What a treasure are our monthly lunches at Greenspring Senior Living. The coming together of members who can no longer come to church and of those from church who bring the peace of the community, making a table in the Greenspring dining room, sacred ground.

This month I had the wonderful experience of meeting Gene Wunderlich. Gene grew up in far northern North Dakota, just miles south of the border with Manitoba, Canada. And why was this so special? Because Gene was right there, front and center, for the creation of The International Peace Garden, an idea first conceived in 1928 by Canadian horticulturist, Dr. Henry Moore and whose gateway on the border between the United States and Canada was dedicated in 1932.

The International Peace Garden consists of almost 1500 acres of land donated by Manitoba and almost 900 acres donated by North Dakota. Here, in this wide-open space are found more than 155,000 flowers in a variety of displays. There are hiking trails, a floral clock, a museum, spaces for the arts, and more. Its purpose is to stand as a testament to the lasting friendship between the two countries that created it. It is a symbol of unity between nations, a neutral site where people of differing backgrounds can come together to collaborate for peace and inclusivity in the world.

As Gene spoke with such joy and reverence for this place, I could feel my heart beating faster. My spirit felt more and more alive as he described its history and purpose. I couldn’t help but start thinking about our dear Peace Lutheran Church and its ongoing mission and vision.

Friends, WE are a Peace Garden. Right here, right now, at the corner of Lincolnia Rd. and Summit Dr., WE are a garden of peace for this community – a symbol of unity between people of diverse backgrounds. We are the safe, neutral ground where we all come together to collaborate for peace and inclusivity in this world.

Isn’t this a marvelous thing to behold? This work of God, just like at the start of all things. A garden, full of growth and life and vitality where humanity can live side by side in harmony and peace with God and with one another and with the natural world itself.

In my heart and mind’s eye, this is Peace Evangelical Lutheran Church.

As we move into cultivating our Peace Garden for 2024, as we, “Share God’s love, grow in faith and create community,” I am excited to see the many ways in which you will all contribute and take part in growing peace here in our community. How will you give of your time, talents and treasures so as to be co-creators with God, tending this amazing garden God has given us?

This is the question we will ask ourselves as we enter our annual Stewardship Campaign, preparing ourselves for Commitment Sunday on February 11, 2024. You will hear personal professions of faith from fellow members of this faith family, how it is that God has called them to give back to Peace for the many ways Peace has given to them and/or their families. You’ll hear about the ongoing vision and mission of Peace and how we believe God is calling us to live it out in the staffing and building and ministry needs of 2024. You will receive the opportunity to prayerfully consider how to support this mission, first with your financial gifts and secondly with your gifts of time and talents. For, beyond our financial needs is the need for us all to invest in each other’s lives and that of our community. Where will you engage with learning, serving, fellowship, and worship so as to “Share God’s love, grow in faith and create community?” The Stewardship Team is creating an updated catalog of ministries and a Time and Talent survey that will follow up our financial part of the campaign.

Our plans for ministry are possible, dear friends, with God’s help and your hearts. Let’s be a thriving Peace Garden in 2024.