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RiverWise Congregations Partnership Receives Funding to Restore a Historic Cemetery

Asbury Broadneck UMC to receive much needed stormwater remediation

Annapolis, MD (September 25, 2017) The Chesapeake and Coastal Bays Trust Fund of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources has awarded over $500,000 of funding to the RiverWise Congregations partnership to install a treatment chain of stormwater best management practices (BMP’s) at Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church, which sees intermittent flooding during significant rain events. The property is home to a historic cemetery where, for over 150 years, African American community members have been buried, including former slaves and their descendants, as well as Harriet Tubman’s descendants.

Riverwise Congregations is a unique partnership between the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, and the Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy, to engage houses of worship in the county in stormwater runoff reduction and retention activities to help Chesapeake Bay restoration.

RiverWise Congregations has engaged 25 houses of worship, and has trained 30 Master Watershed Stewards, with their locations ranging from Glen Burnie to Galesville. Over 8,000 congregants and residents of Anne Arundel County have been reached with a message that connects their faith with their local waters. Additionally, 75 BMP’s have been installed at houses of worship across the county. The results show that 228 pounds of nitrogen, 47 pounds of phosphorus, and 27 tons of sediment have been captured and treated from 27.5 acres of drainage area. The Asbury Broadneck UMC project will increase these numbers by 39.8 lbs of Nitrogen, 26.9 lbs. of Phosphorous, and 3.35 tons of sediment.

The Asbury Broadneck United Methodist Church (ABUMC) Board of Trustees identified the issue of stormwater runoff after experiencing increased development in the area. Erosion and sediment accumulation was impacting the historic cemetery, leading in to Whitehall Creek. Understanding the hydrology of the land was a challenge, therefore, church members sought partners with knowledge in engineering and stormwater run-off restoration to gauge their options and to educate themselves. The Church initiated a study to provide an assessment of flooding in the cemetery, and to implment ground penetrating radar to identify potential unmarked burial locations within the drainage area and creek path.

Two members of the congregation participated in the Anne Arundel County Watershed Stewards Academy becoming Master Watershed Stewards and a third is graduating this year. As part of the program, twenty-three members of the church participated in environmental stewardship training and has since created an environmental stewardship and creation care ministry, Stormwater Disciples, to continue to educate, empower and engage church and community members. All of this work is culminating in this project that will eliminate the impact of stormwater on the gravesites, infiltrate much of the water back into the ground, and reduce the amount of stormwater and its pollutants from entering the Chesapeake Bay.

To learn more about the RiverWise Congregations program, visit:

About the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay:

Founded in 1971, the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, with headquarters in Annapolis, MD and offices in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia, works throughout the Bay watershed to lead, support and inspire local action and build partnerships with individuals, communities, governments, businesses and other groups to restore the Bay watershed and its lands, rivers and streams. For more information about the Alliance, visit:

More about the Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake:

Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake is dedicated to educating, supporting and motivating the people and communities of faith to care for the Earth and all its inhabitants, beginning with their own home, the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. For more information about Interfaith Partners for the Chesapeake, visit:

More about Watershed Stewards Academy:

WSA restores the waterways of Anne Arundel County through an innovative educational model that has rallied communities from Brooklyn Park to Herring Bay. Their rigorous training program has prepared more than 160 Master Watershed Stewards to lead communities to action for cleaner water. For more information about Watershed Stewards Academy, visit: