Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake


  • United by the Same Concern
  • United Through Tree Plantings
  • United Through Service 
  • Cisterns in Montgomery County
  • Statewide Public Meetings on Climate Change
  • Grant Opportunities for Maryland Congregations
  • Volunteer Opportunities

United by the Same Concern

“I wish to address every living person on this planet.” -- Pope Francis, Laudato Si’, June 2015

With his encyclical, Pope Francis invited the entire interfaith community to embrace the realities at hand, and turn to renewal in the way we think and 

interact with the natural world. It may not be enough to simply reduce, reuse, and recycle. “A great cultural, spiritual and educational challenge stands before us, and it will demand that we set out on the long path of renewal.” (Laudato Si’, 202).


Faith leaders of other traditions have also offered statements and responses to the environmental crises of our time. A few examples are offered here from the Presbyterian Church USABuddhist leaders, and Jewish leaders through arabbinical letter and this joint press release by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. If your faith traditions have issued statements, please email them to us so we can add them to our library.

A full-time wastewater engineer and part-time blogger, Bill Patenaude, has been unpacking the encyclical daily on his blog page. One of his blogs entitled "United by the Same Concern," emphasized the interfaith appeal of Pope Francis’ words. Bill highlighted groups like Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and the many faiths who have engaged in our programs. We proudly include excerpts of his blog below. You may also wish to subscribe to his blog here

Pope Francis opens his newly released encyclical Laudato Si' noting his desire to work with all faiths. He especially applauds the words of His All Holiness, Bartholomew I, Archbishop of Constantinople. Pope Francis concludes his encyclical with prayers to all who believe in God as well as all Christians. In all this, he reminds us that the integral nature of creation calls for an integrated response from people of faith. One real-world example of what this looks like is the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake.

The Chesapeake Bay Watershed takes in some 64,000 sq. miles, stretching from New York to Virginia. That means that all the surface water in that area—from ditches, creeks, streams, rivers, tributaries of all sorts that comes from all the roads, interstates, farms, subdivisions, cities, and what have you—ultimately empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Like other estuaries around the world, all this runoff—what regulators like me call "stormwater"—carries a hefty amount of pollution that can have deadly effects on the waters we love so much. Thus the interconnectedness of the people, land, and water of the Chesapeake watershed means that the answers to its weakened health must come from a communal response. “We know that issues like global water scarcity and climate change can be very overwhelming and often leave people feeling powerless,” said IPC’s Rose. “We remind folks to start with what they understand and what they can impact: their own communities.”

The IPC is a coalition of people of various faiths living in a large, complex, interconnected eco-system. As such, it exemplifies the kind of real-world relational work that Pope Francis proposes. “Everything is connected,” Pope Francis writes in Laudato Si' (91). “Concern for the environment thus needs to be joined to a sincere love for our fellow human beings and an unwavering commitment to resolving the problems of society.” In an interview with Catholic Ecology earlier last month, Rose said something similar: “Through water, we are unmistakably interconnected. Thus, through our respect and stewardship of water, we demonstrate respect and love for each other and for future generations. 

Read the rest of Bill's blog here...

United Through Tree Plantings

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. The Trees for Sacred Places Program provides opportunities for congregations to participate in one of the most healing actions you can take for our planet -- planting trees. If you know of a religious-owned property (congregational grounds, retreat center, summer camp, retirement community, etc.) that has large open spaces that can be converted from lawn to forest, contact Bonnie Sorak at[email protected] or 410-609-6852. This program is available throughout the state of Maryland. Thank you to our partners Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay for this innovative program!


United Through Service

We are excited to partner with Koolhof Earth on a HUGE planting project in the Chesterfield Community of Pasadena. For this, we are looking for 200 volunteers to come together for a service day in October (potential dates are 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 do an inter-generational activity and interact with faithful stewards from other communities? This could be just the opportunity for you. Contact Bonnie Sorak at[email protected] or 410-609-6852 to sign up your group.

Cisterns in Montgomery County

We are excited to partner with the Anacostia Riverkeeper on efforts to install stormwater management projects at faith-owned properties in Montgomery County. The Anacostia Riverkeeper already has secured the needed funding to install cisterns (large rain barrels approximately 650 gallon capacity) at houses of worship in Montgomery 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 St. Luke Lutheran ChurchSt. Camillus Catholic Church, and Silver Spring United Methodist Church have signed up, and we might have the ability to add a 4th site. What better way to draw your members into a deeper conversation about our responsibility to minimize negative impacts on shared water resources. To learn more or express your interest, please contact Jodi Rose at [email protected] or 410-609-6852.

Statewide Public Meetings on Climate Change

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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!

Baltimore Increase in Crude Oil Transport
Requests by railcar entities to increase the volume of crude oil transported by rail through Baltimore have triggered a public hearing in Baltimore, chaired by Councilman Reisinger. Clean Water Action reports that there have been 6 derailments and/or explosions since January alone. Increased air pollution from increased train traffic also poses health threats. The hearing will allow the general public to voice their concerns and ask questions. The Baltimore City hearing on this issue will take place on Wednesday, July 8 at 6:00 pm at Baltimore City Council Chambers 100 Holiday Street, Baltimore, MD, 21202. Click here for more details. Advocates are invited to arrive at 5:30 for a rally and to wear red to demonstrate unity in opposition.


Grant Opportunity for all Maryland Congregations
Do you have a project in mind to reduce watershed pollution, but need help getting it done? There is a grant track open now untilSeptember 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 call us at 410-609-6852. We can connect you to technical partners or nearby congregations also seeking funding, and together your combined proposals may be stronger.


Volunteer Opportunities
IPC is always in need of volunteers to help with outreach, social media campaigns, newsletter preparations, and database support. If you - or your teenager looking for SSL hours!! - have extra time this summer and are willing to volunteer a few hours per week please call us at 410-609-6852 or fill out our Volunteer Signup Form. You can volunteer from your home, or come to our Annapolis office.

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake · 501 Sixth St, Annapolis, MD 21403, United States 
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