CCA Covenant Partner Congregation wins Sacred Grounds Award

A word from Interim CCA Coordinator Jane Laping: 

Congratulations to CCA Covenant Partner Congregation, Grace Episcopal Church In The Mountains in Waynesville. Interfaith Power and Light honored their garden with a Sacred Grounds Award. When you learn about all that the Grace Church volunteers have done, you’ll agree that they certainly deserve this national award.

What started as a children’s garden on the church’s well-kept lawn grew into a “Grace Giving Garden,” producing organically grown vegetables for their food pantry. The redesign of the lawn also includes an outdoor worship space and a classroom. Sustainable gardening methods such as composting and native plants attract pollinators, birds, and other wildlife. Their methods have also attracted certifications from the National Wildlife Federation, Monarch Watch, and Million Pollinator Garden. Grace Church’s project had the added benefit of increasing church volunteers from 3 to 50! View the photo gallery below to see these wonderful volunteers in action (photos courtesy of Grace Church). 

Connect with Grace Church on Facebook and Instagram to stay in the know about their ongoing projects and upcoming events. Read the featured press release below to learn more about Grace Church’s recent achievement: 

Grace Church in the Mountains, Waynesville, NC is one of  6 National Winners in Interfaith Power and Light’s Cool Congregations Annual Award for Leadership and Sustainability

Interfaith Power and Light Announces ‘Cool Congregations Challenge’ Winners as Faith Communities Prioritize Energy Efficiency, Renewables, and Sustainability

OAKLAND, Calif., February 28, 2023 — Grace Church in the Mountains, Waynesville, NC  is one of the six national Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) 2023 Cool Congregations Challenge winners awarded a $1000 prize. The annual contest accepts applications from religious congregations around the United States who are doing work to address climate change by reducing their carbon footprint as they create models of sustainability within their communities. 

Grace Church in the Mountains won the Sacred Grounds award for transforming a traditional church lawn into “Grace Giving Garden,” a wildlife haven and organic vegetable garden serving their food pantry. The garden became an organic haven with composting, native plants, pollinator and wildlife certifications, an outdoor worship space and classroom for lessons on the natural world. They achieved certification as a Monarch Waystation, Million Pollinator Garden, National Wildlife Federation Habitat, NWF Sacred Grounds Garden and in the process increased their garden volunteers from 3 to 70. Gardener Mary Alice Lodico said, “Our vision was inspired by our Appalachian mountains, a beautiful biome which serves as a model for raising a generation of children to revere God’s creation and become lifelong stewards of the Earth. Our work has been to restore native ecology and open others’ eyes to the majesty around us. Our mission – to grow and share God’s bounty and steward his creation in learning and fellowship with all – guides our vision and work.

Grace Church rector Joslyn Schaefer said, “God provided us with this incredible garden, the Earth, to farm it and take care of it. In our technological and industrial age, it is easy to forget that our first vocation is to be good farmers: to stay close to the Earth, attend to its rhythms, honor its limits, and to feast from its abundance. The people of Grace Church have helped me, and others in our region, understand that care for God’s creation is a form of reverencing the Lord and a sure, reliable pathway to divine praise. My hope is that this award may inspire other faith communities to find as much delight in caring for God’s garden as we have.”

Grace Church in the Mountains and the other national winning congregations are casting a vision for the kind of world in which they want to live, and then carrying out that vision with practical actions that make a real difference in creating lasting solutions to climate change,” said Rev. Susan Hendershot, President of Interfaith Power & Light. 

The Cool Congregations Challenge shows that people of faith are united by concerns about climate change and are taking action. The winners provide strong moral role models for their communities, and their activities have a ripple effect with people in their own homes, demonstrating that acting on climate is a moral issue.

Interfaith Power & Light is mobilizing a religious response to global warming in congregations through the promotion of energy conservation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. Twitter: #CoolCongregations @interfaithpower   Facebook:

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