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2014 Seven Weeks for Water campaign kicks off

Ecumenical effort urges “pilgrimage towards water justice”

March 5, 2014

Malawi women water

A woman gets help from other women to lift a water container onto her head, after filling it at a pump in Chidyamanga, a village in southern Malawi. —Paul Jeffrey/ACT Alliance

GENEVA

Starting March 3, the “Seven Weeks for Water” campaign invites churches, faith-based organizations and individuals around the world to join a “pilgrimage towards water justice.”

This theme is addressed by an online compilation of reflections shared every week during Lent, raising awareness about universal access to water and sanitation.

Seven Weeks for Water is a campaign launched by the Ecumenical Water Network (EWN) of the World Council of Churches (WCC). Since 2008, the campaign has attempted to create awareness on water issues around World Water Day on March 22, which falls during the season of Lent on many churches’ calendars.

This years’ contributors of reflections are eco-theologians and church leaders including George Zachariah of the Mar Thoma Church in India; Bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria, Germany; Guillermo Kerber, WCC program executive for Care for Creation and Climate Justice; and the Rev. Stephen Larson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Geneva, Switzerland, among others.

Dinesh Suna, the EWN’s coordinator, said that the theme for this year’s campaign is inspired by a call from the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea. The assembly took place in late 2013.

“We intend to move together. Challenged by our experiences in Busan, we challenge all people of good will to engage their God-given gifts in transforming actions. This Assembly calls you to join us in pilgrimage. May the churches be communities of healing and compassion, and may we seed the Good News so that justice will grow and God’s deep peace rest on the world,” reads a message from the WCC assembly.

Suna says that this year’s reflections focus on an injustice committed against more than one-third of the world’s population who are deprived of access to water and sanitation.

“We have moved a long way in our pilgrimage towards water justice. After several years of struggle, in 2010 the United Nations declared that water and sanitation are human rights.”

“Now national implementation of these rights is the focus ― so that they become a reality for those who are still deprived of them, and this is a call to action for the churches,” Suna said.

In reflections for the first week of the campaign, George Zachariah connects the theme of “pilgrimage towards water justice” with social realities.

“Survival of life is very much dependant on the availability of clean water. But when the market forces converted water into ‘blue gold,’ the life-giving water has become a commodity, denying its accessibility to the community of creation, making thirst a perennial reality,” says Zachariah.

He notes that with globalization “water has become a commodity with price tag,” and common resources such as “lakes and rivers have been auctioned to multinational corporations.”

These are the contexts, Zachariah says, which makes it imperative for churches and communities to “initiate a new pilgrimage towards water justice.”

  1. At Gibbs Magnet School of International Studies and Foreign Languages in Little Rock, Arkansas, where I am a teacher, we give students Pre-K through 5th grade many opportunities to reach out to others in service. One of those opportunities is through The Ozark Water Project which digs wells and installs water purification systems in Kenya, Haiti, and others through raising money by the collecting and selling of useable footwear. It is an annual project for Gibbs at the beginning of the school year when families are purchasing new school shoes. Gibbs has collected over 4,000 pairs of shoes. The children are very touched by the fact that not everyone around the world can get a clean drink of water out of a fountain at school. A favorite quote we have used with the children is from Benjamin Franklin, "You never know the worth of water till the well runs dry."

    by Nancy Passini / member Westover Hills Presbyterian

    March 13, 2014

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