A symbolic act of pouring water into one common vessel, carried out by religious leaders representing Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Buddhist faiths, marked the significance of water in various religious traditions. This action took place at the World Council of Churches (WCC) 10th Assembly, currently underway in Busan, Republic of Korea.
The ceremony on 4 November at the “inter-religious space” in the Madang hall of the BEXCO centre, venue of the WCC assembly, featured diverse spiritual reflections on water.
The religious leaders, sharing examples from their own traditions, noted there is a great need to raise awareness concerning the preservation of water in all communities. A natural resource, still scarce in many parts of the world and serving as a root cause for conflicts, water is at the centre of social and political issues and causes to which they pledged their commitment, vowing to work together for water justice.
In almost all religions and their sacred texts, water is a symbol of cleansing, justice, peace, and it is therefore profoundly relevant to the WCC assembly theme.
The WCC theme is a prayer, “God of life, lead us to justice and peace”, and on this day it was interpreted by the participants especially in terms of water issues.
The ceremony came as a joint initiative of the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network and the WCC programme for inter-religious dialogue and cooperation. It was opened by the WCC general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit who offered Christian theological reflections on water.
Among other religious leaders in the ceremony were Prof. Ram Puniyani from the Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Dr Ali Mohammad Helmi from the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization – Centre for Interreligious Dialogue, Dr Deborah Weissman from the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ) and Dr Parichart Suwanbubha from the Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand.
In a common declaration read at the ceremony, the religious leaders recognized that the scarcity and inequitable accessibility of water can pose threats to justice and peace. Reminding the audience of the spiritual, cultural and healing value of water, they committed themselves to work together towards water justice, as shown in their symbolic action of sharing water.
High resolution photos available via photos.oikoumene.org