- Reflection: Living in a "World House"
- Advocacy "Cheat Sheet" is Updated for 2016!
- Tree Planting Opportunities
- Feb. 9th - Rally in Support of Statewide Ban on Plastic Bags
- Howard County Stormwater Legislation
- Catholics - this is for you! Speaking Out for Our Common Home
- Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities
Living in a "World House"
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter" - Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929-68)
As we look forward to celebrating the 87th birthday of Martin Luther King, I invite you to take a look back...to a writing of his called "The World House," often viewed as the best summation of his teaching, published in a book of his sermons and essays entitled Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? Even the title seems so relevant to our times that it could have been written just yesterday, but it is based upon his Nobel Peace Prize lecture delivered in 1964. In "The World House," Dr. King posits a story in which a widely separated family inherits a house in which they have to live together. This is the great new problem of mankind. We have inherited a large house, a great "world house" in which we have to live together—black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu - a family unduly separated in ideas, culture and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace. He called upon all people of good faith to create the "Beloved Community" based upon the principles of nonviolence to promote justice and equality for all.
As an interfaith organization, we too are learning how to share this "world house in which we have to live together" in harmony with each other as well as with the Earth. We are people of many faiths contributing to creating the Beloved Community within this World House that we all share in common. Oikos, the Greek word for house, family, or nation is the root word of ecology and ecumenical or oikomene, which literally means "the whole inhabited world." Dr. King points to the evil of materialism as one of the ways in which we live out-of-balance with the Earth and with our fellow sisters and brothers with whom we share this "world house." His prophetic words still ring true: Our problem today is that we have allowed the internal to become lost in the external. We have allowed the means by which we live to outdistance the ends for which we live. As a result of our "overreach," we are indeed faced with the "fierce urgency of now" with climate change and other environmental threats to the health and well-being of our shared "house."
Some have said that his contributions to the "Beloved Community" laid the groundwork for what later became an environmental justice movement. Dr. King strove to raise awareness about urban environmental issues and public health concerns that disproportionately affect communities of color. If we are to view Dr. Martin Luther Kings' ministry through the lens of environmental justice we would see that his last days were spent supporting safe and healthy working conditions for the sanitation workers in Memphis, TN. Then, as now, churches have played a key role in "rallying the people" in communities of color severely impacted by the siting of toxic waste facilities. Going all the way back to the seminal report issued by the United Church of Christ in 1987 "Toxic Waste and Race," churches have acted as agents of change, recruiting participants for "community based participatory research" like they did during the "bucket brigades" collecting water samples in the polluted waters of the bayou communities of Louisiana. These struggles continue as we see in the "Free Your Voice"movement in the community of Curtis Bay of Baltimore, which is fighting the building of an incinerator in what is largely a low-income neighborhood. And we continue in the legacy of King today as we work with communities of color in Baltimore like Amazing Grace Lutheran Church and Prince of Peace Baptist Church to stand with them to support ways to make their neighborhoods safer and healthier.
As we engage in acts of environmental justice like these, then we shall truly manifest a "Beloved Community."
Advocacy Cheat Sheet
We have a moral obligation as faithful citizens to be informed and to engage in the political process in a way that promotes what we consider to be the right values and best policies. In order to help you live out this call to be active in the political process, IPC puts together a Cheat Sheet for any Maryland State and County bills that we have identified as top priorities for the year. The Cheat Sheet distills what we know about the proposed legislation to make it easier for you and your congregants to understand them and take action. Our priorities for 2016 are:
Statewide Ban on Plastic Bags
Pesticide Restriction and Labeling
Environmental Justice Legislation
Climate Justice Legislation
A variety of local/county issues
Click here to access our Cheat Sheet, and refer back to it often throughout the session. To receive more frequent updates on these issues, or be alerted when it is critical to take action such as calling your representative or attending a rally, please sign up here to be an Advocacy Leader.
Trees for Sacred Places - Free Trees for Faith Communities
We have opportunities right NOW for congregations in Montgomery County and Maryland-wide to obtain free trees for their grounds. Trees are "Creation's Cure-all" since they filter pollutants from the water, reduce stormwater runoff (#1 source of water pollution from urban and suburban locations), prevent soil erosion, and mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.
The Trees for Sacred Places program offers all of these for FREE:
- Spiritual workshops to explore faith teachings on stewardship along with the spiritual meanings of trees and water in our faith traditions
- Educational workshops on the importance of tree planting in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
- Planting Plan tailored to your site
- Hands-on training for tree planting and maintenance
- Crew leaders to train the congregation's volunteers on the planting day
- And, of course, FREE Native trees!
Interested in learning more? Contact Bonnie Sorak,
firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-609-6852. View and download Flyer here.
Bag Ban Rally - February 9 (opportunity to kick off Lent!)
There is something wrong with extracting fossil fuels that have been in the ground for billions of years in order to produce a plastic bag that is used once and thrown away. And, now, you can really do something about this! Legislation will be proposed in 2016 to ban plastic bag usage and you can add momentum to this movement. Details on the bag ban and IPC's stance on the legislation can be found here. Together we can put a stop to the prolific use of plastic bags, many of which end up in our streams and rivers, defiling the natural beauty of the Earth.
Join us for the rally on Mardis Gras Tuesday, February 9th, in Annapolis at Lawyer's Mall at 9 am to show your support of the bag ban. More details and RSVP here!
Howard County Stormwater Repeal
Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman is proposing County Bill 52-2015 that would repeal collection of stormwater pollution fees in the County. Currently the fees are used to implement projects that reduce stormwater in the County. Without the fees, the County risks not having enough money to adequately meet permit requirements imposed by the state and EPA.
IPC supports the collection of stormwater fees since we all generate this pollution and must do our part to alleviate it for future generations. You can read the justification for our stance here. We encourage you to make your voice heard by testifying at the hearing, or submitting electronic testimony. To help you get started, we have drafted a letter you can use as your starting point. You can sign up to testify here: https://apps.howardcountymd.gov/otestimony/. Testimony can also be submitted electronically to email@example.com. The public hearing is being held on January 19, 2016 at 7pm in the Banneker Room of the George Howard Building, 3430 Court House Drive in Ellicott City, MD.
Catholics - Speaking Out for Our Common Home - Last summer, after Pope Francis’ landmark encyclical on ecology, over 40 local Catholic green leaders gathered by phone to learn about the document, and to reflect on how they might live out this teaching in their parishes and communities. Now, as the Maryland legislative session gets underway, you have an opportunity to respond concretely to Pope Francis’ call here in Maryland.
Join us on Tuesday, January 19th at 7:30 pm, as Catholic green leaders "huddle" on a conference call to learn about opportunities to speak out on for safeguarding the Chesapeake Bay and on local issues of climate justice.
RSVP for call-in information and an agenda: http://goo.gl/forms/edSVDFbvWp
* Moderated by Shantha Ready Alonso, Creation Justice Ministries
* State Sen. Victor Ramirez, St. Ambrose Cheverly (invited)
* Jodi Rose, St. Elizabeth’s Rockville & Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
* Joelle Novey, Interfaith Power & Light
* Reflections from Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, St. Camillus & Franciscan Action Network, and Sarah Spengeman, Network: A Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities
January 17 - Earth Forum of Howard County, 2-4 PM, First Presbyterian Church of Howard County - Cutting Carbon emissions, Dr. Danny Richter, Legislative and Science Director, Citizens' Climate Lobby
January 19 - Catholic Conference Call Legislative Overview, 7:30 pm, RVSP Here http://goo.gl/forms/edSVDFbvWp
January 14 & 21 - IPC teaching Congregational Steward Training at Watershed Steward Academy. Class is full. If you wish to be added to a waiting list, please register here.
January 27 - 7:30 Jewish Green Council of Greater Washington conference call. Green leaders from Jewish communities across Greater Washington will gather by phone on to share our efforts to take environmental action. Dial-in instructions: Call (605) 477-2100, then input code 306196#
February 9 - Rally to Ban the Bag! 9 am at Lawyer's Mall in Annapolis. Details and RSVP here.
February 21 - Interfaith Scriptural Reasoning on Creation Care, 6:30pm (Refreshments served), Calvary UMC Church, Annapolis. Click here for more details