Greetings~ in today's news from IPC you'll find out: 

  • What do trees contribute spiritually and environmentally?
  • What happened at the Walk the Talk: An Interfaith Response to Polluted Runoff event?
  • What is the Interfaith Greening Our Sacred Grounds event on Feb. 9?

Planting Trees: Spiritual and Ecological Restoration

Most religious traditions include passages or stories about trees which offer significant sources of spiritual teaching.   It might even be said that trees can be a theophany, a manifestation of God to the world, or a window into understanding the qualities of God and our relationship with the Creator.  Trees can symbolize the diversity of all life, like roots and branches of evolution, all Creation as the Tree of Life in Genesis 2:9.   Faithfulness is also a central quality indicated by trees as in “Happy are those who follow the ways of the Lord… they are like trees planted by streams of water (Psalm 1).  The Torah is often referred to as the “Tree of Life.”  Healing and restoration are provided by the tree of life “whose leaves are for the healing of the nations” (Rev. 22:1-2).  Trees are also mentioned in the Qur’an:  Allah says "See you not how Allah sets forth a parable? – A goodly word is as a goodly tree, whose root is firmly fixed, and its branches (reach) to the sky." [Ibrahim 14:24]

How trees reflect the glory of God was contemplated by Thomas Merton:  A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying [God]. It ‘consents,’ so to speak, to [God's] creative love. It is expressing an idea which is in God and which is not distinct from the essence of God, and therefore a tree imitates God by being a tree.  The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins echoed this spiritual meaning when he wrote, “The World is charged with the grandeur of God.”  (The Grandeur of God)

>>>Would you like to send us a favorite quote about the spiritual significance of trees from your religious/spiritual tradition?  
Please send here:  [email protected]

In addition to nurturing us spiritually, trees also provide rich ecological benefit as they contribute to God’s “renewing the face of the earth” (Ps.104:30) through all the ways they restore water:  absorbing pollutants, preventing soil erosion, stemming polluted runoff, and providing habitat for animal and insect life.

For these reasons, IPC encourages Maryland congregations to consider the 10,000 Trees Program as a great way to help restore the environment, but also bring your community together for action and prayer.  As a team, the Alliance for the Chesapeake and IPC offer FREE trees, Planting and Maintenance Plans, and educational workshops for congregations located within Maryland. The 10,000 Trees Project workshops offer both the Spiritual & Environmental benefits of trees.   Rabbi Rhoda Silverman (Temple Emanuel, Reisterstown, MD) expressed her appreciation of the 10,000 Trees workshop recently: “The workshop was a wonderful addition to our Tu Beshvat programming and will serve as good reflection piece come May when we get to the actual planting.”

For more information, find Frequently Asked Questions and a Step-by-Step Guide at the 10,000 Trees webpage.  If you have any questions or would like to sign up to participate contact: Kolya Braun-Greiner, 10,000 Trees Project Coordinator, [email protected] or call 516-776-6129.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Walk the Talk Event: Interfaith Responses to Polluted Runoff--A successful sharing of models & inspiration

About 65 people gathered on Sunday February 2nd in Howard County to hear about what congregations are doing to prevent polluted runoff—the only source of pollution that’s on the rise (!).  Participants learned about how congregations can participate in county-specific polluted runoff programs and networked with potential partners for in-the-ground projects. Additional resources and links can be found on our Polluted Runoff webpage. The Presbytery of Baltimore highlighted model projects at First Presbyterian Church of Howard County (7 stormwater management practices on church grounds), Maryland Presbyterian Church (composting to reduce solid waste), and Catonsville Presbyterian Church (drain stenciling). We also heard an inspiring call to stewardship from Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, and presentations by Vince Gardina of Baltimore County DEPS, and Lindsay DeMarzo of Howard County Office of Sustainability. Vince offered an important clarification of IPC’s announcement last week about grants for impervious surface removal. He clarified that Baltimore County will remove the impervious surface, but it must be left with natural cover such as grass, shrubs and trees. Visit our website, for a link to the BCDEPS announcement. 

If you are in Baltimore County consider participating in Blue Water Congregations.
If you are in Anne Arundel County consider participating in RiverWise Congregations.

Upcoming Events

February 9thInterfaith Workshop: Greening Our Sacred Grounds - Join others in the faith community for a day chock-full of ideas, resources, and ways to jump start your stewardship work for the year! Speakers from Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, Green Muslims, Interfaith Power and Light, Alice Ferguson Foundation, and more. 

Register here (Free) or email [email protected] if you plan to attend.


Kolya Braun-Greiner