Stewards for Streams Faith-Based Initiative

Presbyterian Church of Easton rain garden

Trustees and preschoolers from Presbyterian Church of Easton showcase their newly planted rain garden this October. Also pictured are Suzanne Sullivan (center) and Elizabeth Brown (back row, far right) from MRC.

Beginning in 2016, MRC collaborated with local congregations to install environmental projects on their grounds that beautify their property, reduce pollution, and engage volunteers. Inspired by these partnerships, MRC created Stewards for Streams, a new community program that seeks to connect faith and environmental stewardship through engaging, meaningful teachings and activities that have a positive impact on our local rivers.

Working with places of worship is a natural fit for MRC.  A growing global movement is tapping into faith traditions to inform and inspire environmental stewardship. Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical on Climate Change, Laudato Si: On Care For Our Common Home, epitomizes this religious stewardship ethic. He writes, “Any technical solution which science claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious problems of our world if humanity loses its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations which make it possible for us to live in harmony, to make sacrifices and to treat others well.” By pairing science-based restoration projects with a faith-based environmental ethic, MRC hopes to engage a more diverse audience and inspire more community members to be a voice for our rivers.

As of October 2016, MRC partnered with five congregations to install environmental projects, including the installation of rain gardens at Waugh Chapel United Methodist Church in Cambridge and Presbyterian Church of Easton. A rain garden is a shallow depression in the ground filled with native flowers, grasses, and shrubs, whose roots soak up stormwater running off of impervious surfaces, such as roofs and sidewalks. By holding this rainwater and allowing it to infiltrate the ground, rain gardens reduce stormwater runoff and filter out excess nutrients and pollutants.

All of these projects were installed by volunteers from the congregations, providing participants of all ages with the opportunity to learn about stormwater runoff, native plants, and the importance of caring for our rivers. These projects were entirely funded by outside sponsors, including Chesapeake Bay Trust, Royal Bank of Canada Blue Water Project, Maryland Environmental Trust, and Maryland Day to Serve.

MRC works with congregations in various capacities, depending upon each congregation’s needs and goals. MRC hopes to secure further funding to continue providing a range of programmatic offerings to local places of worship.

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For more information, contact Suzanne Sullivan at suzanne@midshoreriverkeeper.org or at 443-385-0511.