by Rev. Brendan Curran, Assoc. Minister         –          Mar. 15, 2019

This letter was written for the RI Conference and Brendan is also sharing it here to let us know of a current initiative of the RI conference’s Justice & Witness ministry.

“Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;” -Isaiah 55:1

Beloved Community,

As people of faith we meet our God in all the ways we put love for our neighbors, our children, and creation into action.  In the United Church of Christ we understand environmental stewardship as our covenantal responsibility and privilege to care for the natural world as God’s creation.  As the United Church of Christ, we have acknowledged how we are only stewards of creation, and “The Earth Is The Lord’s, Not Ours To Wreck,” as surely as the Psalms of David sing, “The Earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.” -Psalm 24.  We are obligated to care for creation in a way that preserves the abundance of life we’ve been given, for our neighbors, and for the children.

We have been, “established on the waters.”  The sacred water of creation, the building block of life, our life-source, and 70% of what constitutes our body, is given freely to all by the God of all creation.  And yet we are living in a moment when those who serve the interests of money are working to monetize, privatize, and sell 60% of Rhode Islander’s water; robbing God’s gift to all from the commons and restricting it to the hands of the few who would profit at the expense of misery for the many.

Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah!  “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters!”  As people of faith who believe in environmental justice, you are invited to join the Justice and Witness ministry of the RI conference of the United Church of Christ as we hold vigils to protect the water.  A few years ago, as a conference, we made a statement of support for the water protectors of Standing Rock who reminded the world that, “Water is Life.”  We are invited to now do the same for our own RI community and stand in defense of our water for each other and for future generations.  On this past Valentine’s Day, a bill was introduced to the RI general assembly with the encouragement of the mayor of Providence.  It would allow for the selling of the sacred resource of water to private companies that have already begun placing bids to control and own what we all currently share.  We should not stand for this!

A vigil is a period of wakeful attention in times when most people are asleep to stay in a place to wait, pray, keep watch, and protect.  In this time when too many are sleeping, we will hold water vigils to wake others up and to bear witness to the water as God’s sacred gift to all.  The vigils will be open sharing spaces.  People of all faiths and walks are invited to join and share their hearts, prayers, poems, songs, thoughts, or simply their presence; whatever they feel gives thanks for the water and sets the intention of protecting it for all, and for future generations.  

[Click image for larger view.]

The first vigil will take place on March 21st at the mayor’s community meeting.  We will gather outside Nathanael Greene Middle School at 721 Chalkstone Ave. in Providence from 6 – 7:30 PM.  All are welcome to gather under the blue flags that say, “water is life,” as we bear witness to the water as God’s sacred gift and remind those who would sell our shared gift that water is a human right!  Saturday April 6th and April 13th we will gather at the entrance of the North Scituate Public Library at 606 W. Greenville Rd. at 11 AM.  We will walk to the Scituate Reservoir to witness the beauty of our water source together and hold vigil in a spirit of gratitude until 12:30 PM.  If you want to take immediate action you can call your representative and tell them to oppose H 5390, that water is a human right, and under no circumstances should it be monetized, privatized, or sold. 

For more information on how bill H 5390, water monetization, and privatization obstruct environmental justice and harm the public, check this link.

To learn more about the issue and how to get involved, come to upcoming community informational meetings of, “The Land and Water Sovereignty Campaign.” on March 16th, March 30th, and April 27th from 2 – 4 PM.  Times and locations for these meetings and other actions will  be available on the “Water is Life: Land and Water Sovereignty Campaign,” Facebook page.  You can access this information by liking their page.

May the God of creation move us to action on behalf of our neighbors, each other, our children and our society’s most vulnerable who would be the most negatively impacted by this heinous environmental injustice.  Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters!  All are encouraged to take action and join the water vigils.

In the Living Water,
Rev. Brendan Curran, VP for Justice and Witness/RICUCC