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May 27, 2017, 9:31 PM

A Flint Water Crisis Update - From Africa


Every six years, representatives from each of the different Lutheran church bodies in the Lutheran World Federation gather together for the LWF General Assembly.  This past week, members of the LWF met in Windhoek, Namibia for the twelfth such Assembly around the theme “Liberated by God’s Grace.” There were three sub-themes:

· Salvation – Not for Sale

· Human Beings – Not for Sale

· Creation – Not for Sale

As one of the Assembly workshops, Pr. Monica Villarreal shared an update on the work Salem Lutheran and members of our Synod are doing to respond to the Flint water crisis.  I think it is important to note that Assembly planners asked for this update, and that leaders of the 74 million Lutherans in the member churches (yes, that number is correct) offered their prayers and support for the people of Flint.  As Bishop Eaton would say, "we are church together" and now Lutherans from around the world are witnessing to that fact in their prayers for the people of Flint.   Below is an excerpt from the LWF article by Trina Gallop on Pr. Monica's Workshop:

"One of the things as a church we are doing is advocating and drawing awareness,” [Pr. Monica Villarreal] says.
Salem is currently working ecumenically with the United Methodist and Roman Catholic churches in the city to
provide direct services to the people in Flint who are in need.

In 2016, Salem distributed four million pounds of water. All of the churches have water sites for people to come get water. Only the United Methodist church and Salem offer door to door.

“We take water and food and deliver it to people in need,” said Villarreal. “We know that proper nutrition helps
mitigate the effects of the lead. We take water and food to those that are elderly, those that have small children.” With the significant poverty levels in the city, many people don’t have transportation to access clean water.

In the area of advocacy, Salem is working to help people impacted by crippling water rates. “We pay one of the highest rates in the country,” says Villarreal.

The church is organizing ecumenically to give people tools of advocacy so they can express their thoughts emotions and feelings in ways that are nonviolent.

“We want to prepare the people to be educated and to know their rights. And to do so in peaceful ways,” says Villarreal. “We want to work with the government and quite frankly, we need the government, so we can change policies that created this disaster in the first place.”

Villarreal believes there is a significant role for the church in responding to this crisis, “both in political advocacy but also in compassionate ministry. I think about the ministry of mercy – the compassion, the direct service – we deliver water to people in need. But there is also the ministry of justice, and the justice side is what changes the systems that keep people oppressed.”

“As we enter the phase where we are working on justice, I see the need for mercy coming back again,” she says. “We are going to need the church, people of faith, Lutherans – to continue to stand in solidarity with the people of Flint.”

LWF/Trina Gallop" for the full article, go to:  https://www.lwfassembly.org/en/news/regional-stories/water-basic-right

 


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