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Reform Magazine | September 19, 2021

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In pastures green

In pastures green

Now is the perfect time for churches to be creating community gardens, says Hazel Southam of Bible Society

Please do walk on the grass round the wildflower labyrinth!’ reads the wooden sign. This is not the usual forbidding ‘Keep off’ message that we’re all used to, it’s an invitation to wander and enjoy yourself.

The labyrinth is part of a garden based on Psalm 23, ‘The Lord’s My Shepherd’, created by St Mary’s Church in Tadley, a small town in Hampshire. They’ve turned a large area of lawn into an interactive garden for the whole community.

In September, another garden inspired by Psalm 23 will feature at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Created by the world-renowned garden designer Sarah Eberle on behalf of Bible Society, it is intended to bring the much-loved Psalm to life. We also hope it will motivate communities around the country to create their own Psalm 23 inspired gardens, as places of solace as we emerge from the pandemic. And, as we do so, Britain’s churches are uniquely placed to do this. Across the UK, there are some 41,000 churches, many of which have an outdoor space. The Bible Society hopes that many will choose this year as a time to draw people from across their communities together to create gardens for the future, and to reflect on this ancient psalm, just as St Mary’s Church has done.

Professor Paul Williams, CEO of Bible Society, says: ‘We’ve all spent too long apart over the last year. It would be wonderful to create community gardens together as a positive way of emerging from the pandemic. Those gardens will unite people, and be beautiful sanctuaries for many years to come.’…

Hazel Southam is Project Storytelling Manager for Bible Society. Psalm 23 garden resources are available from www.biblesociety.org.uk/psalm-23/get-active

Read about Zion United Reformed Church’s community garden project, created in Northallerton, North Yorkshire, in Reform, November 2020

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This is an extract from an article published in the June 2021 edition of Reform

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