treelogoGreater Milwaukee Synod – 500 Trees for 500 Years

“…and the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations.” – Rev 22

Why Plant Trees – A Story from Tanzania
(Source: Religion and Ethics Newsweekly)


Wittenberg Luther Garden

“…and the leaves of the trees are for the healing of the nations.”Rev 22:2b





For questions on this program and to share your congregations plans, please contact Rev Margaret Schoewe at

Ecumenical and interreligious –

Summary: Join in the GMS Reformation Commemoration Activities – plant 500 Trees for 500 years and gather with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in joint commemoration events lifting up the growing movement of convergence between Catholics and Lutherans around environmental justice set in the context of 50 years of continuous ecumenical dialogue.

Many of you may already be planning your Reformation 500 commemoration activities. The ELCA and Augsburg Fortress have made resources available to help congregations plan and at our Greater Milwaukee Synod planning is also underway.

Under the program “500 Trees for 500 Years” initiated by Lutheran World Federation (LWF), the synod is encouraging congregations to plant a total of 500 trees to commemorate the reformation in a life giving way. This program will be coordinated through the GMS clusters. $500 will be available to each cluster once a cluster plan is in place to plant at least 50 trees and raise at least $250 towards planting trees. Clusters and congregations are encouraged to plant more than 50 trees and to plant larger trees, however all trees, even $1 trees, will count.

Information on the importance of planting trees, tree planting ideas, arborists to help with planting, and planting worship services are available at Sample ideas include planting fruit trees in central city orchards, at Wisconsin church camps, in National Parks or forests, or funding trees for partners in Tanzania or El Salvador.

In addition to planting trees, the GMS is joining with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in joint commemoration events lifting up the growing movement of convergence between Catholics and Lutherans around environmental justice set in the context of 50 years of continuous ecumenical dialogue. This includes the adoption of Declaration On The Way at our recent churchwide assembly, a unique ecumenical document that marks a path toward greater unity between Catholics and Lutherans.

Plans are underway for a spring-time 2017, “Scripture with Scholars” event featuring a Lutheran and a Catholic theologian discussing Pope Francis’ encyclical letter, Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home followed in the fall by a joint Lutheran and Catholic service of reconciliation centered on care for our earth and celebration of our tree planting. There will be joint Catholic/Lutheran tree plantings, one in the Lutheran World Federation garden in Wittenberg and one here in Milwaukee. Lutheran congregations are encouraged to invite their neighboring Catholic congregations to join in tree planting activities.

Our commemoration will run for one year beginning on October 31, 2016, with publicizing the meeting of Pope Francis and LWF leaders in Lund, Sweden. We encourage you to go to for more information regarding these exciting programs.

Why Plant Trees

  • A compelling story from Tanzania on why trees are so important. Source: Religion and Ethics Newsweekly         Google search for: PBS Kilimanjaro trees
  • TIME Magazine article “The Healing Power of Nature” by Alexandra Sifferlin
  • US Department of Agriculture: Urban and Community Forestry site. Much information including information on grants.
  • Professional site highlighting the benefits of trees
  • Video on why we need an Eco-Reformation by Barbara Rossing
  • Benefits of trees in an urban forest. The Racine Urban Forest Management report outlines the many extraordinary benefits of trees to the city. As the report says, “Trees provide significant economic, functional, and structural benefits that help to improve the quality of life within the city.” These are quite remarkable facts. For example:
  • Trees offer a canopy of protection over a large area of land. In Racine, tree canopy covers approximately 453 acres or 4 to 6 % of the city’s total land area. This amount of cover provides shading, cooling, and wind reduction that significantly reduce energy and natural gas use, resulting in sizable monetary savings.
  • Trees absorb and sequester carbon dioxide from the air. In Racine, the trees reduce CO2 by 7,527 tons per year, greatly improving air quality.
  • By intercepting particulate matter, trees clean the air and reduce pollution. These factors contribute enormously to the health and well-being of Racine residents.
  • Trees provide storm water mitigation. In addition to absorbing water and its contaminants, they prevent a great deal of rain from getting to the ground. In Racine, trees intercept and store 42.4 million gallons of storm water per year.
  • Trees increase property values and enhance the beauty of an area. Statistics show that they can serve to reduce crime and enhance neighborhood relationships.
  • The management report quantified each of these benefits in monetary terms based on a national standard of calculation from the American Planning Association and the Forestry Service. They employed the commonly-used “i-Tree Streets Application” to determine financial benefits of trees.
  • Financial Benefits. The total annual financial benefits to Racine—based on lowered energy use, less storm water runoff, cleaner air, and absorption of carbon dioxide—comes to $125.00 a year per tree, or a whopping $2,800,000. These benefits of trees to the city are calculated to be three and a half times the $800,000 spent on trees in the city budget—$3.57 in benefits for every $1.00 spent.” Source: Report on Racine’s urban forestry program by David Rhoads

Value of a tree

  • A tree is worth $193,250 according to Professor T. M. Das of the University of Calcutta. A tree living for 50 years will generate $31,250 worth of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, control soil erosion and increase soil fertility to the tune of $31,200 and recycle $37,500 worth of water, and provide a home for animals worth $31,250. This figure does not include the value of fruits, lumber, or beauty derived from trees. Just another sensible reason to take care of our forest”. – From update forestry Michigan State University


Approaches to Tree Planting – a few ideas

  • Join with others – Clusters/Communities/Central City
    • G. Cedarburg churches, Racine churches
  • Invite your Roman Catholic neighboring churches to join in planting with you
  • Involve people of all ages – e.g. youth groups, senior groups
  • Partner with ecumenical neighbors – e.g. Tosa Clergy
  • Publicize what you are doing – e.g. local papers, Northshore Now, Tosa Now
  • Fund trees in areas that are not local. You do not have to physically plant the trees to have them count.

Tree Planting Ideas


  • Local possibilities –
    • Fund trees for County Parks – Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sheboygan, Waukesha
    • Plant through local organizations
      • Growing Power – Receives donated trees but needs material to wrap trees. For our program $50 of wrapping material will count as one tree.
      • Luther Manor
    • Plant or fund fruit trees e.g.
      • Walnut Way Orchard website
      • All Peoples Orchard Contact: Jim Spotts
    • Plant trees at a partner congregation garden e.g. Reformation Angel Garden
    • Explore options through a regional alliances e.g.
    • rc7
    • Contact Southeastern Wisconsin DNR –
    • Fund or plant trees for church camps – e.g.
      • Lutherdale
      • Imago Dei
      • Pine Lake
    • Plan an Arbor Day event and obtain trees for $1 each
    • Plant at Carthage College
  • National possibilities
    • National Forests Foundation – minimum of $15 for 15 trees
    • Plant a tree(s) in a US Forrest – “A Living Tribute”
      • Plant a tree or an entire grove in a designated US National Forest in your honoree’s name.
      • $9.99 for one tree, minus 20% for multiple trees
      • g. Fund the planting of 500 trees in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in northern Wisconsin for $4,000.
    • rc8
    • Plant trees in National Parks to honor the Park’s Centennial
    • Holden Village
      • Plant trees to replace those burned in last year’s fire – Contact Holden Village
    • International possibilities
      • Wittenberg Luther Garden, Germany – Donate a tree from your congregation ($500) and plant a corresponding tree locally
      • Send money to help partner congregations plant trees – e.g. El Salvador, Tanzania


How to plant a Tree

Planting bare root trees
Nursery stock can be purchased in several ways, bare root, balled and burlapped, and in containers. Bare root stock is usually only available in early spring when the plants are still dormant. Some advantages of bare root plant material are there is less expense due to the lack of soil and container, and you can visually inspect the roots before planting.

Be sure to keep the root system moist until the time of planting. It is best to plant as soon as possible after receiving your stock. Most bare root stock is wrapped in packing material for transport. Remove these materials and inspect the roots which should be white or tan and fleshy, indicating a healthy root system. Prune out any damaged, discolored, or dry roots prior to planting.

Prepare the planting site by digging a hole large enough to allow you to spread out the roots and reduce overcrowding. Place the bare root plant into the hole at the same level where the plant was previously growing which you should be able to distinguish visually by the appearance of a slightly darker area on the trunk or base of the plant. When planting a bare root tree, plant so that the trunk flare or the graft is slightly (about 1-2”) above the soil surface. Sometimes the root system is quite distorted and can be difficult to maneuver into the hole. It may be helpful to form a mound of soil at the bottom of the planting hole which allows the roots to be spread out over the mound.

Fill the hole with the existing soil removed to create the actual planting hole. Don’t add amendments to the soil used to backfill, since this will deter the roots from growing beyond the amended soil into the existing soil. Try to keep the plant vertical during planting. Water thoroughly.



































· General care information:  Includes an entire section on providing informational handouts for tree owners pertaining to the benefits of trees, choosing the right tree, pruning, planting, etc.

· The Tree Owner’s Manual:

· The Wisconsin Arborist Association web site – general information:


Here are a few helpful websites:





· Best to work directly with nurseries in your area – you’ll get the best variety and avoid paying the middle man. 

· Keep Greater Milwaukee Green provides bare root seedlings in the spring.

– Kenosha County, Racine County, and the DNR have programs that provide seedlings (18” tall) in the spring.



See this spreadsheet for nurseries to contact in south eastern Wisconsin.

Tree Planting and Ecumenical Worship liturgy helps


Lutheran/Catholic Ecumenical Documents and Announcements

  • Joint Ecumenical Commemoration of the Reformation – Lund Sweden

October 31, 2016


Lund Cathedral where the joint commemoration will take place.

  • rc11The Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification Affirms the consensus in basic truths on the doctrine of justification.

How to get your cluster’s $500

  • Email your cluster’s plans to  List each congregation and the number and location of the trees they plan to plant.
  • Each cluster will need to demonstrate plans to plant at least 50 trees and raise $250 before a double match of $500 will be made available. The $500 is meant to be seed money. The hope is that more trees will be planted and more money raised so that bigger trees can be planted.  However, all trees, even $1 trees count.

Each cluster will determine how the $500 grant from the GMS is used. Some churches are more able to raise money than others. Consideration might be given to giving the money to those churches within a cluster least able to raise money.

Peace Lutheran Church
North Cape Lutheran Church
Campus Ministry – Carthage
Grace Lutheran Church
Holy Nativity Lutheran Church
Lord of Life Lutheran Church
Spirit Alive! Lutheran Church
St. John Lutheran Church
St. Mary’s Lutheran Church
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church
Christ Lutheran Church
Messiah Lutheran Church
Norway Lutheran Church

Lake Country: Rev. Bob Thays – Zion, Ashippon –

Zion Lutheran Church
Christ the King Lutheran Church
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Cross Lutheran Church
Dr. Martin Luther Lutheran Church
Our Savior Lutheran Church
St. John Lutheran Church
St. Matthew Lutheran Church
Galilee Lutheran Church
Lutheran Church of the Resurrection
St. Olaf Lutheran Church
All Saints Lutheran Church

Milwaukee 1: Rev. Alexis Twito – Lake Park, Milwaukee (interim) –

Lincoln Park Lutheran Church
Capitol Drive Lutheran Church
Good Shepherd Trinity Church
Hephatha Lutheran Church
Incarnation Lutheran Church
Kingo Lutheran Church
Lake Park Lutheran Church
Lutheran Campus Ministry UWM
Peace Lutheran Church
The Table
Wellington Park Lutheran Church
Bay Shore Lutheran Church

Milwaukee 2: Rev. Jon Jacobs – Ascension, Milwaukee –

All People’s Church
Ascension Lutheran Church
Cross Lutheran Church
Faith/Santa Fe Lutheran Church
Lutheran Campus Ministry Marquette
Lutheran Church of the Great Spirit
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Prince of Peace Lutheran Church
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Reformation Lutheran Church
Spirit of Peace Lutheran Church
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Unity Lutheran Church
Village Church

Milwaukee 3: Rev. Fred Thomas-Breitfeld – Jackson Park, Milwaukee –

St. Mark Lutheran Church
House of Prayer Lutheran Church
St. Luke Lutheran Church
St. Stephen the Martyr Lutheran Church
Adoration Lutheran Church
King of Glory Lutheran Church
Whitnall Park Lutheran Church
Jackson Park Lutheran Church
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Resurrection Lutheran Church
All Saints Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church
First Lutheran Church
Holy Trinity Lutheran Church
Luther Memorial Lutheran Church
Mount Hope Lutheran Church
St. John’s Lutheran Church

Milwaukee 4: Rev. Matt Kruse – St Matthew’s, Wauwatosa –

(Temporary for this project only)

Memorial Lutheran Church
Abiding Savior Lutheran Church
Fox Point Lutheran Church
Martin Luther Lutheran Church
Mount Carmel Lutheran Church
Mt. Zion Lutheran Church
Nativity Lutheran Church
Redemption Lutheran Church
St. Matthew Lutheran Church

Northern Lakeshore: Rev. John Norquist – Faith, Cedarburg –

Advent Lutheran Church
Faith Lutheran Church
Immanuel Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church
Grace Lutheran Church
St. John Lutheran Church
Christ Lutheran Church
St. John Lutheran Church
Christ Lutheran Church
Christ the King Lutheran Church
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Living Hope Lutheran Church
First United Lutheran Church
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. Luke Lutheran Church
Grace Lutheran Church

Northwest: Rev. Matt Short – St Luke, Slinger –

Living Christ Lutheran Church
Redeemer Lutheran Church
Gloria Dei Lutheran Church
Holy Cross Lutheran Church
St. Luke Lutheran Church
Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church
Our Savior Lutheran Church
Trinity Lutheran Church

Racine: Rev. John Bishoff – St Paul’s, Zion, Racine –

(Temporary – For this project only)

Atonement Lutheran Church
Bethania Lutheran Church
Emmanuel Lutheran Church
Emmaus Lutheran Church
Gethsemane Lutheran Church
Holy Communion Lutheran Church
Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
Lutheran Church of the Resurrection
Messiah Lutheran Church
Mt. Pleasant Lutheran Church
St. Andrew Lutheran Church
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Zion Lutheran Church
Christ the King Lutheran Church
Cross of Life Lutheran Church
Gethsemane Lutheran Church
Reformation Lutheran Church
St. John’s Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Vernon Lutheran Church
Atonement Lutheran Church
Bethel Lutheran Church
Christ the Victor Lutheran Church
Ascension Lutheran Church
Christ the Servant Lutheran Church
St. Luke’s Lutheran Church
St. Mark Lutheran Church

Three Siberian spruce trees and one burr oak tree were planted at Reformation Angel Community Gardens!

Thumbs up!

Thumbs Up for APC Orchard!

Click here to watch the movie “All Peoples tree planting May 2017”

Saturday was a perfect day to plant trees at All Peoples Orchard! The sun was shining and the spring air was fresh. Pastor Margaret Schoewe and Father Tim Kitzke led a service of unity, commemorating 500 years of the Reformation and 50 years of Catholic-Lutheran dialogues. After the service, members from Kingo, All Peoples Church, and St. Martin de Porres Catholic Church walked to the orchard (on Locust St. between 1st & 2nd St.). Five honey crisp apple trees were planted and staked in less than 2 hours. Thanks be to God for bringing us together to care for the environment, the community and one another.

This partnership story is just beginning. Watering teams are being formed to ensure the trees receive needed nourishment over the next few months. It is expected that each watering team will provide one week of care per month. The orchard has a water collection system on site for use by the watering teams.

Contact Jackie Davit (, 414-964-2265) to add your name to a team.

“… and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” Rev 22:2b

Tree Planting!

Planting a tree by Grammy and Papa’s house!

Hephatha Tree Planting

The crew at Hephatha who will be watering and caring for the trees.


500 Trees for 500 Years Expo!

Plum tree planting at All Peoples!

Arborists, Jim Spotts and Andy DiMezza, from All Peoples, giving tree planting instructions.