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Anglican congregations in South Africa being urged to help tackle water shortage

Posted on: February 6, 2017 4:06 PM
Bishop Margaret Vertue
Photo Credit: Diocese of False Bay
Related Categories: acen, Bp Vertue, environment, Southern Africa

The Anglican Church of South Africa is calling on parishioners to urgently conserve water. Ahead of Archbishop Thabo Makgoba’s launch of an international water initiative (see above), Bishop Margaret Vertue sent out a pastoral letter recently to be read in all parishes in the diocese of False Bay, warning that the situation with water levels has reached a crisis, with the authorities warning there are less than 100 days of water left in local dams. Bishop Vertue called on everyone in the diocese to take action: “Let us all work together consistently and seriously to use much less water and to invent ways to save water in the home. Our use and conservation of water not only during crisis times, but always, forms part of our stewardship of God’s bountiful resources. Let us as Anglicans take the lead in showing Christian responsibility in the use of water.” 

Bishop Vertue cited figures released by the City of Cape Town showing people in the Western Cape are using 26 million litres of water per day more than they could or should be using. Restrictions are in place such as a ban on hose pipes; Bishop Vertue, in her pastoral letter, calls for people to obey these measures and to make sure others do.

The pastoral letter concludes with a list of suggestions as to how parishioners could help conserve water – for instance, by not “sneakily” watering the garden in the night to preserve the lawn and by taking quick showers: “People of God, let us live daily with an acute sense that water, fuel and food are essential commodities and gifts we receive from God’s gracious hands. Let us develop a culture of responsible living and LIVE SIMPLY, so that others may SIMPLY LIVE.”

The letter was read out in parishes over the last fortnight, and also drew attention to the severe problem of mountain blazes across the Western Cape.  Parishes in areas affected by fires have been urged to pray for the firefighters and to provide tangible assistance to local fire stations – such as bringing in meals and refreshments.

The Provincial Secretary of the Anglican Church in South Africa, the Venerable Horace Arenz, says the fires that have raged for weeks have now been tackled but there is a great deal of concern about February, one of the driest periods of the year: “The potential for fire is huge. February is traditionally very hot and windy. We’re also very concerned that water resources are very low due to a lack of rain and irresponsible water usage. Unfortunately some people pay scant regard to the restrictions” he said.  “The Churches are telling this to people; we’re constantly creating an awareness in all the Anglican churches that congregations should use water sparingly.”