• Reflection: An Unmistakable Witness at St. Margaret's Episcopal ChurchDonate_Button.jpg
  • Grant Writing Workshop Information Available Online
  • Free Water Audits in Baltimore
  • Tree Plantings at Congregations
  • New Round of Grant Funding for Tree Plantings
  • Free Cisterns for Congregations in Prince George's County 
  • Support IPC through Amazon Smile!
  • Upcoming Events
  • In-Kind Needs - Can you help us?

An Unmistakable Witness at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church

St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Annapolis does a lot of amazing reductions, rain gardens, plants trees, brings in speakers, to name a few. But, when I heard that they were adding on a wing and insisted that it be a green building, I invited them to share their story in this newsletter. I hope you enjoy this reflection.

By Dick Williams, LEED AP BD+C, EpiscopalSMCFormationbldg_ribboncut.jpg

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” --Winston Churchill, 1943

Starting my work career back in the late 1970s, I recall inoperable windows becoming commonplace in many buildings. They were a symbol of the times—outdoor air becoming dirtier by the decade. And, in urban areas, I believe, they reflected fear that emerged from the riots of the late 1960s. Today, with the effects of environmental degradation well documented, comes the question of how we begin a reset through environmental stewardship. What do our existing buildings say about us and how do we build new or renovate?

Environmental stewardship, for me, is a part of my Christian witness. Increasingly I’ve come to realize that it’s my calling to help protect and restore God’s Creation—for all of us. So to be able to live my business life as a sustainable design consultant who assists in the delivery of “healthy” LEED-certified buildings is indeed a blessing. What’s LEED, you might wonder? Standing forLeadership in Energy and Environmental Design, LEED denotes a voluntary 3rd-party sustainable building rating system which standards are typically more rigorous and extensive than municipal codes.   

St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church needed a new Formation (education) building on campus, but the parish didn’t want the teaching to only take place in the meeting rooms and classrooms. They wanted the whole building to teach. They wanted the building and minimal land use to say something about them as a whole. As Senior Warden Anne Sessions recalls: “We found a need for environmentally clean and healthy learning spaces, but building for the sake of just building didn’t satisfy a congregation that believes environmental stewardship is our direct responsibility. We hope that by building to a LEED certification, we lead by example.” Heading the church’s Environmental Missions Committee, Al Todd, an environmental leader in Chesapeake Bay issues, added: "Our land and buildings are a very visible and tangible part of who we are as a community of faith and spirit. Demonstrating harmony with Creation just strengthens that sense of community. But it does not always just happen, it takes commitment and hard work."

movienight.jpgIn the summer of 2012, the St. Margaret’s building committee began discussing the goal of having the building LEED certified. At the time, I was a parishioner (relocating more recently to Baltimore) and I eventually competed for the chance to guide the LEED certification effort for the parish. As part of my proposal, I offered to write a blog for the church’s electronic news platforms from my firm’s website, The aim was to enhance fundraising and environmental awareness by discussing all sorts of green ideas and strategies. You see, our buildings and land, can do much more than happen rather messily. They can inspire…and shape us.

Over time, a collaborative solution evolved to construct a new, 2-story building on vacant land next to the 1970s parish hall and connect the two. Construction began in November 2014 and in January of 2016 I accepted the LEED® Silver Certification on behalf of St. Margaret’s. Several weeks later the project was awarded the People’s Choice by over 270 attendees of the Maryland chapter of the U. S. Green Building Council’s Wintergreen Awards event for the best sustainably-designed buildings in Maryland in 2015.

I’ve found great personal satisfaction in knowing my professional commitment to sustainable building design and construction helped envision and guide the journey that St. Margaret’s parishioners took … as did Anne, Al and countless others who drove the idea of a more environmentally-harmonious building. A contributing element, not so small actually, was the … green … inserts in the weekly Sunday bulletins about the funding and building processes, devised by the communication committee. One in particular that I cherish was offered regularly:

Our Prayer for the Process (excerpted):
Most gracious and loving God, We give you thanks for the abundance of blessings you have bestowed upon St. Margaret’s Church. Bless us now, we pray, with unity, patience, and vision, as we plan for a campus that will help nourish our faith and support our mission. Finally, God, show us how we can use our new space to continue to connect to the community. Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

In nearly every meeting I attended of the various building committees for more than three years, opening and closing prayers were offered, often by me. So, the resulting achievement, a healthy, high-performance Formation Building of beautiful, contextual design, was not a complete surprise. Rather, it was an answered prayer!

CBT_Grant_Writing_Workshop.jpgGrant Writing Workshop Information Available Online

What a great turnout! Over 35 people attended our Chesapeake Bay Trust Grant Writing Workshop to learn the basics of completing a CBT grant application. If you couldn’t make it you can still learn much of what was presented by CBT from their slides by clicking HERE or you can find them on IPC's home page at Feel free to share this information with others on your congregational team or in your community. Thanks to Berean Baptist Church for hosting the event and to Emily Stransky and Bre’Anna Brooks from Chesapeake Bay Trust.

The program was offered as part of Blue Water Congregations, a program of IPC, Blue Water Baltimore and funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Hurry to Get a Free Water Audit for Your Congregation! Time is Running Short

exclamation_point.2.jpgIf your congregation is located in Baltimore City or County and it hasn't yet had a FREE water audit NOW is the time to sign up.  Learn more HERE. Schedule your water audit by registering for Blue Water Congregations HERE

The workshop and water audits are offered free of charge through Blue Water Congregations, a program of Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, Blue Water Baltimore and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Contact Bonnie at [email protected] or 410-609-6852 with questions.

Cool off your Congregation by Planting TreesHoly_Communion_3__Dave_Warren__Allinace.jpg

Your congregation can invest in reducing your cooling expenses by planting trees!  Shade from trees will reduce your congregation's demand on air conditioning.  It's another reason we say Trees are Creation's Cure-all.  The net cooling effect of a young, healthy tree is equivalent to ten room-size air conditioners operating 20 hours a day.  See and share the many other benefits of trees with THIS FLYER. We are still looking for several congregations throughout Maryland, and in particular Prince George's and Montgomery Counties, to plant trees through our Trees for Sacred Places program. Be our eyes! If you drive by a church with a HUGE (unnecessary!) lawn, jot down the name and let us know. Or, if you have time, stop into their office and see if they might be interested. The program offers for FREE: professional planting plan, native trees, deer protection, all necessary tools to plant AND environmental and spiritual workshops (tailored to the congregation or religious school's needs) about the importance of planting trees. You can learn more about the program on our webpage HERE.

View and download the flyer for all locations EXCEPT Prince George's County HERE.
View and download Prince George's Flyer HERE.

Contact Bonnie at [email protected] or call 410-609-6852.

1peter_13482c.jpgNew Round of Grant Funding for Tree-Planting

We will be applying for more funding to continue the Trees for Sacred Places program in 2017.  Our next round of funding may be open to congregations who can plant as few as 20 trees on their property. If your congregation has not been able to participate in the tree-planting program before due to the minimum number of trees to be planted, but could participate if the minimum number is as few as 20 trees, please reach out to Bonnie to put your name on our waiting list at [email protected] or 410-609-6852.

2015-11-22_10.45.43-cropped.jpgFree Cisterns for Congregations in Prince George's County

Want to slow down the rainwater rushing off your congregation's roof? Want to reduce your Prince George's County Stormwater Fee? We can help! Grant funding secured by the Anacostia Riverkeeper is available to install cisterns at faith-owned properties. 

These cisterns will store rainfall for non-potable water uses, or facilitate slow release after the storm. The project is 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 Church, St. Camillus Catholic Church, and Silver Spring United Methodist Church have received installed cisterns. 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 Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or 410-609-6852.

Shop AmazonSmile and Support IPC

amazonsmile.jpgAmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way for you to support your favorite charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. When you shop at, you'll find the exact same low prices, vast selection and convenient shopping experience as, with the ADDED bonus that Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to your favorite charitable organization. It's easy to begin. Simply click HERE and select Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, Inc. as your charitable organization of choice. That's it!! Next time you shop online, make sure you start at AmazonSmile and IPC will receive .5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases.

Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities

  • July 31 - Film Documentary Discussion Series on Faith and the Environment. 6:30-8:30 pm. This week: "Plastic Planet." Parish Hall at St. Dominic Church, 630 E St., SW, Washington, DC (L'Enfant Plaza metro stop).
  • August 7 - Film Documentary Discussion Series on Faith and the Environment. 6:30-8:30 pm. This week: "Unwasted." Parish Hall at St. Dominic Church, 630 E St., SW, Washington, DC (L'Enfant Plaza metro stop).
  • August 11 - Trees Workshop at Camp Gan Israel, Columbia, MD, 6:30 pizza dinner followed by interactive workshop.
  • August 14 - Film Documentary Discussion Series on Faith and the Environment. 6:30-8:30 pm. This week: "Chemerical." Parish Hall at St. Dominic Church, 630 E St., SW, Washington, DC (L'Enfant Plaza metro stop).
  • August 17-21 - "Coming Home to The Heart: Healing the Self as a Means to Healing our World . Five-day Workshop in Baltimore, MD led by Anne Rice, Heart Shaman, Conscious Healer & Teacher at School of the Deep Heart. Hosted by Gunpowder Valley Conservancy. Click HERE to register.
  • September 11 - Cistern Workshop and blessing at St. Luke's Lutheran Church, Silver Spring, MD

Volunteer and In-Kind Needs 
  • IPC is doing a database cleanup this summer. Do you have a few hours you could donate to us each week? Contact Andrea Proctor at [email protected] to volunteer. 
  • Are you able to staff an information table at events for us? Contact Bonnie Sorak at [email protected] or call 410-609-6852 if you're willing to help with this from time to time. 
  • IPC could use a canvas case and small external speakers for a new projector we just purchased. Do you have something you can pass along? Contact Kolya Braun-Greiner at[email protected] or call us at 410-609-6852 if you do!
Thank you!