As winter approaches with the years end, it is an ideal time to reflect and consider all that has taken place.

The spirit of friendship and camaraderie while present at all times, seems highlighted during this period. December is full of celebrations and this month IPC would like to highlight Episcopal Church of the Ascension (ECA). This congregation is one of the oldest and most vibrant spiritual communities in Gaithersburg, Maryland. All are welcome at ECA, and it is one of the primary reasons Green Team leader Kay Kolle joined this congregation. With respect to different heritages and customs, ECA meets you in the culture of your home.

Episcopal Church of the Ascension has taken much pride in caring for their grounds, and their Green Team has been particularly active this year! Their leaders Kay, and co-chair Gail Unterberger have been integral parts of a whole that was all inspired by faith leader Father Javier. Father Javier has been the catalyst in getting his congregation’s Green Team to move beyond purpose and towards impact. Their team has also proven that persistence is key to accomplishing goals by revisiting a grant application this year that if approved will go towards an ambitious plan to continue their conservation landscaping projects, and provide outreach to their greater community. Meeting regularly every month is a key to their success among the passionate members of this robust team. 

Speaking to their leader I was able to get a clear picture of how their faith relates to their environmental stewardship. A core tenant is to view all of creation with awe and reverence combined with a calling to protect and preserve what we have for our children and future generations to come. One way that is being accomplished is through children’s education, especially elementary school curriculum that teaches an awareness about renewable resources and how to properly recycle. Regarding services at this congregation, the team is actively pursuing ways they can reduce their impact by moving away from single use plastics. They participate in making lunches for the Men’s Shelter and have started making the shift to use compostable silverware and plan to expand on the packaging used for the food prepared. Another change they are planning to make is to switch to bring in ceramic mugs from home to keep at the church for their coffee and tea hour. To help offset some of the costs associated with making these switches, this month ECA will be hosting a giving tree displayed in the front of their building where members can offer donations. This beautiful idea has cards inside white envelopes displayed on the tree, and each card has a necessity the congregation requests that include supplies, green items, donations, and prayers. 

This is a time of year when people get together with family and friends to celebrate all that they have been blessed within the past year. Community and the knowledge that you belong is one of the greatest gifts one can receive. A community where all are welcome truly makes anyone feel at home. It is no wonder why Episcopal Church of the Ascension’s Green Team and congregation members act as stewards of hope for their community. None would be possible without the passion and vision of their faith leader Father Javier Garcia Ocampo.