Bishop Justin challenged each parish at Synod 2012 to plant 40 trees per active parishioner per year to offset climate change – so Newlands-Paparangi took up the challenge, aiming for 5,000 trees in five years. On Sunday the 5th of November, the parish reached their target – and Bishop Eleanor was there to plant the 5,000th tree.
Bishop Eleanor joined the Vicar of the Parish of Newlands-Paparangi, Rev Jennie Sim, in reflecting on the amazing achievement. Ellie remembered speaking at Jennie’s installation as mission pastor in 2009, when she declared the suburb to be the “new lands of hope and glory” – and in this project, the parish was literally planting hope for creation and giving all glory to God. “It’s just amazing that you have heard something and you have lived it, any time God’s people show care for creation, they restore peace to the earth – and that is what you are doing here,” Bishop Eleanor said to the gathering.
The Wellington City Council’s Natural Environment Portfolio leader, Cr Peter Gilberd, was on hand throughout the planting session, and has been instrumental in the success of the project. Rev Jennie said “Peter’s worked with us throughout, with Council and local nurseries to source the trees, and with community service workers to pre-dig the holes.” Jennie presented a thank you gift to Peter for all his hard work and commitment, and Peter responded with glowing praise for the parish, for their commitment to the wider community. “You’ve really walked the talk,” he said, “it certainly has been an ambitious target, but you’ve met it.”
So how did they do it? “We scheduled planting sessions straight after church, three to four times a year, and it has been relatively easy to go up to the reserve and knock out a few hundred trees after church, then go have some lunch” Jennie explains. It has been a great community-building exercise, she says. Kids have been involved, and everyone has participated in an active way, committing as and when they can to be part of the work. “We’ve even had members of the community come and help – on Father’s Day we’ve offered the chance to ‘plant a tree with Dad’ and that gets the locals involved,” Jennie says.
The next question is – will they keep going?! Jennie tells us they’ll need to take a bit of time to rest and plan their next ambitious endeavour! No-one can say that it won’t be a well-deserved rest, that’ for sure!