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Significant beauty takes time.

Big Idea: John Fairey and Peckerwood Garden

Idea person: John Gaston Fairey.

How it began: Fairey grew up in a little community South Carolina where both men and women gardened as a pastime. That’s where Fairey first had an inkling that, as he puts it, “Gardening is the highest art form because it evokes all the senses.”

In the late ’60s, he began teaching architecture and design at Texas A&M while he lived and kept a studio in Houston. Eventually Fairey tired of the drive, and in 1971 he bought seven acres in Hempstead, a town about halfway between Houston and College Station. As he rediscovered his love of gardening, he expanded the property to 39 acres. He called the place Peckerwood Garden for two reasons: as a salute to the plantation in Auntie Mame; and in recognition of the woodpeckers that frequent the property.

How it grew: At first, Fairey played it safe and planted azaleas, camellia, and other species familiar from his South Carolina childhood. But as friends gave him trees, plants, and shrubs, he began to experiment.

John Fairey in 1998. Photo: John Everett, Houston Chronicle / Houston Chronicle

Photo: John Everett, Houston Chronicle – John Fairey in 1998.

In 1983, a tornado hit the garden, and he lost all of the original trees. “It’s not going to cure itself by just looking at it,” Fairey thought. He set to work rebuilding, filling the former shade garden with sun­loving plants.

The garden’s mission evolved in 1988, when Fairey joined a plant expedition to Mexico. With Texas plantsman Lynn Lowrey as his mentor, he started collecting seeds of rare Mexican plants and bringing them home to propagate. Over the years, Fairey returned to the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in northeastern Mexico 100 times.

Too often, he found evidence that overpopulation was destroying many of Mexico’s native plants. When he went to view rare plants that he had admired months earlier, he was often saddened to find that they were dead or had been  eaten by goats.

On each trip he expanded his collection of sun-loving plants such as palms and agave. On the grounds of Peckerwood, he mingled them with unlikely “soil” mates such as magnolias and pines.

Along the way, he expanded his collection of plants from the american Southwest, and started exchanging seeds with Asian collectors. “We have so much to learn from our neighbors. Plants know no borders,” Fairey says. “Therefore, why should civilized people?”

That approach has made Peckerwood a unique natural environment centered around heat- and drought-tolerant plants — and thus, plants that are well-suited to our area’s changing climate.

Today the typical gardening philosophy is: Plant native. Fairey likes to experiment and plant what grows. He shares his seeds, plants, research, and knowledge with nurseries, research institutions, and the public.

Fairey doesn’t see gardening like painting. For him, paint is paint, and a garden is a three-dimensional experience and environment not a two dimensional canvas. But at Peckerwood Fairey pairs his mission of rescuing plants with his need to create a beautiful environment.

Although he’s resolute on the point that most of gardening is “heartbreaking hard work,” he concedes that there is magic in his handiwork. “The magic is in the fall and winter light dancing and bouncing one canopy to the next. It is truly special when you can get five canopies layered in a garden.”

His favorite plant color is silvery blue-green: “It is psychologically cooling in the heat of summer and dazzles the eye in winter with the lower light.”

He sees Peckerwood as philosophical statement as to the virtue of patience, which he came to appreciate teaching design at A&M for thirty years.

“Significant beauty takes time,” he maintains. He bought a magnolia from Lynn Lowery in the 1970s that took 19 years to flower. “It was well worth the wait,” says Fairey. He’s also outlasted freeze damage, drought and failure. “You just have to learn to live with these things,” Fairey says. “To be optimistic whatever happens.”

Although Peckerwood is a private garden, it is open to the public on select weekends and by private tours year round. “What gets me excited is everyone here that has a part in making the garden special,” Fairey says about visitors to Peckerwood.

Next steps: Fairey has created a Peckerwood Garden Foundation and is working with the Garden Conservancy, a national organization, to transition into a public garden.

Bottom line: “It’s the act of planting the plant that’s important.”

Andrea White Andrea White Gray Matters Contributor, Houston Chronicle

Read the original article at Houston Chronicle

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Second Annual Taking Root Luncheon: The Buzz Magazine

Second Annual Taking Root Luncheon

 

(From left) Christopher Knapp, Jill Whitten, Sarah Newbery, John Fairey, Thomas Woltz.

Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation (PGCF) presents its second annual Taking Root luncheon on Oct. 15. This year’s keynote speaker is Michael Van Valkenburgh, President & CEO of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. (MVVA). Based in Brooklyn, NY and Cambridge, MA, MVVA creates environmentally sustainable and experientially rich places across a wide range of landscape scales. Here in Houston, Mr. Van Valkenburgh is the landscape architect for the new Drawing Institute of the Menil Collection, which broke ground in March.

Peckerwood Garden is the culmination of founder John Gaston Fairey’s vision and passion for a majestic, living palette of artistic textures and colors, showcased in a garden that shows its respect for the environment through the use of natural terrains and conservation. It is also a place that maintains a habitat for biodiversity and a tranquil space for humans to enjoy nature.

Located in Hempstead, about an hour’s drive from Austin, College Station and Houston, Peckerwood Garden is poised on the edge of three climatic zones and is the setting for an expanding collection of rare plants native to a wide region of the southern United States and to Mexico mingled with their Asian counterparts. Private tours can be scheduled during the year, with the garden also open to the public on select dates called “Open Weekends.”

Event type: LUNCHEONS, FUNDRAISERS
Dates: THURSDAY, OCTOBER 15, 11:30 AM
Price: TABLES AVAILABLE AT $2,000, $3,500 AND $5,000; INDIVIDUAL TICKETS ARE $150.
Phone number: 979-826-3232.
Venue: BAYOU CLUB
Address:
8550 MEMORIAL DR.
HOUSTON, TX 77024
 
– See more at: http://thebuzzmagazines.com/calendar-events/second-annual-taking-root-luncheon#sthash.WjAqROi7.dpuf
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THE PLANT MAN: Garden Design Magazine. May 9th, 2012

THE PLANT MAN: Garden Design Magazine. May 9th, 2012

John G. Fairey, a flora collector with a rare eye for design, transformed a Texas landscape into the famed garden Peckerwood. This is the story of a plant man and his garden. –By Pam Penick

"Dream Team's" Portland GardenGarden Design Calimesa, CA
A reflection pool with ancient Dioon edule in the foreground (one of the most cold-hardy of all the cycads) and, in the background,Serenoa repens (saw palmetto palm), Nolina nelsonii (Nelson’s blue beargrass), and Yucca rostrata (beaked yucca). The bench is designed and smithed by Lars Stanley. Photo by: Marion Brenner.

John G. Fairey’s eyes widen when he is asked to name a favorite plant, as if he’s been asked to choose his favorite child. “Why, all of them,” he replies softly in a sandpapery Southern lilt. And given his surroundings—some 3,000 species of rare and endangered plants at Peckerwood, his 40-year-old, renowned private garden near the Texas town of Hempstead—you’re rather inclined to believe him.

Named for the Georgia plantation in Auntie Mame, Peckerwood has earned plaudits for its astonishing collection of plants—largely from Mexico and Texas but also Asia—and for the horticultural skill with which Fairey grows them. It also deserves attention for the artistic design of its landscape—unusual for the garden of a collector, in which acquisition often supersedes design considerations.

Fairey’s vision for Peckerwood, which includes a light-dappled woodland, several shimmering dry gardens, and a parklike arboretum, developed not gradually but in a transformative awakening during a trip to Mexico. An artist and professor of design at Texas A&M, Fairey had bought 7 acres near Hempstead, an hour’s drive northwest of Houston, in 1971 as a country retreat. He planted azaleas, camellia, and other species familiar to him from his South Carolina childhood, but his interest in collecting plants wasn’t sparked until he met Texas plantsman Lynn Lowrey, who often trekked into Mexico to search out little-known species to bring back for propagation.

"Dream Team's" Portland Garden Garden Design Calimesa, CA

Fountain heads by Otis Huband. Photo by: Marion Brenner.
SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THIS GARDEN

In the summer of 1988, Fairey joined Lowrey on one of his expeditions to the Sierra Madre Oriental mountain range in northeastern Mexico. They explored from desert to cloud forest, says Fairey, and searched for plants from dawn until after dark, by flashlight. The adrenaline high of the hunt hooked Fairey immediately, as did the evidence of the loss of fragile habitat caused by the overgrazing of goats and the sense that he could help save plants from extinction.

Over the years, Fairey returned to the Sierra Madre 100 times, fascinated by the variety and architectural beauty of the plants he found there. Back home he began using a newfound palette of sun-loving plants like yucca, agave, dasylirion, nolina, and dioon in his dry gardens and designing with shape and form, wind and sunlight, rejecting in one swoop both the English tradition of soft, flowering borders and the European model of formal framing and symmetry.

Today, plants reign supreme at Peckerwood, providing structure for garden rooms with their architectural forms and through massing of related species—“counterparts,” he calls them-from different parts of the world, like his screen of mahonia from both Asia and Mexico in the woodland garden. And as John Troy, a San Antonio landscape architect, points out, Fairey also plays up a feeling of surprise and dissonance by mingling plants not normally seen together on this side of the border, like palms and magnolias, pines and agaves.

One encounters these arresting combinations throughout Peckerwood but especially in the sunny, dry garden on the west side of Fairey’s residence, a two-story, corrugated steel-sided structure with a shady porch and attached art gallery. In the dry garden, fine, rounded gravel surrounds the plants and flows between them, forming paths and creating a natural-looking “floor,” knitting the garden together with a consistent color and texture. To the northwest of the house, in the woodland garden, pine straw supplants gravel, mulching plants and quieting visitors’ footsteps. Throughout, paving, walls, and other hardscaping are kept to a bare minimum, enhancing the naturalistic look.

"Dream Team's" Portland Garden Garden Design Calimesa, CA

On the south side of John Fairey’s home is a fenced courtyard filled with Brazos River pea gravel and flagstones and a walkway constructed of quarter-inch steel plate frames paved with “iron ore,” a local gravel-and-clay mix. The two-part steel sculpture,Positive and Negative, is by Texas artist John Walker. The small tree to the left of the sculpture is Fraxinus greggii (little leaf ash). Behind the sculpture stands a small colony of Yucca rostrata. Photo by: Marion Brenner.

Fairey enjoys the act of planting and likes to experiment, digging things up and trying new combinations with such regularity that a friend once remarked he’d “never seen a plant at Peckerwood that wasn’t on the end of a shovel.” When siting plants, Fairey considers the play of light on leaves and the ever-present Texas wind, especially in the dry garden. During the blazing summer, that space is psychologically cooling thanks to an abundance of silver and blue-green leaves, like those of Yucca rostrata, a strappy Koosh ball of a plant that responds to every cooling breeze with a dazzling shimmer. Round forms and modernist geometry dominate here; spherical plant types like Echinocactus grusonii,Dasylirion longissimum, Nolina nelsonii, and Xanthorrhoea quadrangulata create a bouncy rhythm. Compensating for gully-washer summer thunderstorms and winter rains, Fairey elevates each plant for drainage on its own gravel hillock, “because I like mountains,” he laughs, a reference to his passion for exploring Mexico’s northeastern range. But Austin landscape architect James David sees the artist’s eye at work. “Individual plants are put on gravel pedestals for you to admire,” he says, “like buckets of hyacinths on display in a flower shop.”

“Every bit of the garden is thought through from a design standpoint,” says Bill Noble, director of preservation at the Cold Springs, New York-based Garden Conservancy. “If you know plants, then John’s collection will blow you away. If you don’t know the plants, you can still appreciate their beauty and the design of the garden.”

Because Peckerwood is such a unique repository and because Fairey is looking to the garden’s future, the Garden Conservancy is assisting him in transitioning it to a public entity. Asked what he would like for gardeners to take away from a visit to Peckerwood, which today encompasses 39 acres, Fairey says simply, “diversity.”

“John has expanded the palette of plants for gardeners in the South, Southeast, and Texas,” says Noble. “His garden has a lot to teach.” After a lifetime of teaching, Fairey remains himself an eager learner, continually experimenting with plants and treating his garden as an artist’s canvas on which he paints with light, foliage, and even the wind.

To plan a visit to Peckerwood Garden, go to peckerwoodgarden.org.

See the original article at: http://www.gardendesign.com/houston/hempstead-peckerwood.html

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Peckerwood Garden Foundation and the ICAA present author Caroline Seebohm in an illustrated talk about her new book:

Rescuing Eden: Preserving America’s Historic GardensCaroline Seebohm headshot

Caroline Seebohm, author

Photographs by Curtice Taylor

Published by The Monacelli Press

Canopy---Google-Maps-1Thursday, November 5, 6 -8 pm

Canopy: 3939 Montrose Blvd, Houston

Admission:  $20/$15 PGCF and ICAA members, includes refreshments

6 pm   Cocktails

7 pm   Presentation and book signing

Memberships available online or at the door.

Rescuing Eden presents 30 American gardens that are particularly distinctive in the stories of their creation and their “rescue” for the enjoyment and appreciation of future generations.  Ranging from the historic gardens on Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay to Peckerwood Garden outside Houston, these gardens represent a range of distinctive styles and help tell the story of gardening in America.  Caroline Seebohm is a design historian and biographer, whose books include Boca Rococo, a biography of Palm beach architect Addison Mizner, as well as biographies of Marietta Tree, Conde Nast, and Florida sculptor Ann Norton.

Curtice Taylor is a well-known landscape and garden photographer whose work is widely published.

The book will be available for sale at the event.

RSVP and questions:  info@peckerwoodgarden.org

Purchase tickets at mkt.com/peckerwood-garden-conservation-foundation

Seating is limited; please reserve by November 2.

Event sponsored by

ICAA logopwgarden_square_300x300_2_edited-1Mcdugald Steele logo

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Job Description for Director of Horticulture, Peckerwood Garden

Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation

Director of Horticulture

About the Garden

Peckerwood Garden, the creation of John Fairey, located in Hempstead, Texas, forty miles northwest of Houston, is an outstanding repository of rare and unusual plants from the United States, Mexico, and Asia. Balancing artistic expression and scientific discovery, it fosters educational and scientific programs, and encourages greater knowledge and appreciation of horticulture.

The Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation (PGCF) was established to preserve existing collections; support continued plant exploration and trials; and develop, maintain and preserve the land and facilities of Peckerwood Garden. Peckerwood is poised to operate as a public garden owned and managed by the Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation and is a preservation partner with the Garden Conservancy. The garden and the adjoining former nursery property encompass 40 acres.

Position Title

Director of Horticulture, Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation, Inc. (PGCF)

Position Objectives

The Director of Horticulture will work to maintain and preserve the vision and qualities that make Peckerwood Garden unique, will help to implement the Foundation’s vision and program plan, and will be a key player in the Foundation’s efforts to develop Peckerwood as a public garden, incorporating the grounds and facilities of the adjoining former nursery property and developing them in accordance with a newly-created conceptual master plan.

This is a full-time position, reporting to the acting Executive Director of the Foundation, and ultimately the Executive Director, to oversee management of the garden and its public programs.

The Director of Horticulture will collaborate closely with the garden creator, John G. Fairey, to continue the management and development of the garden in harmony with Mr. Fairey’s aesthetic vision.

Duties & Responsibilities

The Director of Horticulture’s primary responsibilities will include the following:

Recruit, manage, and work with employees on the daily maintenance of Peckerwood garden, following maintenance practices established by John G. Fairey and upholding Mr. Fairey’s standards of excellence. Especially during the first year at Peckerwood, the Director of Horticulture will be expected to spend time participating in the work of maintaining the garden. He/she will need to learn every aspect of current maintenance protocols from irrigation to weed control as part of learning the rhythms of the garden and recommending improvements.

The Director of Horticulture will be responsible for generating and monitoring weekly and quarterly work plans and keeping maintenance records.

Help develop volunteer program by training and supervising docents and garden volunteers. Help to recruit volunteers and docents.  Develop meaningful opportunities for volunteer participation in the maintenance and development of the garden, including propagation and nursery management.

Support public visitation, membership, tours and Open Days by greeting guests and giving tours; developing information such as plant sale lists and signage; seeing that garden is prepared for visitors and plant sales organized. Conduct private horticultural tours; answer questions.

Develop garden, including the former nursery property, according to the conceptual master plan. Direct new plant acquisitions, installation and design; supervise and assist as needed with maintenance of physical plant; including irrigation systems, garden equipment and supplies.

Manage the living collections: Lead and oversee plant record keeping system. Maintain and update plant records and mapping with ArcGIS. Lead the effort of PGCF to make the most effective use of plant collections information. Accession plants and record location, source, cultural information, status, maintenance needs and schedule, propagation information and photographs. Develop photographic record of collections. Update and maintain plant labels and accession tags. Monitor condition of collection.

Promote development of nursery and plant sales.  Oversee propagation and acquisition of plants for resale, in collaboration with Nursery Committee and with the participation of volunteers and office staff.  Oversee maintenance of nursery stock and sales area. Help re-establish and expand the seed exchange program by supervising the harvesting, cleaning, storing and packaging of seed.

Help develop and participate in programs to promote the garden and strengthen its educational outreach through educational programs, lectures, tours and workshops. Work in partnership with PGCF board to plan, execute and schedule programs to promote the garden, raise funds, and develop its educational outreach. Write plant information for brochures, website, and other publications. Cultivate relationships with relevant organizations to develop partnerships as outlined in the Program Plan. Help create and support collaboration with educational institutions and other partner organizations to foster research and exchange of information.

Knowledge, Skills & Abilities

Enthusiasm and passion about horticulture and garden design and an ability to communicate this to professionals and the public.

Knowledge of horticultural practices, especially relating to Texas and Southeastern natives, Asian, and Mexican counterparts. Degree preferred in horticulture, plant science, public garden management, landscape architecture or closely related field. Advanced degree a plus.

Managerial skills and work experience, at least 5 years of relevant experience including supervising staff and volunteers; prior public garden management experience desirable. Ability to supervise and lead employees, including organizing and prioritizing work assignments, identifying objectives and evaluating results.

Communication and interpersonal skills, including the ability to work with staff and volunteers and to represent the garden by public speaking, writing and educating. Strong interpersonal skills; must be a team player able to work effectively with a diverse group of individuals. Ability to work to a plan and adapt as conditions warrant.

Documentation and technical expertise. Facility with plant recordkeeping systems and plant identification skills. Strong computer skills and facility with ArcGIS, Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint. Strong recordkeeping and organizational skills required.

Physical fitness and ability to operate equipment. The garden is a labor-intensive work environment and some aspects of the job could involve heavy lifting and the use of power equipment. Proficiency in safe operation and proper maintenance of hand tools and power equipment as well as valid driver’s license required.

Resources

Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation worked closely with the Garden Conservancy to develop a Vision and Program Plan for Peckerwood Garden, as well as a Plant Collections Policy. These documents set a direction for garden documentation, research, education, interpretation, and outreach.

Peckerwood Garden Conservation Foundation is an Equal Opportunity Employer and all foundation activities are conducted without discrimination based on race, color, genetics, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age or status as a protected veteran. PGCF is also committed to compliance with all fair employment practices regarding citizenship and immigration status.

Please email a cover letter expressing interest and a resume, including three references to: info@peckerwoodgarden.org. Applications will be reviewed beginning the week of September 28, 2015.

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Music brings us together in celebration

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Music brings us together in celebration

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A church is a community

Ddolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.

 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

From many we become one

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How do you give back to others?

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How do you give back to others?

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A church is a community

Ddolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

 

My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.

 

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

From many we become one

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Is space travel a religious matter?

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Is space travel a religious matter?

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A church is a community

Ddolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.

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From many we become one

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8 beautiful cathedrals explored

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8 beautiful cathedrals explored

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A church is a community

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My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.

 

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From many we become one

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