In 2013, after the departure of the Grace Episcopal Day School, a few Grace families decided to create a sacred play space for the playground area behind the Parish Hall. We started the project with much thoughtful contemplation, drafting a design, vision, and budget. We believed that updating the playground would not only be an opportunity for fellowship, but also a chance to create a useful space for the church that could be used by young and old. It should be a celebration of God’s creation and reflect seasonal changes and cycles. It should encourage children to see, taste, touch and explore. It would demonstrate the values of Grace Episcopal and be built by its members.
Here’s the vision statement we created:
As members of the Grace Episcopal Church community, we are committed to the development of a sacred play space that:
- Invites and engages all members of the Grace community, regardless of age, and is accessible to all members of our community
- Serves as both a space for play and worship
- Demonstrates our commitment to Christian stewardship of the earth by using renewable, recycled, and earth-friendly materials
- Engages the senses on multiple levels by incorporating tactile and visual elements into the design
- Nurtures the church community by encouraging input and cooperation throughout the planning process and building process
All of the work so far has been done by Grace Episcopal members. The labyrinth was built as an Eagle scout project by a Grace parishioner. During several work days we moved (literally) tons of sand, dirt, mulch, and wood chips, reinforced the existing play structures, installed climbing logs and a boat, and built picnic tables, a swing, and seating. We have weeded, planted, and spread mulch. We hosted a youth trip to Pennsylvania to harvest locust logs, which were installed as play structures.
We are also committed to using sustainable materials and native plants. In our landscaping, we planted native rhododendrons and azaleas and paid careful attention to the valuable plants that were already living in the space, such as milkweed, which attracts monarch butterflies.
This spring we were thrilled to discover that Grace parishioners were interested in planting a vegetable garden in the lower space by the shed. The garden was installed and is thriving; the vegetables will be available to any Grace parishioner who wants them.
Although the work is sometimes slow, it’s remarkable to see people giving so freely of their time, devoting hundreds of hours to a project that will benefit the church community. We are always happy to have help, whether it’s helping pull weeds, shoveling wood chips, or planting shrubs. Let one of us know if you’d like to come help.
Grace Episcopal Playground Committee
- Michael Waller
- Alison Aughinbaugh
- Aimée Primeaux
- Amy Ard