Birthing a new ministry and a new person into the world have a lot in common.
I remember my first pregnancy. I was mildly terrified for nine months. It started like this: I am going to be a mother! I have never done that before! I don’t know how to do that! It ended like this: There is a baby inside of me! She needs to come out! Can my body do that?!
I remember the sense of being taken over by a process I could not control. I remember the awareness that at any moment, something could go horribly wrong. I remember being absolutely astonished by my baby. I had been waiting for her for nine months, and yet she was a complete surprise. I remember waking up the first night she was home just to watch her breathe. She looked so fragile. But she was an ordinary newborn. I was just a new mom.
On April 22nd, 2015, papers were signed that brought Plainsong Farm into being. God had been calling me to begin this ministry for a long time – so long, then so loudly, that eventually it was impossible to ignore.
I was mildly terrified from the day my husband said to me, “See if you can get that sustainable ministry thing, whatever it is, started.” We started with a hybrid model, a non-profit ministry under the diocese and a social enterprise farm. I hired a lawyer to write up the farm’s operating agreement. I had never done that before! He got us papers, and we signed them: the three of us who have been active partners in developing the ministry ever since, and my husband, the silent partner without whose support none of this could have happened.
I was mildly terrified contacting the lawyer, drawing up the papers. It was the same feeling: There is a new ministry inside me! It needs to come out! Can we really do this?
I was so nervous, I didn’t even notice it was Earth Day. But God must have planned it, because it couldn’t have been better timing.
We began with a dream to create a place for farm-based faith formation: a ministry that would integrate sustainable agriculture and Christian discipleship, both onsite and online. That dream grew to include providing healthy food for neighbors who couldn’t afford it otherwise. And then it grew to include connecting the Christian food movement: helping others who were doing similar work find each other and learn together. Because make no mistake; this is hard stuff. We need each other.
We started the farm on land owned by my family. A year after we began, I found 5000 words to describe our dream in a Mission Enterprise Zone grant application; the Episcopal Church funded us with $20,000. Just last month, we enacted a Memorandum of Understanding with our diocese, enabling us to transition to a full non-profit ministry model. (Learn more here.)
Now I can look back at the first two years of ministry-launching and new motherhood. They had so much in common: the sleepless nights, the all-consuming nature of the work, the worrying that I was probably doing it wrong.
But this ministry has been born. It has begun to make a difference in this world. It’s definitely not all grown up yet! But the good news is that I no longer feel like I need to watch just to see if it is still breathing. It might look fragile some days, but it is no longer a newborn. I am still scared, but it’s because I’m a new mom, all over again.
Motherhood and new ministry are the best adventures life has brought me. They ask all that I have to give, and give me the sense that I am using the gift of life for good purpose: as a steward of Creation.
Thanks be to God.
A Prayer for Today
We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea; for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers. We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity. Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and for ever. Amen.
How do you pray for and practice the stewardship of Creation?