Environmental Justice Outreach
We respond to environmental racism with ministry connected to Walnut Creek & Green Infrastructure
Our Environmental Justice ministries started as an effort to remove trash in Walnut Creek, and quickly became a mission to correct decades of environmental racism and oppression.
“The city had been dumping sewage into Walnut Creek — into a black neighborhood — for 60 or 70 years. There was no respect for the creek or for the residents. It was an unofficial dumping ground.”
In the late 1990s, a group of parishioners at St. Ambrose envisioned a way to bolster the community’s spirit: clean up Walnut Creek. Getting rid of tires and other litter created positive momentum and spurred conversation about how to solve other problems in the community.
The group organized and, for 15 years, advocated for the creation of a dedicated educational park, which opened in 2009. Just a mile from downtown, the 58-acre Walnut Creek Wetland Park provides wildlife habitat and flood relief to nearby homes. It’s also a hub where local people can learn about and connect with the environment in their own backyard.
In 2017, St Ambrose installed a 550 square foot rain garden through the help of a $5,000 grant from American Rivers and a matching grant from the City of Raleigh.
Most recently Saint Ambrose was awarded a grant from the Episcopal Church’s Task Force on Care of Creation and Environmental Racism. This grant supported the creation of a labyrinth that will grant our community access to more green space. This additional space is dedicated to the spiritual formation of our congregation and a place where the Saint Ambrose faith community and the surrounding community can find peace, tranquility, and healing.
Learn more about our projects below!
The Saint Ambrose Labyrinth Experience
The Saint Ambrose Rain Garden
View these features from the City of Raleigh about our Rain Garden
Recently, St. Ambrose Episcopal Church executed a capital campaign for numerous upgrades to improve our ecological footprint as a church. Those upgrades include:
- New roof with ridge and soffit venting
- New exterior doors
- Repair of stained glass windows
- Installation of low emissivity (Low-E) glass on exterior of all stained glass windows
- Installed 550 sqft rain garden ($5,000 Grant from American Rivers and $5,000 City of Raleigh Cost Sharing)
- Replaced ductwork and insulation upgrades ($5,000 PowerUp NC Grant)
- Installed new heating and cooling system to higher amperage for increased efficiency
- Renovated and updated all bathrooms
- ADA compliant
- New toilets that use 80% less water
- Removed water heaters and installed on demand hot water
- Installed two new water fountains that filter water and give the number of plastic water bottles saved
- Upgraded bathroom fixtures with faucet timers
- LED light panels in bathrooms
- Installed light timers
- Replaced the sewer line underneath the church and added a sewer lift station
- Upgraded tile flooring throughout the church
- Installed energy-efficient LED light panels in the parish hall
Eco-friendly Prayer Garden and Columbarium Construction
The Saint Ambrose Prayer Garden is a statement about creation care and environmental justice. The garden has two, 100 square feet bio-retention rain gardens. A rain garden collects rainwater from a roof, driveway or street and allows it to soak into the ground. It prevents polluted rainwater from running into Walnut Creek, the Neuse River, and the Atlantic Ocean.
The prayer garden has two 850-gallon cisterns that collect rain water from the roof to use as a drip-line irrigation system. The prayer garden walking surface is Chapel Hill Gravel, firm enough to walk on, allowing rainwater to soak into the ground.
The project is in the Walnut Creek Watershed and assisted financially by the City of Raleigh 75% reimbursement cost-share. Native plants populate the prayer garden. The two rain gardens and two cisterns combined with Saint Ambrose’s 2017 rain garden means our property diverts thousands of gallons of polluted stormwater from entering Walnut Creek.
About Our Green Upgrades