“I don’t know many places around Baltimore where this diversity of people are meeting to spend a whole day with each other, and this happens on a regular basis. If I sound excited it’s because I am!
It’s changing my life.”
Pastor Michael Martin,
Stillmeadow Community Fellowship, Baltimore City - MD
This Black History Month, please join us for a special celebration of Stillmeadow Community Fellowship’s journey for environmental justice across the Maiden Choice Run watershed in Baltimore City, MD.
Enjoy this short video put together by the One Water Partnership highlighting their story so far, with accompanying text below,
When Pastor Michael Martin (Photographed at right with wife) began preaching at Stillmeadow Community Fellowship in Baltimore City he could have never dreamed of what the woods behind his congregation could look like. A tangle of invasive plants and dying trees choked the woodland, swallowing the once healthy forest and creek beneath a mat of unwanted vegetation.
The potential was there, all that was needed was the right push.
In 2016 and again in 2018 the Irvington, Beechfield, and Westgate neighborhoods of west Baltimore that sit on the Maiden Choice Run of the Gwynn Falls watershed experienced two one thousand year floods. Six feet of water flowed down Frederick Avenue trapping riders in a city bus (photographed at right) and wreaking havoc in over 200 homes. They, along with several other congregations, assisted with the emergency response, helping to provide food and services that their neighbors needed, coordinating with FEMA and other government agencies.
Pastor Michael Martin, their relatively new pastor, realized that something had to change. After discussions with congregation members, Pastor Martin’s attention turned towards a nine acre track of forested land with a stream that the church owns. What impact could this woodlot have on the community and flood-related issues at hand. After just one walk in the forest together they decided that they would transform this overgrown and neglected area into a “PeacePark”. The vision is to restore the woods into a healthy place of community healing and spiritual renewal.
Pastor Martin was that push, and in 2018 he was inspired to seek help. Together, with the hard work of the U.S. Forest Service, Blue Water Baltimore, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and now more than 2,000 volunteers, the nine acres of urban woodland behind Stillmeadow is beginning to transform. Thousands of young native trees have been restored, hundreds of pounds of waste has been removed, and the effort has brought together people from all over central Maryland and beyond, from all walks of life and faiths in this common cause.
Where once invasives and the barren trunks of ash trees stood, now a rejuvenated forest begins to grow. It is not just the forest that is rejuvenated at Stillmeadow, it is the whole community.
These environmental & community focused efforts have now begun making their way upstream, reaching other congregations who are committed to this same community-focused mentality; “to do unto others downstream, as you would have those upstream do unto you” - Wendel Berry.
Now, two and a half years later, the restoration stands as an emblem of environmental justice – bettering their local ecosystem and community equally.
See page bottom for a site-map;
Want to Get Involved?
If you are interested in the work of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, please check out these amazing resources and programs to help you engage your congregation of faith on environmental concerns.
Faithful Green Leaders Training Program
*A map of Stillmeadow Community Fellowship and their ongoing environmental efforts at the "Peace Park".
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