For Advent 2016 we will offer four short videos with reflection questions suitable for group or individual study. These original videos will put human faces on the water justice issues that the conference will explore. These videos will be released throughout the fall and will all be ready, along with discussion questions, by the first week of Advent. Check back or sign up to receive Trinity Institute emails to be notified of their release.
As drought envelops the southern third of the African continent, one nation severely affected is Swaziland. Children hungry from a lack of food are unable to walk to school, and cattle, a symbol of wealth in Swazi culture, are dying. The Anglican Church is reaching out, assisting communities in developing small community gardens, as well as assisting people in becoming more environmentally aware.
- What is the relationship between local problems such as drought in southern Africa and global issues such as climate change?
- How is environmental stewardship a question not just of prosperity but of salvation, as Archbishop Thabo says?
- For Christians, what is the relationship between care of human beings and care of the environment?
- Is it the church’s role to offer hope when no solution is obvious? If so, what is the source of that hope?
- What is the role of education in dealing with environmental issues?
Isle de Jean Charles is a richly biodiverse island community in the Louisiana Bayou near New Orleans. Environmental degradation leading to rising waters threatens the very existence of the island and a way of life that has been sustained for centuries.
- Do you agree that religious communities have a special responsibility to protect the web of creation?
- Are there places where you have observed the impact of climate change on the environment and people’s lives? Are any of them close to home?
- The people of Isle de Jean Charles have been called the United States’ first climate refugees. Do you see the threat to their cultural identity as a justice issue?
- Facing these kinds of situations, how can the church stand on the side of the poor and the marginalized?
Bottled water was not always the custom in the United States. There was a time when people quenched their thirst from water fountains. A move is underway to refurbish water fountains in less-affluent neighborhoods in New York City. The hope is to encourage young people to choose water instead of soft drinks, as well as reminding them that water from fountains is safe, healthy, free and does not require use of plastic bottles.
- Why is it important that the students got to identify the issue and lead the process themselves?
- What types of partnerships do you notice that made success possible, and how can that approach be replicated in other areas?
- What is the connection between water access and obesity? How do health disparities affect the poor disproportionately?
- Why do you believe Sr. Patty refers to drinking from the fountain as our “responsibility”?
- How did agency, ownership, partnership, creativity, and social responsibility affect the culture shift at Preston High?
- Discuss why one of these elements without the others is less effective.
- Churches in England during the Industrial Revolution sponsored water fountains as a public health ministry. Do you see opportunities to do the same today?
In preparation for the theological conference TI2017 “Water Justice” in March, Trinity Church Wall Street will present “Not Just Flint: Water Crises and Inequality in the United States” on February 4 which you can attend in New York City or watch online at Partner Sites across the country. Recovery from the crisis in Flint caused by contaminated drinking water is ongoing, as we hear in the comments of five people who are experiencing it first-hand.
- How do you respond when Father Scheid calls what happened in Flint a case of environmental racism? If you disagree, how do you account for it? If you agree, do you see other examples?
- What responsibility does the community, the government, and the church have for the children who were harmed?
- How is working for justice “serving God with honor”? What scripture stories or verses inform your understanding of justice?
- Recent articles such as this one show that what happened in Flint is happening or poised to happen in many places. What do you see as the role of faith communities in responding?