When a pastor hears the word "sanctuary," the thought is of pews and an altar.
But today, when Len Zuza of the Southern Maryland Oyster Cultivation Society visited me at the church and spoke freely about Olivet's sanctuary, he wasn't referring to our centenial building.
He was talking about two oyster reefs in the Olivet neighborhood that are a sanctuary for cultivating oysters.
How uncommonly cool! Olivet is not just a sanctuary for people to grow in God's grace, but it is also a place where oysters find sanctuary as well!
Like people, oysters have a hard time find a safe place for growth in their most vulnerable times. Yet, like people, oysters need a sanctuary - a place for weathering the elements of life together with others.
What about a ministry to mollusks? I have begun to wonder.
If we help oysters thrive, then the oysters will help the marine life thrive and improve the quality of the water. An oyster reef is a metropolis of sea life, a primary habitat for skilletfish, crabs and more.
We found that out when our youth group went with Rachel Dean and Jason Williams on the Roughwater boat last month. (picture on right) We met a very cute crab that Rachel told us loves to live on an oyster reef. Oysters clean the water through filter feeding. A single adult oyster can filter 50 gallons of water per day - that is about the size of one of our new rain barrels. One little oyster can do a whole rain barrel of work in a single day.
A ministry to mollusks is a ministry of protecting the vulnerable and delighting in the way that God uses the least likely of creatures to do great things.
I pray that others will take interest in starting a new ministry to mollusks. They are our neighbors and they are God's creation.