500 Trees for 500 Years

The18043127_10212225425254804_97700536_o Maryland Episcopal Environmental Partners are happy to announce a partnership with the Delaware-Maryland Lutheran Synod. To celebrate the 500 year anniversary of the Reformation, the Lutheran Creation Care Team has obtained a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Trust to plant 500 trees across the state. We are called as Christians to be stewards of God’s Kingdom, to care for creation and help it to grow. Together with our Lutheran partners, we will care for God’s creation, and help the kingdom around us to grow and be nourished.

We began this partnership with a Spring Tree Planting event held at the Diocesan Center on April 19th. Our first tree to be planted from this partnership was a fringe tree, which was prayed over and blessed by Bishop Sutton.

If you are interested in having a tree planting ceremony and getting more information on reimbursement for trees, please contact Bernadette Roche (broche@loyola.edu).

st johns ec tree


On a beautiful Spring day a sturdy American Dogwood in full bloom was twice blessed — in morning by pre-school students of the St. John’s Ellicott City Parish Day School and in the afternoon by the School’s lower school students.  The inspiring ceremonies used readings, songs and prayers to engage the students in thinking about the many environmental and spiritual benefits provided by trees.

Facebook post with more photos.

DSCN2059The parish and school of St. James, Monkton are located in the rolling hills of northern Baltimore County.  We are blessed to have a number of working family farms in our community and the parish has long been connected with equestrian sport and agriculture.  St. James therefore has a tradition of celebrating Rogation Sunday with a blessing of soil and earthworms, containers of which are distributed to parishioners for their gardens.

On Rogation Sunday this year we planted an American Dogwood on the parish grounds, making sure to include some of the blessed soil!  Interim Rector Carol Pinkham-Oak and Junior Warden Don Greenawalt helped significantly in coordinating with the Vestry and finding a good location for our tree.

We blessed the tree on Pentecost, on which four young members of St. James were baptized.  St. James Academy student Owen Smail helped Rev. Pinkham-Oak with the blessing.

Before their regular Sunday service on June 25, 2017, members of the Church of the Holy Nativity (Pimlico) blessed a newly planteHoly Nativity Tree Planting Ceremonyd sunset red maple in front of the church.  The Rev. Cannon Dan Webster and the Rev. Ruth Elder, Deacon, presided over the ceremony.  The tree will provide brilliant fall color, shade, and a reminder of God’s presence in nature for church members and neighbors, and is sure to have a cooling effect in this urban location.


Watch this video of the new Staff Garden planting day on Earth Day April 22, 2018 at Church of the Redeemer.

On November 4, 2017, 34 volunteers gathered at Trinity Episcopal Church located at 7474 Washington Boulevard, in Elkridge to plant 15 new native trees on church grounds.  Volunteers included church members, Howard County Forest Conservancy District Board (HCFCD) members and scouting families from Scout Troops 794 and 360.  Through a partnership with the HCFCD  Board, the Maryland Urban and Community Forest Committee and Trinity church members, a program was developed to plant 5-6 foot native tree species that would be the most beneficial to the environment  and minimal maintenance for the Church Building & Grounds committee.    The native trees selected and planted include red buds, red maples, river birch, black gum, dogwood, white oak, northern red oak and white fringetree. These trees were selected for their beautiful spring flowers, fall foliage, attracting wildlife and the most beneficial species for the soil. Educational brochures and activity/coloring books about tree planting/maintenance were available to volunteers at the tree planting event and at the next church service.  In order to insure successful growth for these trees, 15 church members volunteered and pledged to adopt one of these trees for the next two years.  Those individuals who signed up to adopt a tree were encouraged to find a partner to share the responsibility of caring for the tree.  As part of this adoption, they signed an agreement to regularly monitor their tree, insure it receives proper watering and weeding as necessary for a minimum of two years.  In addition, they are required to purchase and spread a new bag of mulch each year around their adopted tree.  Water bags were provided for each tree to insure sufficient watering.

Each adopter named their tree, including:  Big Walter, Vincent, Rosie Redbud, Skippy, Bob, Bruce, Curmudgeon, Claire’s Tree, Melvie, Red Rider, Selena, George Harrison Nimmo, Calvin, Ruth and Apollo-Blossom River Tree Story.  Rector Anne Coghill MacNabb gave a blessing, anointing each tree with holy water.  During the next Sunday church services, the adopters were acknowledged and prayers were offered to help the trees grow healthy and strong.  Although it was an extremely cold winter, 14 of the 15 tree planted survived, and the one will be replaced.  It was a beautiful site in the spring to see so many of the trees blooming on Trinity’s grounds, as well as the look of joy on the faces of the adopters seeing new leaves popping out of the trees!

By Betsy McMillion, Trinity Adopt-a-Tree Coordinator

As part of the tree planting program, the Lutherans are holding workshops to talk about the importance of creation an18035302_10212225435575062_559715455_nd how to care for trees.  Several parishes have obtained trees from their local nurseries at wholesale prices.

We will post fall workshops when the dates become available. 

How-To Guide to Trees

treesforsacredplacesAll of the trees provided are native Maryland trees, listed in this Plant Palette. We have a partnership with Clear Springs Nursery in Union Bridge to obtain trees at wholesale price. The grant our Lutheran partners received from the Chesapeake Bay Trust covers up to $35 a tree. Contact Bernadette Roche or Jim Truby for more information on funding and purchasing trees.

Tree-planting Ceremony

As part of the program, we are asking that each parish hold a small ceremony about creation. It can be incorporated into your Sunday worship service, or can be a small service on its own. Below we have attached examples of services for the ceremonies that have been listed above.

Diocesan Tree Planting Ceremony

St. John’s Episcopal Day School Ceremonies


How To Plant a Tree

  • First, prepare a hole two to three times as wide as the root ball of your tree. Handle the root ball carefully to keep it intact while you place it in the hole. Once it’s in, turn it so the best side of the tree is facing the direction you want. With burlapped root balls, cut the twine and remove the burlap (or at least push it to the bottom of the hole).
  • Backfill around the root ball, lightly packing the soil as you go. Frequently check the trunk to ensure that it’s straight. Use leftover soil as a berm to create a watering well. Amending backfill with organic matter is an old practice. However, several studies have shown that it produces little benefit (as long as the existing soil is of reasonable quality), so many experts no longer recommend it. The most important factor, by far, is loose soil that new roots can easily grow into. That’s why a large planting hole is so vital.
  • Drive a stake through the root ball into the ground underneath. The stake should be tied loosely to the trunk; do not lash it tightly. Large trees may need two or three stakes placed several feet from the trunk.
  • Container-grown trees and shrubs are planted the same way as balled and burlapped stock, with a few added precautions.  First, water the plant generously just before planting, making it easier to slide the root ball out of the container.  To help extract the plant, hit the sides of the container with the palm of your hand, rotating the container as you go.  Holding the container in place with your feet, grip the base of the plant and gently pull until the root ball comes free. For larger trees, you may need to use a heavy-duty knife or box cutter to cut the sides of the pot.  Once the plant and container are separated, inspect the root ball – if you see a mass of swirling roots, cut through the mass to allow the roots to spread out rather than continuing to encircle the base of the plant.  Use sharp clippers to cut four evenly spaced shallow gullies about 1/2 inch deep down the outer length of the root ball, and then take a dandelion weeder or screw driver and scrapes the sides of the root mass to free up the roots.
  • Water the tree soon after planting and every day for several weeks afterward. By that point, the roots will have begun to grow out into the surrounding soil, and you can begin to gradually reduce the frequency of watering. Fertilizer is of marginal benefit at planting time, and can even be harmful. Wait until the following year, then provide a moderate dose of fertilizer. A 3-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tree will keep weeds out and reduce water loss.

Tip: Newly planted trees should only be pruned to remove broken, dead, or diseased limbs. Otherwise, leave them be until after their first growing season.

For a more detailed description of how to plant trees as well as special exceptions check out this article by Better Homes & Gardens.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever. – Revelation 22:1-5

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