A Thriving Spiritual Community

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

Annisquam Village Church Logo

Village Church

820 Washington St.
Gloucester, MA

A Thriving Spiritual Community

For Nature / Creation Care

For Nature Initiative

Taking action to create ever more habitable natural spaces for plant and animal life to thrive.

Creation Care Team

At the AVC, we strive to be stewards of God’s Creation through actions, worship and education.

For Nature Initiave

Past Events

February 15, 2022

Horticulturist Nick Anderson

Making Meadows & Listening to the Land:
Unleashing Ecological Productivity in Landscapes
is Faster, Easier and Cheaper Than We Think

More Information

  • Nick Anderson studied horticulture at Brooklyn Botanic Garden and worked for years as a gardener and restoration practitioner for New York City Parks, Brooklyn Bridge Park, Riverside Park and for private clients.
  • He specializes in plant community based horticulture using regionally native plant species. Nick now resides on Cape Ann where he works with private clients.

December 15, 2021

Doug Tallamy “Nature’s Best Hope

(Co-sponsored by the Annisquam Village Library)

  • 60 minute presentation followed by
  • 30 minute Q & A with bestselling author, Doug Tallamy.

More Information

  • Nature’s Best Hope shows how homeowners everywhere can turn their yards into conservation corridors that provide wildlife habitats.
  • Because this approach relies on the initiatives of private individuals, it is immune from the whims of government policy.
  • Even more important, it’s practical, effective, and easy—you will walk away with specific suggestions you can incorporate into your own yard.

The Nature Pledge

Join us and take the “Nature Pledge,”
by committing to take one or more environmental action steps such as:

  • Educate yourself;
  • Participate in AVC Creation Care educational programs;
  • Leave the leaves on the ground in the Autumn;
  • Leave plant stalks and seedheads;
  • Instead of blowing leaves, use a rake;
  • Water only by hand;
  • Reduce light pollution;
  • Instead of pesticides or lawn chemicals, use only organic products in your yard;
  • Create a landscape with native plants, trees, and bushes to provide year-round forage;
  • Plant a garden;
  • Plant a native tree;
  • Reduce the size of your lawn;
  • Put in a rain barrel to water your plants;
  • Compost;
  • Mow less;
  • Discuss any selling of land to a local green organization before selling to development.

Nature Pledge Form

  • To encourage a sense of community and accountability, submitted pledges will be displayed on this website. You may use “Anonymous” in the name field if you do not want your name displayed.
  • As an alternative, you may send an email to avchurch820@gmail.com with your Nature Pledge.

Nature Pledge

Running Log of Nature Pledges

Lindsay Crouse

I promise to plant native plants in my garden on Leonard Street in Annisquam, and on my mother’s property at 15, 15R and 11 Bennett Street.
(If the snow ever melts….._

Debra Campbell

Totally enjoying your education and will take steps as appropriate. I live in a HOA that takes care of the lawn but have a small area that I can help to landscape better with native plants however I have to be cautious that plants are toxic to my dog. Steps in place:
Water by hand – done
Do no use pesticides – done
plant native plants – in process
Rain barrel – will consider

904 Cherry Hill Ct
Melbourne, FL

Marion Phipps

I commit to continue to educate myself and participate in climate crisis activities. We have large gardens but plan to incorporate more native plantings

Peg K

We already leave the leaves in our yard, and leave seed-bearing plant stalks in place. We use organic products, compost and mow about once every 3 weeks. I plan to research and plant more local native trees and shrubs that invite birds and pollinators, and add those to the upper half of our yard.


This is near and dear to my heart. I have been an organic gardener since the mid-1960s. I learned so much from the video about the importance of native plants for our pollinators!

Peter Lawrence

Leave more leaves
Use no toxic material
Plant a native oak tree
Remove invasive plants
Continue to compost all plant material
Introduce native plants best for caterpillars & pollinators
Help others understand the importance of this approach
11 Planters Neck Rd

Sharon Byrne Kishida


Educate myself
Participate in AVC Creation Care educational programs;
Leave the leaves on the ground in the Autumn;
Leave plant stalks and seedheads;
use a rake;
Water only by hand;
Reduce light pollution;
use only organic products in our yard;
Create a landscape with native plants, trees, and bushes to provide year-round forage;
Plant /maintain a vegetable and pollinator gardens
Use a rain barrel to water our plants;


Take an inventory of non-native plants.

Richard Luecke & Perry McIntosh

Solar electric – Done
Plug-in hybrid care – Done
No leaf raking. – Done
No light pollution – Done
Reduce grass lawn – Will do
Compost leaves and kitchen waste – Done
Install rain barrel – Will do

Holly Clay

I have been leaving leaves on the ground and plant stalks where they rooted, I built a U-shaped, raised bed for growing vegetables and fruit a few years ago. I’ve been composting for a few years and I just worked the compost into the soil. I use rakes and water by hand. I promise to add more native plants to an ever-increasing number of garden beds, to continue to educate myself and to help out the Creation Care TEam when needed..

Suzanne Cervo

All of the listed steps.
19 Norseman Avenue
Gloucester MA 01930

Deborah Gardner

Begin by studying the native plants of this area and start increasing my gardens to include them.

Rev. Sue Koehler-Arsenault

I will keep learning and participating in AVC Creation Care programs; I am leaving the leaves; using only organic materials on the lawn and gardens; and will continue to compost. I hope to put in a garden next year, too!

Laura Alavosus

Already do most of these steps; am in the process of reducing the size of my lawn and replacing it with native plants for year-round forage.
Norseman Ave., Gloucester, MA

Mission and Resources

Mission Statement

“For Nature” is an initiative of the Annisquam Village Church Creation Care Team. Out of our love for nature and recognition that we must live in harmony with it, we are dedicated to preserving the precious oasis of our small community and taking action to create ever more habitable natural spaces for plant and animal life to thrive.

Our mission is both clear and grand: By transforming our yards into areas that wholly welcome the presence of animals, pollinators, and native plant species we will be doing our small part to help the earth to heal so that this planet remains a place that can sustain all life. Like a relay of illumination, we hope to inspire our neighbors to do the same. And although we believe that each person can certainly make a difference — a community can make a revolutionary change.

Please join us in nurturing our natural world.

Digging Deeper

Do you miss the abundance of fireflies, moths, butterflies, beetles and bees, the flocks of bird species that cover the skies, the intelligent raccoon slumbering in a tree, skunks, possums, turtles crunching through dried leaves, and other spectacular animals that live wild, free and joyous lives?

Like many places, Annisquam is becoming increasingly vulnerable to habitat reduction due to disruptive lawn maintenance practices, invasive plants, pesticide usage and climate change, all of which are endangering the ecological balance of our precious natural community. We can reverse that trend now.

Here is some bad news and some good news:

First, the bad news:

  • Lawns and bark-mulched landscapes are notorious for requiring profuse amounts of artificial fertilizers and synthetic chemical pesticides and herbicides. The traditional suburban lawn, on average, has 10x more chemical pesticides per acre than farmland.
  • The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970.
  • In the US, the population of monarch butterflies fell by 90 percent in the last 20 years (and the rusty-patched bumblebee dropped by 87 percent over the same period).
  • Studies have shown that gas-powered leaf blowers, that have winds of up to 200 MPH destroy biodiversity by dislodging the leaf litter that gives refuge to insect life that is in turn so essential for other wildlife.

The good news:

  • An oak tree supports 280 species of insects.
  • The red cedar supports 30 native butterflies and moths.
  • 411 species of butterflies and moths use the chokecherry as a caterpillar host
  • Service-berry plants provide food for 14 different species of birds.
  • Fallen leaves offer a double benefit. They form a natural mulch and fertilize the soil as they break down. They also create vital habitats. Creatures ranging from turtles and toads to birds, mammals and invertebrates rely on leaf litter for food, shelter and nesting material. Many moth and butterfly caterpillars overwinter in fallen leaves before emerging in spring. -National Wildlife Foundation)

”If all mankind were to disappear, the world would regenerate back to the rich state of equilibrium that existed 10,000 years ago. If insects were to vanish, the environment would collapse into chaos.”      ~ E.O. Wilson

Caring for Nature as a Spiritual Practice

“Understanding that our destiny is forever linked with the fate of the Earth, that the health of our souls is inextricably related to the health of our planet, is at the heart of stewardship as a spiritual practice.

“Walking the path of stewardship, we take it one day at a time, just as we do with our spiritual practice. We aspire toward a fresh beginner’s mind as we compost, plant trees, shop with green values, conserve, recycle, reuse and repair.

“This daily practice is made up of humble acts that simplify our lives, offering us the gifts of time, community and creativity…Gently, inexorably, both our spiritual practice and our stewardship are changing us and changing the world.”     ~ Gail Straub, Buddhist author


Health Benefits of Caring for Nature

  • Exposure to nature has been linked to improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders and even upticks in empathy and cooperation. ~ American Psychological Association
  • Since 2018, doctors in Shetland, Scotland have been authorized to prescribe nature to their patients. It’s thought to be the first program of its kind in the U.K., and seeks to reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and increase happiness for those with diabetes, a mental illness, stress, heart disease, and more.

Poem by Stephanie Kaza

We live by the sun, We feel by the moon, We move by the stars,
We live in all things, All things live in us.,
We eat from the earth, We drink from the rain, We breathe of the air,
We live in all things, All things live in us.
We call to each other, We listen to each other,
Our hearts deepen with love and compassion,
We live in all things, All things live in us.
We depend on the trees and animals, We depend on the earth,
Our minds open with wisdom and insight,
We live in all things, All things live in us.
We dedicated our practice to others,
We include all forms of life, We celebrate the joy of living-dying,
We live in all things, All things live in us,
We are full of life, We are full of death,
We are grateful for all beings and companions.

Prayer For Nature

Creator God, You are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with Your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of Your love, that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
We pray that love and wisdom might inspire my actions and our actions as communities. . . So that we may, with integrity, look into the eyes of brothers and sisters and all beings
and truthfully say, we are doing our part to care for them and the future of the children.
May love transform us and our world with new steps toward life. Amen.
~ Interfaith Climate Action

Additional Reading Suggestions

Bringing Nature Home: How you Can Sustain Wildlife With Plants, Douglass W. Tallamy

The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat, Nancy Lawson

Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard, Douglass W. Tallamy

Silent Spring, Rachel Carson

Garden Revolution: How our Landscapes Can be a Source for Environmental Change, Larry Weaner & Thomas Christopher

Half Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life, Edward O. Wilson

Planting in a Post Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes, Thomas Rainer & Claudia West

Lawns into Meadows: Growing a Regenerative landscape, Owen Wormser

Restoring the Wild, Roy Dennis

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis, Edited by Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Katharine K. Wilkinson

Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse, Dave Goulson

American Canopy: Trees, Forests and the Making of a Nation, Eric Rutkow

Finding The Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest, Suzanne Simard

American Plants for American Gardens, Edith A. Roberts and Elsa Rehmann

The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden, Rick Darke & Doug Tallamy

Walden: Life in the Woods, Henry David Thoreau

Creation Care

At the AVC, We Strive to be
Stewards of God’s Creation
Through the Following Actions:

Sustainability of Church Buildings & Grounds

  • We are actively exploring solar panels for both the church and parsonage to decrease our carbon footprint (under the leadership of Dick Luecke and Peter Lawrence).
  • Our church and parsonage use 100% renewable energy.
  • Current renovations are being made with care for the environment.
  • We intend to re-landscape church property with native plants.
  • We hope these actions will inspire others to follow suit.

Worship & Education

  • Our Worship Services regularly have Creation Care themes, like “Holy Ground” and “The Spirit of St. Francis.”
  • Our Creation Care Team promotes attendance at Cape Ann Climate Coalition (“CACC”), national and international webinars.
  • In early December 2020, we completed a “30‑Day Creation Care Pilgrimage.” Five days per week, Rev. Sue offered a daily email message with:
    • Scripture;
    • Scientific facts;
    • Ideas for individual and family action; and
    • Prayer related to a theme, such as water, trees, appliance use, etc.
  • We’ve created an archive of the Creation Care Pilgrimage, so you can return to the resources we’ve shared in the future.

Opening Prayer from
The “Holy Ground” Worship Service

(September 6, 2020)

For everything that emerges from the earth

O God, Source of  Life, Creator of All That Is,

Thanks be to You.

You are the One in whom we live, move, and have our being.

Thanks be to You.

Guide us to grow in loving awareness of our connection

Through the Earth to You and one another.

Thanks be to You.

That together we may live sustainably, justly & joyfully

Rooted and grounded in love. 

Thanks be to You. Amen.