The pandemic has been challenging for many nonprofits, and IPC is no different. But, we've been very fortunate to receive generous gifts from two congregations that have lightened our load the past year-and-a-half -- and for this we are extremely grateful! So, we wanted to highlight these major gifts and share these stories. As you and your congregation plan your next budget, please remember IPC. We depend on gifts and grants to advance our work. 

Seekers Church in Montgomery County gave us a $3,000 gift this year as part of their Domestic Giving program. This program receives proposals from individuals and mission groups, but a key criterion is that the proposal must come from someone within the church who “has skin in the game,” who knows through direct experience about the organization or project for which they seek funding. That person on our team has been Kolya Braun-Greiner, and her ministry at IPC has been to help green team leaders build their capacity so that they have a greater impact in the world. The Seeker's Church funding directly supports our Faithful Green Leaders Training Program and Monthly Learning Labs. IPC’s work and mission is consistent with the words of Seekers Commitment “to care for every part of creation.”

At the heart of Seekers' community are small, intimate mission groups which have a common calling and offer spiritual support to their members. For example, the Earth and Spirit mission group “is called to support deeper spiritual connection with God through experience with the natural world.” Seekers Church calls itself a “do it yourself church” since, along with the other Church of the Savior communities, it is led totally by laypeople. A number of members do happen to be seminary-trained, so the liturgy is rich and creative. Every Sunday a different preacher from the community brings the Word as they have experienced it, which offers a fresh and deep understanding of the relevance of scripture for their current context. 

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake was also awarded $6,500 through Catonsville Presbyterian Church's "Envision Fund." This monetary grant is offered every year to incubate new and innovative initiatives.  Their seed money allowed us to create a new user-friendly and aesthetically-pleasing website along with an interactive map showcasing congregations that have signed the Partner Congregation Pledge. It also supported our efforts to create a process, branding, and story-collection for the pledge-signers, and now there are 68 congregations that have signed the pledge! Through the Envision Fund, we have a strong foundation and useful tools that will help us to inspire others to join our movement.

Catonsville Presbyterian Church is a great example to show how their green initiatives contribute to this movement. As an "Earth Care Congregation" they have undertaken a multi-phase effort to improve the environmental stewardship on the church property. They have turned a long-neglected wooded area into a flourishing spot for a peaceful nature walk through a variety of native trees and plants. Residents throughout the community visit and walk the church's grounds and enjoy the green initiatives that the church has to offer. Additionally, Catonsville Presbyterian supports an onsite Child Care Center for 200 pre-school age children, which also neighbors Hillcrest Elementary School. One of the most popular offerings is the chance to study the natural environment in this outdoor classroom that was created out of the neglected woodlands. Catonsville Presbyterian Church has also signed the Partner Congregation Pledge, a public statement about their commitment to care for creation. 

These congregations, in supporting groups that are doing important work, manifest their call to support healing actions for peace and justice in the world. We look forward to partnering with other congregations is this vital work of healing the Earth and our communities. As you are thinking about your budgets next year, please prayerfully consider IPC. Unrestricted funds help us with vital programming and other projects, and is the most difficult funding for us to secure. Thank you to all congregations who support IPC's work!