Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake


  • Hope: Will You Let It In?
  • Activities Surrounding Pope Francis’ Visit
  • Covenantal Partners Program
  • Free Runoff Solutions in Montgomery County
  • Creek Monitoring - Everyone Can Do It
  • Nonprofit Votes Count
  • Tree Planting Opportunities - Queen Anne's County
  • Clean Water Rule Update
  • Upcoming Events
  • Volunteer Opportunities

Hope: Will You Let It In?
I have been thinking a lot about hope these days. Or maybe the better way to put it is, hope has been finding its way into my thoughts. Lately, I’ve received several emails, comments, and blogs that have continuously pounded me with hope. So, I’m weaving excerpts together here. I only included excerpts, so don’t miss out on reading them in their entirety...I think they will recharge you with hope.


Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes in “We Were Made for These Times”: “My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now...Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope...I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world...In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails...One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul….Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.”

We all probably have at least one close friend or family member who doesn’t “believe in climate change” or questions other data-backed environmental problems. This has always baffled me, even angered me, and left me feeling as though we can’t possibly change anything with so many people fighting the data. But, as a thoughtful opinion article printed in the Richmond Times-Dispatch points out, “...even the wackiest conspiracy theory can feel easier to swallow than foreboding climate data...Atmospheric scientist Jeffrey Kiehl noticed it when giving lectures [on threatening climate change impacts]. Kiehl began recognizing the classic signs of trauma, he said — ‘helplessness, hopelessness, spacing out …anger, denial.’” The writer goes on to say that in order to handle the often-depressing data, we must turn to our hearts. “The heart has resources for just such times. It remembers who we are. It yearns for more life.” I wonder if some of my friends who question climate change data are simply trying to find hope in the thought that this isn’t really happening.

Jim Wallis in his recent article in Sojourners “The Way of Hope” writes: “Hope is not just a feeling, but a decision. Hope is our vocation and our identity as the people of God. Let’s put it this way — when we confront the depth of things we address we must also understand our role. I am convinced now that hope is our job as people of faith. Hope is our job. Hope is the particular thing the people of God need to provide, and is the most important thing that every movement for change needs.”

This week, Blue Water Baltimore encountered a rare find in the Jones Falls River: an American Eel. The American Eel cannot survive where there is low Dissolved Oxygen, high water temperatures, heavy metals, and other sources of pollution. Blue Water Baltimore called this American Eel a sign of hope...I smiled inside, and I invite you to smile about it, too. Then, the night before I prepared to write this, I was talking with Judy Miskill of Faith Baptist Church in Linthicum Heights. Her church has installed butterfly and hummingbird gardens, and is currently planning to construct 


more stormwater-friendly projects. She told me of the struggles she’s faced to get all of these projects installed, but how excited she is that it is coming together. I told her that I was going to be writing about hope in our next newsletter and asked her if she could send me some photos to share to give others hope, too. She almost started to cry and said, “You’re not going to believe this, but we named our garden a long time ago...we call it the Hummingbird Haven of Hope.”  

God works in mysterious ways.

As people of faith, we are made for these times. We are made to recognize hope when we see it. We are made to share this hope with others - even those who fight the science because maybe they are just afraid and have lost hope. And we are made to allow hope into our lives, for this is our Creator’s way of reassuring us that we are loved unconditionally. So, in the vein of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ analogy of our lives as vessels, look for hope and catch it with open sails, for you are called to propel this movement forward.


Activities Surrounding Pope Francis’ Visit  
Pope Francis is scheduled to speak to joint sessions of the US Congress on September 24th. In prayerful and visible support of his efforts to speak out on behalf of all those who suffer from environmental degradation, all faiths are invited to join in any of the following activities being planned in conjunction with his address.

  • Fast - The fast begins on September 14th and is timed to begin with Rosh Hashanah and end with Yom Kippur (September 23rd). Your fast could be a hunger fast, carbon fast, plastic fast, etc., as you wish. Throughout the duration of the fast, there will be a public art display at McPherson Square in Washington, DC to showcase the devastating effects of climate change on some areas of our world. Each night, at 6:30 pm, there will be an interfaith prayer service where all will spiritually band together in hope to bring about change. The fast will be broken after an inter
  • faith prayer service near the National Mall at John Marshall Place Park onSeptember 23rdMore details here. 
  • Prayer Vigil - The prayer vigil will start at 5 pmand will continue overnight in the hours leading up to the Pope Francis’ address. You are welcome to come for any part of it, and can arrive at any time. Meet at John Marshall Place Park on C St NW in Washington DC, just east of the Canadian Embassy. This is a relatively small park so you will not have trouble finding those who are participating in the prayer vigil. Karen Leu from Interfaith Power and Light plans to be there all night long so we suggest you look for her.
  • Rally - A rally is being planned by several organizations, and will take place starting at 8 am on the morning of the Pope’s address, September 24th. Come out and look for our banner (more details on meeting location will be sent soon). We hope you can join us!!
  • Closing Celebration - An evening of celebration, prayer and praise is being planned at Washington National Cathedral supporting Pope Francis's call for action. The event will take place on September 24th at 7:30 pmMore details are here.

Covenantal Partners Program
Answer the call to care for the Earth with the Covenantal Partners Program, a spiritually-rooted planning process to help your congregation rise up to the environmental challenges of our time. Several congregations are already enrolled. Examples of how this program has helped other congregations: 

  • Gwynn Oak United Methodist Church held a week of Vacation Bible School on “God and Nature”
  • St. Matthew Catholic Church is planning parish wide study action sessions on the Pope’s Encyclical “Our Common Home” 
  • Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church is planning a campaign to educate the community to take action on reducing trash. 

We are actively seeking groups in Baltimore (city or county) interested in learning more about the program. Click here for more information on what this program is all about. Contact Bonnie Sorak at[email protected] or 410-609-6852 if you have questions.


Free Runoff Solutions in Montgomery County 
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. St. Camillus Catholic Church is benefitting from this program, and will install a cistern that will capture water from an 1100-square foot roof space which is estimated to generate 650 gallons during a 1 inch storm. The rains would normally enter a drain which empties into Sligo Creek. The rain captured by this cistern will be used to irrigate an adjacent garden. Over a five year period, the cistern is estimated to capture between 66,000 gallons and 98,5000 gallons of stormwater! The picture to the right shows a similar cistern installed at Church of the Brethern on Capitol Hill. If your congregation would like to install a cistern, please contact Jodi Rose at[email protected] or 410-609-6852.



Creek Monitoring - Everyone can do it!
The Audubon Nature Society invites you to get out into nature and help monitor the health of our waterways! This is easy, fun, and everyone can do it! Using a mobile-device app called “Creek Critters”, groups can visit their nearest streams and monitor stream health using easy-to-understand indicators such as the presence of worms, snails, insect larvae, etc. Bring your children, grandchildren, church group, Bible study, or Sunday School kids and have fun using the app to monitor stream health. All data collected is ultimately reported to organizations that are responsible for tracking stream health. Find more information on this website or in this writeup. If you would like to organize a group to do a stream monitoring, please contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected].

Non Profit Votes Count 
We encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote. Houses of Worship can lead voter registration efforts with their communities/networks. There is a push nationwide right now through Nonprofit Votes Count to rely on local nonprofits to spread the word on voter registration resources. Perhaps your congregation would want to participate as a local nonprofit. More details here. 

Tree Plantings Opportunities - Queen Anne's County
We are looking for volunteers in Queen Anne’s County to plant trees. We have the location and everything else you will need, but we need hands to plant. Your group gets to pick the date that works for you! We will be planting ~100 trees, so we will need 25-30 volunteers of any age. This could be a great boy scout opportunity for the fall!

We are also still enrolling faith communities for free tree plantings for 2016. The Trees for Sacred Placesprovides everything your community needs for the tree planting, customized support, and an educational/spiritual workshop specific for your faith tradition. This program is available throughout the state of Maryland. For either of these opportunities, contact Bonnie Sorak at[email protected] or 410-609-6852View and download the flyer here. 

Clean Water Rule Update
Confused about what’s happening with the Clean Water Rule? So were we, until we read this! Hope this sheds some light on things for you.

Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities  KadampaGroundbreaking5.jpg

We need your help to spread our message at these Upcoming Events! Please consider attending an event on IPC’s behalf to staff a table for an hour or two to spread the message of faith and renewal. We will arrange to get you all the supplies you will need and train you about all the programs we have available. Please contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] if you want to volunteer. Even if you can’t help out consider attending to show your support. (**Denotes your help is needed.)

Sept. 9 Please pray for our friends at Christ the King Episcopal Church as they embark on their Community Visioning session as part of the Blue Water Congregations program.

Sept. 10 7-9 pm, Moderated Panel Discussion on climate change the Pope’s Encyclical, at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, 11701 Clopper Rd. 
Gaithersburg, Maryland

**Sept. 12 1-8 pm Sustainafest, Indian Creek Upper School, 1130 Anne Chambers Way, Crownsville, MD 21032 Event begins at 1:00. Films at 6:30

**Sept. 12 1-4 pm F.R.E.E. (Furnace Creek Restoration Environmental Expo) organized by one of our Riverwise Congregations, Faith Baptist Church of Glenn Burnie.Click here for more information.

Sept. 12 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm, Holy Trinity Catholic Church in DC is hosting “Climate SMART: Honoring Our Children's Future Through Faith, Art and Action.” Join artists and parishioners in discerning how Pope Francis' Encyclical might change your life. 

Sept. 12-Oct. 31 Saturdays at 9:30-11:00 am, Study series on Pope Francis' encyclical at St. Dominic Catholic Church (led by St. Dominic's parish priests), 630 E St., SW, Washington DC 2002. Participants should bring their own copy of the encyclical. All are welcome.

**Sept. 19 10 am –4 pm Montebello Lake Centennial Celebration, sponsored by the Baltimore City Department of Public Works. Celebrating clean water. Free activities for children and parking with shuttle service.Click here for more information.

Sept. 19, October 3, October 10 - 10 am -12 noon "Encyclical Symposium" Jodi will be speaking along with Fr. Keuhner at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Derwood, MD. The 3-part series continues on Ocober 3 and October 10, same time/same place!

Sept. 20 Amazing Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church (see the inspiring video on their website about this congregation!) will kickoff of their community trash education campaign at their Port Street Celebration event (music, food, community garden/labyrinth tour) after worship at 12 pm in McElderry neighborhood of Baltimore.

Sept. 27 10 am Christ the King Episcopal Church will have a sermon on climate justice, 1930 Brookdale Road, Baltimore 21244

**Oct. 3 11 am - 3 pm Blue & Green Festival at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Eastport. Meet some of our RiverWise Congregation Watershed Stewards to learn what their congregations are doing about polluted stormwater.

Oct. 3-4 St. Matthews Catholic Church (5401 Loch Raven Blvd, Baltimore), as a result of their participation in the Covenantal Partners Program, is hosting “And God Saw that it was Good,” celebrating the Feast of St. Francis and Pope Francis’ Encyclical. Program includes a Creation Story slide show, a Treasure Hunt to find ecological projects on the church grounds, a Day Around the Bay game showing the sources of water pollution into the Bay, and Pledge Cards for participants to commit to stewardship. The program will be repeated three times: Sat. Oct. 3 at 5 pmSun. Oct. 4 at 8:45 am (prior to mass), and Sun. Oct. 4 at 11 am.

Oct. 3rd 12 pm - 4 pm St. Pius X Church is hosting a Feast of St. Francis Family Fun Day and Blessing of Animals, 6428 York Road, Baltimore, MD 21212. Visit Blue Water Baltimore's table display about this church’s project plans.

Oct. 3rd 9 am - Noon Friends of Herring Run Parks is hosting 4 clean up sites along the Herring Run Watershed in Baltimore. Click here for more information.

IPC Needs Volunteers
IPC could use your skills to:

  • Help with our Database
  • Become a member of our Speaker’s Bureau
  • Help with Administrative Tasks
  • Assist with Website updates
  • We’ll tailor something to suit your expertise!

If you have some time and would like to help us to spread our message more effectively please contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected].

Our apologies to Peter Gianokos who should have received credit for the beautiful photo of Sligo Creek in our last newsletter