Children plant a garden at Easthampton church

  • Joni Bullough and her young son Andrew Bullough plant bulbs in the Easthampton Congregational Church’s new Children’s Garden. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU 

  • Joni Bullough and her young son Andrew Bullough plant bulbs in the Easthampton Congregational Church’s new Children’s Garden. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

  • Children plant bulbs in the Easthampton Congregational Church’s Children’s Garden, dedicated on Sunday. STAFF PHOTO/BERA DUNAU

Staff Writer
Published: 9/16/2019 1:49:39 PM

EASTHAMPTON — On Sunday, children at the Easthampton Congregational Church lent a hand to a project to make the world a little bit more beautiful.

Following the church service and reception, children in the congregation went outside to plant tulip bulbs in the church’s new Children’s Garden, which was dedicated shortly afterward with a blessing.

If all goes as expected, the bulbs will produce colorful flowers come the spring.

“I’m very excited about the children’s garden,” said Karen Raffa, the church’s facilities manager. “Once they’re vested they’ll see the fruit of their labor.”

The Rev. Sherry Tucker, the church’s pastor, said the garden will provide beauty to the community and will teach the children about patience and that God is all about creation.

The Children’s Garden is also part of a larger beautification effort at the church, which was constructed in 1852. Dubbed “Landscape Sunday,” the campaign, which also kicked off on Sunday, consists of volunteers doing landscaping work on the church’s grounds.

“This is the Lord’s house,” Raffa said.

Easthampton Congregational Church has been a part of the fabric of the community since its beginning, with Easthampton being incorporated around it in 1785.

One of the children planting tulips in the garden was Andrew Bullough, 4½, who was assisted in his work by his mom, Joni Bullough.

“Easthampton Congregational does a lot in our community,” said Joni Bullough, on why she and her family began going to church there. “We wanted him to have exposure to service projects.”

Andrew said his favorite part about going to church is the snacks.

“Cookies,” said Andrew, when asked what his favorite snack is.

A charitable project that the church completed on Sunday was a drive to raise socks, underwear, and bras for those in homeless and women’s shelters.

“Spread the message through action,” said Darnell Blackwell, head of the church’s missions committee.

Tucker said that Easthampton Congregational is an open and affirming church, and has been so for several years. She defined being an open and affirming church as being open not only to LGBTQ people, but also to those of any racial or class background as well. To signify this, part of Sunday’s efforts involved affixing rainbow decals on the church’s sign. While the church previously flew a rainbow flag, the wind tore it down.

“Everyone is welcome to come to our services,” said Tucker.

Bera Dunau can be reached at

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