Grace Episcopal Church is sweeping off the welcome mat for the community it borders.
The Belvoir Avenue church will open its farmers market season on Saturday, May 5. It will also dedicate an outdoor pavilion and unveil creation murals inside the church.
"This is a real community outreach, a neighborhood outreach," said the Rev. Susan Butler, rector of the church.
She said the initiatives dovetail with the GreenFaith Certification Program in which the congregation is involved. During the program's two-year certification process, churches integrate environmental themes into worship, religious education, facility maintenance and social outreach.
"It's all in the same spirit," Butler said of Grace's outreach, "but it would have happened with or without [GreenFaith]."
The 10 a.m.-noon farmers market also will include a plant sale, a percussionist performance,
a double portion day for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program users and a drawing. Visitors also can check out the raised beds in the community garden adjacent to the pavilion.
"We hope to lure lots of people," said church member Kathleen Russell.
The expected 20 to 25 vendors will offer, among other things, seasonal produce such as strawberries, along with meat and eggs. Others will sell soaps and crafts, she said. Several artists will be demonstrating their work.
The plant sale, according to church junior warden and master gardener Lisa Lemza, will run until 4 p.m. and offer draught-tolerant, highly floriferous plants already growing on the church grounds.
"We can point to them, " she said. "That's why we're saying you can take home a bit of Grace."
The pavilion and the murals were created from a bequest from the estate of John Burton Frierson, Butler said.
The former Grace parishioner, who died in 2011, was, among other things, a dairy farmer, a church planter and a gardener, she said.
The pavilion will serve as a cooling-off place for community gardeners and may be used for some church outdoor services.
The murals, located in the entrance of the church's Undercroft, not only reflect Creation, but one wall pays homage to the founders of the church in the 1950s, according to artist Lyn Martin.
Another wall, she said, reflects Earth's place within the universe and includes a woodcut ribbon banner that displays that words from Genesis, "And God saw that it was good." The third, smaller wall continues the pastoral scene.
Martin added a bit of whimsy to the murals with a small gecko.
"I like lizards," she said.
The mural walls were a bit of a departure for Martin, normally a children's book illustrator and with her brother the first children to be christened in the building in 1956.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...