In 1998, Columbus Mennonite Church (CMC) moved to a larger building. Although the building fit the church’s needs in many ways, it sat awash in a sea of asphalt. “Nothing moved. There was no life. It was soul-killing,” says Carolyn Turner, who attends CMC.

Turner responded by beginning a small group for gardeners at CMC. Over time, the group has transformed the property into an eye-catching riot of color that provides habitat for native birds, butterflies and other species. What began with jackhammers and pickaxes is now a memory garden with  and benches commemorating members who died.

The gardens not only provide a spot of beauty in an urban neighborhood; they are a parable of the earth’s ability to heal. Can damaged land be restored? Yes! But it’s a lot of hard work.

The CMC gardens were featured in a workshop on Churches Going Green at the Mennonite Church USA Convention in Columbus in early July 2009.