Northwestern Press

Tuesday, September 25, 2018
PRESS PHOTO BY STEPHEN ALTHOUSE“It is a beautiful space that should be shared by everybody,” says Pastor Virginia Schlegel of the Peace Garden at Jordan United Church of Christ, South Whitehall Township. PRESS PHOTO BY STEPHEN ALTHOUSE“It is a beautiful space that should be shared by everybody,” says Pastor Virginia Schlegel of the Peace Garden at Jordan United Church of Christ, South Whitehall Township.

Finding tranquility at Jordan UCC’s Peace Garden

Thursday, September 13, 2018 by Stephen althouse Special to The Press in Local News

Some find peace in church. Some also find peace in the Peace Garden on the grounds of Jordan United Church of Christ.

The Rev. David Charles Smith, Jordan UCC’s senior pastor, said the South Whitehall Township church refurbished about 2.5 acres of its 40-acre campus about 12 years ago for the garden.

Today, recently ordained Pastor Virginia Schlegel of St. John’s United Church of Christ, Whitehall Township, is leading the charge to maintain it.

“I think it is a beautiful space that should be shared by everybody,” Schlegel said. “ ... Whether you’re a person of faith or not, there is so much that can be done here.”

A visit to the garden means a visit to tranquility.

The tamed landscape is a bevy of colorful flowers and wonderful wooden craftsmanship.

Benches allow not only a brief rest, but a sense of contemplation.

Yet venture 15 to 20 yards away and one could easily be meandering through a remote forest preserve.

In the background, one can hear the roar of vehicle engines along Walbert Avenue but they are far enough away to take on a dreamy-like quality.

There are walking trails, planting beds, flowers, a Biblical garden and a gazebo.

There are benches, tables and a circle of fire with a pit. In short, there is rest.

“This is for everyone,” Smith said. “Anyone can come up here and enjoy.”

April was not kind to the grounds, as vicious winds knocked down several pine trees, according to Smith.

Three volunteers and chain saws cleared the trees from the walking route, but it remains a work in progress.

The downed trees added to the workload that already exists with spring clean up, planting and watering during growing season.

In the fall, there are copious amounts of leaves to rake and bundle.

“We have a lot to do,” Schlegel noted. “There’s gardening, there’s grass to be cut.”

There are also opportunities to take care of a gazebo roof.

There are repairs needed on the archways around the garden.

The Peace Garden also provides an opportunity for Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops to work on a project, Schlegel said.

“We had some Girl Scout groups do a butterfly garden last year,” Schlegel said. “..We had some Cub Scouts in the fall plant some trees.”

When asked why someone would volunteer with so many other demands, Schlegel recounted a story that she also had no time to devote to the garden, but over time something changed.

“I just started coming up here and walking before church and before Sunday School and went to ‘this is an amazing place.’ It took me more time to say ‘this is an amazing place and you should garden here,’” she said. “To me, It just meant meditation and spirituality.”

“When you’re working on some projects, it is a never-ending project,” Smith said. “This is something where you can come out, get your hands dirty, leave and say ‘look how beautiful this is.’ It is something to see the work of your hands.”