We heard you. You need strong green teams at your congregations. We’re here to help!
RSVP below for this training where you will learn how to:
- Establish and grow a green team at your congregation
- Develop exciting environmental education programs to engage your congregation
- Develop an action plan for your Green Team
- Enhance your communication skills to help spread the word
All attendees must come with at least 2 other people from their congregation, because there is no such thing as "a team of 1." If you need help building your green team, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for some support and guidance.
Download our flyer HERE. Questions? Call us at 410-609-6852WHENFebruary 17, 2020 at 10amWHEREThe Episcopal Church of Christ the King
1930 Brookdale Rd
Windsor Mill, MD 21244
Google map and directions
Rabbi David Shneyer's energy and enthusiasm for nature and all of life are apparent as soon as he begins to share his story. He has been Kehila Chadasha's spiritual leader and Judaist since its founding in 1978. He is also the the founder, director and spiritual leader of Am Kolel Jewish Renewal Community of Greater Washington. He traces the roots of his environmentalism back to his childhood in New Jersey where he grew up on a farm and very early on began to realize the interconnectedness of Judaism and agriculture.
Many of the Jewish holidays are closely linked with farming and harvests. In the beginning, Passover was a spring festival connected to the offering of the first harvest of barley (the first grain to ripen in Israel). Shavuot and Sukkot follow Passover, again both holidays that began as agricultural and seasonal feasts. For Rabbi Shneyer both these links and the teaching in the Bible's second chapter of Genesis for humans to till, tend, and guard the Earth, particularly resonate with him.
His journey in environmental stewardship and advocacy began in the early 1970s when he put together a booklet that laid out the connection between faith and environmental stewardship. This was a first of its kind and its appeal for many was how poetry and contemporary writing were both weaved into the teachings. The booklet was a Tu Bishvat Haggadah for the Jewish New Year of the Trees. Rabbi Shneyer also created a companion service where this booklet was used. Next, he began a search for a space that could be used as a retreat center, first establishing one in Orleans, Virginia and, after 30 years settling on a space in Western Montgomery County, Maryland, the Am Kolel Sanctuary Retreat Center. The Center is open to people of all faith traditions, and is a place of natural beauty and serenity, where anyone can visit for rest, relaxation and renewal. Interestingly, it also boasts what many say is the oldest Norway maple tree in Montgomery County!
Rabbi Shneyer also continues to be on the forefront of advocacy efforts, working tirelessly with others throughout the greater Washington area and beyond, in support of actions to address climate change. It is not uncommon for him to be arrested at some of the protests on and around the Capitol. Most recently, you may have seen him at Fire Drill Friday’s events, speaking out for environmental justice among other issues.
IPC worked with Rabbi Shneyer, as part of our 2016 Trees for Sacred Place program to plant 80 trees at the Am Kolel Sanctuary Retreat Center during Sukkot that year. He was also one of the key organizers of the Symposium on Climate, Faith and Advocacy in 2017, where IPC and people from all faiths were able to raise their voices in support of Creation care.
In addition to his time and talent, Rabbi Shneyer also shares his treasure. When asked why his congregation supports IPC with a donation every year, his answer is simple, "Because IPC is doing incredible work to raise awareness to protect the environment, our waterways, and our land from abuse. It's natural to be aligned with your work," he says.
If you would like to give a gift to IPC please visit our website to Donate.
Unite with environmental activists from all over Maryland to make our voices heard! Let's remind our elected officials that we are watching them. The Summit will take place Wednesday Jan. 29th, 4-6 pm, Miller Senate Building, Main Conference Room, 11 Bladen Street, Annapolis, MD 21401.WHENJanuary 29, 2020 at 4pmWHEREMiller Senate Building
11 Bladen St
Main Conference Room
Annapolis, MD 21401
Google map and directions
Andrea Proctor published WSA Growing Congregation Outreach in Anne Arundel in Media 2020-01-07 10:54:07 -0500
The Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy joins IPC's One Water Partnership to help faith communities become environmental stewards in Anne Arundel County. Click HERE to read the Capital Gazette article
Reverend Dr. Melynda Clarke, Pastor of Mt. Sinai African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, Waldorf, MD, will tell you that if she were forced to choose between a day without water and a day without electricity, she’d choose the latter with no hesitation. Water, she has realized, has always been important to her, perhaps going back to her childhood on the Eastern Shore where she was exposed to Native American culture and the idea of respect for the environment.
While she was growing up, Reverend Clarke became increasingly aware of news stories addressing water pollution and water shortages both here and worldwide. Perhaps the most widespread of such stories recently was the lead pollution of the water in and around Flint, Michigan. At roughly the same time, she had the personal experience of having to use bottled water distributed by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission when the water supply to her home became polluted.
But her awareness of and conviction to address the issues of water pollution and shortages were crystalized on more recent travels to Africa where lack of clean water is almost endemic. As Reverend Clarke says in reflection, “Until the problem of water shortage is solved, it is impossible to address any other problems.”
Water was very much on Reverend Clarke’s mind on her return Stateside, when she received an invitation to attend the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s (IPC) "God's Water Heroes" VBS program. Not only did she attend, but also adapted the curriculum for her own church. In summer of 2017 Mt. Sinai conducted a VBS training focused on clean water and other environmental issues.
A key goal of the VBS program was to educate the participants on the nature of environmental problems and to motivate them to take action to resolve those problems. However, given the small size of Mt. Sinai’s congregation, especially compared to the magnitude of the issues even in their own community, the class members were encouraged to act first in the parts of their environments they could directly control. In Reverend Clarke’s words, “We can't point fingers at others if we have not taken care of our own house."
Individual VBS participants were tasked with reporting on how they were establishing action items based on what they had learned. Collectively, Mt. Sinai incorporated a filtered water cooler system over the bottled water they had routinely used in worship in the past. Also, although the church's location does not have a recycling pickup program, they now collect plastic bottles and take them to nearby neighborhoods to be picked up for recycling.
After VBS was over, Reverend Clarke, wanting to build on its successes, submitted an application to the Chesapeake Bay Trust for a mini-grant to educate youth and conduct community outreach. She set up a partnership between Thomas Stone High School and IPC to conduct training, again based on God’s Water Heroes but supplemented by material to connect with high school students. She also reached out to Bonnetta Adeeb, leader of “STEAM Onward,” to participate. STEAM Onward is a nonprofit program dedicated to fostering student achievement in the arts as well as in the STEM curriculum. Reverend Clarke correctly surmised that a natural synergy existed between STEAM Onward and the proposed water conservation effort.
The workshop at Thomas Stone last year was a rousing success and stimulated discussions beyond the curriculum on such topics as the impact of gentrification on the Anacostia River. Also, the energy and enthusiasm of the participants would be harnessed for two water conservation projects in the area. At the conclusion of the workshop, the students participated in storm water stenciling within a new community in the area. They are also planning the construction of a rain garden – an excavation filled with a bioretention mixture of sand, soil and compost -- on the Thomas Stone High School grounds. The mixture, along with the garden’s plants, captures water runoff from imperious surfaces like roofs and pavement and retains it as groundwater rather than allowing it to carry pollutants directly into neighboring water bodies. The target date for completing the garden is this May.
Looking ahead, Reverend Clarke plans for Mount Sinai to continue its partnership with IPC and they have already discussed applying for future grants. She has begun speaking with other churches in the area and wants to coordinate training for the Southern Maryland Ministerial Alliance. Mt. Sinai does not own a church building, but Reverend Clarke is already committed to having any future structure model a green environment, inside and out. Further down the road, she envisions working in remote rural areas of Southern Maryland, where flooding is a major issue for lower income residents. She also would like to provide balance when it comes to protecting wetlands but still exploring opportunities for economic development in Southwestern Maryland.
Yes, water is important to Reverend Melynda Clarke. She has embraced God's mandate to be Godly and responsible stewards of his Creation, and continues to promote a Gospel that captures social and environmental justice that benefits everyone.
Thank you for our volunteer Keith Maynard who produced this story. Keith is retired from the Navy where he prepared newsletters and other communications. He resides in Annapolis. If you have talents to offer to help raise awareness about being good stewards of God's Creation, please contact us to volunteer!
You are a part of many things bigger than yourself: a community of faith, a watershed, a movement to care for our Earth. Together, with hundreds of congregations across the watershed, you are transforming the legacy we will all leave behind. Will you join in our year-end fundraising campaign to help us grow?
In the 1980’s, the Chesapeake Bay was on the brink of environmental disaster. It has been a long and challenging struggle, but we see clear signs of recovery and resiliency. Fully realizing the goals of this unprecedented restoration effort will be one of the greatest environmental success stories in history. Will you help to do your part?
Make your donation to IPC today to support this work. Join us through your gift, or build a green team at your congregation, or get involved in your nearby hub and tap into our vast resources and partner organizations to help you be good stewards of the Earth. People of faith are united in their sense of responsibility to be good caretakers of the Earth.
Start with your own circle of influence. The science, politics, and solutions to so many global and regional issues can be complicated and leave people feeling overwhelmed or powerless. We remind folks to start with what they can impact in their own congregation and community. You can also have great impact by making a financial gift today – or an ongoing monthly recurring gift to support us well into the future.
Please join the movement by supporting the work of the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. Your contribution will sustain, reinforce, and make tangible our shared hope for a future in which all people have clean water, unpolluted air, and a thriving ecosystem.
Chair, Board of Trustees
The IPC Board meets quarterly and has been meeting in the same place for several years. In 2020, the board wants to get out into the community and learn more about your work, your sacred places, and your challenges. The idea is that immediately before or after the meetings, the board would like to meet you, your green team and/or your spiritual leader, tour your grounds or any projects you may have installed, or hear about the challenges you’re facing.
We are looking for spaces that can meet the following needs:
- Comfortable board meeting space for 12-15 people. They sit for 3 hours in the meeting, so it’s helpful if the seating is comfortable and everyone can see each other’s faces.
- Access to the space at 2:30 pm and ending at 6:30 pm. The dates for the meetings are already set: Jan 22 (space already confirmed), March 4, June 10, September 16, and November 18.
- Reliable, strong WiFi
- Audio/Visual capabilities with HDMI preferred. If a TV/projection system is not available, we can bring a projector, but will need a screen to project on to.
If your space meets these basic needs, no matter where you are located, please contact us. Our board is eager to build up stronger relationships with all of you who are working to restore the Chesapeake!
Email Andi Proctor email@example.com to learn more.
Celebrate the shortest day of the year with a Winter Solstice tour in Wicomico County of pristine upland forests and marshland followed by fun holiday crafts.
Click HERE for more info!
Andrea Proctor published Toxic Tour Highlights Environmental Injustices in News 2019-11-26 15:06:10 -0500
Chesapeake Bay Magazine's Cheryl Costello accompanied IPC on a "Toxic Tour" we hosted for a group of Baltimore faith leaders who are tackling neighborhood blight that makes for poor living conditions and pollutes the watershed.
Click HERE to read more
Thank you to Chesapeake Bay Magazine and Cheryl Costello for putting together this wonderful piece and shedding light on the environmental injustices in Baltimore.
Jews around the world have just concluded the “Days of Awe” (Yamim Noraim), the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This period is marked by serious reflection focused both inward on how we can each improve ourselves, and outward on how we can improve the world. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai said “Be not grieved my son. There is another way of gaining atonement, even though the Temple is destroyed. We must now gain atonement for our sins through the deeds of loving-kindness.”
As IPC’s Outreach Coordinator I am constantly awed by the many acts of “loving kindness” I am blessed to witness. At a recent pollinator garden dedication at Homewood Friends Meeting in Baltimore, a volunteer asked me, “What keeps you going?” The answer was easy. I said, “My work allows me to be part of Green Team vision and action planning sessions where dreams about projects like this garden are first born. Then, after the time and effort of dedicated groups of volunteers like yours, I am honored to be invited to events like this to see the dream turned into reality.”
At a round table discussion of clergy last month, ten faith leaders from the Gwynns Falls sub-watershed gathered to discuss the effects that recent flooding has had on their congregations and communities. The problems are grave. They learned about the causes of such disasters and ways that they can work individually and together to bring about change. There is much to be done and I cannot wait to see what they will accomplish over the next two years and beyond.
On Sunday, October 27th we will gather for the One Water Partnership Forum where we will highlight the work of 40 congregations in the Jones Falls that have taken such actions. Some of the results of their efforts include:
- Over 10,000 square feet of new rain or pollinator gardens
- 122,271 square feet of impervious surface treatment
- Prevent almost one ton of sediment pollution from reaching local waterways every year
- Almost 300 trees planted
- Combined $522,474 in grant funding secured
- Almost 5,000 people educated about the problem of polluted stormwater runoff and actions they can take to be part of the solutions
Now THAT is awe-inspiring! Please register HERE to join us as we welcome new congregations into this movement and celebrate the accomplishments already achieved. Seats are filling up fast, so don’t miss your chance to join in this celebration (the bus tour is already full, but the dinner still has space available). If you are still dreaming of the change you would like to see, this is the place for you. It is said “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21). Let’s get started!
By Bonnie Sorak, Outreach Coordinator
Andrea Proctor published Message From a Leader: Rosemary Flickenger in 2019 2019-10-08 10:54:24 -0400
Rosemary Flickinger, a member of Baltimore’s Kadampa Meditation Center a Buddhist Temple, says, “I want others to enjoy the gifts of knowing more about nature and how it is an integral part of our daily lives that directly affects our well-being.” This goal has led her to carry out a series of projects to enhance the sustainability of the temple’s North Baltimore property.
The Temple moved to its current Northern Parkway location in 2014 and its sizeable lot provided Rosemary, who had tended the garden at the Temple’s previous site, a blank canvas on which she could work. Influenced by conversations with friends about sustainability, her first project was planting native trees acquired from Tree Baltimore. She, along with other Temple members and volunteers, planted both shade trees and understory trees around the perimeter of the property. They also planted pine trees in an attempt to establish a small pine grove on an overgrown area near Northern Parkway.
Also in 2014, a Visioning Session facilitated by Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake at Rosemary's Temple helped identify a plan of action. this plan ultimately led to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust that they were awarded, with help from Blue Water Baltimore. The $30,000 grant was matched with $30,000 of labor in kind to build three rain gardens including a bioswale on the property. These were created to help manage storm water runoff and ultimately benefit the Chesapeake Bay. Later, a retaining wall was built to help direct rainwater away from the Temple building.
The next project for Rosemary and her team was planting fruit trees obtained from Baltimore Orchard Project. This effort began in 2015 with Asian persimmon, Asian pear, fig, and filbert trees. The nonprofit BOP helped with designing the orchard, and Rosemary took a training class offered by BOP and Civic Works, another nonprofit. Since the orchard’s establishment, pear, apple, crab apple, plum, and apricot trees have been added. It, as well as all the other plantings, benefits from mulch the Temple produces from wood chips donated by an arborist and scrupulously collected coffee grounds to enrich the soil.
While Rosemary’s efforts have met with considerable success, at least one of her initiatives has been thwarted—at least temporarily. Faced with the challenge of a corner of the Temple grounds that was severely overgrown with brush and weeds, she discovered a local entrepreneur with a herd of goats for hire. No sooner had she engaged the critters, however, than they were “waylaid” by Baltimore Animal Control. So the brush is still there. However, word has it that the goats are back in business and still hungry, so they’re on Rosemary’s “to do” list.
Last year, the Temple received a mini-grant of $5,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust that they’ve used to fund a variety of projects. They built a cistern next to the Temple and use the rainwater collected to water their own gardens. Also, with the help of the nonprofits Blue Water Baltimore and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake they conducted a workshop to convert donated containers to rain barrels for distribution. They did outreach both on social media and through their community association, and for the first time they extended their environmental programs beyond their own property limits by recruiting students from Calvert School and Johns Hopkins to help stencil storm drains at nearby Chinquapin Park. The JHU volunteers also provide ongoing support to maintain the beautiful gardens.
Rosemary says Buddhism teaches that the outer world is as important as our inner spiritual lives. “Creating a garden dedicated to world peace outside the Temple provides a peaceful environment where anyone can come and experience this potential,” she said, adding “there is no outer peace without inner peace.”
Our amazing volunteer, Keith Maynard, continues to share his talents with us by producing these inspiring stories of leaders in our midst. Keith is retired from the Navy where he prepared newsletters and other communications. He resides in Annapolis. If you too have talents to offer, please contact us to volunteer!
Where have wisdom teachers, prophets and saints of diverse faith traditions most commonly heard a challenging or strengthening word from God? The natural world! Elijah heard the voice of God as a "still small voice" in the silence of the wilderness. Jesus went out into the wilderness seeking confidence in God's call to ministry. Prophet Mohammed PBUH heard God's teachings from both trees and the water. The Buddha found enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree. Saint Hildegard of Bingen experienced the "The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature." St. Francis heard the voice of God expressed in the songs of "dear brother birds." These are just a few of the wisdom teachers and spiritual leaders who experienced a theophany or revelation affirming their calling clearly heard within the natural world.
We too can seek wisdom from the natural world amidst the clamor of our lives, which allows space for the voice of God to be heard. Giving our attention to the natural world can foster compassion and inspire us to care for it. Once we have heard the call to be caretakers and advocates of God's intricate environment through our actions, how do we motivate and inspire others in our community to "go forth and do likewise"? Are you yearning to strengthen your congregation's engagement in "tikkun olam" (Jewish tradition meaning the restoration of the world) expressing a deep commitment to becoming a community of faithful healers of Creation?
IPC is excited to announce we will be launching a robust training on how to develop, strengthen and sustain your own congregation’s ministry of caring for Creation). Building a team starts with deepening relationships. A few weeks ago, that's exactly what staff and 5 congregational leaders learned about during our training recently offered by BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development ). We learned the core skills for relationship-building to promote successful organizing, which will be a key component and building block for our Leadership Team Training.
Our Leadership Team Training will include one initial full day training including 1) How to Build Your Team, 2) Action Planning Steps 3) Sustaining your Team’s Commitment and 4) Communication Tools to tell your story. Monthly remote/virtual meetings will focus on equipping you to learn and implement a particular greening practice or team building strategy and opportunities to learn from other congregational leaders through “Solution Circles”. Your participation in this inspiring skills-building opportunity will qualify your congregation for project seed money in specific regions of the One Water Partnership.
We’ve heard your voices expressing the need for strong environmental teams/ministries. Strong teams are a foundation for effecting the change we need in the world, at hundreds of congregations! Sign up to express your interest here to be one of those new teams. By responding to the call, you can become an even stronger voice committed to creating the healing change that we’re all praying for. Individuals are drops in the bucket, but communities fill the bucket! ~David Gershon
If you are interested in receiving more information about the upcoming trainings, please add your name HERE.
To learn more about the One Water Partnership click HERE.
PETITION IS COMPLETED AND HAS BEEN DELIVERED TO THE RESPECTIVE SENATORS
In an effort to cultivate Senate leadership and appropriate legislation to advance Environmental Justice, we are asking US Senators to join the newly formed Environmental Justice caucus. A letter inviting all senators was issued by Sen. Duckworth, Sen. Booker, and Sen. Carper in June. We are following up on that letter to further encourage our elected senators to join them in the caucus.
This letter, and a list of all signatures, will be sent to the US Senators represented by the signatories. Your address is required so that we can determine to which US Senators to send the completed letter.
After you complete the petition, please consider calling your senator's office directly. You can call the Senate Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask for the senators for your state. Each state is represented by two senators, so be sure to ask for one of them, then hang up and repeat that call-in process for your second senator.161 signatures
Dear Honorable Senator (this will be completed specific for each senator to whom we send the letter):
The undersigned strongly encourage you to consider the invitation by Senators Duckworth, Booker, and Carper to join the first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus. As people of faith, we are deeply committed to the work of ensuring equitable distribution of healthy natural resources for all people and all creatures. We are responsible for being good stewards of this beautiful creation and it is our duty to work toward justice in all facets of creation.
Environmental injustice is an evil that pervades our society and creates an imbalance in the web of life. All people deserve clean air, clean water, unpolluted soil, and a stable climate. To ensure this right for all people, we need a caucus that focuses exclusively on the immorality and injustices that disproportionately place environmental burdens upon one group of people. The successful formation and influence of such a caucus would be a commendable step toward a more just world.
We stand ready to provide support, input, spiritual context, and guidance as the fledgling caucus begins its challenging work. And, we stand in solidarity with our unheard neighbors fighting on the front lines of degraded water, rising sea levels, extreme weather, and warming temperatures.
Please prayerfully consider the invitation to join the Environmental Justice Caucus as a manifestation of your duty to protect our shared natural resources for all people in this web of life.
In hope for a just future for all,
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and the Undersigned Supporters
A few weekends ago, I visited two different churches of two different denominations 50 miles apart from each other. Each church was installing a rain garden to treat stormwater and reduce pollution in nearby rivers. One might ask “Does one rain garden really make a difference?”
“One rain garden” is similar to the story of the mustard seed. “Though it is the smallest of all seeds, when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31) Taken collectively, these hundreds of rain gardens, rain barrels, native plantings, and other small acts of stewardship add up to huge impact. Our network of over 225 congregations has planted over 15,000 trees, reached over 100,000 people, and reduced stormwater emanating from over 2 million square feet of impervious surfaces. So, yes, one rain garden does make a difference.
In the same way - one donation makes all the difference. Your gift, no matter how big or small, combines with other gifts to help IPC inspire more faithful stewards. Right now, generous supporters have agreed to double all gifts up to $10,000. Will you help us reach our goal of $10,000 by June 21st?
The Holy Qur’an refers to mustard seeds when teaching that all good deeds – no matter how small --will be recognized. “O my son! If it be equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed…Allah will bring it forth.” [31:16]
You can sow your own mustard seeds of hope and join a faithful community of stewards working to restore God’s Creation. You can help restore God’s Creation with your donation -- and right now your gift will go twice as far!
Our network of congregations is having tremendous impact on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Hundreds of faith communities are taking action, praying together, blessing rivers together, advocating in the halls of power together. This movement is sweeping across Maryland – and you can be part of it.
“The whole Earth is a living icon of the face of God.”
--St. John of Damascus (675-749), Treatise
We are in our second week of Earth Month, a time when people of faith and others throughout Maryland and across the nation celebrate the wonderful gifts in our natural world. It is also a time when we all can renew our commitment to being good stewards of the environment. It's exciting to see that each year, more and more congregations are taking the lead and organizing tree plantings, cleanups, educational events, Creation focused worship services and more.
If your congregation does not yet have any activities scheduled, and you are wondering how to get involved in efforts to sustain our Earth, we have a few suggestions for you.
Participate in a stream cleanup
There are a myriad of stream cleanups taking place this month. IPC will be hosting one on April 13th in partnership with the City of Gaithersburg. If you live in the area, please join us by registering at this link. Or you can check out the Potomac River Watershed Cleanups for additional opportunities.
Participate in an educational event
There are several films that can educate us about the health of the Chesapeake Bay and our local environment. If you live close to Baltimore, join one of our partners, Homewood Friends, for a screening of the film ”High Tide in Dorchester” . Or you could attend a special lecture on urban forests, at Memorial Episcopal on April 8th, featuring Jill Jonnes and our Executive Director, Jodi Rose (RSVP on the events page here)
Plant a tree (or many)
Many jurisdictions in Maryland have tree giveaways. Check with your local county department of the environment to find out whether they will be holding a giveaway this month.
Commit to shifting to more sustainable travel this month (and beyond)
In recognition of Earth Month, make a pledge to walk, bike, or take public transportation whenever possible. If you are planning a trip, consider purchasing carbon offsets for your travel-related carbon emissions or you can do so here.
Spend more time outdoors
Go outside and undertake a spiritual practice in nature. You can find some ideas in our guide to Spiritual Walk Reflections and Activities.
And if your congregation is looking for other ideas on how to celebrate Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd, IPC has compiled several worship resources. Check out what we have available on our website.
“This movement is going to grow in the basements of churches where the spirit will move us,” said a participant at a recent One Water Partnership movie screening co-sponsored by Mount Lebanon Baptist Church and Beth Am Congregation in Baltimore. After watching a movie that awakened us to the challenges our world faces with a warming climate, the consensus in the room was there is hope because there is so much we all can do to be part of the solution.
Interestingly, this discussion took place just at the onset of Lent which, for our Christian friends, brings a time of reflection -- and sometimes darkness -- where the spirit moves and inspires. “The basements of churches” are much like that dark, reflective space where the spirit moves us to awaken our hearts and think differently.
As you dwell on the change you seek in your life and in the world, remember that congregations all over Maryland are making change happen: installing rain gardens, planting natives, giving up single-use plastics/Styrofoam, switching to LED lighting, educating their members, and lobbying in Annapolis. Individuals are bringing along reusable bags when they shop, becoming vegetarian, using public transportation, and saying “no” to straws at restaurants. Our Menu for Action offers ideas on actions you or your congregation can take. And everyone, not just Christians, may find inspiration in our Lenten Creation Care Calendar (Maryland, DC, or Virginia, Spanish versions).
Welcome harbingers of spring are the increasing number of phone calls we are receiving from folks looking for support with Earth Day plans. Earth Sunday is April 28th, are you ready? Just as the crocuses and tulips promise to emerge from their dark, winter slumber, this “faithful green movement” is growing in the basements of congregations all across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The spirit is moving. And, IPC promises to try to help you lead your community in that movement.
As we honor and remember the contributions of the great civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it offers a time for us to reflect on one of Dr. King's central tenants: the Beloved Community, based upon equality, justice and love among one another. Dr. King was dedicated to the manifestation of the Beloved Community throughout his ministry, from the marches to secure freedom from discrimination based upon race, to the final year of King's life when he spoke out for peace calling for an end to the Vietnam war. We can garner courage and inspiration from his example of taking a stand and organizing for the betterment of communities everywhere, bringing his words to life: Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.
As we embark on a new year, IPC is at a critical juncture to expand our work more broadly to manifest a beloved community within the Chesapeake Bay. IPC, with gratitude and excitement, celebrates the granting of $1M from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as an opportunity to contribute to the creation of the beloved community as we take a stand for a clean healthy environment for all through education, advocacy and action creating a qualitative change for all life within our watershed communities. With this grant over the next 3 years, we will continue to engage faith communities in deepening their connection and understanding of their local watershed, it's beauty and it's challenges. In doing so, we are responding to Dr. King's call for people to be of service to their community: Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' Through our organizing efforts with partners, we will be offering more opportunities for you to serve your own beloved community!
Building upon the successful One Water Partnership in the Jones Falls watershed (see here for results), IPC, along with these partners - Blue Water Baltimore, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Watershed Stewards Academies in Anne Arundel County and Harford County, Interfaith Power & Light-DMV, Lower Shore Land Trust, Wicomico Environmental Trust, READY of Anne Arundel County, and the University of Maryland Extension Office Sea Grant, will continue to build upon our work in Baltimore and Harford County, while also expanding to Anne Arundel, Wicomico County on the lower Eastern Shore, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Through the award of this 3-year grant program, we will mobilize 100 congregations, of which 36 will commit to deep engagement and high-impact stormwater management or restoration projects.
Read more here and sign up to learn more or participate in this wonderful and exciting development for IPC as we, along with you, contribute to this beloved community of the Chesapeake Bay.
You need darkness in order to truly appreciate light. I know this because each year when my family finishes decorating our Christmas tree, the first thing we do is turn off the lights to watch the tree glow in the dark. My coworker Bonnie Sorak says it's the same in her family for Menorah candles -- the darkness helps us truly experience the light.
This time of year, our awareness of light is heightened. Days are getting shorter, so light becomes markedly treasured and uplifting. Hanukkah is coming to an end December 10th and is a celebration of the light that lasted for eight days in the temple after the Maccabees’ repaired their temple from the three-year war. A parable in the Qur’an describes God as light: “Allah is the light of the heavens and earth.” (Sura an-Nur 24:36) Christians light candles in late December to celebrate the birth of Jesus, believing he was the light of the world.
Light is a gift meant to be shared, and it abounds at IPC through the selfless actions of so many. So many of you fuel all of this light with your financial support, giving generously year after year. I witness this light in IPC’s team of dedicated staff and board who work tirelessly in the fight for clean water. I witness it in the hundreds of faithful like you who are inspiring people to think and act differently.
As we reflect on the light of the past year, I want to share the story of one young girl at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Baltimore. A teenager from the church was exposed to watershed stewardship through one of our Jones Falls One Water Partnership Inspirational Bus Tours. Touched by what she learned, she is now focusing her Girl Scouts activities on watershed restoration and is building a rain garden at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. Who knows where this girl will go with her passions? What light will she bring to the next generation? How beautiful was the light she saw at her church that has forever changed her worldview.
This Season of Light, remember that in all of the darkness around us, you are bringing forth light in the humble, small, perfect ways that are uniquely your calling. Through your leadership, actions, and financial support, you are restoring and protecting our shared watershed. And, maybe just maybe, we all treasure this light more fully because of the darkness in today’s world.
May the light in those around you touch your heart. Thank you for all the ways you have participated in IPC’s work this past year and for the light you show me every day.