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Asian plenary, WCC 10th Assembly

Dances during the Asian Plenary at the WCC 10th Assembly in Busan, Republic of Korea, in 2013. 

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Several workshops addressing water issues have been accepted as part of the "Brunnen" space, the assembly workshop programme fittingly named after the German word for "well". It is to be a space for encounter and sharing, for satisfying one’s thirst, greeting a visitor or welcoming a stranger.

In one of the workshops, Swiss churches will share their experiences with the “Blue community” initiative, an international initiative which in Switzerland has been spearheaded by the churches. Worldwide, over 120 members have already joined the initiative, including prominent church members such as the WCC or the EKS. “The initiative has the potential to inspire and to connect churches and parishes worldwide,” believes Lisa Krebs from the Reformed Churches Bern-Jura-Solothurn.

Another workshop will look at churches working with and through young people towards taking better care of God’s creation. Examples will include the Church of South India’s (CSI) “Green School programme” and its campaign for “Climate Resilient Schools, Churches and Communities,” the WCC’s Eco-School, and the “Youth for life-giving food, agriculture and fisheries” network that grew out of the Eco-School.

The National Council of Churches in India (NCCI) wants to highlight the plight of Dalit women and will look at how to help them deal with the severe effects the climate change and water crisis has on their lives and livelihoods.  “The Dalits have faced caste-based discrimination and social exclusion for centuries,” explains Jyoti Singh, programme executive, Women’s Desk, NCCI . She adds that Dalit women are particularly affected by poverty, lack of accessibility to government mechanisms and aid, lack of education and social exclusion because they face gender-based discrimination and risks in addition to those that are caste-based.

“Nowadays, the water and climate crisis are pushing Dalit women even more into poverty.” As India experiences major ground water depletion, rising temperatures and increasing drought, Dalit women who are mostly located in remote places in India, are particularly affected. They have to fetch water for their families, often from distant places, and many of them depend on making a living as underpaid landless farm workers.

Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Water Network, hopes that many churches will also join the workshop “The churches’ commitment to water justice” led by the EWN’s International Reference Group. “Water is related to so many concerns regarding Earth’s well-being and regarding people’s ability to live life in fullness,” he says. “If we are moved and united by Christ’s love, we can ensure that water is an element of unity, rather than a reason of conflict.”

In addition, "Creation Justice Now! Climate Action and Water for Life" will be the topic of one of the ecumenical conversations of the WCC 11th Assembly. “Those are in-depth conversations on critical issues that affect the life and witness of the church today,” explains Suna, who is the lead staff for the said ecumenical conversation. “The same groups meet for four days. Reports about the ecumenical conversations will be shared with WCC’s governing bodies to inform the future work of the WCC.” He fondly recalls the “Water for Life” statement issued by the WCC 9th Assembly in 2006 in Porto Alegre, which led to the formation of Ecumenical Water Network.

Finally, a water workshop will also be part of the ecumenical encounters taking place in the city centre of Karlsruhe. The encounter program is freely accessible to all and makes it possible to exchange ideas between locals and international guests about the current challenges.

Download "Water for All - water programme at the WCC Assembly"

Learn more about the WCC 11th Assembly

More information on the WCC’s Ecumenical Water Network

Related programmes