Following the success of the first “H2oly Water” gathering held this spring in Tempe, Arizona, the National Council of Churches USA and the Eco-Justice Working Group organized three more such conferences planned across the nation this year. Each of the conferences will train clergy and lay leaders how to preserve and protect one of the most important and necessary of Earth’s resources: Water.
"Water is one of our most precious resources. Yet, changes in land use such as an increase in urban sprawl and housing developments, ongoing use of fertilizers, and inadequate water treatment facilities are jeopardizing valuable water resources,” wrote the NCC in their June 8th news release.
The nearest conference is scheduled for June 25 –26 at Annapolis, Md. Throughout the 30-hour “H2oly Water: Source of Life” event, attendees will learn basic information about water and how to motivate and inspire their congregations to take action in preserving the source of life.
Additionally, the leaders will explore the specific water issues affecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed. John Flood, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's conservationist of the year, will give a presentation on the region’s water issues, and on Friday, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation will allow the attendants to take a green building tour.
The next conference is slated for July 19 in Detroit, Michigan. The Detroit interfaith clergy training will focus on water issues as well as topics on climate change. Dr. Rolf T. Bouma, Director of the Center for Faith and Scholarship at the Campus Chapel in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a lecturer on environmental ethics at the University of Michigan, will lead a workshop and theological reflection on water issues affecting the Great Lakes region.
The final event is scheduled for October 22-23 in Toledo, Ohio. The Ohio event will teach the Christian leaders on how to encourage their church and fellowship groups to take action through hands-on field trip opportunities.
"All these training events will help empower clergy and lay leaders to preserve and protect water, which is a fundamental necessity in our lives and part of our Christian sacrament," said Cassandra Carmichael, NCC's Director of Eco-Justice Programs, Washington, D.C.
According to the NCC, the focus on water grew out of a survey conducted at the bi-annual Eco-Justice Conference in Seattle. At the conference, 67% of the participants felt the most important environmental issues for them- and the one that resonates the most within their congregations-is water. The training events were developed to respond to this congregational need.