St. Andrew’s provides a place for us to encounter the Holy Spirit through meeting with each other, through our involvement with the natural world as a part of creation, and through communication with the mystery of the Holy Spirit that informs our life.
The Sacred Grounds Stewards are charged with maintaining and improving all of our parish grounds that are sacred to us. They maintain and improve our external church environment while gradually implementing the ongoing phases of “Encounter,” our Master Landscape Plan that was approved and adopted years ago. The Stewards follow a regimented landscape management plan that was developed and approved by the Vestry in 2019. This plan states our gardening philosophy, provides a month-to-month checklist of garden chores, pruning guidelines, and defines our pest management policy. It is considered to be a model for parishes in the entire Episcopal Church. The committee meets monthly.
Here are some projects the Sacred Grounds Stewards worked on in 2020:
RainWise – Phase II. The RainWise program is a King County and Seattle Public Utilities partnership to address stormwater pollution and combined sewer overflows by offering rebates to private property owners who install rain gardens and cisterns. Phase I was completed in January 2020 and included a system of rain gardens and cisterns. Phase II will include the installation of four additional cisterns to capture the rain runoff from the south end of the church and Mentzer House. Vestry, Buildings and Grounds, and the Stewards are working on the details of this plan so there is a zero net cost to the parish.
Outdoor Garden Shed – has been cleaned and reorganized to make room for a nearby rainwater cistern. Thank you to Carolyn Rodenberg for doing this time-consuming and detailed work.
Annual “Spruce Up” garden work day – took place on November 14th with a small group of masked, socially distant volunteers. The church grounds were prepared for Winter with weeding, pruning, planting and, overall, tidying.
Sculptural Piscina Project – our sacristy piscina (the special sink that empties into the earth for the consecrated communion wine) has not worked properly since 2015. Altar Guild, Sacred Grounds, and Buildings & Grounds have been studying this issue for several years. Before our pandemic shut-down, the Altar Guild members were pouring excess communion wine into the ground by the library door and bike rack. We have contracted with a Native American sculptor to create an aesthetically pleasing outside piscina basin to safely return the Precious Blood of Our Lord to the earth. This piscina tower will be crafted from native basalt stone and will be placed just outside the library doors in the first niche on the east side of the church building. It emphasizes the visual and theological connection between the altar of celebration/sacrifice and the earth. This project is being entirely funded by the gift of a generous donor family. No parish operational funds are being used for this purpose. We hope that this new piscina will be installed in April of this year.
Garden Niches – the piscina project has created a cascade of smaller projects as the garden niches on the east side of the church are improved and developed. Four areas have been paved with stones to prepare for the relocation of the bike rack, and three seating areas near the front doors of the church on NE 80th Street. Benches will be installed so people can congregate and connect before and after church services.
Relocation of Plants – several large rhododendron plants needed to be relocated due to the development indicated above. They have been moved to areas that allow for their size and future growth.
Irrigation Updates – our garden irrigation system is being updated to reflect the current landscaping reality and future needs. It is being integrated with our RainWise project.
Episcopal Power and Light’s Cool Congregation Challenge – we applied for this $1000 prize under the “Sacred Grounds Steward” category. Winners will be announced in February. Thank you to Chris DuBois for writing the grant application.
Our committee is very open to new members who might wish to assist with the stewardship of our Sacred Grounds. Please contact Convener, Rowena Curtis (email@example.com) for more information.