The average American uses more clean, potable water with one toilet flush than many individuals in the Global South have access to in a day. And so, with this fact firmly in mind, it was on a sunny afternoon in early November that I found myself with a group of 27 seminarians and others by a pond on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina.
We were there to demonstrate solidarity with the 884 million people worldwide who lack access to clean water, by scooping buckets full of water, propping them up on our heads and walking the half-mile walk back to the chapel. There, the Rev. Jo Bailey Wells, director of the Anglican/Episcopal House of Studies at Duke, blessed the water for use as part of an evening prayer service where we recommitted ourselves to our baptismal vows.
This water walk was the culminating activity at Episcopal Relief & Development's 2010 Seminary Network Meeting at Duke School of Divinity. The meeting gathered together 26 people from 13 different seminaries to learn about our respective roles as seminarian coordinators for the organization.
During the meeting, we explored Episcopal Relief & Development's international program methodology, which involves partnering with local Anglican churches on ways to empower local communities to find local solutions to issues of chronic poverty and disease. We heard several presentations on how to preach about and engage people in the work of Episcopal Relief & Development, among other trainings. Joy Shigaki, director of the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund, presented information about the malaria program partnership and the ongoing church campaign, and we brainstormed ideas on how to bring this campaign back to our seminary communities.
In reflecting on these programs and on affected communities, we explored ways to communicate the importance of this work as a missional opportunity for all Episcopalians to live out their baptismal vows. Through prayer and the application of other spiritual practices, I challenged everyone to expand their imaginations about what it means to be in partnership with the work of Episcopal Relief & Development and with those it serves through its programs worldwide.
The water walk came out of this charge. After pouring my bucket of water into the baptismal font, I left the prayer service unable to look at water at the same way. Now, I am more conscious of how I conserve this precious resource. Each time I take a sip of water, I cannot help but prayerfully remember about my brothers and sisters around the world who do not have the same luxury.