Local Reverend Leads By Faith and Example
During summer visits to the California Sierras as a rock climbing and mountaineering instructor, east coast native Jeanie Shaw says she simply fell in love.
When a church opened up in Sacramento, she interviewed, admittedly, because it was close to the mountain ranges she grew to adore. That was in 1983. Since then, Rev. Shaw has served a number of churches in the region as an ordained Presbyterian minister, and now leads the Eventide Community, which meets every Sunday evening at 5 p.m. at the Arden Christian Center.
“There’s not a pew in sight. There’s no organ. There’s no sort of upfront. We all participate,” says Rev. Shaw of Eventide’s approach to faith. “It’s open to everybody, particularly people that are searching for an authentic way they can make a difference in their lives and in the world.”
In the world and in the nation, Rev. Shaw dedicates much of her time to help those periled by natural disasters. If a neighborhood is destroyed by hurricanes, tornadoes, or floods, Rev. Shaw and a team of volunteers will show up to provide help by means of a hammer, fresh coat of paint, or by leading prayer.
From the Rockaways of New York battered by Hurricane Sandy, to Joplin, Missouri’s devastation with tornadoes, Rev. Shaw logs hundreds of miles throughout the United States with plans to visit South Carolina in May.
Still, Rev. Shaw does not forget the state she grew to love. In 1989 she came up with the grand idea to plant 1 million trees by the year 2000 as a gift to the future of Sacramento. In 2001, in partnership with the Sacramento Tree Foundation and SMUD, the 1 millionth tree was planted by Rev. Shaw in Cesar Chavez Park.
“Our goal now is 5 million trees,” says Rev. Shaw. “It’s an amazing goal, but one that I think defines us as Sacramentans because we are a community of trees.”
Eventide is also working with the Parkview Presbyterian Church on the corner of 9th and T Streets to build a multicultural house where young people can live and serve in multicultural projects, scheduled to open this summer.
In February, Rev. Shaw visited Nicaragua for a week to help with water issues and painting classrooms. She also plans to return next year to work in partnership with the Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua to help build community latrines. It’s not pretty work, she says, but its work that feeds the soul.
“I could go on with stories, and stories, and stories. We don’t know when we go, the stories we’ll hear. But every single time, it is a story where each of us has made a profound difference. Not just building a house, but sharing our hearts. That’s what we take away the most,” says Rev. Shaw.