Greetings, Friends –
As responsible citizens of this earth, we need to keep our oceans clean. Plant life that grows in the ocean, known as plankton, provides over fifty percent of all the air we breathe on land. One billion people, around the world, depend on the ocean for their source of protein. The ocean is also home to many species and helps regulate our climate. We need to keep it clean and healthy because a healthy ocean means a healthy planet for all of us.
Culturally, water is a symbol for purification, life and renewal. Science has proven that we cannot survive without water. Communities are built around water as it provides jobs, recreation, food and drinking water.
There are many references to water in the Bible. Spiritually, water is a symbol of baptism, the Holy Spirit and life. We symbolically become part of the Body of Christ through the act of baptism. John 4:14, “But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” … It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.’”
In Christianity, water symbolizes new birth, purity and life. Buddhists practice water offerings and their path to enlightenment includes cleansing the mind, spirit and body. Water is sacred to Hindus as it is believed to have cleansing and purifying powers. Muslims believe water is a part of life and it symbolizes wisdom. This common thread shows the significance of water for all of us.
A resolution from the 2018 General Convention calls on all of us to take a stand to protect this vital resource:
Resolution #: 2018-C063 Advocated for Ocean Health
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention affirm any and all work and projects being carried out across the Church to protect and restore the Global Ocean to ecological health and to advocate for ocean health through the adoption of appropriate public policies, including, without limitation, projects, programs, and public policies and advocacy designed: (1) to establish and protect areas of the ocean from human interference or to limit human interference through the establishment of marine sanctuaries, reserves, and similar protected areas; (2) to protect, preserve, and restore all species that live in ocean habitats; (3) to prevent and remediate ocean pollution from all sources and of all kinds, including plastics, petroleum products and wastes, fertilizers, and hazardous substances, hazardous wastes, solid wastes, and toxic materials as defined in environmental laws; (4) to mitigate ocean acidification and to assist with adaptation to ocean acidification; (5) to mitigate ocean warming and sea level rise and to assist with adaptation to ocean warming and sea level rise; (6) to prevent or limit adverse effects to species and ecosystems from offshore oil, gas, and mineral exploration, drilling, and extraction; (7) to support sustainable fisheries and to prevent illegal fishing, overfishing, and by-catch; (8) to prevent migration of invasive species through ocean-going vessels and, where invasive species have taken hold, to restore native ecosystems to health; and (9) to minister to people and human populations adversely affected by declines and secondary impacts from declines in ocean health, especially those whose livelihoods are lost or put at risk and those who are forced to migrate due to sea level rise (“Ocean Health Work”); and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention authorize on the Office of Government Relations to advocate for public policies that support and advance Ocean Health Work nationally and internationally; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention call on dioceses, congregations, and all the baptized to deepen our understanding of and commitment to Ocean Health Work as Christian communities through prayer and study and to then act to support and advance Ocean Health Work including, when appropriate, in partnership with ecumenical, interfaith, and non-governmental organizations; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention call on dioceses, congregations, and all the baptized to respond to the needs, safety and well-being of environmentally displaced gees in our own communities who have had to leave their homes due to sea level rise, pollution of Global Ocean and coastal areas, and other ocean health concerns; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention call on the dioceses of The Episcopal Church to partner with extra-provincial maritime diocese already impacted by climate change e.g. those located in the Pacific Ocean or on the Pacific Rim and the Caribbean together for oceanic health; and be it further
Resolved, That the 79th General Convention embody the teachings of Jesus to welcome the stranger and love your neighbor, and to particularly embody these teachings in the acceptance and welcome of those environmentally displaced from all over the world.
May we demonstrate our love for one another around the world – and those coming after – us by living into this resolution protecting this, our vital natural resource.
Let us pray:
God our Creator, as we reflect on the mysteries of the ocean depths, we celebrate the wondrous design of the seas that surround us. Help us to discern how we have polluted our oceans and to empathize with the groaning of creation beneath us. Teach us to sense the presence of God in the tides and currents of the surging seas. Teach us to care for the oceans and all our waterways. In the name of the Wisdom of God, the creative force that designs and governs all creation. Amen. (Prayer for the Day from the Australian liturgy, First Sunday, Year C -Ocean Sunday)
~ Luke Thompson, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council