The RiverWise Congregations Program provides technical, faith based assistance to help Houses of Worship care for God’s Creation. Through this partnership with the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, and the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake , and funded through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, WSA has engaged 24 congregations, and trained 30 Master Watershed Stewards to work with faith congregations across Anne Arundel County.
"Every church has a creek and every creek deserves a church."
– Rev. Johnny Calhoun, Mt. Olive AME Church
Over the last year, these Stewards have installed:
5,500 native plants and trees
20 rain gardens and bioswales
6 conservation landscapes and re-forested areas
300 square feet of pervious pavement
34 projects will be installed in Spring 2016
"Engaging our congregation in the care of creation has sparked a feeling of excitement in our youth as they cared for the rain gardens placed around our church."
– Betty Thompson, pictured here with Monique Ward, both of Wilson Memorial AME Church.
Through specialized training developed and delivered by the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, these Stewards have also initiated environmental ministries to educate their faith congregations about ways they can reduce pollution on their own properties. Through the work of these dedicated leaders, thousands of Anne Arundel County residents, many of whom are not traditionally engaged watershed restoration efforts, are now learning about how to be responsible caretakers of our natural world.
Coming in 2016, the RiverWise partners are teaming up again for a RiverWise 2.0 in which we will provide a compressed Watershed Steward training for congregants from several faith communities, and install projects on both residential and congregational properties. If your congregation is interested in having a faith-based Master Watershed Steward, please contact Suzanne Etgen firstname.lastname@example.org.
"My WSA journey led me to take action to restore and protect the tree canopy through removal of invasives and planting of native plants…Many trees had been killed by the strangling vines of English ivy and oriental bittersweet, with the remaining trees at risk of death. As I faced wall after wall of invasive species, the project seemed impossible but my WSA experience made it doable. Over 170 volunteers attacked the invasive vegetation, following the buffer management plan prepared by Jodie Shivery and approved for permitting in the Critical Area by the City of Annapolis. After six volunteer work days, a planting day was held on November 7 with 200 native trees and shrubs planted."
– Sandie Kirkland, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church