You probably think I’m going to write about another great Living Waters for the World (LWW) partnership within the Yucatan network. You’d be partially right, because in July 2018, the team from Pennington Presbyterian Church (Pennington, N.J.) came home happy and energized by the four-partner system and education program just completed in Cantamayec, Mexico. I’m actually writing about another partnership, one within the Pennington congregation, one that shared God’s gift of water and stewardship of that gift with our own church and town.
The Pennington water team members and residents of Cantamayec, Mexico
Sandy LaCasse, one of Pennington’s health educators, and the leaders of the Christian Education Committee decided to make our partnerships real to the Pennington children by focusing on water awareness throughout the 2018-2019 program year. Each quarter, Sandy and her team asked church school students provocative questions, like “Do you know how many gallons of water it takes to produce one pound of hamburger?” The jaw-dropping answer is 1,799!
They also played games like Take a Risk, where participants receive a water drop, which may be safe or may be contaminated – who knows? Will you get sick, or won’t you? Our youngsters eagerly shared what they learned by writing on large water-drop posters placed around our building, and they invited members to ask them water questions.
A challenge was issued during Lent – give up plastic bottles until Easter. Each one of us signed a pledge, and some of us purchased special stainless steel water bottles imprinted with the LWW logo and our church’s own water symbol. Steel bottles began appearing everywhere – at meetings, around town, and in churches across our Presbytery. Income earned from the bottle sales has been designated for ongoing health education programs in LWW’s Yucatan network.
Sandy and Chris LaCasse, and their son Stevie hold stainless steel water bottles sold during the Lenten plastic water bottle challenge. The LaCasse Family is part of Pennington's LWW education and installation team.
Vacation Bible School (VBS) was the logical next step. The town’s ecumenical VBS leaders used LWW’s Clean Water Around the World curriculum. Not only did over 100 children learn about how children in other countries get their water, they also thought about ways we can conserve water right here at home. The week ended with a rousing celebration, during which an offering of $1,400 enabled Pennington’s partners in Tahdziu, Yucatan, to meet the needs of their town by purchasing two enormous water tanks. I helped prepare for VBS but was away during the week. What I came home to was excitement, renewed faith in what can be accomplished in one amazing week, and plans for future programs that marry our faith with helping to solve global problems.
Photo: VBS teacher Daniel Boone dressed as a water bottle all week.
Our year was capped off with an October worship service led by Steve Young, Executive Director of LWW. Those of us who have been inspired by LWW for years smiled at one another as we watched the Holy Spirit flow through Steve and into our congregation.
Pennington Presbyterian Church's VBS closing service and celebration - August 9, 2019
Pennington’s year of water included another amazing partnership in the Yucatan and a transformative partnership at home. We now have a congregation and community who understand that healthy and safe water doesn’t flow from every faucet. It's our job as disciples of Christ to take care of God’s gift, and we can share that gift with the world through collaboration and education.