News Archives

United Methodist Minister Digs Up Dirt; Grows Vegetables, Not Dissent

 


Contact: Nancye Willis
(615) 742-5406
e-mail:
nwillis@umcom.org
Oct. 29, 2003

ASHLAND CITY, Tenn.— United Methodist minister Thomas Henderson can always dig up a sermon, even in dirt.

“You get to see the fruits of your labor. That’s a faith issue,” Henderson says of his efforts to turn some prime Tennessee bottomland near Nashville into an oasis of reconciliation and growth.

With one tractor and the help of some volunteers and inner-city youth, Henderson is working some once-fallow land into a rich farm. Henderson directs Camp Dogwood, owned by the United Methodist Church’s Women’s Division and run by Bethlehem Centers of Nashville.

(Camp Dogwood and the Rev. Thomas Henderson are featured in “Elementary Farming,” a UMTV video report, the week of Oct. 29. It is available at the UMTV Web site www.umtv.org.)

Dogwood, the first location in Middle Tennessee where African-American youngsters could attend camp, dates to the 1920s. But during the past 20 years, circumstances and lack of funding left it neglected.

A couple of years ago, Henderson was invited to revitalize Dogwood, reopen it to young people and add an agricultural dimension to help urban neighborhoods.

He stepped in, drawing on his farming background, and introducing urban dwellers to the land and each other. For many of these city slickers, Camp Dogwood is their first commune with nature.

Yes, says Henderson, “the soil is a great equalizer.”

“I’m a city girl,” admits volunteer Kara Oliver, a youth pastor at a Nashville United Methodist congregation. “I never think about where they (fruit and vegetables) come from or how hard and prickly and sweaty the work is to get it there.”

Dogwood produce is sold at farmers’ markets at two United Methodist churches. In addition, Henderson says, “We’re seeking to set up markets in underserved communities where there are no grocery stores and where food access is an issue.”

He hasn’t converted anyone into a real farmer. Instead, he says, “I hope that when they leave here, they’ll have an appreciation the next time they sit and eat a meal at the sweat of the farmer who produced the food for them.”

More information about Camp Dogwood is available from Joyce Searcy at Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, (615) 329-3386.

# # #

 

Ask Now

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

First Name:*
Last Name:*
Email:*
ZIP/Postal Code:*
Question:*

*InfoServ ( about ) is a service of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add this address to your list of approved senders.

Would you like to ask any questions about this story?ASK US NOW


Contact Us

This will not reach a local church, district or conference office. InfoServ* staff will answer your question, or direct it to someone who can provide information and/or resources.

Phone
(optional)

*InfoServ ( about ) is a ministry of United Methodist Communications located in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. 1-800-251-8140

Not receiving a reply?
Your Spam Blocker might not recognize our email address. Add InfoServ@umcom.org to your list of approved senders.