With this week being Earth Week, many of our congregations across the country are celebrating Earth Day Sunday on April 27th. If your church hasn't begun planning an Earth Day Sunday celebration, don't fret! Every day should be cause to celebrate Creation. Here is how one Presbyterian church is being mindful of God's Earth. Happy Earth Day!
Water, Holy Water: A reflection in honor of Earth
Written by Jerry Rees
Water is the most abundant and fundamental element on Earth. Because of climate change and increasing population, there is a critical need for water conservation at home and safe clean water abroad. Internationally, the availability of safe clean water is becoming a major humanitarian and environmental problem with national security implications.
According to water.org:
- 780 million people lack access to an improved water source; approximately one in nine people. That’s more than 2.5 times the United States population.
- More than 3.4 million people die each year from water, sanitation, and hygiene-related causes. Nearly all deaths, 99 percent, occur in the developing world. This number is equivalent to the entire population of Los Angeles.
- Unsafe water affects more people worldwide than AIDS and cancer combined.
- Clean water means less disease, which means less money spent on medicine which means more money spent on education.
- Only 14% of plastic water bottles are recycled in the US.
- Some plastics in the ocean will not break down in the lifetimes of the grandchildren of the people who threw them away.
- Each day over 200 million hours are used by women collecting water for their families.
- Lack of access to clean water and sanitation kills children at a rate equivalent to a jumbo jet crashing every four hours!
Blue is the new Green. It is time to acknowledge the growing scarcity of fresh clean water, to declare water as an intrinsic human right, and to communicate the need to preserve water for future generations of all living creatures--humankind and other kind. Changing water use patterns has become a matter of social and environmental justice!
During the past year, the Environmental Action Committee at Village Presbyterian Church (Prairie Village, KS) has been engaged in a World Wide Water Awareness campaign. To raise our congregation’s consciousness and to stir their conscience, we have provided water-related information at various locations around the church. Last fall, we presented 4 evening classes focusing on water. This winter and spring, we offered 5 classes about water, including a Saturday morning seminar and a Sunday school class.
During Lent, we organized a Stop Using Bottled Water campaign. We placed signs at Drinking Fountains and at Lavatories around the church urging folks to Get off the Bottle and Start Drinking Tap Water. Since tap water is significantly less expensive than bottled water, we encouraged them to donate their savings to a worthy cause pertaining to water security, such as water.org or One Great Hour of Sharing.
For Earth Day or Any Day, Creation Justice Ministries has provided a resource entitled Water, Holy Water. This featured resource explores water as a gift from God that is being threatened by overuse and pollution. Included are information pieces, stories, scriptures, worship resources, sermon starters, and a bulletin insert. I encourage you to read it and to use it!
“You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.” ~Psalm 104:10-13
Village Presbyterian Church - Prairie Village, KS
Jerry Rees is chair of the Environmental Action Committee at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, KS, which won the PEC Restoring Creation award in 2008. Beyond the walls of his church, he is a former PEC Midwest Regional Rep and one of the founding Steering Committee members of Kansas IPL. He is currently serving on the Board of the Sustainable Sanctuary Coalition of KC and is also active in Earthkeepers of Heartland Presbytery. Under his leadership, Village Church is beginning its fourth year as an Earth Care Congregation.