The Revd Joe Knight, Curate in the Benefice of Newnham, Awre and Blakeney shares what Newnham Church has done with a diocesan wildlife grant.
“One the most brilliant and evocative questions ever asked of Jesus must be that famous line, ‘and, who is my neighbour?’
“In responding, Jesus outlines one of the most well-known parables, the one about the good Samaritan, who, we’re told, ‘showed mercy’ or ‘had compassion’ on the beaten-up man on the side of the road.
“Crossing the boundaries of race, kindred and foe is a profound Christian experience rooted in God’s transformative love, a love for all he has made. And, in recent years, we’re remembering something in the church’s long memory, that Christian love extends beyond the bounds human difference, but to all creation.
“It was Saint Francis, among others, who took the idea of loving one’s neighbour to mean loving all God’s creatures. Chesterton wrote of the magnificent saint, ‘Francis was a man who did not want to see the wood for the trees. He wanted to see each tree as a separate and almost a sacred thing, being a child of God and therefore a brother or sister.’ Every created thing was, at the very least, a neighbour to be loved.
“This is one reason why the diocesan ‘Wildlife Garden’ grants are so exciting. They enable church communities to love God and neighbour (both human and non-human), and to have compassion on a piece of land – to recognise our mutual dependence on the land we inhabit and actively love it and benefit its life.
“At St Peter’s, Newnham, we used the funds to buy and prepare simple kits for making bird boxes. Then, we invited local families to collect and make a bird box. We had prepared boxes for various species of birds, and families could choose to make one for their home and one for the churchyard. All in all, we made over 30 bird boxes.
“In addition to this, we will install a hedgehog house in a small area of the churchyard that is intentionally left to the wild, making sure a water source is close at hand, and there is enough leaf material for the hedgehogs to not only have a house, but a home.
“These are simple things to do, but they connect us with local people and local wildlife – with all our neighbours – in ways that build relationship and community, a place of shared mercy and compassion for God’s wonderful world.”
To find out more about how your church could get one of these #grantsforgardens visit our Grants for Gardens web page.