Liberating Our Waters

by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann
Guest Contributor

One hot afternoon, my kids and I headed for Belle Isle, dressed in swim suits and looking for relief in the waters of the Detroit River. Cedar, who is now 2, immediately lay down at water’s edge, tummy in the water, and kept saying, “Thank you, water.” He said it over and over again with joy beaming from him. Where does he get it? Yes, indeed, he is right: thank you water.

After that, the kids both started digging a hole that the waves would fill. Isaac would lean his ear close to the water and say, “Water, what do you need? Oh, you want us to dig you a hole with a path for you to have as a home. Ok.” And he would start digging. Water became the third playmate. It had ideas and needs and there was real intimacy. I sat back and just listened. I would hear things like, “Ok, water, we will help you,” or, “The water says it loves it,” or, “I love you, water.” Read more

Water in the Desert, and a Prayer for Migrants

by Katerina Friesen
Watershed Discipleship Editorial Team

In 2016, I walked 75 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border along with over 60 other people on The Migrant Trail, an annual walk to bear witness to the thousands of inhumane deaths that migrant sisters and brothers have suffered as a result of U.S. immigration policies. Over the past 20 years, 7,000 deaths have been documented, and many human remains found in the desert remain unidentified. We walked to remember these known and unknown loved ones, carrying crosses marked with either their names or simply, “desconocido” (unknown), which we called out from our line of walkers to the collective response of:

“¡Presente!”

The temperature hit over 110 degrees one day as our group walked near the border in Arizona. Sweat dripped down my face and back, and we were advised to walk on the white line on the road since the black asphalt was so hot. Even though we had plenty of water in support vans and at rest stops (in contrast with most migrants crossing the desert, who can’t carry very much), my water bottle was low and all I could think of while walking was our next stop for water. We rounded a curve in the road, and suddenly I saw a humanitarian aid truck carrying water that they regularly leave out in the desert, water that saves many migrants’ lives. I only had a brief taste of the heat and exhaustion migrants go through in their perilous journey north, but at that moment I started weeping when I saw the water truck there, offering our group water and encouraging us on our way. Water is life, especially in the desert. Read more

Water and Health in the Bronx: Protecting the Sacred

by Kelly Moltzen
Guest Contributor

Photo © Kelly Moltzen, NYC Watershed Tour

It is hard to not be awed by the scale and tremendous care that goes into supporting the gigantic system bringing water to New York City and the surrounding counties. Flowing from the Catskill/Delaware Watersheds and the Croton Watershed, approximately one billion gallons of water are consumed in New York City every day, serving 8.5 million residents as well as millions of tourists each year. In all, the New York City Water Supply System provides nearly half the population of New York State with high-quality drinking water.

It is humbling to realize just how dependent all these millions of people are on the water supply functioning the way it is supposed to. Water constitutes about 50-70% of our bodies as human beings. Water from the reservoirs, aqueducts, and street-side sampling stations is quality tested by the Department of Environmental Protection’s scientists, with nearly 630,000 analyses performed on the samples in four state-of-the art laboratories (NYC DEP). Read more

Salal + Cedar Prayer and Action Against Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project

“A priest, a rabbi, a Hindu and a Unitarian walk onto a pipeline route…”

Photos © Murray Bush

It may sound like the beginning of a joke, but this set-up describes a weekly blockade of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project near Vancouver, British Columbia, Coast Salish Territory. Salal + Cedar, a watershed discipleship community in the Anglican Diocese of New Westminster (Anglican Church of Canada), helped lead a blockade of the Kinder Morgan access road each Thursday in December, organizing an opportunity for an interfaith group to come together around the common goal of stopping construction of the expanded pipeline, and acknowledging a shared connection to the water, land, and creatures of their watershed and world.

Photos © Murray Bush

The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Expansion Project would “parallel the 1,150-km route of the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline, which was built in 1953 and is the only West Coast link for Western Canadian oil,” increasing the capacity from 300,000 barrels of oil per day to 890,000 (Kinder Morgan website). However, as Rev. Laurel Dykstra of Salal + Cedar puts it, “The proposed expansion project differs significantly in route [from the existing pipeline]. It crosses a whole ton of waterways and un-ceded Indigenous territory, where people have not been fully consulted, or have explicitly denied their consent.” The level of public outcry against this project has been significant, with letter-writing campaigns and well-attended protests and marches, but approval for the project has been pushed through anyway. As construction proceeds, it is time to move forward into a different kind of action. Of this moment, Dykstra says:

“To be at the outset of that different kind of action, to see where different voices will put their bodies, is an interesting and exciting time.”

Read more

Theological Declaration on Christian Faith and White Supremacy

A group of Christian theologians and activists recently created a statement entitled: “Theological Declaration on Christian Faith and White Supremacy,” regarding the incompatibility of Christianity and white supremacy. The authors particularly note the basis of white supremacy in its “Christian” form on colonization of the land and the harmful theological premises that go along with the assumptions of an imperialist culture. Ched Myers, Randy Woodley, and others who are part of the watershed discipleship network helped form the original statement, and others have since signed on. They are thinking of this statement as analogous to the Barmen Declaration in 1934, when the German Evangelical Church spoke out against anti-Semitism.  I’m inspired by this document, and grateful to hear a message spoken to combat white supremacy in a way that reflects the love of Christ. Here is an excerpt from the declaration:

As a diverse group of theologians, activists and ministers of our respective parishes, congregations, networks, churches, faith communities and educational institutions, we here declare that we are bound together by the confession that Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Church.

We publicly declare that what we hold in common in this confession is threatened by the festering infection of Eurocentric white nationalism and white supremacy. Fueled by flawed interpretations of Old Testament purity laws and conquest, churches and denominations in the United States have been deeply shaped by and at times created to sustain European purity and colonization of land, people, and culture. The colonizing spirit declares the self to be uniquely fully human—to have the exclusive right to rule the world. It’s strategy is the creation of racial and gender-based human hierarchy—forsaking God for the idols of domination and control. Eurocentric Christian churches have often been the prime creators, carriers, sustainers and protectors of this malevolent force, which manifests overtly in acts of racial and gender-based violence and covertly in systems, structures, principalities and powers, both beyond and within the walls of the Church.

You can read the rest of the declaration, sign it yourself, and share about it on social media using: #thedeclaration .