- Faith Leaders Come Together
- Stewardship Service Day
- Tree Plantings
- Spiritual Renewal for Environmental Restoration
- Faith Community Speaks Out
- Cisterns in Montgomery County
Faith Leaders Come Together
Faith leaders have plenty on their radar screens these days: poverty, homelessness, joblessness, to name a few. So when the faith community responds to something, you know it’s important because it has moved up through the priorities and floated to the top.
That’s what happened 2 weeks ago…and it should cause us all to do a double take.
Notwithstanding attention-getting headlines like urban violence, racial inequities, and economic downturns, over 100 faith leaders representing tens of thousands of people of faith across the Chesapeake Bay Watershed stopped what they were doing and took action. They came together in a unified message about the moral imperative to restore the waters of the Chesapeake.
Their united voice was articulated in a letter addressed to Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, Chair of the Chesapeake Executive Council, which has the reins on the Chesapeake Clean Water Blueprint, the regional plan to restore the Bay. The faith leaders challenged the governors of all 6 watershed states and the DC mayor to re-commit to the hard work that lies ahead to meet agreed-upon milestones in the Blueprint. They affirmed the great work that has been accomplished thus far, but recognized that we simply have not done enough to heal our watershed. Speaking with one voice, “If our generation will not accept responsibility for this, who will?”
Bishops, Presbyters, clergy, congregational leaders, and faith-based organizations from Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Unitarian, and Non-Denominational traditions shared a common concern about the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. And, why does this matter to them?
The answer is simple. Until we heal the Earth, we cannot heal ourselves. Until we love the Earth, we will not love each other. Until we honor the sacred waters that connect us all to each other, we will continue to disrespect those downstream of us and those who will walk in our footsteps for generations to come. As Wendell Berry eloquently said, “Do unto those downstream as you would have those upstream do unto you.” Loving each other is the fundamental tenet of all faiths. Loving each other by respecting the Earth is the natural extrapolation of this.
We heard this recently in Pope Francis’ Encyclical Laudato Si’, released in June 2015. “All of us are linked by unseen bonds and together form a kind of universal family, a sublime communion which fills us with a sacred, affectionate and humble respect.” (89) He goes on to say: “We are not faced with two separate crises, one environmental and the other social, but rather one complex crisis which is both social and environmental. Strategies for a solution demand an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the underprivileged, and at the same time protecting nature.” (139)
I was so proud of the Chesapeake’s faith community this week. They understand the issues, they remain steadfast to their beliefs, and they reminded their elected leaders to be guided by a moral compass during the Chesapeake Executive Council’s meeting so that all of creation can thrive in the beauty of the Earth as our Creator intended.
Now, we watch to see, how will our leaders respond? What is on their radar screen?
Stewardship Service Day
We are excited to partner with Koolhof Earth on a HUGE planting project in the Chesterfield Community of Pasadena. We are looking for 200 volunteers to come together for a service day in October (October 3rd and October 17th). This is a great opportunity for groups of all faiths - particularly those who can’t do projects on their own grounds, but do want to engage in watershed restoration projects. Want to put your Youth Group to work? Is your Men’s Ministry looking for a hands on project? Does your congregation want to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis with an intergenerational and interfaith activity? This could be just the opportunity for you. Click here for more details and upload flyer.
or contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or 410-609-6852 to sign up your group.
Congregations of all faiths are needed to join in this united effort to heal Creation through tree plantings. Our Trees for Sacred Places Program provides everything your community needs for the tree planting, customized support, and an educational/spiritual workshop specific for your faith tradition. If you know of a religious-owned property (congregational grounds, retreat center, summer camp, retirement community, etc.) that has open spaces that can be converted from lawn to forest, contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or 410-609-6852. This program is available throughout the state of Maryland. View and download flyer here.
One of the best ways to help restore creation is to plant trees! We are currently enrolling faith communities for free tree plantings!
Spiritual Renewal for Environmental Restoration
“I urgently appeal . . . for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.” (Pope Francis, Laudato Si, no. 14)
The Covenantal Partners Program offers a facilitated path of spiritual renewal to help your congregation develop a response to the environmental challenges of our time. We are actively seeking congregations in Baltimore (city or county) interested in learning more about the program.
Click here for details and contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or 410-609-6852 if you have questions. View and download flyer here.
Faith Community Speaks Out
MD Climate Commission Public Meetings
The Maryland Climate Commission must report next fall on our state's progress in meeting the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels, by 25% by 2020. Five public meetings are scheduled across the state this summer, to gather public input into this report. Attend one of these meetings to offer your perspective on the importance of reducing climate warming emissions and bring the faith voice to these discussions. Meeting locations are spread throughout the state so there should be something near you!
Climate in the Pulpit
We support Interfaith Power and Light’s “Climate in the Pulpit” campaign and encourage you to participate. On September 24, Pope Francis will be visiting our region and speaking on Capitol Hill about our moral obligation to care for our neighbors by taking action on climate change. The following weekend, September 25-27, clergy are asked to integrate climate messages into your sermons. Sign up here.
Cisterns in Montgomery County
We are excited to partner with the Anacostia Riverkeeper on efforts to install stormwater management projects at faith-owned properties in Montgomery County. The Anacostia Riverkeeper already has secured the needed funding to install cisterns (large rain barrels approximately 650 gallon capacity) at houses of worship in Montgomery County's portion of the Anacostia watershed. These cisterns will store and release rainfall for non-potable water uses and stormwater disposal. The project is at no cost to the church and can alleviate flooding problems as well as reduce your property’s contribution of polluted runoff.If your congregation has a roof at least 500 square feet in size and the space to install a large cistern, please consider this wonderful opportunity for a free project on your grounds. Already St. Luke Lutheran Church, St. Camillus Catholic Church, and Silver Spring United Methodist Church have signed up, and we might have the ability to add a 4th site. What better way to draw your members into a deeper conversation about our responsibility to minimize negative impacts on shared water resources.
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