Reflection By Bonnie Sorak: “Imagine - A Reflection on A Special Rosh Hashanah”

Call to Advocacy

Faith-Based Outdoor Education
Call for Volunteers
Blue Water Congregations - Baltimore
Covenantal Partners Program

Hands Holding TreeImagine, a whole year off! What would you do with the time? Rest, rejuvenate, explore. How would you prepare? By saving so that you wouldn’t have to go without your regular creature comforts? Perhaps preserving and storing food so as not to go hungry. This comes to mind because as our Jewish brothers and sisters ready themselves for Rosh Hashanah to welcome the new year 5775, it is also the start of a “Shmita” year - - the seventh year of the biblical sabbatical cycle. Similar to Shabbat, Shmita is something that exists within a cycle of seven, although this particular cycle is in terms of years, not days. As it was first intended, on every seventh year, the people of Israel, following the same collective rhythm, would practice a cultural ‘release’ (the English meaning of the Hebrew word Shmita). This ‘release’ was particularly rooted in agricultural and economic systems: during this period of time, debts would be forgiven, agricultural lands would lie fallow, private land holdings would become open to the commons, and staples such as food storage and perennial harvests would be freely redistributed and accessible to all (paraphrased from Shmita Project, of Hazon). These adjustments were made to ensure the maintenance of an equitable, just and sustainable society.  While there is much discussion as to how this might have actually been accomplished in ancient times, we might well be served if each of us were to reflect on how such an observance would impact us as we live our lives today.

It is clear that we have always lived off the fruit of the land. Our survival is entwined with what it can provide for us. We are dependent on what God’s earth gives to us. But what do we give back? How do we help to restore it? It may not be enough to just let it rest, even if we could with 7 billion hungry mouths to feed. We take so much that, in some respects, we must use our hands and sweat to help restore creation so that it can, in turn, continue to support us. With this in mind we congratulate all the congregations who have toiled and shoveled and participated thus far in IPC’s 10,000 Trees Program, those who are participating in the Blue Water Congregations Program and the nearly 20 congregations in Anne Arundel County embarking on a journey as RiverWise Congregations. Their work, and the efforts of so many people of faith across the region, bear witness to their love and respect for Creation and all those who depend on it. Although we know we cannot rest entirely, we can and should celebrate our hard work to ensure that there will be more clean air and water for us all in years to come. 

Bonnie Sorak, Congregational Outreach Coordinator

Call to Advocacy

Trash-Free Maryland – On Sept. 10 Montgomery County councilmembers Hans Riemer and George Leventhal introduced Bill 41-14, to ban polystyrene foam food packaging starting in 2016. The bill is similar to one passed this summer in Washington, DC, giving the measure even greater environmental impact while allowing for more widespread public education and business outreach.  Email or tweet your councilmembers and tell them that you support Bill 41-14 and that you hope they do too! Go here to find your councilmember in Montgomery County and use the sample email there.

Baltimore Bag Bill - On Sat. Sept. 20 help clean up the community and learn more about the proposed five-cent disposable bag fee currently before the Baltimore City Council. There will even be a letter-writing station where folks can write a letter to their council member.  Find details here about how to participate.

Stop Cove Point - Dominion’s plan to build a massive $3.8 billion liquefied natural gas export facility at Cove Point on the Chesapeake Bay threatens communities and the entire watershed with an expanding network of fracking wells and gas pipeline infrastructure. On September 17-18 Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community and Chesapeake Climate Action Network will be urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject Dominion's application to build a gas export terminal at Cove Point.  On Sept. 17th people are invited to flood FERC with phone, email and social media communications; this is the day before the monthly meeting of the FERC Commissioners on Sept. 18.  To participate sign up here. On Sept. 18th people are invited to meet at 9 am a few blocks away from FERC, get organized, and go together to the 10 am Commissioners meeting. Signs will be provided for people to hold up during the meeting.  You can sign up for this action and receive additional information here. The action will occur on the morning of the 18th no matter what FERC has or has not done as far as Cove Point.

EPA Clean Water Rule - IPC supports the EPA definition of Waters of the US. Recent changes to the Clean Water Act have called into question protections for nearly 60% of our nation's stream miles and 20 million acres of wetlands. Additional information is provided on this fact sheet. Here is a letter prepared by the Choose Clean Water Coalition, which IPC has signed on to. If you need additional information, please call Andy Galli at Clean Water Action at 410-235-8808, or file your own comments to the EPA by clicking here

EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan - The EPA will take public comments until Oct. 16 on proposed rules to limit power plant carbon pollution. If you would like to tell the EPA to limit pollution from power plants, Interfaith Power and Light has set up a page to help you do that here.   

Take action on Climate Change by participating in "A Faithful Call to Address Climate Change" Petition, which begins:  "As people of faith, we are called to protect and serve God’s Creation and seek justice for all people and future generations. The gravity of climate change requires us to act with urgency." Read and sign the Petition to President Obama and Members of Congress and learn more here. Over 40 different faith groups are supporting this Petition which will be delivered to the White House the week after the UN Climate Summit in New York City Sept. 20-21.  See all the faith-based activities occurring during the Summit listed here, including a World Council of Churches event hosting a gathering of 30 world religious leaders, who will develop a statement to be delivered to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon. Click here for more information.

LOCAL CLIMATE ACTION EVENT in Baltimore Sept. 21: In conjunction with the NYC rally mentioned above, the Central Maryland Ecumenical Council (in which 3 of IPC's Board Members are involved) is sponsoring a parallel event in Baltimore. For more information see flyer HERE.

Faith-Based Outdoor Education

IPC will be developing a faith-based outdoor educational field experience in 2015. We need your input to help us design a program that meets your needs and interests. Please complete the survey here.

Call for Volunteers

Please visit our Volunteer Signup page if you can donate time or money to IPC's work! We're looking for volunteers in a variety of areas, including Spanish translators, Advocates for upcoming legislative issues, IT/website support, social media support, Outreach/Education, and board committees. 

Blue Water Congregations (Baltimore)

Raindrops keep fallin' on your head when you leave services? Contact [email protected] for more information on the Blue Water Congregations program, which offers the financial, technical, and spiritual guidance needed to implement stormwater mitigation projects on congregational grounds.

Covenantal Partners Program (Baltimore)

Does your green ministry need new energy or new direction? Would your group benefit from a spiritually-based visioning session and guidance? IPC is offering the Covenantal Partners Program in the Baltimore region. Email Jodi Rose to get more information or to schedule your Visioning Session.