Caption for photo at the top from left to right: E Albertina McGirt, Karlah Burton, Adrian Fleming (seated)

Happy Summer!   On behalf of the Creation Care Ministry (CCM) and Community Garden at Saint Matthews United Methodist Church (SMUMC) we are delighted to begin our 2021 growing season!  Growing healthy produce and caring for God’s world is our message to congregants and others as we enter our second year of operation.  

Saint Matthews United Methodist Church is located at 600 E. Florida Street, Greensboro, NC  27406.  We are a part of the Western North Carolina Conference (WNCC) and Northern Piedmont District of the United Methodist Church (NPD).  Saint Matthews UMC was organized in 1866 and has the distinction of being the oldest and largest African American church in the Western North Carolina Conference.  Located in Historic East Greensboro, Saint Matthews has been an integral part of the community for over 150 years!    

Meet the members of the Saint Matthews United Methodist Church Creation Care Ministry:

Esther Carter Buie, a longtime member of Saint Matthews, loves the outdoors, watching things grow and loves flowers!  Mrs. Buie has agreed to serve as a badge mentor for members of Boy Scout #441 of Saint Matthews UMC seeking to complete requirements for gardening or environment/creation care related badges as part of her work with the Creation Care Ministry.  A graduate of North Carolina Central University (HBCU), Durham, NC, Mrs. Buie is a retired elementary school teacher who also has many years of experience in farming and gardening. Yes, she has a “green thumb” (ability to grow practically anything)!  She likes to “get her hands dirty” to benefit the hungry while exemplifying the service that God has called us to do. Carter-Buie’s knowledge, experience, energy, and good spirit are invaluable to our ministry.  Esther Carter-Buie is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

Karlah Y. Burton, CNMT, AAS, BS, BA is a Certified Nuclear Medicine Technologist.        Ms. Burton is currently employed as a substitute teacher for Guilford County Schools (Guilford County, NC), as a Swim Lesson Instructor for Hayes Taylor Memorial YMCA and the YMCA of Greensboro; also, with the Guilford County Board of Elections.   As a commissioned United Methodist Earthkeeper and chairperson of the Creation Care Ministry and Community Garden at SMUMC she loves the outdoors and has recently joined the Creation Care Team at the Western NC Conference!  In addition to overseeing community garden operations, she hopes to begin offering educational opportunities and opportunities in political lobbying through the mission of our ministry.  Her goal is to invoke concern for the fate of the natural world including loss of animal habitat as a result of global warming and climate change. 

Ms. Burton holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Greensboro College, Greensboro, NC (a United Methodist Institution).  She currently serves as Mission Coordinator for Social Action for the local unit of United Methodist Women and team captain for the Greater Greensboro Crop Hunger Walk.   Ms. Burton has served as chairperson for the Committee on Church and Society at SMUMC having worked on behalf of the General Board of Church and Society, Washington, DC as part of its Ethnic Young Adult (EYA) Internship Program while a student at UNC – Chapel Hill.  Her very special interests are growing flowers and creating opportunities to share the light of Christ!

Adrian Fleming is an “all-around” contributor to our Creation Care Ministry and Community Garden.  In addition to working with the CCM she also serves as co-chairperson of the church food pantry.  Mrs. Fleming supports the effort to share produce from the garden to supplement food pantry offerings.  She enjoys fresh vegetables and likewise encourages the ministry to donate to local charitable organizations in service to those who are less fortunate.  Taking humble steps as we expand our garden project is what Mrs. Fleming believes will help accomplish our goals and “hit the mark” for Jesus!

Julian Gordon, BS, MS holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Atmospheric Science/ Meteorology and a Master of Science degree in Physics from North Carolina A & T State University located in Greensboro, NC; one of over one hundred designated Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).  Shortly after completing his studies, Mr. Gordon joined the Creation Care Ministry at SMUMC upon referral by a member of the Justice and Reconciliation Team of the Western North Carolina Conference, UMC.  He currently resides in Atlanta, GA and is listed as an ad hoc contributor taking time to work with the community garden and CCM as available.

John Marks Landscaping is owned by a member of SMUMC, Mr. John Marks, and assists with community garden operations by providing landscaping services as needed.  Plus, his company maintains our church grounds.  Mr. Marks enjoys the outdoors and is a member of our Men’s Choir.   

E. Albertina Mc Girt is a farm family descendant that grew vegetables for local grocers–as well as cash crops–and the Bennett College Home Economist contributes five years of experience as a 4-H Leader to the CCM.  Two Bible verses that inspire her service are: Genesis 1:26 and Matthew 25:35, and it is McGirt’s prayer that God would equip her to carry her share of the world’s load (diminishing the Guilford County food desert condition).  Growing healthy produce for distribution to persons in need via her gardening hobby would help achieve this goal.  She hopes to assist the CCM with a pumpkin patch, and the bounty cultivated would help in developing a fall celebration/fundraiser unique to our church, and community for the purpose of feeding the hungry. 

Spring planting began on Monday, April 26, 2021 together with several upgrades regarding our ongoing beautification project.  Boy Scout Troop #441 volunteered to construct two additional 4 ft by 10 ft growing beds.  Our on-site capacity has increased from 5 to 7 beds (up from 2020); along with another 1/10 th acre plot off site located at the Student & Community Farm (SCF) Community Garden at NC A&T State University!   Through our workmanship in Jesus Christ, we seek to offer more nutritional produce choices counting spinach, yellow squash, assorted peppers, cucumbers green beans, herbs, and tomatoes.  My personal favorite is the offering of flowers!   Our Board of Trustees recently granted approval to enlarge our existing flower bed. We have planted several varieties of sunflowers, white zinnia, mixed color zinnia, and hyssop.  With the possibility of grant funding being offered by the North Carolina Council of Churches – Partners in Health and Wholeness Collaborative we seek to do even more in accordance with the mission of Saint Matthews UMC, its Creation Care Ministry and Community Garden!  To offer healthy food choices and to lift spirits is our goal!   

Caption: Volunteers from the Creation Care Ministry at Saint Matthews UMC, other church members, and members from one other local UMC participated in “The Great American Clean Up” on Saturday, May 1, 2021. Hosted by Greensboro Beautiful it is an annual citywide community service event. Participants collected twelve bags of trash and debris from the Latham Park Stream (North) neighborhood, Greensboro, NC, waterway, and park in an effort to keep our city and community clean!

The Mission of Saint Matthews United Methodist Church is to nurture our members, reach out to others, and witness to the Glory of God through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  We strive to teach better nutrition and about the importance of caring for God’s creation as part of our work in the area of Creation Care.   One objective for 2021 is to motivate/mentor other United Methodist Churches to create their own “green teams”. We invite others to join the Creation Care Ministry at SMUMC and to come and visit the garden!  Our work is based in inclusiveness, fairness, and a loving response to the food desert in Guilford County, NC.  We commit to act with respect to creation care by way of use of organic processes and WITHOUT regard to race, gender, culture, creed, lifestyles, or personal choices.  Ultimately, we seek to increase church membership as we witness to the Glory of God, commit to network building, and service as part of the United Methodist Creation Justice Movement.

May the Peace of Christ be with You!

Kindly Submitted,

Karlah Y. Burton