Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake


  • Reflection: Inspiration from Ct. Camillus Catholic Church
  • Updates the Bag Ban and Pesticide Bill 
  • Eastern Shore Faith Leaders Come Together
  • Trees for Sacred Places
  • Free Boat Tours on Anacostia River
  • 2 Wins for Creation! Updates on HoCo Stormwater and Baltimore Incinerator
  • Experience Trash - Clean a Stream!
  • Gov. Hogan Office hosting "Grant Writing for Faith-Based Organizations"
  • Upcoming Events

Inspiration from St. Camillus Catholic Church

This past fall, I had the privilege of working with St. Camillus to raise awareness about a new runoff cistern they were installing, thanks to a grant orchestrated by the Anacostia Riverkeeper, funded by the Cheapeake Bay Trust and Montgomery County Rainscapes program. We organized an educational event at their church so that parishioners could learn what the cistern was designed to do and how it would help heal degraded rivers and streams. What I was amazed to learn was how much they had already done to be faithful stewards caring for sacred waters. Below is a summary of their projects as written by their facilities manager Steve Smith, and a video that captures their community coming together for one of the many work days. Theirs is a story of hope, to be shouted from the mountaintops so that others may hear and be inspired to act. Send us your stories, too!

The St. Camillus campus footprint is 14 acres and 9 of those acres are impervious. That means the parking lots, roofs and driveways surrounding the school, church, and friary are solid and do not let the rain soak into the ground. The rain that falls on the impervious surfaces creates a flood of water that picks up soil, trash, and other pollutants and sweeps them into the gutters, down the storm drains and into the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River, into the Potomac and into the Chesapeake Bay.


Three years ago St. Camillus began to look at ways that we could cut back on the surge of stormwater and pollutants that flow off of our lands into the rivers and Bay. We knew it was our sacred duty to be good stewards of the land we live off of and this was one way that we could do that. When we began looking closely at the stormwater runoff we noticed that some of it was brown with soil being washed off of hillsides. We decided that we could tackle that problem and have an impact.

In 2014, we constructed a series of four conservation landscape areas on a hill stretching down from the church towards a large parking lot and the storm drains. Over two weekends, 120 parish volunteers dug and dug, toted dirt, rocks and compost and planted 400 native plants. These planting areas are now capturing rainwater flowing down the hillside, hold it temporarily and allow some of it to soak into the ground where the plants will absorb it and slowly allow the excess to flow down to the storm drains. These catchment areas have effectively reduced the soil erosion flowing into the streams. The materials for this project were funded from grants from Silver Spring Green and Montgomery County’s RainScapes Program. The volunteer hours all came from within the parish community: people who cared enough to help heal the Earth – God’s Earth. The 120 volunteers donated nearly 700 hours of time to this effort – It took the Village.

[Read the rest of the story here]


Updates on the Bag Ban and Pesticide Bill

Bag Ban
We are disappointed to report that Maryland legislature leadership was unable to pass a ban on plastic bags this year. The bill was killed last week. We know many in 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 over 72 groups and activists participated in getting the word out about the bill, including in far reaches of Maryland. The disappointing outcomes underscores the importance of every person - and every voice. We hope there will be another attempt at this next year. 

Pesticide Bill
Much progress continues to be made with the Pollinator Protection Act. It has passed in both chambers, with very few amendments. The bill would ban neonic-treated plants and seedlings in Maryland. This is a great week to thank the following representatives who supported the legislation: All Democrats voted in favor, except for Knotts and Sample-Hughes; Republicans who voted in favor were Aumann, Beitzel, Cassilly, Hornberger, Kipke, McKay, McMillan, Miele, Reilly, Simonaire, Vogt, West, Wivell. And, here's a story about this legislation - the strongest of its kind in the US.  

Eastern Shore Faith Leaders Come Together

Live in lower shore Maryland? Or wish to travel to a beautiful spot in Maryland? 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. While there has been a lot of talk 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. Their event consists of a Friday night April 22nd dinner and speaker (our very own board chair Rev. Mary Gaut!) and Saturday workshops on April 23rd to share valuable resources and information on how congregations can join them in being good stewards. The event is co-organized by Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and Wicomico Environmental Trust. A flyer and more details are here.  Click here to RSVP for the event


Trees for Sacred Places - Free Trees for Faith Communities

We have opportunities right NOW for congregations in Montgomery County and Maryland-wide to obtain free trees for their grounds.  Trees are "Creation's Cure-all" since they filter pollutants from the water, reduce stormwater runoff (#1 source of water pollution from urban and suburban locations), prevent soil erosion, and mitigate climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.  

The Trees for Sacred Places program offers all of these for FREE:   (See list of participating congregations and find outmore information here.)

  • Spiritual workshops to explore faith teachings on stewardship along with the spiritual meanings of trees and water in our faith traditions
  • Educational workshops on the importance of tree planting in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed
  • Planting Plan tailored to your site
  • Hands-on training for tree planting and maintenance
  • Crew leaders to train the congregation's volunteers on the planting day
  • And, of course, FREE Native trees!  

Interested in learning more? Contact Bonnie Sorak, [email protected] or 410-609-6852View and download Flyer here. 
Upcoming Tree Planting Days - Come check out how this works and see if you want to bring this 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


Boat Tours on Anacostia River

One of our nation's most degraded rivers is right here in our back yard: the Anacostia River. The DC Department of Environment is providing a great opportunity for groups to participate in free boat tours with the Anacostia Riverkeeper. Get up close and personal with the river and its struggles, learn about its history, and the solutions helping it realize its full potential. Tours are for up to 12 people and are 1- or 2-hour tours. This is free, paid for by the DC Bag Fee (how smart! Ban bags AND raise awareness!) More information?

If you would like to take a group from your congregation, please contact IPC's Program Assistant Farley Lord Smith at [email protected]

2 Wins for Creation!

HoCo Stormwater Repeal Bill is Defeated
Thank you to everyone in Howard County who spoke out or contacted their county council members to express their support of dedicated funding to address stormwater! The repeal bill was defeated last week. Dedicated funding in the County is already being put to work on the ground to reduce flooding, restore streams, filter water pollution, and bring cleaner water to Howard County. Losing it would have been a devastating blow to efforts to reduce polluted runoff, as well as a significant burden on the county budget. Baltimore Sun covered the vote. Take a moment to contact your council representative if you live in Howard County and thank them for this WIN for the environment!

Baltimore Curtis Bay Incinerator Plans are Killed by Maryland Department of Environment
You may recall that a group of high schoolers in Curtis Bay was fighting plans to put an incinerator in their neighborhood. They successfully argued that the permit that was originally issued for the project was outdated, and the MDE listened. On March 17th, MDE pulled the permit, essentially killing the project at this time. Thank you for your prayers and support on this WIN for the environment!

Experience Trash First-hand: Clean a Stream!

Want to see first-hand the trash that accumulates in our sacred waters? Volunteer with Project Clean Stream or Alice Ferguson Foundation's Potomac Watershed Cleanup and be forever changed! Get your Men's Group, Bible Study Group, Boy Scout group, or Green Team together for a field trip and join the movement. This is free and easy to organize. There are many stream cleanup projects organized throughout the state, but here are two of the bigger ones. 

Project Clean Stream - They'll support cleanups through May 31st
Alice Ferguson Foundation Potomac Watershed Cleanup
 - They'll support cleanups through May 8th

Governor Hogan's Grant-Writing Workshop

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.

Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities

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  • March Lobby Night on GGRE - Speak out in support of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act. Click here to sign up to participate and connect with Interfaith Power and Light for more information.
    • March 21 - for those living in Southern Maryland and Eastern Shore
  • March 22nd - World Water Day Some resources to review are here
  • March 23rd - Watch a free screening of "How To Let Go of the World -and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change" -6:30 pm, Baltimore, more details here
  • March 25 - Good Friday "Economic & Ecological Way of the Cross" - downtown Washington DC 12-3pm. More details on this flyer.
  • March 26 - Earth Vigil, 7-8:30pm, outdoors at Dayspring Retreat Center, Germantown.  See flyer here.
  • 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 2 - Community Forklift Garden Party 9 AM-3PM  Come visit the IPC table where we will be promoting our Trees for Sacred Places Program 4671 Tanglwood Drive, Edmondston MD 20781
  • April 2 Day of Retreat Laudato Si on Care for Our Common Home 9 AM -3 PM Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Ecology. Our Lady of the Fields, Church Hall, 1070 Cecil Ave., Millersville, Md. 21108. Must RSVP for lunch. Details here
  • April 8 - Grant-Writing for Faith Based Organizations - Hosted by the Governor's Office - come learn about opportunities and learn new tricks. Details here
  • 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 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 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.

Volunteers Needed - We anticipate that the flood gates will open with Earth Day requests for IPC to suggest speakers for services and events and informational sharing opportunities. We will need your help to meet this wonderfully growing demand to spread our message of faithful renewal! If you have expertise or simply wonderful enthusiasm for our cause that you would like to share as a speaker or by attending an event to staff an information table on IPC’s behalf please contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] . We can share slide presentations with you and will arrange to get you all the supplies you will need and train you about all the programs we have available. Here are some specific requests that have already come in:
  • 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 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