Many parishes have taken action to fulfill God’s commandments. Please consider joining them. It’s easy to get started by replacing incandescent light bulbs and arranging for an energy audit of parish facilities. We know of the following parish green actions and welcome receiving your additions:
- St. Lukes’s Eastport
- St. Paul’s
- St. Margaret’s
- Holy Covenant
- Church of the Redeemer
- Memorial Episcopal
- Blue Water Congregations
- Trees for Sacred Places
In late fall of 2016, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will begin construction on a comprehensive watershed restoration initiative in Annapolis on Back Creek, sub watershed of the Severn River, tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Through the use of Best Management Practices, the historic stream on the property will be restored. The stream will be re-established by daylighting stormwater pipes, allowing the water to enter a series of step pools and weirs that naturally conveys stormwater while slowing it down and spreading it out allowing replenishment of the aquifer through infiltration while also treating the water as it flows and seeps through the stream channel and re-established balanced ecosystem. At the tidal interface, the project, will tie in more BMPs by re-establishing native tidal marsh habitat and living shoreline on Watergate Pointe’s property furthering improving water quality while stabilizing eroding banks. To find out more and follow along in their progress please go to their website.
On the property of St Paul’s there sits a rain garden. IT is part of the Clean Howard project to help stem the fastest growing source of pollution that runs off into the Chesapeake Bay. This rain garden, built by county youth in the READY program, acts like a native forest by collecting, absorbing, and filtering the stormwater coming off roofs, driveways, sidewalks, and patios. Compared to a conventional lawn, rain gardens reduce runoff by allowing 30% more water to soak into the ground. The garden protects the waterways by removing almost 90% of the nutrients and chemicals, and 80% of the sediment carried by stormwater runoff.
St Margaret’s has recently finished a major renovation on their Formation Building. The Formation Building houses of a Fellowship Hall and Sunday School classrooms on the upper level, and a preschool through Kindergarten Day School on the ground level. It is attached to the Parish Hall. The Day School is a Certified Maryland Green School by the Maryland Association for Environmental & Outdoor Education (www.maeoe.org).
The foyer has a large skylight that provides natural illumination. All of the lighting and interior furnishings meet U.S. Green Building Council LEED standards. The lights automatically dim to use less energy if natural illumination is sufficient. The furnishings are made from low VOC materials and include salvaged materials (for example, the tables made from the tree that had to be taken down.) Only green cleaning products are used. The HVAC system is an environmentally advanced LEED Certified Daikin system that includes filters and purifies the interior air to hospital standards. There are photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the building. St. Margaret’s accumulated enough LEED credits to obtain a LEED Silver Certification for the new Formation Building.
Near the parish offices are a rain garden, complete with several rain barrels. Most if not all of the rain and stormwater runoff from the parking lots and grounds is collected in an infiltration pond on the property. Collected rainwater is also used to water the garden used by the Day School for outdoor and environmental education. The Day School maintains a composter and composts all of its food waste. A student in each class is given the responsibility of composting the uneaten food for his or her classroom. It is amazing how the students learn stewardship for creation at such a young age.
Change at the Episcopal Church of the Holy Covenant started with Bernadine Coates. Working with Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake (IPC), Bernadine connected with Blue Water Baltimore, who conducted a water audit and guided them through the process of implementing stormwater management projects on their grounds. IPC met with a large crowd from Holy Covenant church to help them understand why reducing stormwater is our moral responsibility and guided them through a process to envision their church as a vehicle for healing the environment…to envision themselves as the change they want to see. Immediately after that meeting, one of the attendees walked out to their parking lot and noticed the downstream street drain was mucked up with trash and leaves, and cleaned it out right then and there! Change was beginning to take root.
The church’s 23,000-square foot parking lot/roof generates 650,000 gallons of stormwater runoff annually. After securing $72,000 in grant funds for the design and implementation of two rain gardens, they will soon begin construction of the project which will treat ~25% of their impervious surfaces. They have been patiently and steadily working on this effort for over 2 years…the slow process of change.
And, Bernadine and her church didn’t stop there. They continue to engage their community in educational programs and advocacy. Bernadine brought several women from her church to Annapolis for the Environmental Legislative Summit in January. She also continues to engage her fellow congregants. Bernadine’s church recognizes their ability to be change agents – on their grounds, in their messaging, and in the halls of power.
On a warm and sunny Sunday in October of 2013, parishioners of all ages at The Church of the Redeemer planted a small orchard of six trees (three apple and three pear) on the church grounds. The three pear trees succumbed to a rough winter in 2014, but the three apple trees are thriving, cared for primarily by our young friends in the Parish Day School, and will likely begin bearing fruit next year.
Growing fruit trees takes commitment and some work, but it is worth the effort. Redeemer’s decision to join the effort came after Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, who founded the Baltimore Orchard Project, spoke to the congregation noting that with over 120,000 people hungry in Baltimore City and 110,000 in Baltimore County, churches can play a role by planting local orchards that will provide welcome, healthy, free food to augment daily diets and create healthy eating habits for those in need.
“The Baltimore Orchard Project is a great partner for Redeemer in a number of ways.” Said Mary DeKuyper, senior warden. “It strengthened the intent and purpose of our Generations Campaign, the centerpiece of which our new geothermal heating and cooling system. The care and sustenance of a small fruit orchard as an intergenerational activity for the parish and a legacy to the community is another response to our call to be good stewards of creation. And we are particularly aware of its relevance to the resolution to focus on those living in poverty.”
The Baltimore Orchard Project, now a part of Civic Works, has helped over 100 planting partners create small orchards that create greener, healthier and more resilient communities and provide urban-grown fruit to neighbors in need. They are always looking for new partners (baltimoreorchardproject.civicworks.com).
Memorial Episcopal Church
At the beginning of 2017, the Baltimore City Department of Public Works Watershed Liaison representative, a rep of Blue Water Baltimore and several parishioners determined there was no land on which Memorial could add even a single tree for environmental stewardship.
But, that late spring, an application for sidewalk tree pit expansions for bigger, healthier trees, related costs and a new bicycle rack was made to BGE Green Grants. The award notice came in July whereupon a co-lead of Memorial’s Creation Care Team reached out to one of the neighborhood Title 1 public schools to initiate what came to be called the Memorial Episcopal Tree Pit Expansion Outdoor Environmental Education Event. Before the end of their vacations, teachers from the two other neighborhood schools were enjoined to participate in the program. All teachers agreed to associated environmental instruction before the date. BGE was later asked if it would deploy a bucket truck in support of the event.
On the morning of Friday, October 6, a BGE bucket truck crew arrived and parked curbside, then the 30+ students and their teachers from the 3 schools arrived. The students were divided into teams of 3 or 4 per tree pit. Beside the teachers, Creation Care Team members and the church rector were also arrayed around for action. All hands, including those of the bucket truck crew, worked to recondition the expanded tree pits with composted soil, top soil and mulch. A great deal of excitement was created when the students saw there were two dozen earthworms to add for cultivating the soil of the tree pits. They then planted liriope spicata, a hearty perennial grass. Afterwards, two nearby storm drains were stenciled to make a further point about healthy trees and stormwater mitigation.
Blue Water Baltimore’s mission is to restore the quality of Baltimore’s rivers, streams and Harbor to foster a healthy environment, a strong economy and thriving communities. For too long, Baltimore’s waterways have been dumping grounds for contaminated stormwater runoff, trash, sewage, and toxic chemicals. This pollution not only harms our environment, it also threatens our citizens’ health and the vitality of our local economy.
Blue Water Baltimore works to reduce pollution using a comprehensive approach by connecting resources in the community, monitoring water quality and identifying sources of pollution, and educating both the public and the legislators. Churches can choose to help combat water pollution through education as well as small projects such as collecting water in rain barrels or constructing rain gardens to help prevent runoff pollution. Churches that choose to help tackle this issue are known as Blue Water Congregations. Blue Water Congregations is a program funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and spearheaded by Blue Water Baltimore and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake.
- Cathedral of the incarnation – Baltimore
- Church of the Redeemer – Baltimore
- The Episcopal Church of the Holy Covenant – Baltimore
- Christ the King Episcopal Church – Windsor Mill
- Memorial Episcopal Church – Baltimore
- St Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church – Baltimore
- St John’s in the Village – Baltimore
- St Luke’s in the City – Baltimore
- St Mathias Episcopal Church – Baltimore
- Church of the Guardian angel – Baltimore
- The Church of the Holy Nativity – Baltimore
- St David’s Episcopal Church – Baltimore
Originally called 10,000 Trees when this project was begun in 2013, Trees for Sacred Places engages houses of worship across Maryland to help increase forest stream buffers and urban tree Canopies. Over the past two years, 45 congregations and schools have participated in this project which also provides opportunities to educate a large and diverse regional group of Chesapeake Bay residents in the restoration process of the Chesapeake watershed. Through Trees for Sacred Places, each congregation receives free trees for planting as well as two workshops, one on the importance of native trees to the environment and one on the sacred importance of trees.
The goal of the Trees for Sacred Places is two-fold – to plant trees to provide habitat and water quality benefits to the Chesapeake Bay watershed ecosystem, and to empower congregants to become environmental stewards of their own properties and provide them with the tools necessary to make informed decisions on property management including good source for native plants. Trees for Sacred Places is a program organized jointly by Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake and Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and funded by a variety of sources including the Maryland DNR and Chesapeake Bay Trust.
The congregations in the Diocese of Maryland who have participated in this program are:
- Christ Episcopal Church – Windsor Mill
- Christ the King Episcopal Church – Baltimore
- Epiphany Episcopal Church – Baltimore
- St Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church – Baltimore
- St James Episcopal Church – Monkton
- St Luke’s Episcopal Church – Annapolis
- St Margaret’s Episcopal Church – Annapolis