Peace be with Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and with us all.

Today’s processional Hymn (TEC Hymnal #603) especially in verse 3 had our congregation solemnly remembering the martyrs of this past week and all those who are oppressed. Some hymns say it better than any homily could.

1 Dear Christ, uplifted from the earth,
your arms stretched out above
through every culture, every birth,
to draw an answering love.

2 Still east and west your love extends
and always, near and far,
you call and claim us as your friends
and love us as we are.

3 Where age and gender, class and race,
divide us to our shame,
You see a person and a face,
a neighbour with a name.

4 May we, accepted as we are,
yet called in grace to grow,
reach out to others, near and far,
your healing love to show.

May God be with Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church and with us all. May you see in each and every one you encounter a person and a face, a neighbour with a name.


Vote for Mercy Gardens! TOC/Project DIGG Mission can win a $25 K Grant with your help

Please Vote by 6/3/2015

Help TOC support this great project. You get 10 votes per day.

The mission of this cause.

To eliminate food insecurity in Macon County, Illinois through horticultural job skills training to the disadvantaged.

The community need this cause addresses.

Food insecurity, healthy food supply, vacant lots, and unemployment are tremendous issues in Decatur. Despite Decatur’s central location in America’s agricultural heartland, a large portion of Decatur is considered a food desert according to the USDA defined low income/low access census tract. Not only are many citizens food insecure, a large portion are “nutrient insecure”. Low-income residents, in addition to other disadvantages, have to deal with diet-related illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. A 2012 County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program found that 33% of Macon County adults are obese. Much of this is tied to the lack of availability and affordability of healthy produce. In 2013, Macon County’s unemployment rate ranked 362 out of 372 urban areas in the country. With 880 properties being condemned or demolished since 2000, Decatur also has plenty of empty lots of what used to be some of the most fertile soil in the world.

How will this cause use the $25K to address an unmet need?

Decatur Is Growing Gardeners (DIGG) and The Good Samaritan Inn, a local soup kitchen, have teamed up to provide job skills training in landscaping and produce production to those who are unable to obtain or hold a job. Students’ time will be split between classroom lessons and hands-on experience on 3 acres of urban farms located in a food insecure neighborhood. The majority of the food grown will go to The Good Samaritan, as well as a local food pantry, with the rest being sold at farmer’s markets. In this way, Mercy Gardens will provide food to at least 300 food and nutrient insecure people daily, green 3 acres of vacant city lots (this year) and teach 20 low-income, disadvantaged people annually, to provide for themselves and become entrepreneurs/skilled workers. The $25k would provide scholarships for students, fund an EBT machine, buy berry bushes to supply healthy fruit, coordinate volunteers, create an irrigation system to save on labor and costs, and raise tilapia.

How much of a lasting impact on the community will this cause have?

Eliminating food insecurity would create healthier, nutrient secure citizens. Education programs like Mercy Gardens give people lifelong skills to provide for themselves. This knowledge is more powerful than a hot meal. A hot meal can feed someone for a day but education and skills to provide your own hot meals can feed a person for a lifetime. Student graduates will become mentors upon graduation, passing their knowledge on to future generations- expanding impacts multi-generationally. Graduates will also be able to work for local farmers, continue their schooling, or become entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs will take over additional lots and/or operational branches of Mercy Gardens, helping to expand food supply and chip away at food insecurity. The more graduates, the more farmers. The more farmers, the more local food supply. The more local food supply, the less food insecurity. Mercy Gardens’ education ensures growth food supply, creating farther reaching effects.

State Farm Youth Advisory Board

Community votes could help grow food for the hungry-Vote for Mercy Gardens.

The Other Christians supports community garden projects to feed and educate those in need.

The Other Christians supports community garden projects to feed and educate those in need.

DECATUR, IL (5/15/2015): Mercy Gardens, a horticultural job skills training run by DIGG (Decatur Is Growing Gardeners) and The Good Samaritan Inn, needs community votes to win $25k. The program has made it to the top 200 out of 4,000 causes in the State Farm Neighborhood Assist voting grant and now needs to make the top 40 to receive funding.

This voting grant comes at the perfect time for the community, in the wake of the Hockeyville USA. Voting begins on Thursday May 14th and ends June 3rd at 11pm. Individuals can vote ten times a day through the duration of the voting period and must have a Facebook account to vote. There are two ways to vote. The following URL will take you directly the Mercy Gardens’ voting page: Or voters can visit Facebook for the “State Farm Neighborhood Assist” app and once on the free app, search for “Mercy Gardens” and vote.

All funding will go to the Mercy Gardens program, which teaches basic job skills through landscaping and produce production on approximately three acres of land in the Old King’s Orchard Neighborhood. The majority of the produce grown will be distributed to 350 people daily through the dining room at The Good Samaritan and the food pantry at Northeast Community Fund. More information on Mercy Gardens can be found at: and