdoor sanctuary feeding people in body, mind, and spirit.

Before we had a plot of land to cultivate together, we asked our team: What do we have? What are the resources that are already here and how can we use them to nurture this dream?

Read the rest of the article on the Christian Century page.

Crowd-funding for the Garden Church is live!

Give and share today! http://givingtuesday.razoo.com/story/The-Garden-Church-Fund

The Garden Church is re-imagining church as we work together, worship together, and eat together.

We’re so excited about the Garden Church, which is being planted in San Pedro, California! And we want you—wherever you live—to be part of it!

We are re-imagining what it means to be church, gathering a group of people together to create a church that is a communal garden, and a communal garden that is church.

Part of re-imagining church is re-imagining our funding sources and methods. The way the world works is changing, and the funding for new expressions of church aren’t primarily coming from our institutions any more.

Instead, we have the opportunity to build a community of support made up of individuals who share our passion. We believe there are people all over who want to be part of doing something to make the world a better place—perhaps including you!

We need to raise $2,000 a month for the next year from our Cultivation Team. That’s 200 people giving $10 a month, or 100 giving $20, or 50 people giving $40—you get the idea. Give what amount is right for you, monthly for the next year, and be an essential part of the team that is re-imagining church and bringing more heaven here on earth.

Be part of our Cultivation Team by praying, pledging, and participating in being church together.

Pray—hold good intentions and energy for the work and being of the Garden Church in whatever way is true to you.

Pledge—to give regularly (monthly is incredibly helpful for our budgeting, but of course we welcome any way that you feel moved to give) during our startup season until we establish local financial abundance.

ParticipateStay connected and participate from afar through engaging in work, worship, and eating in the spirit of the Garden Church in whatever way you are inspired.

Pray—Our community will pray regularly for you.

PledgeWe pledge to share in the experience through monthly newsletters, audio and video sharing of sermons and worship, regular social media posts, and stories of how the Garden Church is growing.

ParticipateWe’ll share stories, ideas, liturgy, lessons learned, inspirations, and whatever else we encounter as we grow. And you are always welcome to come join us in San Pedro and spend some time working, worshiping, and eating together with this community. Because you’re part of the Cultivation Team and there’s a place for you at the Table.

Our goal is to gather this collection of generous pledges by #GivingTuesday (you’ve heard of BlackFriday, CyberMonday, we believe in #GivingTuesday), December 2, 2014. Pledge, celebrate, and spread the invitation!

Give and share today! http://givingtuesday.razoo.com/story/The-Garden-Church-Fund

~Be sure to check the “monthly” reoccurring donation option at check out~

~Your gift to the Garden Church Startup fund is tax deductible through our denominational body, the Pacific Coast Association of the Swedenborgian Church~

The Garden Church and Common Ground on “Love in a Dangerous Time”


The Garden Church and Common Ground were recently featured on the Love in a Dangerous Time online radio show.  Listen and hear Rev. Anna Woofenden and Rev. Sarah Buteux talk about the way that they are re-imagining church in their communities.


First Garden Church Gathering


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat blessing of a start for the Garden Church! Fifteen people gathered this Sunday to share in re-imagining church as we worked together, worshipped together, and ate together.


We opened with invoking the image of… in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and was God and God came and dwelt among us, or pitched Her tent among us, or tabernacled among us. Harkening back to the Children of Israel traveling in the wilderness and setting up their tangible reminders of the Holy One every time they stopped. This is community in its beginning stages. This is a community on the move. When we Gather, we will set up our tabernacle as the reminders of God with us and of the community we are forming.


 The Word of God…that leads us, guides us, and continually brings us back to the stories of God and the stories of humanity.
Candle…the Light that comes into the world and is the lamp unto our feet and the Divine Light that we strive to see in each and every person.
The bread and wine…the sacred meal shared for and with all.
The bell… calling us together and inviting us into worship, silence, and collective harmony of sound.


And the Tree of Life…a reminder of what we’re working for, the heavenly city and a heavenly way of life, the tree with the leaves that will heal the nations.

We shared the Garden Church story and vision and had wonderful conversations, as everyone shared why they were there, their interest, journey, and gifts to offer.

We concluded our time together by sharing the Sacred Meal and felt God’s presence forming us as communityOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA.A blessed beginning and we look forward to cultivating this growing church plant.


We invite you to find out more about The Garden Church and how you can be involved locally or from a distance by checking out our website or follow us on Facebook


photo“I’m just so grateful, because to feel this vulnerable means I’m alive.” –Brené Brown

The day before Thanksgiving the right side of my body and a sidewalk had an abrupt and violent encounter.
My shoulder burst into searing pain, I tried to stand, felt the world close in, sat down again on the sidewalk, and felt the vulnerability of pain.

A few weeks later I sit on the rug in my bedroom and feel the muscles around my upper arm and back twinge as I use careful motions as my pen moves across the page.

“It feels vulnerable” is how I described my shoulder when the doc and then the acupuncturist moved it around to access the damage. Painful, tender, and vulnerable.

Vulnerability is a word that has been present in my life of late. It’s vulnerable to move yet again to a new place, with new people, start from scratch building relationships and community. Vulnerable to be staring the end of graduate school in the face and knowing that student loans end in May, and salary, health insurance, housing, and all those other necessary things are not yet a known quantity on the other side. Vulnerability of yet again taking large life steps as a single person, with the freedom, and the deep loneliness of moving through these decisions on my own. Vulnerability around my family of origin as final steps of my parents recent divorce are approaching. And vulnerability that over the last few months I have said out loud in a variety of settings, “I am going to plant a church.” Without knowing exactly where, when, or how, I keep saying out loud this call and vision that God is growing within me and around me. Speaking something into being that I have yet to know is possible. It’s audacious. It’s vulnerable.

Mary, Mary the mother of Jesus comes into my meditation as I walk up the hill. Great with Child, traveling away from home, prepared to birth the Son of God, carrying the one who she knew was destined to turn the world upside down. And yet, here she was, in Bethlehem, far from her family and community, and without even a room at the in. I wonder if she wished that she were back home in her own bed, with her mother and sisters nearby. I wonder if she would have said she felt vulnerable.

I go home and pull up the Ted Talk on Vulnerability. Damn your deep, wise, hits-too-close-to-home, wisdom Brene Brown. She winds up her talk with with these words:

“Let ourselves be seen…deeply seen, vulnerability seen. To love with our whole hearts, knowing that there is no guarantee. Practicing gratitude and joy in the moments of terror… I’m so grateful—to feel this vulnerable means I am alive.”

To feel this vulnerable means I am alive. The crisp air at the top of the mountain had a similar effect.

As does Advent. Divinity incarnated through deep vulnerability. God didn’t show up fully-grown, clothed in armor, or sleek and strong with black-belt karate moves. God came to this earth and slipped into the skin of baby Jesus. Carried by a mother who as young and vulnerable herself. Traveling far from home, no place to lay her head, let alone give birth to the Son of God. And it is this tale of vulnerability that ushers in the Divine presence in human form. It is this Christ, this anointed one, who says “come and follow me.” The One who embodied vulnerability as the gateway to life.

It’s scary writing this blog post. I don’t like being vulnerable. Especially in public. And yet this is part of being alive. Being human. Being created by the Divine.

And so I write. And share. And remember. And pray. And I keep rubbing Arnica in my shoulder, honoring this world of flesh and divinity, strength in vulnerability.

A gift of physical pain can be the reminder of vulnerability. And a gift of vulnerability is being open to others and alive to life. May it be.

Vibrancy in NYC

Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 Series 

I spent four days in New York and they were overflowing with gifts and beauty, inspiration, and unexpected blessings. 

A few highlights:

~The incredible hospitality of Russ and Carol, who welcomed me in as a friend of a friend and shared their beautiful home and interesting lives with me.

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View from the beautiful room I stayed in

~Spending my first evening in the city at the ballet with Benjamin. I’ve wanted to see Don Quixote since I was about eight years old. The show was all that I’d hoped for and more. Great student seats in the Opera House, incredible costumes and set, and the dancing. Well American Ballet Theater…what can I say, the dancing was amazing. 2013-05-30 18.52.292013-05-30 18.57.21

~Coffee with a church planter in Brooklyn. Hearing her stories and walking the neighborhood and seeing the street art.

~Enjoyed live music on the subway, along with many other interesting people watching incidents. 2013-05-30 22.21.52

~Had a lovely wander through Central Park, complete with a Central Park hot dog, sans bun.2013-05-31 14.37.26 2013-05-31 14.40.15

~Enjoyed a night out downtown. Drinks with my dear cousin and heart-to-heart catch up. And then dinner with a childhood friend, swapping life stories and reconnecting after many years.
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~Peaceful relaxation crocheting, reading, and writing in Riverside Park.

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~Seeing The Trip to Bountiful on Broadway (again, love student rush tickets). Laughed and cried and enjoyed the show with the new friend who happened to sit in the seat next to me.

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~Being invited to lead a Bible study on Emanuel Swedenborg and Swedenborgian thought at The Riverside Church, and attending the service and meeting people there.

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~Worshiping with the community at St. Lydia’s Table, a dinner church in Brooklyn that I’ve been following online for a few years and my purpose for going to NYC. It was an absolute joy to be there in person and see this beautiful model of church, and to connect with the Emily, the founder and pastor and soak up her church planting wisdom.

2013-06-02 21.11.422013-06-02 21.11.55 2013-06-02 21.12.00A soul-feeding time all around.

Thank you New York City! I’ll always come back…