I met with Nancy Wright in 2018 and was so impressed by the serious and dedicated way she approached congregational watershed discipleship practices. These two new watershed discipleship manuals are the result of her hands-on work in her watershed in Vermont.
Water holds a special place in Christian imagination and sacramental expression. We know from science of the essential nature of water to life. Our relationship with water is both spiritual and physiological and therefore demands a level of care that mirrors a sacredness for life.
We live in a watershed moment for the planet and for religious congregations. The threatening planetary water crisis demands a strong response. Congregations who engage in water-focused activities, education, and worship respond faithfully to the need to care for Earth and its waters, and they become engaged community leaders. They promote awareness and actions to care for local watersheds and thus play a part in ameliorating worldwide water justice issues. All religions value and promote awareness of water. Congregation members deepen in their faith by becoming leaders in watershed care.
Vermont churches are leading the way on congregational watershed discipleship models with the release of two manuals—one tailored for Christian congregations and the other for inter-religious communities. In 2018, Vermont Interfaith Power and Light (VTIPL) joined with local organizations to create a model for watershed stewardship, based on the experience of Ascension Lutheran Church in South Burlington, Vermont. The Reverend Dr. Nancy Wright, pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church, and Richard Butz, a member of the church, are co-authors of the manuals.
These are very hand-on tools for pastors who are ready to take positive action in the midst of climate crisis. The manuals provide direction on: How to grow leadership in your congregation while becoming watershed stewards; spiritual basis for water awareness; how to create waterside worship events; how to learn while having fun on the water; step-by-step instructions to become water quality monitors; and how to take positive political action.
These inspiring and practical 40-page manuals are available at www.vow4climate/store. By connecting your congregation with the water that flows in, under, and above your local landscape—your watershed—you can become part of the solution to achieve clean water for humanity and healthier ecosystems.