Bordentown church opens new butterfly garden

Photo by Thomas Wiedmann

Bordentown residents were granted the opportunity to remember their loved ones at Christ Episcopal Church with an event that was the first of its kind in the area.

The parish on Prince Street held a ceremony on the morning of June 15 to open its new butterfly garden with the release of approximately 200 butterflies behind the parish building.

The garden was donated by Bordentown Home for Funerals owner Robert Pecht and his wife Stephanie, who sparked the initiative for the new space after meeting with the parish rector, Matthew Tucker.

Pecht said that he and Tucker have worked alongside for many years as well as playing host to an annual memorial service during the winter holiday season. He explained that the service is aimed to help those who are mourning or grieving during the holiday season and who may be dealing with personal struggles or the loss of a loved one.

Given the service’s affinity each year, Pecht wanted to do more to reach out in the community.

“Each year, we do a ‘Blue Christmas Service,’ which [is] a hope and healing service to help people get through winter and [the] holidays, and it became very successful,” Pecht said. “I said to myself, ‘We only do this once a year. Why aren’t we doing something else?’”

Pecht then decided to hold an event in the Spring.

“Spring is about renewal, rebirth – getting through those dark days and more importantly, looking forward to your future,” he said.

In search of a symbol to represent Pecht’s idea of “rebirth and renewal,” he decided on butterflies to coincide with the Spring season.

“A butterfly is a representation of Spring, especially Monarch Butterflies,” he said. “They have these beautiful colors, and they’re quiet. They are so majestic.

“We are not only going to use butterflies as a symbol of grief, but as a symbol of life,” Pecht said.

After speaking with Tucker about putting a butterfly garden behind the church adjacent to the cemetery on the property, Pecht said that the garden would serve as a place of solidarity for patrons who wished to visit the site.

“Even though it’s a cemetery, it’s still a place to go to and maybe sometimes find inner peace,” he said. “My hope was that if people come here, let’s give them something to look at, and that’s where the idea for the garden came from. I wanted it to take root and give life for the whole year.”

Pecht said he began doing research on butterflies, and decided to fill the garden with butterfly-friendly plants to attract them to the garden as well as nurture them to reproduce and nest at the site. He said it’s his hope that the site will become a staple habitat for the butterflies as well as attract other butterfly species to the garden.

Once the garden was put in place behind the church, Pecht and Tucker hosted a butterfly release event where patrons and parishioners gathered for a communal prayer service to honor their loved ones and ring in the new site.

Following a prayer reading by Tucker and an explanation of the butterfly’s symbolism to a rejuvenation of life from Pecht, the butterflies were released by the attendees as they watched them take to the garden in their new habitat.

Pecht said that given the positive response from the event’s attendees, he anticipates to make this an annual service to the community.

“This is our first event, so it’s something we plan to do on an annual basis,” he said. “Each year, we are hoping to do a little bit more with the program such as adding music and give people the opportunity to speak. Today was sort of the grass roots of the program.”

Pecht also noted that he hopes the garden will not only serve as place for patrons to remember their loved ones, but will serve as an educational tool as well.

“My hope in the future is that we will be able to work with MacFarland Intermediate School and the Clara Barton Elementary School here in the city and have students come here for a tour in the Spring to show them the different butterflies,” he said.

Although Pecht said he felt the garden can be used for various reasons, his ultimate goal of the site is to provide a source of solemnity for patrons.

“At the end of the day, my hope is that we are able to at least help,” he said. “The best part of this is that I am able to give something to somebody who I might not even know, who is going through their own troubles, anxieties and fears, and give them this place – even if it’s just for a brief moment in their time – a little bit of inner peace.”

People interested in visiting the butterfly garden can visit it at Christ Episcopal Church, located at 130 Prince Street in Bordentown City.

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