April 4, 2018—The Healthy Seminarians-Healthy Church non-profit (HSHC) and Columbia Presbyterian Church (CPC) have announced a new collaborative effort for community gardening in Decatur, GA. It will be funded by a $26,800 grant awarded from the Presbyterian Women of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The project, “Feed My People” is being directed by HSHC, in partnership with CPC, Global Growers Network (GG), and Columbia Theological Seminary.
The Thank Offering is a long tradition with Presbyterian Women, and funds new and expanding projects, as well as small capital improvement projects. These projects have a clearly defined purpose that meets basic human needs. The “Feed My People” project will establish new garden plots for refugee families and provide training and educational opportunities in food-related health issues and sustainable gardening practices to nourish refugees, congregational members, and others.
“We are excited at Columbia Presbyterian Church with what the Presbyterian Women’s grant will enable us to do as we reach out to our refugee and immigrant neighbors,” said Rev. Tom Hagood, pastor at the church. “Not only will the grant enable many more of our neighbors to grow healthy food, but it will also allow us to build new relationships with people from around the world. I can’t think of a better way to get to know each other than at the table, breaking bread together from the harvest of God’s good earth.”
Columbia Presbyterian Church is already an intercultural congregation actively engaged in ministering to refugees, particularly Mizos from Myanmar. The church has over 30 Mizo members, two of whom serve as elders. A garden for these refugee members was created on church property next to the sanctuary to provide both a place for food and for social interaction.
“On behalf of HSHC, I want to thank Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Inc. for awarding us a 2018 Thank Offering grant,” said Rev. Dr. Karen Hagan Webster, executive director for HSHC. “Receiving this grant is extraordinarily meaningful to me on multiple levels. Not only will our organization be able to establish new garden plots for refugee families and provide training and educational opportunities, but it also allows me to fulfill a promise I made to my mother shortly before she died in February 2016. I told her that I would seek, to the best of my ability, to carry on the work that she was no longer going to be able to do, providing hospitality and love to our ‘neighbors.’ This project is dedicated to Linda J. Hagan, my PW role model.”
In addition, the PW grant award will fund a specialized ministry internship, offered by the Office of Contextual Education at Columbia Seminary, for the 2018-2019 school year. This internship will give a student the opportunity to work in a congregational setting and with a non-profit whose focus is on food, health, and sustainable living practices.
Columbia Theological Seminary formed a similar partnership with the Healthy Seminarians-Healthy Church and the Global Growers Network on its own campus last year. Global Growers supports a network of independently managed farm and garden sites in and around metro Atlanta, by providing technical assistance, educational opportunities, and leadership development. HSHC has experience in congregational community garden development and is currently housed across the street from Columbia Presbyterian Church at the seminary as a non-profit.
The Health Seminarians-Healthy Church Initiative (HSHC), a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, seeks to help seminary communities, clergy, and church members think theologically about health and learn practical ways of living into the abundant life that God offers us. HSHC seeks to raise up church leaders who are educated in, value, and practice healthy living as an integral part of their ministries. HSHC brings about awareness of how people’s stewardship of their own health (physical, spiritual, mental, emotional) is interconnected with the health of God’s whole creation. And HSHC seeks to improve the health of both seminaries and the communities around them.
The Global Growers Network (GG) seeks to create opportunities in sustainable agriculture in Georgia, by growing good food, training farmers, and providing economic opportunity. Global Growers is an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, GA. Global Growers grew out of the tremendous demand among international farmers, many who came to Atlanta as refugees of war, to reconnect to their agricultural heritage in their new home. Recognizing this exceptional talent, Global Growers connects local families to land, education, and markets in order to build healthier communities and strengthen our local economy. We are committed to cultivating diverse farmers who are traditionally under served by mainstream agricultural service providers. For more information, please visit: www.globalgrowers.org.
Columbia Theological Seminary is “Cultivating faithful leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers six graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit www.CTSnet.edu.
HSHC Cofounder/Executive Director
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