In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. -- Matthew 5:16
This passage jumped into my mind the first time I visited All Saints Lutheran Church in Bowie, Maryland. As I drove into their parking lot I was immediately struck by the number of trees planted and preserved on their grounds. In addition, right at the entrance to the church, is an impressive pollinator garden. All around are signs that the congregation is aware of the need for God's people to be good stewards of the environment.
I was visiting their congregation because, in spite of the fact that they do not qualify for any of the rebates offered through the Prince George's County Alternative Compliance Program, the church graciously agreed to host some of the ACP training workshops hosted by IPC. On one of these occasions, our host, Walter Knausenberger, gave me a tour of the grounds. When you first meet Walter, you quickly learn how passionate and knowledgeable he is about environmental stewardship. Often, all it takes is just a couple of members like Walter to serve as champions for the cause within a congregation. He outlined how, in 2008, All Saints launched its “Green Team” that has, among other things, helped establish the church grounds as an official wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation; helped educate the church staff and members about adopting practices that minimize adverse environmental impact; and hosted an event showcasing eco-living and “green” products. The “Green Team” is not particularly large, but they have been able to accomplish a lot over the years.
All Saints is one shining light within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s (ELCA) Delaware Maryland Synod. The Synod passed a Resolution on Ecological Justice at their recent Assembly and is spearheading a 500 Trees Project as Lutherans celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Through this project, the Synod is encouraging all its member congregations to participate in tree planting in the spirit of caring for God’s creation.
You too might be contemplating ways to let your light shine as a congregation and wondering how best to move forward. IPC offers a number of opportunities to partner with us through our many programs. If you would like to learn more about the programs that IPC has available please click on the links below to check out our webpages for: Prince George’s County’s Alternative Compliance Program Support, Trees for Sacred Places, and Sacred Grounds Workshops. Even if you don’t qualify for these specific programs, IPC often needs partners in other areas. Please contact Bonnie Sorak at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Together we will help keep the world brighter for all of God’s creation.