Vineyard Stewards 2023
Small Group Ministry
Deepen your encounter with both Creation and Scripture in the company of other people of faith and in relationship with the vineyard at Good Courage Farm
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit” John 15:5
“Knowing that you love the earth changes you, activates you to defend and protect and celebrate. But when you feel that the earth loves you in return, that feeling transforms the relationship from a one-way street into a sacred bond.” - Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Vineyard Stewards small group ministry is a seasons-long relationship with one another, with Hebrew scripture and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and most notably, with a row or two of cold-hardy grapevines at Good Courage Farm. Our goals are to experience reciprocity with Creation, deepen our understanding of vineyard metaphor and imagery in Jesus' teaching and in our lives, and end the season with bottles of Eucharistic wine for sharing in our parishes or congregations.
Cohorts of Vineyard Stewards are self-organizing. The deadline to sign up for the 2023 small group ministry, which runs March through September, is February 2.
More about Vineyard Stewards
What is the Vineyard Stewards small-group ministry?
In this pilot program two years in the making, the Vineyard Stewards Small Group Ministry cohorts will enter into a seasons-long relationship with a row or two of grapevines on the organic farm in Hutchinson. In parallel with facilitated reflection on Jesus’ parables and feeding ministry, Stewards will learn about the art and science of tending vines in the upper Midwest. In late winter, participants in these small groups will prune their row(s) of wine or table grapes, and then fertilize and mulch the vines in late spring. Returning to the farm in summer, participants will experience summer pruning, grape harvest and wine-pressing. The outcome will be Eucharistic wine to be blessed and shared in the parishes of cohort members, as well as meaningful connections amongst members, farmers, and the earth which yields the fruit. Expect prayerful, joyful, hard work and satisfying results.
Who might find this a suitable and meaningful experience?
While no prior experience is necessary, this agrarian small group ministry is a great opportunity for faith communities who already have a Creation Care group or a Good News Garden. The work of tending vines is physically demanding; the vineyard is not easily accessible to individuals with mobility needs. However, we hope that every interested individual will reach out to us to talk more about how to get involved. Your parish or congregation may want to convene a group in collaboration with another parish. We ask that groups self-organize and submit a roster of 7-10 participants. If your group is open to individuals without a church affiliation, we’ll be grateful to connect solo Stewards with a cohort.
Tell us about the cohorts.
Each small group will be 7-10 people. Even if a handful of people can’t make one of the immersion days, 5-6 people can carry out the group’s work without undue stress. Cohorts are encouraged to get together in between each immersion to share reflections on the experience.
Cohorts can form within or amongst faith communities. If you don’t have a faith community right now, let us know and we can connect you with a forming cohort.
How much time are Stewards committing to this small group and to the vineyard work?
Vineyard Stewards will come to Good Courage Farm five times in 2023. The proposed Saturdays are listed below (including backup dates for inclement weather). Each Saturday immersion on the farm will be about 4 hours long (with the exception of harvest and wine pressing, which is a full day), including prayer, learning, work, lunch and lectio divina.
It’s not necessary that every member of the group be able to make every date. If at least 5 people can come on a given date, the work and reflection will be a joy to share. Of course, we hope the whole group can be on the farm for grape harvest in August.
When are the immersive group gatherings on the farm?
Winter pruning (John 15:1-2) - March 11, due to winter weather
Tending the soil (Luke 13) - May 6 (back up date is May 13)
Summer pruning and tying (John 15:3-8) - June 17 (back-up date is June 24)
Netting the fruit (Matthew 20) - July 29 (back-up date is August 5)
Grape harvest and wine pressing days (Luke 22)- August 19, 26 and September 2, 9 (these dates will become clearer as the different varieties of grapes ripen, and will be affected by weather)
Is this program family-friendly?
While growing fruit can be successfully multigenerational work, in the way farms throughout history have relied on farmers of all ages, the Vineyard Stewards cohorts are best suited to people ages 12 and up. It may be possible to tailor a cohort especially to families with youth - get in touch with us to talk more. The farm will be happy to collaborate with participants who have younger children in their families so that on-farm childcare can be arranged.