- Reflection: Easter Hope from the Eastern Shore
- Updates on the Maryland Legislative Session
- WEBINAR - How DC Congregations Can Help Heal Local Water
- Covenantal Partners Program - New Round Opening
- Plantings Trees = Planting Hope
- Free Boat Tours on Anacostia River
- Earth Day Ideas
- Faith-Based Grants Available
- Congregational Watershed Stewards Receive Awards
- Upcoming Events
Easter Hope from the Eastern Shore
Live in lower shore Maryland? Or wish to travel to a beautiful spot to celebrate Earth Day? We have been working with a group of congregations in Salisbury (Wicomico County) to plan an Earth Day event to inspire other nearby congregations to embrace the role as faithful stewards of Creation. There has been a lot of heated discussion about the poultry industry on the Eastern Shore and issues with polluted runoff. This group of congregations understands how complex that issue is and the need for respectful consensus-building dialogue. In fact, their commitment to respectful dialogue is what prompted me to write an op-ed in The Daily Times. Some excerpts are below, or you can read the full op-ed here.
Poet, author, and farmer Wendell Berry once said, “Do unto those downstream as you’d have those upstream do unto you.” This is our story here in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. It is a story of mutual support, in which each of us plays a part. People of faith throughout Maryland have been adding their lines to this story ...[They] understand that [they] have a duty to be good caretakers of the Earth as an act of respect for the delicate web of life. Faith leaders in Salisbury have been discussing this very thing in monthly meetings over the past year. They found that despite differences in religion, they share goals when it comes to the Earth and planting hope for future generations. I have been so impressed by their commitment to inspire others and work past differences....Mother Teresa said, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Let us not forget that we belong to each other. Salisbury faith leaders invite you to join them to work together.
The Eastern Shore poultry production industry encompasses complex issues such as environmental degradation, economics, and worker justice. Many feel the poultry industry is values financial returns over all else. Others - including some within the environmental conservation community - feel it's not that black and white. IPC heard from some of you as you expressed your own frustration that our organization did not take a position on the Poultry Litter Management Act. IPC has a board advisory committee that sorts through various legislative issues being considered at the state level and advises the IPC Board of Trustees on stances it should take. We had insufficient representation on that committee from the Eastern Shore, so we felt unable to thoroughly consider all viewpoints. Which is to say: we know when to admit that we don't know enough.
So, instead, we decided to roll up our sleeves and get into the trenches on the Eastern Shore and help them do what they felt was needed most: build a coalition of thoughtful faith leaders who seek actionable responses to the complex issues they face. After all, community leaders know what their communities need. The resulting plans include:
There is much hope for progress on the Eastern Shore. Many have learned in the past 20 years working on Chesapeake Bay issues, that we can't operate in a vacuum...we must work with those around us, those on both sides of the political aisle, and those who might envision a pathway to problem-solving that is different than our own. God put us all here together for a reason and through love and respect we learn how to work together. Join us in April on the Eastern Shore to remember, as Mother Theresa says, that we belong to each other first and foremost, and that all peace begins where we share common ground.
Updates on Maryland Legislative Session
Maryland could become the first state to ban the use of bee-killing neonicotinoids by consumers. News outlets across the nation are picking this story up and the excitement is palpable! Follow us on Facebook and Twitterto stay abreast, or connect directly with the Smart on Pesticides coalition to hear it first from them. We have much to be proud of with this bill! If you tweet or post about this bill, use #BeeSafe to have a greater reach with your opinions.
We are disappointed to report that Maryland legislature leadership was unable to pass a ban on plastic bags this year. We know many of you worked hard to voice your opinions and influence thinking. We should all be pleased that the bill received a lot of attention this year, in part because 73 groups and activists participated in getting the word out about the bill, including the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council, Columbia Jewish Congregation, Freedom Baptist Missionary Church and others! We hope there will be another attempt at this next year.
Howard County Stormwater Bill
Proposed changes to Howard County’s plans for growth could impact rivers and streams, forest resources, county services, and the county budget. Join Sierra Club, Maryland League of Conservation Voters, 1000 Friends of Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Clean Water Action and other concerned citizens at an information session to learn more. Tuesday, April 5, 6:30 pm, Columbia Art Center, Main Gallery, 6100 Foreland Garth, Columbia, MD 21045. Pizza, salad, and soft drinks will be provided.
There are a variety of other bills that are cropping up, such as a bill to protect oysters, and a bill that threatens to exempt developers from forest conservation requirements. Want to help us stay abreast of legislative bills so that we can do more to support individual grassroots campaigns? Join our Advocacy Committee! Email [email protected] if you'd like to hear what it takes to be part of our Advocacy Committee.
Webinar - How DC Congregations Can Help Heal Local Water
In partnership with Tifereth Israel Congregation, we are excited to offer a webinar on how DC congregations can take action to promote healing of the Chesapeake Bay watershed, which we all share. You'll learn:
All are welcome, even if you're outside of DC, though the content will be tailored to DC locations. Webinar is free. Register here.
- what does our faith say about our role in our watershed
- what is the state of the Anacostia River and what are the main sources of degradation these days
- what practical actions can you take on your congregational grounds
- learn from Tifereth Israel and DC Dept. Of Environment what resources and grant programs are available for the DC faith community to tap into
Covenantal Partners Program - New Round Opening
We are preparing to offer the Covenantal Partners Program (CPP) again, in light of the success of the first pilot round. This program offers congregations a facilitated process that helps your community gain the knowledge and spiritual context they need to prioritize and take action to heal water. Congregations in the pilot delivered final projects that ranged from educational programs/spiritual programs for their members to installation of green infrastructure.
We have not narrowed down the regional focus for this next round, so regardless of where you live, if you're interested to learn more about CPP and put your name on the interest list, please contact our Executive Director [email protected]. Or call 410-609-6852.
Planting Trees IS Planting Hope
Looking for an Earth Care action project that is all set to go? Trees for Sacred Places is available to congregations and faith owned properties throughout Maryland. The program provides everything you need to kick start your congregation to Care for God’s Creation. Engage your Youth Ministry, Men’s Group, Grounds Committee, etc. - - young and old alike can participate. Join our growing list of congregations throughout that have toiled in the soil. Each planting we do with congregations is unique to their brand of "faith" - - bringing their enthusiasm and flair. Program includes a professional planting plan, native trees, deer protection, all necessary tools to plant AND environmental and spiritual workshops tailored to your congregation's needs. And it is all FREE!!! You can learn more about the program on our webpage HERE. Contact Bonnie Sorak at[email protected] or call 410-609-6852 today to get started right away.
We specifically have opportunities right NOW for congregations in Montgomery County and Prince George's Counties. View and download State-wide Flyer here. View and download Prince George's Flyer here.
Upcoming Tree Planting Days - Come check out how this works and see if you want to bring this to your congregation:
April 10 - at Camp Gan Israel, Columbia, MD, 2pm
April 17 - at Adat Shalom, Bethesda, MD, 10am-12pm
April 17 - at Temple Shalom, Silver Spring, MD
April 23 - at St. Mark the Evangelist Catholic Church, Adelphi, MD, 9am
May 7 - at Silver Spring Presbyterian Church, Silver Spring, MD, 9am
Earth Day Ideas
Looking for ways to honor Earth Day? Here are some ideas to get you going. Or, call our office and set up a time to discuss your interests with our staff so we can help you brainstorm other ideas for Earth Day.
- Plant Trees - congregations can receive free tree-planting support from us - call Bonnie at 410-609-6852
- Prince George's County - must be willing to plant 30 trees
- Anywhere outside Prince George's, but within Maryland - must be willing to plant 50-60 trees
- In Baltimore, have a water audit conducted - Blue Water Baltimore will come out and walk around your congregation to give you ideas on how to reduce stormwater on your property - for free!
Project Clean Stream - schedule a stream cleanup any time from now through May 31st
Alice Ferguson Foundation Potomac Watershed Cleanup - schedule a stream cleanup any time from now through May 8th
- Check out our Resources page for prayers, litanies, web-of-life activity, and other learning modules
- Organize a free boat tour on the Anacostia River, with our partners the Anacostia Riverkeeper; email [email protected] if interested
- Organize a blessing of your already-installed rain garden or other on-site project to raise awareness and recommit your congregation to this work - sample blessings and litanies are included in our Toolkit
- Invite IPC to come and speak to your small group about ways to engage in watershed stewardship here in Maryland
- Host a showing of Bag It!, the movie about plastic bags - and hand out reusable bags to all attendees
- Browse our extensive Menu for Action for a plethora of ideas - click on the Blue Headings at the top to browse multiple topic areas
Faith-Based Grants Available
Gov. Hogan's Office - The grant-writing workshop we announced 2 weeks ago in College Park is already full. But, there's another one offered by his office on the Eastern Shore on May 10th. Come learn about grant opportunities for faith-based organizations! And learn new skills, meet new people, and give back to your congregation or faith-based nonprofit. Details and registration here.
Presbyterian - Small grant opportunities are offered through the Presbyterian Church USA that might be helpful as you strive to build your creation care ministry. One of them is for $5,692 to a "Mission program with preference given to advocacy for environment and evangelism." The deadline to apply is May 1st. Go here to find an application form along with more information about the criteria for this grant on the FAQ page (See question #13.)
Watershed Stewards Receive Awards
At the annual Watershed Stewards Academy Conference this year, four Master Stewards from congregations participating in the River Wise Congregations program were awarded the Master Steward of the Year Award. Master Watershed Stewards Betsy Love and Sandie Kirkland (in photo at left), of St. Luke's Episcopal Church and Sandy Hartzell and Brenda Schwaab of St. John’s Lutheran Church were honored for leading restoration efforts in both their residential community and at their religious congregation. Through the RiverWise Congregations programthey restored a portion of Back Creek, removed invasive plants and installed bio-retention plantings, native plants and shrubs, along with a rock swale to prevent stormwater runoff. Read more about their environmental ministry and the conference here.
Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities
Saturdays in April -Baltimore City's Office of Sustainability will be hosting a new project at Baltimore Community ToolBank called The Neighborhood Grow Center. The Department of Public Works is a partner, as well as several local environmental non-profits. The Neighborhood Grow Center is a pilot to test out the viability of having a greening resource hub in the city. Every weekend in April, visitors to the Grow Center will be able to take free workshops in greening skills, get free plants and other materials on give-away days, and purchase soil products and reclaimed building materials, in addition to all the the ToolBank’s regular, awesome programming. See FLYER for details.
April 7 - Black Ministers Conference of Montgomery County presentation- 10 Am, Jerusalem Baptist Church 19215 Jerusalem Rd., Poolesville
April 7 - Webinar: What Difference has Laudato Si' Made in the Faith Community? Thursday, April 07, 2016, 3:00 PM - 3:45 PM (Eastern Time) REGISTER HERE. Has Pope Francis’s encyclical Laudato Si’ and his visit to the U.S., successfully reframed the climate change discussion? Do more people now embrace climate change and environmental harm as a moral issue rather than a mostly scientific or political issue
April 9 - Spring Fling at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church, after services (see photo at right!). The Spring Fling is an annual street party in McElderry Park, an urban neighborhood in east Baltimore. Amazing Grace will be showcasing their new rain garden, existing vegetable garden, and impervious paved alley. Come celebrate with us! 2424 McElderry St, Baltimore, MD 21205
April 10 - The Role of Religion in Addressing Climate Change - hosted by the Washington Ethical Society, 7750 16th Street NW, Washington DC 20012, 1-2 pm
April 11 - Free Webinar on greening your DC Congregation. Registration here. A flyer with more details is here.
April 16 - Prince of Peace "Living Waters Day." 9-12 (breakfast 9-10am). Please hold Prince of Peace Baptist Church in your prayers as they host an educational program (10am-noon) for the children of their congregation. The program is their project as a participating congregation in the Covenantal Partners Program and will feature presentations by IPC, EPA, and Blue Water Baltimore on caring for the waters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.
April 22nd - Earth Day - How will you celebrate? (You can also celebrate with your congregation the weekend before or after!)
April 22-23 - Eastern Shore Interfaith Gathering for Earth Day - Rev. Mary Gaut will be the keynote speaker at the Friday night dinner, and Saturday morning will offer workshops, resources, and networking. More details and to RSVP, click here.
April 24 - Creation Sunday at the Cathedral of the Incarnation lifting up John Muir (naturalist, author, environmental philosopher and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States) as a saint in the Episcopal tradition. 4 E University Pkwy, Baltimore, MD 21218
April 24 - Earth Water Faith Festival - Annapolis Town Centre, 2-4:30, hosted by the Chesapeake Interfaith Environmental Group
April 30 - Montgomery County Greenfest - 11 AM-4PM Takoma Park Community Center - 7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park - Short walk from Takoma Metro, or catch the free shuttle from the station.
April 30 - Spring Retreat "Let Creation Call Us More Deeply to God" - Fr. John Rausch, Pax Christi, Details here
May 10 - Free Grant-Writing for Faith Based Organizations - Hosted by the Governor's Office - come learn about opportunities and learn new tricks. Chesapeake College, Eastern Shore. More details and to RSVP click here.
Volunteers Needed - We are looking for volunteers to help us staff our informational tables at these events - help us inspire more people! Training is provided. Contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or call 410-609-6852 today if you can spare an hour or two.
Sat. April 16 Baltimore Ecofest
Sat. April 16 Baltimore - Ben Fest (Brooklyn Neighborhood Festival)
Sat. April 16 Howard County Greenfest 9 AM- 5 PM Howard Community College (take a 1-2 hour shift then enjoy the festival)
Sat. April 23 Baltimore Mayor's Clean Up
Sun. April 24 Annapolis - Earth Wind Faith Festival - Annapolis Town Centre - 2-4:30 Information Table
Sat. April 30 Montgomery County Greenfest - 11 AM-4PM Takoma Park Community Center - 7500 Maple Avenue, Takoma Park