Grow Food, Feed People, Build Community

Melissa Thwing

Melissa Thwing

Social Media & Marketing Manager

It all started in 2008 with a plot of land and a prayer.

Looking back on the story now, it seems like God was sowing His master plan all along.

Marilyn Dean was new to Kensington Church—didn’t know a soul. After meeting Campus Director Nancy Wurm at a Discovering Kensington class, she accepted her invitation to meet up. Over a cup of coffee, the two talked about their hobbies, interests, dreams, which included Marilyn’s passion for gardening.

This is where God comes in and does that dot-connecting, unifying master plan thing that we read about in scripture. I can sense him smiling, shaking his head, when Marilyn found her way to Nancy…then eventually to Nicolette.

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

After learning about the Oakland Hills Community Garden—a peaceful, vast plot of land where toiling, planting and harvesting was plentiful—she treaded her feet through the dirt to see if for herself. Marilyn was greeted by the woman behind the oasis, Nicolette Jenaras. She’s warm, welcoming, and has that personality that immediately makes you feel like you’ve known her forever.

The roots of the garden

The land that is now the Oakland Hills Community Garden was once home to Nicolette’s family. Her father trained show horses and was a successful equestrian.

Nicolette pointed back toward the house that stands in the distance, “that’s the home I grew up in.”

After her parents passed away, the land was rented and used as a dumping grounds for horse manure. Unsure of the purpose and future of the property, but sure God had bigger plans than its current use, Nicolette prayed about how it could be used to glorify God. With a little nudge of encouragement from her friend Nancy, Nicolette knew it was time to plant a garden.

(Are you connecting the dots, here?)

The seed that was planted more than 12 years ago has grown into a community garden that feeds many people in need surrounding Lake Orion.

First named Elizabeth’s Garden in remembrance of Nicolette’s mother, the garden’s mission is to grow food, feed people and build community.

“This is in her memory,” Nicolette said. “She just would have loved this. She would have been out here passing out lemonade.”

Grow Food, Feed People, Build Community

Last year, over 4 tons of food grown by faithful volunteers were donated and delivered to homeless shelters and food banks like the Grace Centers of Hope, Sprout, the Baldwin Center in Pontiac, Lighthouse, and many others.

The garden is also used to teach children about how to grow food. Marilyn shared a story of a group of teens who—somewhat unenthusiastically—came out to volunteer. Not fond about the bugs and getting their hands dirty, they left with green beans and a giddy excitement.

The learning doesn’t stop there. Oakland University maintains a strawberry growing patch at the garden.

“It’s open to everyone,” Nicolette said. “Whether they want to stop by and garden and then grab some fresh food or they want to come on a regular basis, this garden is a place of refuge and invitation.”

They’ve even added honeybees to the mix, all with the helping hands of volunteers.

In addition to a peaceful oasis away from the business of life, the garden has also become a place of community for many people who volunteer on a regular basis. The friendship between Marilyn and Nicolette wasn’t the only one that sprouted from the garden. One couple who met at the garden tied the knot right on the grounds where it all started.

“After the ceremony, we all worked in the garden,” Marilynn said. “It was so much fun.”

Some organizations are even making the garden a community building and serving opportunity for their team. In the summer, teams from Fiat Chrysler Automotive leave their desk jobs and get their hands dirty on a bi-weekly basis.

Whether or not the people who enter the garden have faith in God, Marilynn said that Oakland Hills Community Garden is a place where many people leave changed.

A stone in the ground at the entrance of the garden reads, “One is nearer God’s heart in a garden than anywhere else on earth.”

“When I’m out here, I can just feel the presence of God,” Nicolette added.

Get Involved

To get involved with the Oakland Hills Community Garden, visit Kensington’s online Move Out Network. The garden is open to all ages and no green thumb is necessary!

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Birmingham Campus

We are offering a time for our congregation to gather after the 10am service for prayer in the Groves Auditorium, 20500 W 13 Mile Rd, Beverly Hills, MI 48025.

On Sunday evening, Dec 5, parents of high school and middle school students are invited to the second half of our Edge gathering at Genesis Church, 309 N Main St, Royal Oak, MI 48067, at 6:15pm. We will have a breakout to equip parents in caring for themselves and processing pain with their children in times of tragedy.

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Counselors Are Needed After Tragedy

“The aftermath of the Oxford shooting tragedy will undoubtedly result in traumatic symptoms and experiences across our communities for quite some time. Healing the brain through evidence-based therapies is absolutely possible with clinical guidance. There is a valuable village of Trauma Therapists with collective resources standing by for Oxford, for both direct and secondary survivors to engage in therapy. Until then, we honorably hold a sacred space, as students, families, staff and school partners continue to mourn.” -Laura Azoni, LMSW, Founder of Sanctuary Services

Orion Campus

We believe that unity at this time is more important than ever. Several churches in the area are partnering together to offer space for students to begin the process of healing.

We will have several grief and trauma specialists on site this Sunday evening at our Orion Campus (4640 S Lapeer Rd Lake Orion, MI 48359) from 5-6:30pm and will have a night of prayer, worship and an opportunity for students to process with each other.

Tate Myre Funeral:
Monday, 12.6 Visitation 1 to 8pm
Tuesday, 12.7 Visitation 10-12pm and funeral at Noon

Clinton Township Campus

We will be offering a time for our congregation to gather after each service for a time of corporate prayer in the Greatroom. Prayer will be offered at 10:15 am and 12:15 pm. (25000 Hall Rd, Charter Twp of Clinton, MI 48036)

This Sunday at 3:30 pm as a community we want to gather, pray and mourn together. We are all looking for answers and wondering why tragedy happens but we can find hope and peace in Jesus. 

Troy Campus

Join us Sunday night, December 5th for a Community Prayer Vigil at Kensington Church at 6:00 pm. Invite friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers to come together for a time of hope and prayer. 

Following the Vigil, at 7:00 pm, there will be breakouts for students and for parents to process and be equipped in caring for themselves and those around in times of tragedy.

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What grows marriages? Focusing on the two of you and being in community!
The Marriage Course includes seven sessions, designed to help couples invest in their relationship and build a strong marriage. Some couples do the course to intentionally invest in their relationship, others are looking to address more specific challenges. Either way, the course offers essential tools and practical ideas to help you build a relationship that lasts a lifetime. The Marriage Course is based on Christian principles but designed for all couples with or without a church background.

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Financial Peace University (FPU) is a catalyst to help people live in financial freedom and enable them to have a posture of openhandedness. We have witnessed numerous Kensington families experience life change as a result of applying Biblical truths to their personal finances. The real blessing is seeing people create lives of margin that allow them to hear and respond to the Lord’s calling on their lives.

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Clinton Township




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Together Again

updated June 23, 2021

It’s been life-giving to be in-person for our weekend services since last July when we reopened. If you haven’t yet, we invite you to join us in person sometime soon.

Reservations and ticketing have been discontinued at all our campuses.

Masks are optional at all services, events, and ministry gatherings for kids, students, and adults. We know that everyone needs to make the right health decisions for themselves and their family, so if you feel comfortable removing your mask, you may. And if you’d like to continue wearing a mask or face covering, you may do that as well. This is a personal choice that only you can decide what is best for yourself when attending in person at Kensington.

If you are sick, are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or have possibly been exposed to COVID-19, please plan to stay home and participate in our services via our many online streaming options.

At the start of the pandemic, Kensington’s Executive Team commissioned a group of staff members as a COVID Task Force to establish protocols and procedures for the safety of our church community. Thanks for sticking with us throughout all the changes and adjustments over the past 15 months.

We’re grateful to be together again!