Our Watershed Moment, a toolkit from the EcoFaith Network of the Minneapolis Synod, introduces the concept of a watershed and includes resources for theological reflection, worship, youth, education, advocacy, and water stewardship in the home.
2016 Churchwide Assembly
ASSEMBLY ACTION CA16.05.24 To adopt Motion C.
WHEREAS, Holy Scripture reminds us that “the Holy Habitation of the Most High” includes “a river whose streams make glad the city of God,” and that “waters of the sea may become fresh, so everything will live where the river goes,” and that “the Holy Spirit descended on [Jesus] in bodily form like a dove” when he was baptized in the River Jordan; and 2016 Churchwide Assembly: Legislative Update Friday, August 12, 2016 Page 11 of 14
WHEREAS, a watershed is the ground that water flows within as it moves toward a stream, river or lake, and is a natural boundary within God’s creation, unlike arbitrary and haphazard geopolitical boundaries, and all of God’s creatures live in a watershed; and
WHEREAS, many of the watersheds in this country are degraded, and this environmental damage leads to water shortages and a crisis that disproportionately affects people of color and people with lower incomes; and
WHEREAS, the ELCA social statement “Caring for Creation: Vision, Hope and Justice” states that “We see the despoiling of the environment as nothing less than the degradation of God’s precious gift of creation,” and the social statement also reminds us that “congregations have various opportunities during the year to focus on creation… Thanksgiving, harvest festivals, and blessings of field, water, and plants and animals,” and encourages us to “observe Earth Day or Soil and Water Stewardship Week,” so as to protect and restore “natural and human habitats, including seas, wetlands, forests, wilderness, and urban areas”; and
WHEREAS, “watershed discipleship” requires that Christians acknowledge that water lies both at the center of our Christian rite of baptism and our current ecological and climate crisis, thus deserving deep theological treatment; therefore, let it be
RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to provide every active rostered leader with resources to locate each congregation within its watershed district, so that waters may be named and known in worship and intercessory prayers, and that theological and biblical themes may build awareness, care and thanksgiving for the gift of these waters; and let it be further
RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to provide resources to congregations and individual members to encourage and support conservation and prayerful stewardship of water resources; and let it be further
RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, requests the Church Council to direct the appropriate churchwide unit to continue to develop strategies and provide resources to support areas struggling with natural or human-caused disasters that impact access to clean water, such as water contamination, drought and floods, with an awareness that the impact of our environmental actions have disproportionate implication for communities of color with lower incomes; and let it be further
RESOLVED, that the ELCA, in Assembly, encourages congregations to plan events outside their doors and within their watersheds, utilizing the many biblical themes of renewal and liberation that water affords.
Behold the Lilies, by the Rev. H. Paul Santmire, draws from the riches of the author’s long-standing work in the theology of nature and ecological spirituality, especially from his classic historical study, The Travail of Nature (1985), and from his Franciscan exploration in Christian spirituality, Before Nature (2014). In this new volume, Santmire maintains that those who would follow Jesus are mandated not just to care for the earth and all its creatures but also to contemplate the beauties of the whole creation, beginning with “the lilies of the field.” His first-person reflections range from “Scything with God” to “Rediscovering Saint Francis in Stone,” from “Taking a Plunge in the Niagara River” to “Pondering the Darkness of Nature.” Behold the Lilies offers brief spiritual reflections that can be read in any order, over a period of time. This accessible primer will be welcomed not only by those who have already identified themselves with the way of Jesus but also by others who are searching for a contemplative spirituality attuned to global ecological and justice issues.
Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, a professor of Christian ethics, is the author of the 2013 book, Resisting Structural Evil: Love as Ecological-Economic Vocation (Fortress Press). She gave a lecture at USU in the Tanner Talks series from the College of Humanites and Social Sciences. Dr. Moe-Lobeda joins us for Access Utah today, along with Rev. Scott Thalacker, Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan.
By Nathan Detweiler
“Climate change is the biggest challenge that we face. Because of climate change we are forced to relocate within three decades,” Esau Sinnok said during a recent phone interview about Shishmaref. Esau was born and raised in this village in Alaska. He has recently become an outspoken advocate for Shishmaref and environmental conservation. [read more]
Why conserve water:
- Fresh water is a precious and scarce commodity in the world.
- Develop the habit of rationing water, because sustainable lifestyle requires it.
- Reduce carbon emissions by using less hot water.
- Lower energy use at water facilities plants.
- Protect the local watershed from polluted runoff.
- Save money for other ministries.
Efficiency, Conservation, and Protection.
- Efficiency refers to products put in place to save energy and be Earth-friendly.
- Conservation refers to human actions to save energy and be Earth-friendly.
- Protection refers to human actions to protect Earth from degrading products and processes.
- Purchase Energy Star appliances. www.energystar.gov.
- Put low flow aerators on faucets in kitchen, bathrooms, and wash stations.
- Install low-flush toilets. Or use toilet balloons in older toilets to reduce water use.
- Check faucets (+outside) and toilets regularly for leaks and runs. Repair immediately.
- Install push-button faucets in bathrooms.
- Set hot water temperature at moderate rate (around 140 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Install on-demand water heating system.
- Put blanket (at least 3 inches) around standard water heater.
- Do not let faucet run.
- Run dish washer only when full. Wash small loads by hand.
- Rinse dishes for the dishwasher in a bowl rather than under running water.
- Store drinking water in refrigerator. Do not let the faucet run until the water is cool.
- Avoid bottled water. Use safe water bottle to be refilled with tap water.
- “Bring your own” safe reusable water bottle to be filled for use outside the home.
- Avoid use of disposal. It uses a lot of water. Compost food scraps.
- Wash cars by hand (sponge and bucket) rather than in carwashes.
- Use rain barrels to collect rain to water plants.
- Native grasses require less watering. Avoid watering lawn at all.
- Set the mower high to preserve moisture in the soil.
- Mow less often and leave the grass clippings on the grass as compost.
- Plant trees to provide shade that preserves moisture in the soil.
- Plant drought resistant shrubs and flowers.
- Use watering can rather than hose for plants and flowers. Avoid sprinklers.
- If you water at all, do so early in the morning or in the evenings.
- Put bird baths to provide water for birds, when and where it is safe for standing water.
Protect the Environment:
- Do not put toxic items down the drain: cleansers, bleach, detergents, and so on.
- Do not put grease, fat, or cooking oil down the drain.
- Make grease balls with nuts and raisin to hang for birds to feed on.
- Avoid use of pesticides or herbicides or weed killers. These will run off into the water shed and pollute local waterways.
- Plant a rain garden containing special plants with deep roots that absorb water so it does not runoff from roofs into the watershed or water ways.
- Get the family on board.
- Put up reminder signs: Attend to water leaks. Do not let faucet run. Run dishwasher when full.
Advocacy and Public Witness:
- Restore degraded water habitats such as local streams and lakes.
- Promote the preservation of wetlands.
- Learn about water problems around the globe.
- Advocate for policies and laws to slow global warming.
- Oppose practices of extraction for oil, gas, or minerals that threaten water resources.
What can you do?
AFFIRM: Personally, with your church council, or entire synod, review our ELCA’s 1993 call to action and commit to engaging in steps to live into that calling. Sign and submit the Covenant with Creation to be part of our accountability and celebration network.
ACT TOGETHER: Reach out to all church members and share the ideas listed specifically for the area/committee they already work on: Action Plan Ideas. Goals without specific people and dates may remain elusive. Use this form and our ELCA network to help make a path.
Use the online version of the Organizing Kit to the right or download the pdf here: Congregational Self-Organizing Kit
NOTE: We often make updates in the resources and connections. Please refer back online often and let us know if you have any suggestions!