Swiss local churches reflect on water issues
Celebrating water as God’s creation and reflecting on challenges faced by people having inadequate access to this life-giving resource, members of Swiss churches gathered together in Geneva. Their meeting was held beside a pond called Étang de Mouilles on the rainy Sunday afternoon of 15 September.
The meeting took place as part of the Time for Creation, an annual, global, ecumenical season of prayer for creation, eco-justice and peace with the earth.
Organized by Swiss churches in and around the canton of Geneva, the event featured participation by World Council of Churches (WCC) staff members working with the WCC’s programme o Care for Creation and Climate Justice.
The meeting attracted fifty participants following a call from the ecumenical organization Oeku. The event addressed the theme “Lakes and ponds, fresh streams: water as a living environment”. Oeku works for environmental issues, and has produced materials for the Time for Creation to be used by churches in Protestant, Catholic and ecumenical celebrations and activities.
At the meeting, participants heard about the work of the H2O-Energies, a not-for-profit organization helping communities to have access to clean water in Kenya and Cameroun.
Robert Rohrbach and Georges Bolay, staff of H2O-Energies, spoke about the significance of seeking access to clean water and sanitation for poorer communities in these African countries.
Issues related to water in Africa remained a special focus of the meeting, given that around 345 million people live without access to clean water in the region.
Dr Guillermo Kerber, the WCC’s programme executive on Care for Creation and Climate Justice, engaged participants in an activity, “water pilgrimage”, using biblical references to water.
Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network, appreciated the meeting. He said that “in a city like Geneva, where water and sanitation is not a problem and tap water is safe to drink, it is commendable that ecumenical voices join together to pray, meditate and discuss water issues that affect communities around the world.”
Organizers of the meeting included the Protestant parishes of Onex, St Luc-Petit-Lancy and Bernex-Confignon, the Catholic parishes of St Martin, St Mark, Christ-Roi, Bernex-Confignon, as well as the Evangelical Free Church, the Latin American Christian community of Onex, the Francophone Evangelical-Methodist Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Church and the Presbyterian Church of Cameroon in Switzerland.