The pre-launch of the Lenten campaign “Seven Weeks for Water” was held in Suva, Fiji, on 21 January, under the theme “A Pilgrimage of Water Justice in the Pacific Region.” In 2020, the World Council of Churches (WCC) Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace has a regional focus in the Pacific region.
Since 2008, the WCC Ecumenical Water Network has invited people worldwide to use the season of Lent to reflect on issues related to water. The campaign has provided weekly theological reflections and other resources on water for the seven weeks of Lent and for World Water Day on 22 March (which always falls during the Lenten period).
In a sermon at the service to pre-launch the Lenten campaign, Rev. Dr Tevita Banivanua, president of the Fiji Council of Churches, stressed that water’s usefulness and sacredness are being threatened in many ways by (us) humans, “as we are slowly but surely destroying our own livelihood through our own carelessness,” he said. “People of faith have been aware of the interconnectedness of the environment, health, economics and water, and with this, the issue of ethics of water is very important in Oceania region.”
Rev. Dr Cornelia Füllkrug-Weitzel, president of Brot für die Welt, said that we are “irresponsible" in our use of water, wasting it to satisfy our comfortable lives. “In many places we have commodified and privatised water, a natural resource, denying people access to it,” she said. “We have been allowing companies to pollute rivers and ground water to the detriment of people’s health and of other creatures’ lives.”
Reflecting on this year's campaign focus, Dinesh Suna, coordinator of the WCC Ecumenical Water Network, said that, at 48% for basic water and 31% for basic sanitation, combined coverage levels in the Pacific are lower than in any other region in the world.
“In the wake of severity of the impacts of climate change in the region, these figures are going to get worse,” he said. “Seven Weeks for Water is an important strategy to mobilise the member churches and their congregations in the Pacific region to address the issue of access to water.”
The Reference Group of the Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace and the pilgrimage’s Theological Study Group are meeting at the Pacific Theological College, in Suva, Fiji, 19-22 January, with the goal of reflecting on the situation in the Pacific through the lens of the global thematic focus on climate change and cooperation with churches, national councils of churches, the Pacific Conference of Churches, and others.