Please join us for the monthly Montgomery County Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions meeting, Tuesday, November 19, 7:30-9pm. Montgomery County Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions (MCFACS) unites people of faith to help solve the climate emergency that is disrupting and threatening life on Earth.WHENNovember 19, 2019 at 7:30pmWHEREAdat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation
7727 Persimmon Tree Ln
Bethesda, MD 20817
Google map and directions
Jews around the world have just concluded the “Days of Awe” (Yamim Noraim), the ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. This period is marked by serious reflection focused both inward on how we can each improve ourselves, and outward on how we can improve the world. Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai said “Be not grieved my son. There is another way of gaining atonement, even though the Temple is destroyed. We must now gain atonement for our sins through the deeds of loving-kindness.”
As IPC’s Outreach Coordinator I am constantly awed by the many acts of “loving kindness” I am blessed to witness. At a recent pollinator garden dedication at Homewood Friends Meeting in Baltimore, a volunteer asked me, “What keeps you going?” The answer was easy. I said, “My work allows me to be part of Green Team vision and action planning sessions where dreams about projects like this garden are first born. Then, after the time and effort of dedicated groups of volunteers like yours, I am honored to be invited to events like this to see the dream turned into reality.”
At a round table discussion of clergy last month, ten faith leaders from the Gwynns Falls sub-watershed gathered to discuss the effects that recent flooding has had on their congregations and communities. The problems are grave. They learned about the causes of such disasters and ways that they can work individually and together to bring about change. There is much to be done and I cannot wait to see what they will accomplish over the next two years and beyond.
On Sunday, October 27th we will gather for the One Water Partnership Forum where we will highlight the work of 40 congregations in the Jones Falls that have taken such actions. Some of the results of their efforts include:
- Over 10,000 square feet of new rain or pollinator gardens
- 122,271 square feet of impervious surface treatment
- Prevent almost one ton of sediment pollution from reaching local waterways every year
- Almost 300 trees planted
- Combined $522,474 in grant funding secured
- Almost 5,000 people educated about the problem of polluted stormwater runoff and actions they can take to be part of the solutions
Now THAT is awe-inspiring! Please register HERE to join us as we welcome new congregations into this movement and celebrate the accomplishments already achieved. Seats are filling up fast, so don’t miss your chance to join in this celebration (the bus tour is already full, but the dinner still has space available). If you are still dreaming of the change you would like to see, this is the place for you. It is said “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it” (Pirkei Avot 2:21). Let’s get started!
By Bonnie Sorak, Outreach Coordinator
Rosemary Flickinger, a member of Baltimore’s Kadampa Meditation Center a Buddhist Temple, says, “I want others to enjoy the gifts of knowing more about nature and how it is an integral part of our daily lives that directly affects our well-being.” This goal has led her to carry out a series of projects to enhance the sustainability of the temple’s North Baltimore property.
The Temple moved to its current Northern Parkway location in 2014 and its sizeable lot provided Rosemary, who had tended the garden at the Temple’s previous site, a blank canvas on which she could work. Influenced by conversations with friends about sustainability, her first project was planting native trees acquired from Tree Baltimore. She, along with other Temple members and volunteers, planted both shade trees and understory trees around the perimeter of the property. They also planted pine trees in an attempt to establish a small pine grove on an overgrown area near Northern Parkway.
Also in 2014, a Visioning Session facilitated by Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake at Rosemary's Temple helped identify a plan of action. this plan ultimately led to a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust that they were awarded, with help from Blue Water Baltimore. The $30,000 grant was matched with $30,000 of labor in kind to build three rain gardens including a bioswale on the property. These were created to help manage storm water runoff and ultimately benefit the Chesapeake Bay. Later, a retaining wall was built to help direct rainwater away from the Temple building.
The next project for Rosemary and her team was planting fruit trees obtained from Baltimore Orchard Project. This effort began in 2015 with Asian persimmon, Asian pear, fig, and filbert trees. The nonprofit BOP helped with designing the orchard, and Rosemary took a training class offered by BOP and Civic Works, another nonprofit. Since the orchard’s establishment, pear, apple, crab apple, plum, and apricot trees have been added. It, as well as all the other plantings, benefits from mulch the Temple produces from wood chips donated by an arborist and scrupulously collected coffee grounds to enrich the soil.
While Rosemary’s efforts have met with considerable success, at least one of her initiatives has been thwarted—at least temporarily. Faced with the challenge of a corner of the Temple grounds that was severely overgrown with brush and weeds, she discovered a local entrepreneur with a herd of goats for hire. No sooner had she engaged the critters, however, than they were “waylaid” by Baltimore Animal Control. So the brush is still there. However, word has it that the goats are back in business and still hungry, so they’re on Rosemary’s “to do” list.
Last year, the Temple received a mini-grant of $5,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Trust that they’ve used to fund a variety of projects. They built a cistern next to the Temple and use the rainwater collected to water their own gardens. Also, with the help of the nonprofits Blue Water Baltimore and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake they conducted a workshop to convert donated containers to rain barrels for distribution. They did outreach both on social media and through their community association, and for the first time they extended their environmental programs beyond their own property limits by recruiting students from Calvert School and Johns Hopkins to help stencil storm drains at nearby Chinquapin Park. The JHU volunteers also provide ongoing support to maintain the beautiful gardens.
Rosemary says Buddhism teaches that the outer world is as important as our inner spiritual lives. “Creating a garden dedicated to world peace outside the Temple provides a peaceful environment where anyone can come and experience this potential,” she said, adding “there is no outer peace without inner peace.”
Our amazing volunteer, Keith Maynard, continues to share his talents with us by producing these inspiring stories of leaders in our midst. Keith is retired from the Navy where he prepared newsletters and other communications. He resides in Annapolis. If you too have talents to offer, please contact us to volunteer!
Where have wisdom teachers, prophets and saints of diverse faith traditions most commonly heard a challenging or strengthening word from God? The natural world! Elijah heard the voice of God as a "still small voice" in the silence of the wilderness. Jesus went out into the wilderness seeking confidence in God's call to ministry. Prophet Mohammed PBUH heard God's teachings from both trees and the water. The Buddha found enlightenment while sitting under the Bodhi tree. Saint Hildegard of Bingen experienced the "The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature." St. Francis heard the voice of God expressed in the songs of "dear brother birds." These are just a few of the wisdom teachers and spiritual leaders who experienced a theophany or revelation affirming their calling clearly heard within the natural world.
We too can seek wisdom from the natural world amidst the clamor of our lives, which allows space for the voice of God to be heard. Giving our attention to the natural world can foster compassion and inspire us to care for it. Once we have heard the call to be caretakers and advocates of God's intricate environment through our actions, how do we motivate and inspire others in our community to "go forth and do likewise"? Are you yearning to strengthen your congregation's engagement in "tikkun olam" (Jewish tradition meaning the restoration of the world) expressing a deep commitment to becoming a community of faithful healers of Creation?
IPC is excited to announce we will be launching a robust training on how to develop, strengthen and sustain your own congregation’s ministry of caring for Creation). Building a team starts with deepening relationships. A few weeks ago, that's exactly what staff and 5 congregational leaders learned about during our training recently offered by BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development ). We learned the core skills for relationship-building to promote successful organizing, which will be a key component and building block for our Leadership Team Training.
Our Leadership Team Training will include one initial full day training including 1) How to Build Your Team, 2) Action Planning Steps 3) Sustaining your Team’s Commitment and 4) Communication Tools to tell your story. Monthly remote/virtual meetings will focus on equipping you to learn and implement a particular greening practice or team building strategy and opportunities to learn from other congregational leaders through “Solution Circles”. Your participation in this inspiring skills-building opportunity will qualify your congregation for project seed money in specific regions of the One Water Partnership.
We’ve heard your voices expressing the need for strong environmental teams/ministries. Strong teams are a foundation for effecting the change we need in the world, at hundreds of congregations! Sign up to express your interest here to be one of those new teams. By responding to the call, you can become an even stronger voice committed to creating the healing change that we’re all praying for. Individuals are drops in the bucket, but communities fill the bucket! ~David Gershon
If you are interested in receiving more information about the upcoming trainings, please add your name HERE.
To learn more about the One Water Partnership click HERE.
PETITION IS COMPLETED AND HAS BEEN DELIVERED TO THE RESPECTIVE SENATORS
In an effort to cultivate Senate leadership and appropriate legislation to advance Environmental Justice, we are asking US Senators to join the newly formed Environmental Justice caucus. A letter inviting all senators was issued by Sen. Duckworth, Sen. Booker, and Sen. Carper in June. We are following up on that letter to further encourage our elected senators to join them in the caucus.
This letter, and a list of all signatures, will be sent to the US Senators represented by the signatories. Your address is required so that we can determine to which US Senators to send the completed letter.
After you complete the petition, please consider calling your senator's office directly. You can call the Senate Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and ask for the senators for your state. Each state is represented by two senators, so be sure to ask for one of them, then hang up and repeat that call-in process for your second senator.161 signatures
Dear Honorable Senator (this will be completed specific for each senator to whom we send the letter):
The undersigned strongly encourage you to consider the invitation by Senators Duckworth, Booker, and Carper to join the first-ever Environmental Justice Caucus. As people of faith, we are deeply committed to the work of ensuring equitable distribution of healthy natural resources for all people and all creatures. We are responsible for being good stewards of this beautiful creation and it is our duty to work toward justice in all facets of creation.
Environmental injustice is an evil that pervades our society and creates an imbalance in the web of life. All people deserve clean air, clean water, unpolluted soil, and a stable climate. To ensure this right for all people, we need a caucus that focuses exclusively on the immorality and injustices that disproportionately place environmental burdens upon one group of people. The successful formation and influence of such a caucus would be a commendable step toward a more just world.
We stand ready to provide support, input, spiritual context, and guidance as the fledgling caucus begins its challenging work. And, we stand in solidarity with our unheard neighbors fighting on the front lines of degraded water, rising sea levels, extreme weather, and warming temperatures.
Please prayerfully consider the invitation to join the Environmental Justice Caucus as a manifestation of your duty to protect our shared natural resources for all people in this web of life.
In hope for a just future for all,
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and the Undersigned Supporters
A few weekends ago, I visited two different churches of two different denominations 50 miles apart from each other. Each church was installing a rain garden to treat stormwater and reduce pollution in nearby rivers. One might ask “Does one rain garden really make a difference?”
“One rain garden” is similar to the story of the mustard seed. “Though it is the smallest of all seeds, when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” (Matthew 13:31) Taken collectively, these hundreds of rain gardens, rain barrels, native plantings, and other small acts of stewardship add up to huge impact. Our network of over 225 congregations has planted over 15,000 trees, reached over 100,000 people, and reduced stormwater emanating from over 2 million square feet of impervious surfaces. So, yes, one rain garden does make a difference.
In the same way - one donation makes all the difference. Your gift, no matter how big or small, combines with other gifts to help IPC inspire more faithful stewards. Right now, generous supporters have agreed to double all gifts up to $10,000. Will you help us reach our goal of $10,000 by June 21st?
The Holy Qur’an refers to mustard seeds when teaching that all good deeds – no matter how small --will be recognized. “O my son! If it be equal to the weight of a grain of mustard seed…Allah will bring it forth.” [31:16]
You can sow your own mustard seeds of hope and join a faithful community of stewards working to restore God’s Creation. You can help restore God’s Creation with your donation -- and right now your gift will go twice as far!
Our network of congregations is having tremendous impact on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. Hundreds of faith communities are taking action, praying together, blessing rivers together, advocating in the halls of power together. This movement is sweeping across Maryland – and you can be part of it.
“The whole Earth is a living icon of the face of God.”
--St. John of Damascus (675-749), Treatise
We are in our second week of Earth Month, a time when people of faith and others throughout Maryland and across the nation celebrate the wonderful gifts in our natural world. It is also a time when we all can renew our commitment to being good stewards of the environment. It's exciting to see that each year, more and more congregations are taking the lead and organizing tree plantings, cleanups, educational events, Creation focused worship services and more.
If your congregation does not yet have any activities scheduled, and you are wondering how to get involved in efforts to sustain our Earth, we have a few suggestions for you.
Participate in a stream cleanup
There are a myriad of stream cleanups taking place this month. IPC will be hosting one on April 13th in partnership with the City of Gaithersburg. If you live in the area, please join us by registering at this link. Or you can check out the Potomac River Watershed Cleanups for additional opportunities.
Participate in an educational event
There are several films that can educate us about the health of the Chesapeake Bay and our local environment. If you live close to Baltimore, join one of our partners, Homewood Friends, for a screening of the film ”High Tide in Dorchester” . Or you could attend a special lecture on urban forests, at Memorial Episcopal on April 8th, featuring Jill Jonnes and our Executive Director, Jodi Rose (RSVP on the events page here)
Plant a tree (or many)
Many jurisdictions in Maryland have tree giveaways. Check with your local county department of the environment to find out whether they will be holding a giveaway this month.
Commit to shifting to more sustainable travel this month (and beyond)
In recognition of Earth Month, make a pledge to walk, bike, or take public transportation whenever possible. If you are planning a trip, consider purchasing carbon offsets for your travel-related carbon emissions or you can do so here.
Spend more time outdoors
Go outside and undertake a spiritual practice in nature. You can find some ideas in our guide to Spiritual Walk Reflections and Activities.
And if your congregation is looking for other ideas on how to celebrate Earth Day on Monday, April 22nd, IPC has compiled several worship resources. Check out what we have available on our website.
“This movement is going to grow in the basements of churches where the spirit will move us,” said a participant at a recent One Water Partnership movie screening co-sponsored by Mount Lebanon Baptist Church and Beth Am Congregation in Baltimore. After watching a movie that awakened us to the challenges our world faces with a warming climate, the consensus in the room was there is hope because there is so much we all can do to be part of the solution.
Interestingly, this discussion took place just at the onset of Lent which, for our Christian friends, brings a time of reflection -- and sometimes darkness -- where the spirit moves and inspires. “The basements of churches” are much like that dark, reflective space where the spirit moves us to awaken our hearts and think differently.
As you dwell on the change you seek in your life and in the world, remember that congregations all over Maryland are making change happen: installing rain gardens, planting natives, giving up single-use plastics/Styrofoam, switching to LED lighting, educating their members, and lobbying in Annapolis. Individuals are bringing along reusable bags when they shop, becoming vegetarian, using public transportation, and saying “no” to straws at restaurants. Our Menu for Action offers ideas on actions you or your congregation can take. And everyone, not just Christians, may find inspiration in our Lenten Creation Care Calendar (Maryland, DC, or Virginia, Spanish versions).
Welcome harbingers of spring are the increasing number of phone calls we are receiving from folks looking for support with Earth Day plans. Earth Sunday is April 28th, are you ready? Just as the crocuses and tulips promise to emerge from their dark, winter slumber, this “faithful green movement” is growing in the basements of congregations all across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The spirit is moving. And, IPC promises to try to help you lead your community in that movement.
As we honor and remember the contributions of the great civil rights leader the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it offers a time for us to reflect on one of Dr. King's central tenants: the Beloved Community, based upon equality, justice and love among one another. Dr. King was dedicated to the manifestation of the Beloved Community throughout his ministry, from the marches to secure freedom from discrimination based upon race, to the final year of King's life when he spoke out for peace calling for an end to the Vietnam war. We can garner courage and inspiration from his example of taking a stand and organizing for the betterment of communities everywhere, bringing his words to life: Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.
As we embark on a new year, IPC is at a critical juncture to expand our work more broadly to manifest a beloved community within the Chesapeake Bay. IPC, with gratitude and excitement, celebrates the granting of $1M from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, as an opportunity to contribute to the creation of the beloved community as we take a stand for a clean healthy environment for all through education, advocacy and action creating a qualitative change for all life within our watershed communities. With this grant over the next 3 years, we will continue to engage faith communities in deepening their connection and understanding of their local watershed, it's beauty and it's challenges. In doing so, we are responding to Dr. King's call for people to be of service to their community: Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' Through our organizing efforts with partners, we will be offering more opportunities for you to serve your own beloved community!
Building upon the successful One Water Partnership in the Jones Falls watershed (see here for results), IPC, along with these partners - Blue Water Baltimore, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Watershed Stewards Academies in Anne Arundel County and Harford County, Interfaith Power & Light-DMV, Lower Shore Land Trust, Wicomico Environmental Trust, READY of Anne Arundel County, and the University of Maryland Extension Office Sea Grant, will continue to build upon our work in Baltimore and Harford County, while also expanding to Anne Arundel, Wicomico County on the lower Eastern Shore, and Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Through the award of this 3-year grant program, we will mobilize 100 congregations, of which 36 will commit to deep engagement and high-impact stormwater management or restoration projects.
Read more here and sign up to learn more or participate in this wonderful and exciting development for IPC as we, along with you, contribute to this beloved community of the Chesapeake Bay.
You need darkness in order to truly appreciate light. I know this because each year when my family finishes decorating our Christmas tree, the first thing we do is turn off the lights to watch the tree glow in the dark. My coworker Bonnie Sorak says it's the same in her family for Menorah candles -- the darkness helps us truly experience the light.
This time of year, our awareness of light is heightened. Days are getting shorter, so light becomes markedly treasured and uplifting. Hanukkah is coming to an end December 10th and is a celebration of the light that lasted for eight days in the temple after the Maccabees’ repaired their temple from the three-year war. A parable in the Qur’an describes God as light: “Allah is the light of the heavens and earth.” (Sura an-Nur 24:36) Christians light candles in late December to celebrate the birth of Jesus, believing he was the light of the world.
Light is a gift meant to be shared, and it abounds at IPC through the selfless actions of so many. So many of you fuel all of this light with your financial support, giving generously year after year. I witness this light in IPC’s team of dedicated staff and board who work tirelessly in the fight for clean water. I witness it in the hundreds of faithful like you who are inspiring people to think and act differently.
As we reflect on the light of the past year, I want to share the story of one young girl at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church in Baltimore. A teenager from the church was exposed to watershed stewardship through one of our Jones Falls One Water Partnership Inspirational Bus Tours. Touched by what she learned, she is now focusing her Girl Scouts activities on watershed restoration and is building a rain garden at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church. Who knows where this girl will go with her passions? What light will she bring to the next generation? How beautiful was the light she saw at her church that has forever changed her worldview.
This Season of Light, remember that in all of the darkness around us, you are bringing forth light in the humble, small, perfect ways that are uniquely your calling. Through your leadership, actions, and financial support, you are restoring and protecting our shared watershed. And, maybe just maybe, we all treasure this light more fully because of the darkness in today’s world.
May the light in those around you touch your heart. Thank you for all the ways you have participated in IPC’s work this past year and for the light you show me every day.
Every year I make choices about the organizations I donate to. And every year, I choose Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake.
Ever since I was a child, I have felt something special, something deep, something comforting in the presence of nature. Before I really knew what the word “spiritual” meant, I felt an energy from flowing streams, pounding surf, and the solitude of the forest - a sense of hope that I was part of something far bigger than myself.
Gandhi said, "a spiritual relationship is far more precious than a physical one. The physical divorced from spiritual is like body without soul." And from a different vantage point, Chief Sitting Bull said, “Every seed is awakened and so is all animal life. It is through this mysterious power that we too have our being.” Pope Francis wrote in his encyclical on the environment, “Concern for the environment needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings.”
We have much work to do to repair the environment and the health of our communities. The challenges are daunting and the brokenness around us is profound. However, the power of the faith community to effect change is greater than the challenges. Diverse cultures are uniting in stewardship of the natural world. I have found this to be a tremendous source of hope.
That hope is what excites me about the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and why I give generously to support their work. This giving season, and particularly on Giving Tuesday, November 27th, I invite you to do the same.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake works hard every day to ignite the power of the faith community to take action. They are creating hubs of environmental action, cultivating champions and leaders, guiding congregations in on-the-ground restoration work, speaking out in defense of environmental justice, and supporting policies that care for the web of life. With IPC’s help, congregations are uniting to address whole watershed challenges like stormwater, deforestation, and polluted communities. They are restoring the earth by changing hearts and forming faithful stewards.
Please join me in standing up for the important work of the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. Click here to donate on our website, and remember us on Giving Tuesday, November 27th.
Be as generous as you can. Any amount will make a difference.
Vice-Chair of the Board for Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake
We are excited to announce that the One Water Partnership™ program has been awarded a 3-year grant by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation! Through this program, we will mobilize 100 congregations, of which 36 will commit to deep engagement and high-impact stormwater management or restoration projects. Click HERE to read more.
Why do you find yourself among this circle of activists restoring clean water and fighting for environmentally moral policies? What or Who is calling you here? How are you helping to restore clean water?
Our staff and board recently went through a process to reflect on our “Why” and “How”. We shared personal reasons, like “I’m on this board for my grandchildren’s future” or “I work here because it aligns with my personal mission in life”. We also shared organizational reasons of why IPC exists:
- To help repair the broken relationship we humans have with the local environment
- To provide resources to leaders like you to help you restore your local waters
- To activate people of faith to advocate for policies that protect water and promote environmental justice
- To provide hope and resilience at this time of environmental urgency
Your stories inspired us, too: why you keep going, how you inspire others to join you, and what support you need. And we know we are making a difference -- we are restoring clean water.
Our discussions about purpose and how to restore clean water became IPC’s new Strategic Plan. We invite you to read through it grow with us. Our plan calls for IPC to ignite the power of faith communities in the Chesapeake region to honor all of Creation by working together to protect and restore our shared watershed.
- We will create congregational hubs in Maryland, District of Columbia and Pennsylvania to magnify our impact and inspire new congregations
- We will create leadership training and support programs, tools, and resources to make it easier for you to lead your congregation.
- We will grow our partnerships and diversify our support.
- We will achieve organizational excellence with a strong board and diverse and talented staff.
We invite you to grow with us and join us in our shared vision for a restored Chesapeake watershed. Here are some ways you can help:
- Read our Strategic Plan, our Core Values and Guiding Principles. Pray for all of us that this plan may guide our work in ways that give glory to God.
- Reflect on your why and how. Where is the overlap between your plan and our plan? How can we support you, and how can you support us? Complete the Stay Connected form so that we can build a hub around your congregation.
- Donate to IPC to support our work. One of our core values is being accountable and responsible with the resources entrusted to us. Help us ignite the power of faith communities to make a difference by donating cash or stock.
I have had the honor of serving as IPC’s Executive Director since 2013. In the past five years, and by God’s mercy and grace, IPC has grown tremendously: engaged 200+ congregations, planted thousands of trees, treated millions of gallons of stormwater, educated thousands of faithful of all races and faiths, added four more part-time staff to our team, and grew our funding five-fold. I promise to continue to hold IPC accountable and monitor our progress. Those might sound like corporate words, but they are rooted in deep conviction, purpose, and love...Love for all of Creation and future generations who are forever at the mercy of the choices -- and plans -- we make today.
Grow with us and be part of IPC’s future impact.
You are a part of many things bigger than yourself: a community of faith, a watershed, a movement to care for our Earth. Together, with hundreds of congregations across the watershed, you are transforming the legacy we will all leave behind. Will you join in our year-end fundraising campaign to help us grow?
In the 1980’s, the Chesapeake Bay was on the brink of environmental disaster. It has been a long and challenging struggle, but we see clear signs of recovery and resiliency. Fully realizing the goals of this unprecedented restoration effort will be one of the greatest environmental success stories in history. Will you help to do your part?
Make your donation to IPC today to support this work. Join us through your gift, or build a green team at your congregation, or get involved in your nearby hub and tap into our vast resources and partner organizations to help you be good stewards of the Earth. People of faith are united in their sense of responsibility to be good caretakers of the Earth.
Start with your own circle of influence. The science, politics, and solutions to so many global and regional issues can be complicated and leave people feeling overwhelmed or powerless. We remind folks to start with what they can impact in their own congregation and community. You can also have great impact by making a financial gift today – or an ongoing monthly recurring gift to support us well into the future.
Please join the movement by supporting the work of the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake. Your contribution will sustain, reinforce, and make tangible our shared hope for a future in which all people have clean water, unpolluted air, and a thriving ecosystem.
Chair, Board of Trustees
Andrea Proctor published Sacred Waters Teach Environmental Justice in Newsletter 2018-10-05 14:45:40 -0400
Former IPC board member Rev. Allen LaMontagne, now pastoring in Jacksonville, FL, called us because he was bringing his youth group to DC to learn about justice and advocacy...and fighting for clean water was on his mind. Together, Rev. LaMontagne and IPC built an immersion experience for his group that explored the impact of human action on the waters and communities of the Anacostia region. We offer this story of their “Pilgrimage” and invite you to consider replicating this environmental justice experience for your own faith communities.
To begin our day, prayers of blessing for the waters were to be offered from a member of the Piscataway tribe, the original inhabitants (along with other tribes) of this watershed along with selections from scripture (Job 12:7-8, Psalm 24:1-3, Isaiah 24:5) about our relationship to the land, waters and wildlife. Direct experiences of witnessing challenges to the local waters were schueduled with these local partners: Groundwork Anacostia, the Anacostia Riverkeeper, and Earth Conservation Corps. We were poised to fulfill the motto for this pilgrimage: We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience ~ Teilhard de Chardin.
The week of the Pilgrimage finally arrived in July when metro DC received record levels of rainfall with almost daily flash flood warnings. The direct result of so much stormwater runoff was vividly evident by the amount of trash floating throughout the river. Highpoints along the river were sightings of an eagle perched in a tree, turtles sunning themselves on riverbank logs, the chattering of a Kingfisher flying overhead and the beauty of Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens where the lotus flowers were in full bloom, all gifts of Creation which many in DC hardly know about!
We learned that the eagles now flourishing in the Anacostia watershed were re-introduced in 1992 by youth members of Earth Conservation Corps. Indeed the capstone experience of the day, ECC addresses both pollution and poverty by building leadership among youth from Anacostia neighborhoods rife with drugs, violence, and premature death due to these. An original ECC member, Burell Dunkin shared both the pain of experience (26 youth from the program have been killed in the 26 year history of the organization) and the joy of being part of the solution that offers life-transforming opportunities for 20 youth every year.
A service project for the group was to join the Groundwork Anacostia youth in cleaning out the Bandalong Trash Trap located on the banks of the Anacostia River. Trash traps are just as they sound: floating booms that collect trash that washes into the river from stormwater drains throughout DC and upstream. This cleanout task offers volunteers a directl view of the huge amount of trash that gets accumulated. Getting us out on the river, Anacostia Riverkeeper (ARK) offered a free boat tour (fully funded by the DC plastic bag fee!) with an overview of the history of environmental injustice. This was evidenced by legacy toxics in the river caused by the siting of landfills, power plant, poor infrastructure and lack of access to the riverfront on the east side of the river, a largely low-income African American community. The toxic materials continues to impact the fish, many of which have lesions, andh threatens human health of those who catch them. A study showed that over 17,000 people fished there in one year, out of a river that is among the top 10 most polluted in the U.S. ARK educates people about doing “catch and release.”
The FL Pilgrimage youth group took away much to ponder in their hearts about the social and environmental disparities they witnessed in the Anacostia watershed. Their experience on the river and with people who are impacted informed how they may address environmental justice in their own home watershed. And you can too! Contact IPC if you are interested in replicating this experience for your faith community.
Kolya Braun-Greiner, MDiv
IPC Religious Educator
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake's story starts with an inspired group of individuals at a 2004 National Council of Churches "Holy Waters" conference in Annapolis, Maryland from which our organization, originally named Chesapeake Covenant Congregations, was created. Our founding and mission is rooted in a deep religious call to care for the Earth, recognition that the Chesapeake Bay is a significant ecological feature in our midst for which we have been entrusted its care, and an urgency to restore our local watershed. We became Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake in 2013 to reflect the diversity of faith communities in the Chesapeake region and the intention to bridge relationships and engage people across religious lines.
Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC) ignites the power of faith communities in the Chesapeake Bay region to honor all of Creation by working together to protect and restore our shared watershed.
We envision a time when faith communities across the Chesapeake region honor, care for, and protect the watershed we share so all our communities, and future generations, may thrive.
We care deeply about the Earth, all it's people and life forms, but we focus on water, because water is the essence of all life. The purity of the water is a litmus test for the health of the world. Its health is determined by what we do, the patters of our lives, the choices we make, the quality of the air, the health of soil. The welfare of all depends on the welfare of the earth's waters.
Through water, we are unmistakably interconnected. Thus, through our respect and stewardship of water, we demonstrate respect and love for each other and for future generations. We therefore believe that we must work through communities of faith to bring about a transformation of awareness and action that reflects respect for this interconnectedness and the need for restored balance.
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Our strategy to achieve our mission is rooted in our principles and beliefs. These serve as a filter to helps us assess options and make choices aligned with our mission and vision.
- All faith traditions share a fundamental belief that we have a moral responsibility to be good caretakers of Creation.
- Clean watersheds are necessary for communities to be healthy and thriving.
- When people experience and appreciate the beauty of Creation, they will love and protect it.
- Action at the local level is what drives people. People are connected to local issues, local needs, and local relationships.
- People are most energized when they can connect with one another on a personal level, lift each other up, work together to repair the brokenness, and demonstrate love and solidarity.
- Individual champions drive change and need to be supported.
- Networks of faith-based communities infect others and magnify our message and impact.
Our 3-year strategic direction for 2019-2021 lays out an ambitious, scalable pathway for Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake to bring initiatives to fruition, and to advance sustainable funding models that will guide organizational life beyond this plan. It builds on the significant achievements of the last two years and sets IPC on a pathway to organizational excellence.
We reflected on the success of creating the Jones Falls One Water Partnership in Baltimore, and the cultivation of a hub of faith leaders on the lower shore who have now named themselves Wicomico Interfaith Partners for Creation Care.
- IPC's One Water Partnership initiative encourages communities of multiple faiths to work individually and collectively to build awareness, advocacy and action in their local watershed. The cohort has begun to see themselves as a collaborative group and cross-congregational actions have hence been catalyzed.
- On the lower shore, IPC's work, resources and messaging were instrumental in initiating action from a group of faith leaders in Salisbury who continue to meet monthly and have hosted three annual Earth Day celebrations.
These two examples of network-building offer models for scaling our actions and impact throughout the broader Chesapeake Bay region from Maryland's western shore to the Eastern Shore, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania.