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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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More grass than flowers

Habitat trail serves as a reminder of God's creation

Like many of the repetitive tasks in a congregation's life, maintaining the church lawn can be draining. Members of Community Lutheran Church, Sterling, Va., asked, "Can we find a way not to do this anymore?"

They did--by developing a hedgerow, a natural corridor rich with diverse plant life and wildlife. The habitat's preservation trail provides education, recreation and inspiration to members and the community.

The Hedgerow Habitat Trail occupies two-thirds of an acre. Once the more than 200 trees and shrubs were collected, volunteers planted according to a design. An Eagle Scout Troop also built a footbridge to the site from an adjacent bike trail.

Signs mark the beginning and end of the walking trail. One proclaims a praise psalm (Psalm 104:24). The other declares Jesus' counsel for us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). Paul Opsahl, pastor of Community, sees clearly the connection between this acreage and the church's ministry: "It is the First Article of the Creed coming to life."

Through meditative walks, educational talks and even picnics, the trail is a witness in the area--and beyond. In February, Community was one of 35 congregations extolled at a meeting of religious leaders and representatives of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment as a model of connecting environmental projects with social justice.

Community's stewardship effort will benefit the area for years to come. "It's more than just grass and a few flowers," Opsahl told the Sterling News Report. "I think in the long run it helps us take the maximum good care of the property that we have been entrusted with."


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