This year, 2017-2018: Our stewardship theme takes a cue from the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. We have spent a year reflecting and considering this anniversary which we will observe at St. Paul on Reformation Sunday, October 29th, 2017.  As we considered stewardship themes for this year, our Stewardship Director, Laurie Jamieson described a Reformation garden being planted in Wittenberg, Germany with trees from churches from all over the world. You can read about it HERE.autumn garden As we talked about the effects of the Reformation on what it means to be church, we felt that we should “reform” stewardship this year. Borrowing the idea of a Reformation garden, we imagined the church as a garden of beloved community, a flourishing garden, with all that makes a garden wonderful, a garden that receives gifts of sun, soil, seed, water, and loving attention. We want to include as many people as possible in stewardship, and recognize and honor the gifts of the whole community. We want to lift up the Reformation understanding of “the priesthood of all believers” and all that we do and grow and tend in our abundant garden of beloved community here at St. Paul. Below is an excerpt from Laurie’s letter:

Time to Plant a Forest, Together

“Even if I knew that the world were to collapse tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree today.” (Ascribed to Martin Luther)

Something exciting is happening in Germany right now in anticipation of the coming fall season and it involves not only beer, polka music and pretzels, but trees. Big, huggable, shade providing, bird nest housing, wind capturing trees.

On the grounds of the former town fortifications in Wittenberg a garden is being created. Churches from all over the world and from all confessions are being invited to sponsor one of the 500 trees to be planted in the garden and at the same time to plant a tree in a place that is significant for their own church. The plan is to have 500 trees planted at different places in the city with a corresponding planting taking place around the world. This collaborative project – the “Luthergarten” – is a sign of the optimism expressed in Luther’s apple tree quote. According to the garden’s website, it is hoped that the garden will “stimulate interaction and set a communication process in motion. Positive impulses will emerge and spread out into town, the region, the country and, finally, into the world. In this way, the far-reaching significance of the Reformation will become tangible.” Because the trees to be planted are large in size it will likely take many churches to sponsor a single tree. Currently they are approximately 230 trees planted by different churches from all over the world. Guess which tree is number one, found in the Luther Rose formation, in the middle of the park? The Catholic Church! There are also trees sponsored by the Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the World Methodist Council.