Biodiversity Sacred Groves for Congregational Worship In an Era of Ecological Crisis: A Design Competition

Imagine a sacred grove on the grounds of your faith community, where the congregation could gather to worship and tend the biodiversity of native plants at the same time.


In February, March, and April of 2023, Eden Theological Seminary and Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts at Washington University collaborated to sponsor a student design competition focused on sacred groves.  The competition brief asked students to design sacred groves that could both preserve the biodiversity of native plants and simultaneously provide a sacred space where a congregation could engage in community worship.

On this website you can find the designs that students created, as well as information about the competition and insights from those who led it.  As an introduction, we suggest that you begin with Dr. Grundy’s video presentation, below.  Then, we encourage you to study the designs, the competition brief, listen to some of the other presentations, and consider the possibilities for your own community.

If you would like Dr. Grundy to speak with your congregation about sacred groves, contact him at [email protected].

What if your congregation began worshipping regularly in a sacred grove that also preserved the biodiversity of plants and animals native to your region? And what kind of impact would it have if many congregations did the same?