If you ever stroll past Redeemer Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee, you can’t help but feel an atmosphere swarming with activity. But it’s not the congregation inside that’s drawing attention. It’s what’s congregating above, on the roof, that’s making a buzz.
“I’ve always tried to connect my practices with places where communities come together and faith communities are kind of examples of the bees,” said Charlie Koenen.
Charlie Koenen is the founder of the Beevangelists, a non-profit organization that helps spread awareness of the importance of bees and other pollinators around the state of Wisconsin. For the last several years he’s installed and maintained a beehive on the roof of the Redeemer Lutheran Church, as well as several other locations around Milwaukee.
“We say that we spread the gospel of abundance according to the bees through our practice and our education,” said Koenen.
The Beevangelists have helped raise awareness for the plight of pollinators across Wisconsin. Holding seminars, maintaining hives, and even marching in parades. For Redeemer Lutheran Pastor Lisa Bate Freeland, the organization’s mission felt like an ideal con-nectar between the church and the surrounding community. With a name that’s just as bee-fitting.
“I also on his own behalf was like, are you sure you want to go with Beevangelists?” said Pastor Freeland. “And he said, yeah, because we need to spread the good news of the abundance that bees offer us.”
Koenen has devoted the past 20-years of his life to helping spread bee awareness. He holds seminars and comes to schools and other community events with a mission of spreading the gospel of bees.
“Oh, it’s always a blast. You know, it’s always a lot of work, but it’s always a blast,” said Koenen. “I’m a bee and just like a bee I work really hard.”
For Pastor Freeland, Charlie’s presence has been a bright spot for the church.
He is a joy. He is abundance,” said Pastor Freeland. “He is a little out of the box, but that fits really well here. And anytime he comes, there’s joy.”
That joy is felt through Charlie as well.
“I’m just driven by the passion of the bees and what I see inside of the hive to do what I can,” said Koenen. “And like the bees, when I do this things fall into place, you know, if you’re passionate about what you have and what you believe in, things align.”