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“One Way to Restore Our World”: A Tree-Planting Mission in Indiana

The Rev. Charles Mason in a recent Zoom interview

The Rev. Charles Mason is on a mission to reforest Indiana. More than ten years ago, the retired rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Muncie and his wife, Charlotte, began tending to a small section of forest behind the local elementary school.

I had just retired as a music teacher, so every Tuesday we would go down there,” Charlotte Mason says. “We wanted to make it a nice little forest so students could walk through it.” Noticing the number of invasive plants that had taken over the area, Charles Mason thought, “we’re going to have to forest this with better trees.”

Soon, that vision grew much larger. For more than a decade now, Charles Mason and his friend Hans Heintzelman have taken a yearly trip to purchase 1,000 young trees from a nursery in Vallonia.

Volunteers, including Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, plant the trees on private land in the Muncie area (as of 2018, nearly 85 percent of Indiana’s forests were privately owned). “Planting trees is just crucial to keep life going,” he says, pointing to the role reforestation plays in cutting CO2 emissions in the atmosphere.

And so, Charles Mason has a challenge for each church in the Diocese of Indianapolis: plant 100 trees. “This is God’s creation,” he says. “And why wouldn’t the church want to reforest and renew and help continue God’s creation? Wouldn’t that be something for the diocese to do? Things are going to pieces, but planting trees is one way to restore our world.”

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