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2014 Mustard Seed Grant Results

Over the past two years St. John’s developed a program to enrich our ministry and build healthy, spiritually engaging programs for children and youth. With a Mustard Seed Grant, we have made progress toward reaching our goals.

Under the supervision of the Vestry and Rector, the Minister of Family Programs, the Junior Warden and several members of the Congregation worked together to create a welcoming and rewarding space for families within our overall community.

From our must-do priorities, we have:

We have a Youth calendar for staff and helpers. We also send out weekly emails with information about Sunday’s lessons and activities and future events.

All of the adults who work with children have attended the appropriate training.

Our small congregation has very active and inquisitive children. We have hosted several field trip opportunities, but have not been able to logistically manage summer trips. We held a Family Sunday each month during the school year to try to encourage more participation in our programs.

Vacation Bible School for the past two years has been hugely successful. In 2012 a grant from a parishioner supplemented the Mustard Seed Grant to purchase VBS t-shirts for 2012 and 2013 (pictured to the right). We see the shirts on the kids around the community often.

We redesigned and implemented a new Sunday School program. Sundays rotate between lessons and chapel, a service project, and fellowship. Because of the nature of our children and youth, we stepped away from a direct approach to theological reflection and instead focused on interactive lessons.

Because of hectic schedules and logistics, Children’s Chapel was ultimately combined with Sunday School.

The Mustard Seed Grant helped tremendously to reach important goals for our family ministry. What follows is a narrative of our successes and a summary of our total expenditures.

Sunday School Program and Materials

The Grant helped pay for new materials and lesson options. Specifically, we invested in: The Amazing Bible Race series of books. We adapted many of their lessons and activities into Sunday School and Children’s Chapel programs. Resources from the Episcopal Church and other organizations to help the Family Minister design lessons and create engaging activities for the children and youth. Materials and lesson plans for interactive lessons and crafts. Some of these include:

◊ Focus on the history of crosses with crafts.

◊ History of stained glass.

◊ Two different Bible Character Bingo games.

◊ Matching Bible verses to images game.

◊ A “Finding Jesus” scavenger hunt that sent the kids all over the church.

◊ Tin Man craft that shows what is in their heart.

We instituted monthly Family Sundays. After a brief lesson and discussion the children and youth worked together to create something to serve the entire congregation during the fellowship hour. One of the unexpected rewarding aspects of Family Sundays is the anticipation of the entire congregation about what will be on the menu and why it relates to learning about Christianity.

◊ To welcome people back from summer vacations, we hosted a Friendship Sunday where parishioners were encouraged to invite friends and neighbors. We had a moonbounce for the kids (big and small), music played by some of our youth, and a buffet of treats. We had several new families join the festivities.

◊ During Lent we talked about the Northern European Lenten tradition of making pretzels to symbolize arms crossed in prayer and made pretzels to serve the congregation.

◊ For Easter, we made carrot-themed sandwiches (pictured to the right) for a brunch and hosted an Easter Egg Hunt for the congregation and neighborhood. We usually have 1-2 new families attend.

◊ For Pentecost we discussed the Holy Spirit and fire imagery and created an indoor fire table to roast marshmallows to make s’mores.

◊ During Autumn, we talked about church seasons. We went apple picking and made apple treats for the congregation. We also visited a pumpkin patch and then roasted pumpkin seeds for a Family Sunday.

◊ During Advent, we hosted a neighborhood Christmas Pageant. Over the past two years, we have had 4-5 new families participate. Several of these families attend Sunday School sporadically.

◊ At First Communion Sunday, we talked about the significance of bread and wine during the Eucharist. We made grape bread and grape pops for our fellowship celebration.

Confirmation Program Materials

St. John’s purchased Confirm Not Conform to lead youth through the confirmation process. The grant also allowed us to have a church overnight to conduct study in a fun atmosphere. Three of our young adults completed the program and were confirmed by the Bishop.

First Communion Program Materials

Over the previous two years two children have gone through a program based on This Bread and This Cup to prepare for their First Communion.

Vacation Bible School Materials and Crafts

St. John’s resumed offering Vacation Bible School in 2011. The Mustard Seed Grant helped us expand our lesson materials. In 2012, our theme was Christianity Around the World. We looked at the different church seasons and how they are celebrated around the world with crafts and activities. 8-12 children attended and 1-3 continued to participate in Sunday School sporadically over the next year.

2013’s theme was Super Heroes and Super Heroines of the Bible; we partnered with another parish for the week. As many as 24 children participated in activities to learn about what it takes to be a hero or heroine in the Bible. At the end of the week each participant went home with their own Super Hero/Heroine costume. The outline of the week with lesson plans is attached to this document to provide a better picture of what the week’s activities.

Outreach and Advertising to the Community

Our outreach to the community continues with a monthly service project. Every second Tuesday the youth assemble bagged lunches to deliver to the Bailey’s Crossroads Homeless Shelter. The youth also sell Fair Trade Coffee and other products to support St. John’s and other outreach initiatives.

With the Mustard Seed Grant, we purchased signs to advertise the specifics of Sunday School activities near the St. John’s church sign. We also contribute to the neighborhood newsletter and ensure that our activities are included in the neighborhood calendar. We also send weekly updates about our activities to people who have expressed an interest in the church.

We continue to advertise in local newsletters with money that comes from the general funds of the Church.

Other Worship Activities

Our youth continue to serve as acolytes during our Rite II worship service. We added two new acolytes this past year.

Plans for the Future

We will continue our new tradition of Family Sundays and renew our efforts to involve our youth more actively in the service through readings, interactive presentations and other ways. We especially need to re-engage our older youth as part of the leadership of our church and will seek partnerships with other smaller churches.

During Lent, we are reaching out to the neighborhood and our congregation as a whole through Lent Madness(a program supported by Forward Movement). We hope that this fun approach to observing Lent will engage and inspire our youth to find fun and joy in their spiritual lives.

We will also look for new and engaging ways to participate in our neighborhood’s scheduled activities, especially the Glencarlyn Neighborhood Day in June.

St. John’s gives great thanks to the Diocese for their investment in the parish through the Mustard Seed Grant. The grant allowed us to set a good foundation for family programs. We are forever grateful.

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2014 Mustard Seed Grant Results

The World’s Smallest Fruit

N ature packages its seeds in botanical structures called fruits. Fruits come in an endless variety of shapes and sizes, from papery, inflated pods of locoweeds to fleshy berries of oranges and tomatoes. Since the January 1996 Wayne’s Word Noteworthy Plant was dedicated to the “World’s Largest Fruit,” it seems only fitting that the February 1996 Noteworthy Plant should be dedicated to the “World’s Smallest Fruit.” This lilliputian botanical controversy has come up in Professor Armstrong’s Biology 100 class on several occasions, and it is time to answer the question once and for all. Candidates for the title of “World’s Smallest Fruit” range from tiny individual seed-bearing drupelets of blackberries and figs to the biblical mustard seed. But none of these contenders even comes close. Is is no coincidence that the world’s smallest fruits are produced by the world’s smallest flowering plants. These remarkable plants belong to the genus Wolffia, minute rootless plants of the duckweed family (Lemnaceae) that float at the surface of quiet streams and ponds. In technical botanical terms, the fruit of these tiny aquatic plants is indehiscent, bladderlike, one-seeded and is often referred to as a utricle

The minute one-seeded fruits of Wolffia angusta compared with grains of ordinary table salt (NaCl). The fruits (utricles) were photographed in an ethanol (ethyl alcohol) solution and the salt grains have dissolved slightly resulting in rounded corners. The cubical salt grains are about 0.3 mm on a side. Fruits of W. angusta and W. globosa and are similar in size.

The minute one-seeded fruits of Wolffia angusta compared with grains of ordinary table salt (NaCl). The cubical salt grains are about 0.3 mm on a side. The fruits of W. globosa are similar in size.

Microscopic view of three cuboidal grains of ordinary table salt (sodium chloride or NaCl). All three grains are just over one millimeter in length (red bar). Grains of table salt vary slightly in size, but three average grains stacked together adds up to approximately one mm. If three grains equal one millimeter in length, then a single grain is approximately 0.3 mm or 0.03 cm on a side.

The world’s smallest fruits are produced by species of Wolffia , including the Australian W. angusta . The above image shows a mature fruit within the plant body. The larger fruit of Lemna shows a thin, transparent pericarp surrounding a ribbed seed. A pericarp layer is not evident on the wolffia fruits.

T wo of the smallest species of Wolffia in the world are the Australian Wolffia angusta and the Asian/African Wolffia globosa. In fact, both species are so small that it is difficult to distinguish between the size of their fruits. Since the entire plant body of these two species is less than one millimeter long (less than 1/25th of an inch), the tiny mature fruit takes up most of its parent plant body. The fruit of W. angusta is only 0.30 mm long (1/100th of an inch) and weighs about 70 micrograms (1/400,000 of an ounce). One can get an idea of how small these fruits really are when you consider that an average, single, cubical grain of ordinary table salt (NaCl) is about 0.30 mm on a side and weighs about 60 micrograms. This fruit is smaller than the individual cells of many plants and animals, and is more than 4 billion times lighter than a massive world class pumpkin. So the next time you put a pinch of table salt on your favorite gourmet dish, think about the world’s smallest fruits which are approximately the size of one salt grain.

A tiny, budding Wolffia globosa plant and the minute one-seeded fruits of W. angusta compared with the eye of an ordinary sewing needle. The fruits are about 0.30 mm long. Fruits of W. angusta and W. globosa are similar in size and are the smallest fruits on earth.

Orchids (Orchidaceae): The World’s Smallest Seeds

C ertain epiphytic orchids of the tropical rain forest produce the world’s smallest seeds weighing only 35 millionths of an ounce. They are dispersed into the air like minute dust particles or single-celled spores, eventually coming to rest in the upper canopy of rain forest trees. The world’s largest seed comes from the coco-de-mer palm ( Lodoicea maldivica ), native to the Seychelles Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Although it belongs to a different genus from true coconut palms ( Cocos ), this enormous seed is often called the “double coconut.” A single seed may be 12 inches (30 cm) long, nearly three feet (0.9 m) in circumference and weigh 40 pounds (18 kg). It should be noted here that the largest seed does not have the largest embryo. In fact, palm seeds are mostly composed of endosperm tissue and generally have relatively small embryos.

Small seeds. Mustard family (Brassicaceae): Black mustard ( Brassica nigra ). Orchid family (Orchidaceae): Coral-root orchid ( Corallorhiza maculata ). Duckweed family (Lemnaceae): Watermeal ( Wolffia angusta ), a one-seeded fruit called a utricle. Poppy family (Papaveraceae): Opium poppy ( Papaver somniferum ). Without any doubt, the orchids have the record for smallest seeds. The seeds of some species are no larger than fungal spores and occur in a loose cellular sheath. Since the seeds have no endosperm and underdeveloped embryos, there are practically no food reserves. In order to germinate under natural conditions, they must establish a symbiotic relationship with a compatible mycorrhizal fungus. During early stages of development, the fungus supplies critical nutrients to the orchid seedling. Later the orchid may become fully independent, or it may retain its mycorrizal relationship throughout its life. The above coral-root orchid seed ( Corallorhiza ) grows into a nonphotosynthetic mycotrophic wildflower. It absorbs carbohydrates and minerals from its fungal host, which in turn absorbs these vital nutrients from the roots of nearby forest trees. Wolffia certainly has the record for smallest fruits which are not much larger than grains of ordinary table salt (NaCl). The single seed inside is almost as large as the fruit; therefore, wolffia seeds are not as small as orchid seeds.

Microscopic view of the seed of a coral-root orcid ( Corallorhiza maculata ). The individual seed is only about 0.2 mm in diameter. In fact, there are unusual bacterial cells that are larger than this orchid seed. The resolving power for an unaided human eye with 20-20 vision is about 0.1 mm. With its cellular sheath (seed coat) removed, this seed is barely visible to the naked eye. Certain epiphytic orchids of the tropical rain forest produce the world’s smallest seeds weighing only 35 millionths of an ounce. One seed capsule from a single flower may contain up to four million seeds. They are dispersed into the air like minute dust particles or single-celled spores, eventually coming to rest in the upper canopy of rain forest trees. The seeds of some species are no larger than fungal spores and occur in a loose cellular sheath. Since the seeds have no endosperm and a minute, undifferentiated embryo, there are practically no food reserves. In order to germinate under natural conditions, they must establish a symbiotic relationship with a compatible mycorrhizal soil fungus. During early stages of development, the fungus supplies critical nutrients to the orchid seedling. Later the orchid may become fully independent, or it may retain its mycorrhizal relationship throughout its life. The above coral-root orchid seed ( Corallorhiza ) grows into a nonphotosynthetic mycotrophic wildflower that is completely dependent on its mycorrhizal fungus. Throughout its life, the orchid absorbs carbohydrates and minerals from its fungal partner, which in turn absorbs these vital nutrients from the roots of nearby forest trees. In a laboratory, orchid seeds can be grown in nutrient agar, like a sterile (axenic) culture of bacteria or fungal spores.

Lemna aequinoctialis from the Sierra San Francisco of Baja California. This view shows the basal root sheath with two lateral wings and a one-seeded fruit (utricle) protruding from a lateral budding pouch. The number of longitudinal ribs on the seed (faintly visible through the transparent pericarp) indicates that this species is L. aequinoctialis and not L. perpusilla . The head of an ordinary straight pin is used for a size relationship. It is 1.5 mm in diameter.

Animal Disseminules The Size Of Wolffia Seeds

Bryozoan Statoblasts & Sponge Gemmules

T here are several animal reproductive disseminules in fresh water that are about the same size as wolffia seeds and fruits. They range in size from 0.2 – 0.6 mm and often show up in wolffia samples from ponds and streams. The following reference clearly determines that they have an animal origin and not reproductive bodies of duckweeds:

    Pennak, R.W. 1953. Fresh-Water Invertebrates of the United States .
    The Ronald Press Company, New York. 769 p.

Statoblasts of Bryozoans (Phylum Bryozoa)

The brown, disk-shaped structures mixed with these populations of Wolffia columbiana and W. borealis in the San Dieguito River of San Diego County are not wolffia fruits. They are asexual reproductive bodies called statoblasts from a freshwater bryozoan (possibly in the genus Plumatella ). Bryozoans are colonial animals in the Phylum Bryozoa. The chitinous statoblasts are produced in large numbers and are dispersed by water currents where they germinate (hatch) and develop into new colonies.

Gemmules of Freshwater Sponges (Phylum Porifera)

The World’s Smallest Fruit N ature packages its seeds in botanical structures called fruits. Fruits come in an endless variety of shapes and sizes, from papery, inflated pods of locoweeds