It’s a long story but when our church was built, the plan was to build a large sanctuary in front of the chapel/offices. When the new congregation was ten years old (1967), there was a fire that destroyed the small sanctuary (plans were for it to eventually become the chapel). The sanctuary was enlarged when the congregation rebuilt and the boom in church membership slowed and a large sanctuary on the front of our property was never built. Two other buildings were built behind the original building (classrooms, pre-school rooms, a fellowship hall with a kitchen, a counselling center, etc.). In 1979, the congregation moved a small house onto our property to become our “sanctuary house” to house refugee families. In 2011, the congregation offered land to the non-profit organization, The Uncommon Good, and they built the first ever public “whole earth” building that is off the grid!
This brings us to 2013. The Sustainability & Faith task force (working with Church and Society) began holding information meetings, drawing up plans, and studying how we could be responsible stewards of the earth while still retaining some grass for community picnics and games. Working with the congregation’s trustees, it took us six years to finally get a plan approved that would allow us to take out over a half acre of grass in front of the church and facing “old highway 66” (Foothill Blvd.) and put in 34 drought-tolerant trees, a drip irrigation system to water them, and mulch. We will save over one million gallons of water per year which is a major concern in Southern California where water is increasingly scarce and the cost of pumping and transporting it to this semi-arid climate is more and more costly.
One of our members is making benches from trees that had to be removed. We will eventually have paths and some large boulders with brass plaques that include quotations from the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church.
Our goal is to embody our love for the earth which recognizes that living in sustainable ways with the ecosystem of which we are a part is what we are called to do. Using much less water, learning that large expanses of green grass are not meant to be in climates like ours, and embracing the wisdom of the First People (the Tongva) who lived here in the pre-Columbian period at Torojoatngna (“The Place Below Snowy Mountain”) are goals we are embracing.