Listening for the Call to Watershed Stewardship
Taking time to listen for and reflect upon the "still small voice within" (1 Kings 19:12) often eludes us in our busy lives. The same could be said for congregations. Allowing time to hear the Spirit, God's voice, or inner wisdom drawn from the Source of Life can guide us to discern the action we are being called to take in our lives and in our communities. IPC's Covenantal Partners Program (CPP) is exactly that: a time set apart for reflection and discernment about your faith community's actions to care for Creation. The program, available to congregations within Baltimore City and County, is a spiritually facilitated process for renewing or launching their faith commitment to care for the earth. Through the CPP process, a group attending the visioning process will articulate their dreams for their community and begin to establish their next steps. But your congregation need not be in Baltimore to learn from the wonderful actions that participants in the Covenantal Partners Program have already taken! These stories can serve as models for your own green ministry, earthcare, or environmental stewardship actions. Here are examples:
Gwynn Oak United Methodist Church had discerned the call to offer a youth program on caring for Creation, so they decided to offer a Vacation Bible School during the summer using "God and Nature" curriculum materials suggested by IPC. Through games and stories, children learned about their watershed and how trash contributes to polluting their local streams and rivers, and eventually the Chesapeake Bay. When they watched a video that showed images of plastic bottles floating in a river, one of the children shouted out with great concern, "That's going to kill the fish!" They each took this message home with an action and reflection "Caring for God's Creation" handout with prayer, scriptures and suggested actions inside a reusable shopping bag for them to share with their families. See the lesson plan for this children's class on water which could be used at any time!
The theme of reducing trash was chosen as its focus at Amazing Grace Lutheran Church. During their Action Planning Session (which followed their Visioning Session) members agreed to focus on reducing the trash in their neighborhood with a concrete step to manifest this on their annual Port Street Celebration Day. The youth created signs (sign at left says: Please don't Litter. Keep our Earth Clean) to be displayed during the event and they came up with this great slogan: "Trash in the street pollutes what we eat."On the day of the neighborhood celebration, signs were posted on the fence around the community garden where people were gathered for food and fellowship. Trash was reduced that day!
Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment, "Our Common Home," gave the Environmental Justice team at St. Matthew Catholic Churcha blessed opportunity to manifest their vision to integrate care for Creation and the poor throughout its diverse parish ministries. They crafted a series of workshop and reflection times to learn about and discuss the encyclical on various themes chosen by the different ministries within the church. Participants learned about all the ways that we contribute to polluted runoff in the Chesapeake Bay (representation of trash, oil, detergents, and lawn chemicals in bowl at right) through a story "A Day Around the Bay," that told about these sources of pollution. Along with this, participants were invited to take a pledge of action (in the basket in photo at left) and Fr. Joe Muth will offer a blessing of these pledges during one of the masses. All these will be compiled into a list of actions for the whole congregation to use. As another action, in collaboration withTrash Free Maryland, IPC helped draft a sign on letter to the Mayor seeking a ban on plastic bags in Baltimore.
Three other congregations conducting their Visioning process during the coming weeks are Towson Unitarian Universalist, Prince of Peace Baptist Church and Catonsville Presbyterian Church. As they embark on putting their Vision into Action, we'll share their stories too!
Even if you are outside Baltimore, if you feel the CPP process would be helpful to your congregation in planning your actions, please contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or 443-799-0349. With enough congregations requesting this, we will seek more funding to support this work. For more information, here is a flyer about the program.
Bring the Pope Francis' encyclical to life in the Chesapeake Bay watershed with an experiential, interfaith series for young adults (those in their 20s and 30s) to heighten awareness on local issues and cultivate new public advocates. This is a 3-part series, and Session 1 SOLD OUT this past Saturday! Two sessions remain in the series. Click here for more information and registration.
Environmental Justice: Saturday, October 31, Eagle Harbor, MD, 10am - 3pm. Enjoy the ecology, engage with the local community, and consider the interrelationship of environment, community, economy, and justice.
Responding in Faith: Saturday, November 14, St. Camillus Catholic Church, Silver Spring, MD, 10am - 3pm. Witness a faith community working to heal creation. Panel discussion faith leaders on authentic, faith-based advocacy.
Healthy Lawns Bill Passed!
Tree Planting Opportunities
We are also still enrolling faith communities for free tree plantings for 2016. Trees for Sacred Places provides 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. Contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or 410-609-6852. View and download Flyer here.
Last weekend over 40 people volunteered to plant 60 trees at the Oakland Mills Interfaith Center! (Photo at above by Knights of Columbus member Greg Strakna)
Oct. 31 Tree Planting and Workshop at Faith Presbyterian Church, 9am-1pm
Nov. 7-8 Tree Planting at Manidokan United Methodist Camp & Retreat Center 9-4pm
Nov. 7 Trees Workshop at Christ the King Episcopal Church 12pm
Nov. 8 Tree Planting at Christ the King Episcopal Church 12pm-2pm.
Nov. 8 Trees Workshop at Holy Family Catholic Church 9:30
Nov. 14 Tree Planting at Holy Family Catholic Church 9am-12pm
Funding, Funding, Funding!
We hope you can participate in the remaining sessions in this Series “The Cry of the Earth”, hosted by St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church, 120 N. Front Street, Baltimore, 21202. More information here. They have secured nationally-known speakers.
Maryland Climate Expos!
District Heights - Saturday, October 24th, 1-5pm Suitland Community Center 5600 Regency Lane , District Heights, MD 20747
Edgewood- Thursday, November 12th, 5-8pm Boys and Girls Club 2002 Cedar Dr, Edgewood, MD 21040
Columbia-Tuesday, November 17th, 7-9 pm Columbia East Library, Center for Aging 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia, MD 21045
Baltimore- Saturday, November 21st, 11am-2pm Baltimore City Community College 2901 Liberty Heights Ave, Baltimore, MD 21215
Cisterns - this time for Prince George's County!
Remember when we were promoting free cistern installations for 3 Montgomery County congregations? Well, Prince George's County, it's your turn!
The Anacostia Riverkeeper already has secured the needed funding to install cisterns (large rain barrels approximately 650 gallon capacity) at houses of worship in Prince George's County's portion of the Anacostia watershed. These cisterns will store and release rainfall for non-potable water uses and stormwater disposal. The project is at no cost to the church and can alleviate flooding problems as well as reduce your property’s contribution of polluted runoff.
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. Already First Baptist Church of Glen Arden is signed up! We're looking for 2 more! To learn more or express your interest, please contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or 410-609-6852.
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.
Oct. 21st - Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake is speaking at the National Capital Baptist Convention of Washington DC
Oct. 29th, Nov. 5th - Free webinars about how to go solar and save money for your congregation, hosted by Greenfaith. Register here.
IPC Needs Volunteers
If you have some time and would like to help us to spread our message more effectively please contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected].
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