Congregational Stewards Care for Creation


Before becoming involved with WSA, Annapolis resident Umar Jamal noticed restoration projects installed at the Annapolis Vistor’s Center and the Toyota dealership on West Street. These projects sparked his interest in taking action for clean water in his community.

When WSA reached out to Umar’s faith community, the Islamic Society of Annapolis, he was excited to jump on board. “WSA was willing to educate us and help us understand the problem and the solution,” he said. After attending the three week Congregational Steward training in the spring of 2016, Umar was ready to get to work.

We have to work hand in hand to get the word out
— Umar Jamal

Umar installed a rain garden in his front yard and encouraged his next door neighbor to join him. Together, their 300 square foot project is home to five rain barrels, six trees, and 70 native plants and shrubs. When other Arundel on the Bay residents walk by, Umar enjoys explaining the features of the garden and how they help remediate storm water runoff. “We have to work hand in hand to get the word out,” he says.

Installing a rain garden was just the beginning of Umar’s action for clean water. Umar’s driving force is looking to the future. He is working with the Islamic Society of Annapolis to install a large conservation project, fulfilling his goal of helping the earth and leaving it a better place for children and future generations. “We all come from water. This is our world and we need to protect it.”

The RiverWise Congregations program provides technical, faith-based assistance to help Houses of Worship care for God’s creation.  Since 2014,  WSA has trained Master Watershed Stewards from 23 Houses of Worship, and together with our partners the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake,  have installed 77 projects that are treating polluted runoff. This year, 69 members from some of the RiverWise Congregations attended a shortened version of the Master Watershed Steward training to become Congregational Stewards. 

These new Congregational Stewards installed 62 rain barrels and cisterns, 42 trees, and 26 conservation landscapes on 30 residences from Brooklyn Park to Davidsonville.