Photo by Jan Meeus via Unsplash

Songbird Habitat in the Works at Mayflower Congregational UCC

April 29, 2021

article & photos by robyn fogle

The Mayflower Congregational United Church of Christ broke ground last week on what will become a Songbird Habitat. Located on the southeast corner of the church property at 2940 Poly Drive, this much anticipated project has been months in the planning. 

Despite the cool, blustery evening, congregation members eagerly gathered on Earth Day to mark this exciting first phase in the habitat construction plans. Rev. Amy Carter, Mayflower UCC Pastor, shared a few words on the importance of caring for the earth and the Bible’s references to trees as symbols of life and healing. A serviceberry tree, dedicated in memory of Melanie Nutter, daughter of church organist/pianist Ginny Herrick, was planted to kick-start the habitat efforts. 

 Ginny Herrick helps plant the serviceberry tree, dedicated in memory of her daughter, Melanie Nutter. 

“The idea for the songbird habitat came from Rev. Barbara Miner, who is also a member of Mayflower church,” says Rev. Carter, explaining how Miner “was shopping for some bird seed at Wild Birds Unlimited and was approached by the owner of that store, Kathy Haigh, to consider creating a certified songbird habitat.” Miner presented the idea to Mayflower’s Creation Justice group and a task force was created to bring the idea to fruition. 

The task force met with Anthony Sammartano, Land Steward Coordinator for Montana Audubon Center, who educated the congregation on how to establish such a habitat, as well as its importance. Canyon Creek nursery assisted in the design of the habitat which will span 60 feet x 100 feet and include many species of native trees, shrubs, and perennial flowering plants. 

This ongoing, progressive project will provide appropriate food and shelter for songbirds and associated species, as well as water sources essential for their survival. 

Rev. Amy Carter, Mayflower UCC Pastor, shares a few words on the importance of caring for the earth and the Bible’s references to trees as symbols of life and healing.

To celebrate Earth Day last year, the church planted a pollinator garden. They also offer community garden plots, and an urban micro-farm - Midtown Market (@midtownmarketgarden on Instagram) - is in the works on church land as well. These efforts help reflect the church’s care for creation and love of justice. Mayflower is pursuing becoming a Creation Justice Congregation of the United Church of Christ.

Creation Justice Churches make the ministry of environmental justice an integral strand of the DNA of their faith community. Stemming from the belief that to neglect or damage God’s creation displays a failure to connect to God, and that misuse of creation harms the earth and in turn causes human suffering, the church is responding to the call to care for God’s creation. 

Mayflower is connecting to the broader movement of environmental justice by collaborating with other community groups such as Montana Audubon Center, Canyon Creek Nursery, and Wild Birds Unlimited. For more information about the songbird habitat, creation justice and the ministry of Mayflower Congregational UCC visit mayflowerofbillings.com or their Facebook page at UCCMayflower. 

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