Community Prayer Garden Dedication
Saturday August 1st, 2015 10am
After years of dreaming and planning, we will be dedicating our Community Prayer Garden this week. We will gather in the garden (rain or shine!) for a service of morning prayer that includes a time for blessing and dedication of this gift. The service will last only about 20-30 minutes, but we hope you will linger to enjoy this beautiful place.
Our hope for this space is that it will be used by the community as much as our own members, that it will be a place of respite and peace, and place where people can find and be with some sense of the divine, whether or not they share our particular Christian beliefs. So even if you are unable to attend the dedication, please know that the space exists and is open for all to use at any time it is needed for prayer.
NOTE: There is some seating available, but most people will be standing throughout the service, so plan accordingly. You also may want to be bring mosquito repellent.
~ The Story of the Prayer Garden ~
Prayer has long been a part of the character of Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Today, this is enacted through an active prayer chain, as well as a group who meets for prayer each Wednesday throughout the year. Several years ago, a couple members had a vision for the little grove of trees near the parking lot: to create a garden that would serve as a respite and a place for people to sit amidst God’s beautiful creation and pray.
Though there was energy around the idea, the hopeful spot for the garden was too swampy to create a pathway. But a conversation with Bruce Zaretsky of Zaretsky and Associates, Inc. opened a new possibility: a boardwalk, surrounded by shade- and water-loving plants. Bethlehem eagerly agreed to the idea, and Zaretsky finished building the boardwalk he designed in 2013.
Shortly thereafter, Jason Leisten cleared out a walkway through some nearby trees. This offers a sort of extension to the boardwalk, and an even more secluded place to seek God. In the future, we hope this will also have benches and scripture, and will lead to a large walking labyrinth in the shape of a rose, as a nod to the history this area, formerly known as Roseland.
Some members have a connection to Scout Troop 113, and invited one of the scouts to design and build some benches for the garden. Will Dorfner took on the idea for his Eagle Scout project, and in 2014, the benches were complete.
Meanwhile, several members donated plants – some purchased, some taken right out of their own gardens. As a result, the plants represent not only current members, but in some cases, also members who had previously shared plants and have since passed away. The growth in the garden truly represents the cloud of witnesses by which we are surrounded.
We wanted a place where people could leave their prayer requests, to be prayed for by other users of the garden, which would tie us all together even more. Many years ago, Robert Panneitz had built a small mailbox in the shape of Bethlehem. Kevin O’Grady fixed up that original mailbox and made it look clean and sharp to add a gracious entry point to the garden where people can take or leave prayers.
The final touch was to add scripture to the garden. Our weekly prayer group brainstormed what short verses they would like present to help people focus their prayers, and we choose seven, since seven is the biblical number of completion. Rochester Signs and Graphics made the plaques for us and installed them in July, 2015.
The prayer garden was dedicated on August 1, 2015, and we hope it will be in use for many years to come!