It's easy to take for granted the ease with which we turn on the faucet for clean healthy water. Increasingly, changes in the climate are impacting our waters and the watermen of the Chesapeake Bay whose livelihoods depend upon the health of those waters. Severe weather events, such as the recent hurricane Dorian, are happening more frequently, resulting in tragic loss of human and biotic life. Locally, communities on Maryland’s Eastern Shore face rising sea levels and frequent inundation. This threatens houses of worship such as the historic Old Trinity Episcopal Church in Church Creek. Long term, they and nearly 500 communities along the east coast may be under water within 50 years.
Extreme rainfall comes so fast and furious that there's no time for it to soak in, and it all floods into our local creeks and rivers carrying pollutants from our streets and lawns. Flooding in Ellicott City in recent years is a perfect example of this. When the creeks and rivers overflow with muddy waters, looking like chocolate milk, we are witnessing a huge amount of erosion caused by these flash floods. Erosion causes a buildup of sediment that flows along with all the stormwater pollutants into local waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Sadly, that influx of sediment and pollutants is building up such that watermen call this "bad water" that diminishes their catch of Maryland Blue Crabs. The Chesapeake Bay is now suffering the largest dead zone in 35 years. Just look at how we are all connected to one another in this way.
All that said, our actions can make a difference! We can take action to reduce both our carbon footprint and our water footprint becoming part of the "pollution solution." When Bishop Larry Lee Thomas's congregation Empowering Believers Church in Glen Burnie repeatedly experienced flooding (in photos left) he said, "We need an Ark!" Their "ark" was installing multiple rain gardens all around their property which has reduced the flooding! We too can engage our congregations in forming, caring and going forth actions - see our Menu for Action for ideas - to support the health of our local watershed which will enhance the health of the bay. Read HERE and be inspired by the actions taken by congregations in the One Water Partnership. We can all pitch in to engage in "rising action" by living out our faith's call to protect the well-being of our communities and future generations.
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.160 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
All property owners in Prince George’s County pay a Clean Water Act fee, but houses of worship can reduce their fee by up to 100%. If you're not sure if you're paying a fee, or you don't know how to reduce it, we can help.
Your congregation can reduce its Clean Water Act fee through:
- Green Infrastructure Installation - (50% fee reduction)
- Outreach and Education – (25% fee reduction)
- Green Care and Good Housekeeping - (25% fee reduction)
IPC is also providing free one-on-one support to help you achieve these reductions in your congregation’s fee. This support is paid for by a grant from the Prince George’s County Department of the Environment, but is open to only 15 congregations.
Questions? Contact Kolya Braun-Greiner at email@example.com or call 301-909-8943.
Bonnie Sorak published Jones Falls Interfaith Youth Service & Tree Planting in One Water Partnership 2018-11-30 09:27:23 -0500
Growing Future Green Leaders
On November 14th we held an Interfaith Youth Service and Tree planting. We started the day at The Shrine of the Sacred Heart for a service that began with song led by the church's Filipino Youth Choir. Father Bill Au, the parish priest, welcomed everyone with an opening prayer. Youth members recited readings and there were prayers and readings offered by Pastor Michele Ward, Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, Rabbi Daniel Burg, Beth Am Congregation and Associate Pastor John Parker from Mount Lebanon Baptist Church (MLBC). Following the service about 35 people loaded on a bus and headed to a site in Cherry Hill where others met us to plant 75+ trees. It was truly a great day.
But the story does not end there. Janell Belcher, a youth member from Mount Lebanon Baptist Church, participated in the service by reading Psalm 1:1-3 as well as leading a "Litany of Commitment for Creation Care" at the tree planting location. She had previously attended one of our "Inspirational Bus Tours" and on this day worked with her grandparents and other church members to plant trees at this event. Inspired by these experiences she has decided to focus her pursuit of a Girl Scout Gold Award on the upcoming rain garden and cistern installation that will be happening at MLBC as part of the One Water Partnership program. She says, "I have learned how important clean water, trees and other native plants are and want to share this with others in the neighborhood." Once the projects are complete next Spring she plans to do outreach to other churches and the surrounding neighborhood associations to share her newfound knowledge. This is how we grow our future green leaders!
Tuesday September 25th, 7 PM
Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church has arranged a very special evening with Doug Tallamy, one of the country’s leading experts on using native plants to restore our local watersheds. The program is offered as part of their participation in Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake’s One Water Partnership.
This free slideshow/lecture is entirely inspiring, and urgent. See how you can begin to transform your congregational grounds.
Promotional Flyer - Click HERE
Facebook RSVP Page - Click HERE
Bonnie Sorak wants to volunteer 2017-10-30 11:37:50 -0400
As people of faith, we have a moral responsibility to engage in our democracy, stay informed, and engage in the legislative process. We must stand together and promote policies that protect God's Creation and all of the web of life.Become a volunteer
By signing up here, we will keep you informed of the legislation we are tracking at the Maryland, DC, and county/city level. We will also alert you when we need you to take action such as call your representative or testify at a hearing.
Please provide your address so we can determine what action alerts are most relevant to you based on the legislative district in which you reside.
Thank you for being a leader in your community and bringing the faith voice to public advocacy issues!
Bonnie Sorak published 2017-18 Chesapeake Bay Trust Mini Grant Assistance in Programs 2017-10-25 18:29:24 -0400
Chesapeake Bay Trust Community Engagement Mini Grant Webinars & Workshop
IPC is once again partnering with the Chesapeake Bay Trust (CBT) to help congregations learn about CBT's Community Engagement Mini-Grant program through a series of webinars and workshops. We will be continuing in this effort again this year by assisting four-eight congregations/religious organizations to prepare applications. With a cap of $5,000 eligible projects include, but are not limited to:
- Community gardens that encourage use of the outdoors and education about natural resources;
- Community clean-ups that benefit both communities and local waterways;
- Projects that combine art with an increased awareness of stormwater issues, such as storm drain stenciling or rain barrel installations;
- Community greening projects, which have been shown to beautify communities, improve health via air quality, and lead to reduced crime, as well as improve stormwater, such as tree plantings;
- Projects that beautify communities, capture rain water and improve wildlife habitat such as pollinator habitat plantings and rain gardens;
- Projects that educate and get residents outdoors, which has been shown to improve human health or other ideas.
Webinar 1 - November 27, 2017 7-8 PM. Click HERE to Register. COMPLETED
Webinar 2 - January 21, 2018 2-3 PM. Click HERE to Register. COMPLETED
In-person Workshop-February 25, 2018 2-3 PM, Glen Mar United Methodist Church, Howard County. COMPLETED
This grant program generally reopens on July 1st of each year, which is the start of Maryland's State Fiscal Year (The CB Trust is a quasi-governmental entity, so it follows the state's fiscal calendar). Contact Bonnie Sorak at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-609-6852 for more information about the possibility of new webinars and workshops.
Click Here to watch a previously recorded version of one of the webinars if you can't join us at any of the upcoming sessions. You will learn best practices to enhance your grant applications and make them stand out.
Click here to learn more about Chesapeake Bay Trust and how to support them by purchasing a "Treasure the Chesapeake" license plate.
- Want to stay in the loop about upcoming grant opportunities and workshops?
- Want to stay connected with other congregations in your region or your denomination?
- Want to connect with secular organizations in your region who can support your congregation's efforts?
IPC can help you with all of this!
Complete the form below to maintain an up-to-date profile in our database so that when opportunities for collaboration arise, we can get in touch with you. Help IPC help you!Sign up
- NEW Toolkit for Faithful Stewards
- Service Day
- Tree Plantings
- The Long Path of Renewal
- Prince George’s Congregations Get Engaged
- Faith Community Speaks Out
- Grant Opportunity for MD Congregations
NEW Toolkit for Faithful Stewards
Soon 18 congregations in Anne Arundel County will be making their grounds a source of watershed restoration and healing for God’s Creation. RiverWise participants in the Watershed Stewards Academy have been learning the in’s and out’s of rain gardens, stormwater runoff prevention, rain barrel installation and other best management practices that contribute to cleaning the waters of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. In collaboration with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, each Steward’s congregation will be installing their project as a model of earth stewardship both within and beyond their congregation to the wider community. Stewards also learned faith foundations of caring for God’s Creation offered by IPC, which they will share within their congregation in order to deepen and broaden their engagement faithful stewardship.
One of these Watershed Stewards, Chris Gordon, is restoring his congregation’s grounds at Holy Family Catholic Church (HFCC) to heal the Chesapeake Bay watershed. He said, “HFCC has supported four different invasive [plant] removal events. To get things started fellow Watershed Stewards Betsy Love, Sandra Kirkland (shown right) along with Laura Mulvaney and our parishioners began removing invasive plants on the property. That first event was followed by 3 youth events as we continue to create new gardens and remove invasives.”
To further facilitate and enhance this kind of engagement, we produced a Toolkit for Faithful Stewards: Making the Most of Watershed Projects to Raise Awareness and Build Momentum. The Toolkit is aimed to inspire and support stewards like you who want to make the most of your watershed project, no matter how small, to maximize impact and participation. The Toolkit contains:
- Watershed 101 - Basics
- Watershed Environmental Justice
- Communication tools for Messaging, Press Releases, Public Service Announcements
- Liturgy, Prayers, and Blessings for Groundbreaking, Tree Planting, Project Completion Celebration
- Field Trip Guidelines for spiritual reflection in nature
- Faith-based educational resources on Care for Creation for Children and Adults
- And that’s not all! Here’s an adaptation of the Closing Blessing:
We pray that through this Toolkit
- you are strengthened in body, mind and spirit
- your actions are fruitful
- your stewardship will inspire more people like you to take the steps needed to heal God’s beautiful Creation.
Through your dedication and commitment we are all creating a ripple effect!
We are excited to partner with Koolhof Earth on a HUGE planting project in the Chesterfield Community of Pasadena. We are looking for 200 volunteers to come together for a service day in October (October 3rd and October 17th). This is a great opportunity for groups of all faiths - particularly those who can’t do projects on their own grounds, but do want to engage in watershed restoration projects. Want to put your Youth Group to work? Is your Men’s Ministry looking for a hands on project? Does your congregation want to celebrate the Feast of St. Francis with an intergenerational and interfaith activity? This could be just the opportunity for you. Contact Bonnie Sorak at email@example.com or410-609-6852 to sign up your group.
Thank you to the Shrine of St. Anthony and the OFM Our Lady of Angels Province - our newest faith facility to sign up for Trees for Sacred Places. One of the best ways to help restore creation is to plant trees! We are currently enrolling faith communities for free tree plantings in 2016! Congregations of all faiths are needed to join in this united effort to heal Creation through tree plantings. Our Trees for Sacred Places Program provides everything your community needs for the tree planting, customized support, and an educational/spiritual workshop specifically for your faith tradition. If you know of a religious-owned property (congregational grounds, retreat center, summer camp, retirement community, etc.) that has open spaces that can be converted from lawn to forest, contact Bonnie Sorak at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-609-6852. This program is available throughout the state of Maryland.
The Long Path of Renewal
“A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” ~ POPE FRANCIS (LAUDATO SI’, 202)
The Covenantal Partners Program offers a facilitated path of spiritual renewal to help your congregation develop a response to the environmental challenges of our time. We are actively seeking groups interested in learning more about the program. Click here for details and contact Bonnie Sorak at email@example.com or 410-609-6852 if you have questions.
Prince George’s Congregations Get Engaged
Congratulations to those who participated in our Faithful Stewards of Prince George’s County Workshops. Thanks to Mishkan Torah Synagogue, Jerusalem AME Church, and Turner AME Church for hosting these gatherings where congregational members learned how to help restore local watersheds, beautify their grounds and SAVE MONEY on their stormwater utility fee through the county’s Alternative Compliance Program. If you were unable to attend please visit our website where you can access the presentations that were shared.
Faith Community Speaks Out
Faith-based groups and Individuals: Sign-on Letter to Chesapeake Bay Executive Council
On July 23, the Chesapeake Executive Council will hold its annual meeting to discuss progress toward the Blueprint’s goals and set policies for the next two years. The Council includes the governors of the six Bay states, the Mayor of Washington, DC, the Administrator of the U.S. EPA, the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, and the Chair of the Chesapeake Bay Commission. As members of a faith community, you have a unique perspective that our elected leaders need to hear. Voice your support for clean water byJuly 21st by adding your name to a letter we are sending to the Council. Review the letter and list of signatories here.
Climate Commission Public Meetings
The Maryland Climate Commission must report next fall on our state's progress in meeting the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2006 levels, by 25% by 2020. Five public meetings are scheduled across the state this summer, to gather public input into this report. Attend one of these meetings to offer your perspective on the importance of reducing climate warming emissions and bring the faith voice to these discussions. Meeting locations are spread throughout the state so there should be something near you!
Good News: US Court Upholds EPA’s Limits on Pollution in the Chesapeake Bay
You might recall that in September 2014 Federal Judge Sylvia Rambo in Pennsylvania issued a ruling in defense of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to enforce the Clean Water Act. The Farm Bureau and others appealed her decision, but the decision was upheld by a US Court of Appeals on July 6. The EPA’s plan would implement reductions in polluted runoff from agricultural and construction sources. Read more here.
Climate in the Pulpit
We support Interfaith Power and Light’s “Climate in the Pulpit” campaign and encourage you to participate. On September 24, Pope Francis will be visiting our region and speaking on Capitol Hill about our moral obligation to care for our neighbors by taking action on climate change. The following weekend,September 25-27, clergy are asked to integrate climate messages into your sermons. Sign up here.
Grant Opportunity for all Maryland CongregationsDo you have a project in mind to reduce watershed pollution, but need help getting it done? There is a grant track open now until September 3 from Chesapeake Bay Trust to help with technical and financial burdens for improvement projects. Faith properties are eligible to participate. To learn more click here. If you seek advice or support to apply for this grant, please contact us. We might know of other congregations in your neighborhood who are also seeking grant funding and together your combined proposals could be more impactful.
Are you looking for resources to take action to care for Creation?
This is the one-stop shop for you! Check out this comprehensive spreadsheet with all kinds of information to get you started on everything from spiritual resources, to book lists, to food issues, to advocacy campaigns.
A Menu for Action for specific regions includes a Resource List of sources for where and how to fulfill these types of actions:
- Forming: Activities that inform and provide spiritual context, such as outdoor experiences, educational workshops, and discussions.
- Caring: Visible/measurable actions such as stenciling storm drains, picking up trash, installing solar panels or rain gardens, or planting trees.
- Going Forth: Actions that engage the broader community, such as hosting a rain barrel workshop for neighbors, purchasing community solar, or discussing environmental policies with your elected officials.
Menu of Action now available for the following regions!
- Baltimore Menu for Action
- Frederick Menu for Action
- Gaithersburg Menu for Action
- Harford County Menu of Action
If you are not in any of the areas listed above, here is the Generic Menu For Action for congregations anywhere.
Click here to for a full Menu for Action with an even more extensive list of actions.
This is a living document.
As a community, we can help each other become better stewards of Creation. If you have other suggested resources for this library, please email us or add a comment below. Also, if you find a broken link on our list, please let us know so we can correct it. Updates are added within days.