- Time for Creation
- World Water Week
- Day of the Disappeared
- "In Times of Conflict" - Libya
Many have asked in recent weeks how we can respond to the suffering that we are seeing from so many areas of the world. This week's Revised Common Lectionary readings offer some guidance - prophetic truth telling, the offering of faithful hope, perseverance in prayer, generous giving, hospitality, a willingness to follow Christ's way of self-sacrifice .... Pray for God's help in making these a reality in our lives.
A huge thank you to the many people who took the prayer email survey: it was very helpful to have your views, and we're working to respond to them. You'll notice a few light changes in format to the email itself (the print attachment remains unchanged): more than 3/4 of you wanted to keep the extant format, but there were some calls for an email where it was easier to find what you want. We're also starting to include slightly shorter "long" items that are linked to other materials: this week, for example, we have a reflective powerpoint for World Water Week. And of course, there's a change in the timing: we hope this makes it easier to pass on to people doing intercessions.
Please let us know what you think of the changes and new materials - and thank you again! Many thanks also to those who helped with the various materials.
Time for Creation
Time for Creation runs from 1 September to 4 October. It offers space in the church year to celebrate and give thanks for God's gift of creation and to pray and take action as stewards of it. This year, the theme in the UK is "God, whose farm is all creation," which enables us to link with harvest and rural concerns as well.
You should already have received CCOW's Guide to Time for Creation Resources: if not you can download the material here. The guide contains links to excellent Time for Creation worship materials. In each of the next six weeks, we'll also be providing new resources that relate to the season.
World Water Week
This coming week (31 August – 5 September) more than 200 organizations will gather in Stockholm, Sweden, for World Water Week. Hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), this annual conference brings together a wide range of participants to exchange ideas, foster new thinking and develop solutions around water and development. This year’s theme is energy and water, and how they can be developed and managed for the good of society and ecosystems.
SIWI write, "Energy and water are inextricably linked – we need “water for energy” for cooling, storage, biofuels, hydropower, fracking etc., and we need “energy for water” to pump, treat and desalinate. Without energy and water we cannot satisfy basic human needs, produce food for a rapidly growing population and achieve economic growth. And yet, today, 1.3 billion people lack access to electricity and some 800 million people get their water from unimproved sources. Many more consume water that is unsafe to drink. These are mostly the same billion poor, hungry and underprivileged human beings. Over the coming 30 years food and energy demands are expected to increase dramatically, yet we will depend on the same finite and vulnerable water resource as today for sustaining life, economic growth and our environment’.
The very accessible report prepared for the conference, "Energy and Water: The Vital Link for a Sustainable Future" touches on a number of vital current issues including fracking, creating sustainable hydropower, and water and energy in urban settings. You can also follow the conference's discussions on twitter via the hashtag #wwweek.
Please pray for the conference in Stockholm:
- That partnerships will be forged and strengthened that will result in innovative solutions to the world’s energy and water needs.
- That the needs of the world’s poorest will be placed centre stage and that their voices and wisdom will be heard.
- That ideas, creativity and energy will flow and delegates be empowered and encouraged in their work.
Away from the conference in Stockholm, World Water Week provides us all with an opportunity to give thanks for the gift of water and to pray:
For good stewardship of water in areas affected by drought:
For all who are affected by heavy rainfall events, including:
That people will make the connection between the increasing likelihood of extreme rainfall events and climate change - and take action on climate issues. (Jeff Masters, Marshall Shepherd)
World Water Week is also an opportunity to give thanks for the ways that concerted effort has enabled some stunning achievements in access to water over the last two decades … and to pray for further progress:
Give thanks that:
- The world met the Millennium Development Goals' target of halving the proportion of people without access to improved sources of water five years ahead of schedule.
- Between 1990 and 2010, more than two billion people gained access to improved drinking water sources.
- The proportion of people using an improved water source rose from 76 per cent in 1990 to 89 per cent in 2010.
Statistics from the United Nations
- the roughly 748 million people who still don't have access to safe water
- wisdom and funding for all who are working to bring safe water to unserved or underserved communities
Further Resources: To coincide with both World Water Week and Time for Creation we have prepared a reflective powerpoint presentation on the theme of water (attached) which we invite you to use for personal reflection or in a church service.
Action: Could you donate to a charity that is working to provide safe water?
International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances
"Some men arrive. They force their way into a family’s home, rich or poor, house, hovel or hut, in a city or in a village, anywhere. They come at any time of the day or night, usually in plain clothes, sometimes in uniform, always carrying weapons. Giving no reasons, producing no arrest warrant, frequently without saying who they are or on whose authority they are acting, they drag off one or more members of the family towards a car, using violence in the process if necessary."
UN page on Enforced Disappearances
30 August is the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. Enforced Disappearances are defined as involving:
- a deprivation of liberty
- by agents of the state or by persons or groups acting with the state’s support or acquiescence
- followed by refusal to acknowledge this deprivation of liberty, or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person
- which places the person outside the protection of the law (Article 2).
Commons Library Note summary
The "disappeared" people may be nationals of the state that has detained them or of another state.
As the UN Secretary General has stated in his message for the day, enforced disappearances are a violation of human rights - and "acts tantamount to enforced disappearance of individuals by armed and terrorist groups" - such as the abduction of murdered journalist James Foley - are also an abuse of human rights.
They are, unfortunately, all too common. The Secretary General goes on to note: "increasingly [enforced disappearance] has become a tool of many States around the world -- some operating under counter-terror strategies, or fighting organized crime, and others seeking to quash dissent and human rights activism."
Enforced disappearances don't just affect those who "are disappeared" - they also have a profound impact on families, friends and colleagues who are left in anxious limbo, uncertain of the fate of the disappeared ... and often financially affected by their disappearance.
Please pray generally for an end to enforced disappearances. This year we're also focusing specific prayers on enforced disappearances in four countries:
"Despite clear rulings from the Pakistan Supreme Court in 2013 demanding justice for victims of enforced disappearances ... the Pakistan government has done little to meet its obligations under international law and the Pakistan Constitution to prevent enforced disappearances." Joint statement from the International Commission of Jurists, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.
- for stability, justice and peace in Pakistan
- for the safety of civilians in areas of conflict
- for the safety of those who have been "disappeared" and for comfort for their families
- Sri Lanka
"Although, technically speaking, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are two distinct categories of gross violations of human rights, these two categories often overlap in Sri Lanka. Often, what get classified as enforced disappearances are kidnappings followed by interrogation, which often involve the use of torture and ill-treatment, followed by executions done in secret and, finally, the secret disposal of bodies. Despite several commissions looking into involuntary disappearances having made extensive observations and recommendations on the nature of enforced disappearances in Sri Lanka and ways to avoid the same, successive governments have failed to implement these recommendations." Written submission to the UN Human Rights Council by the Asian Legal Resource Centre
- for an end to militarisation, continued disappearances and violence against women living in the former war areas
- for justice to be done
Please pray for:
- God's justice and peace to come to Syria
- the safety of people who have been "disappeared" by the state or by armed groups
- comfort for the family, friends and colleagues of those who have disappeared
- an end to Syria's "Torture Archipelago"
- Turkmenistan "“After more than a decade of silence from Turkmen authorities, many families of the disappeared simply don’t know whether their loved ones are dead or alive..." Human Rights Watch release
Please pray for:
- the safety of those who have "disappeared" in detention
- information and comfort for the families and friends of those who have been "disappeared"
Please also give thanks for the way in which the UN's Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances seeks to end impunity for enforced disappearances and to eradicate the practice. Pray that more countries (including the UK) may ratify it.
In Times of Conflict - Libya
During August, we released "In Times of Conflict," a compendium of links to prayers for areas that are currently experiencing conflict. We will be updating that resource on a regular basis: please do make use of it.
We have received a particular prayer request from Sarah, a supporter with Libyan connections. She wrote movingly in early August about the difficulties that Libya is going through, adding:
"To an outsider it might seem through our media reports that everyone living in the country is a terrorist. From talking to the people there, I can tell you instead about peace demonstrations, incredible courage by some of democratically elected politicians forming a Parliament, women desperate to stop their sons and husbands fighting each other, and young people who are just plainly scared. There are so many good things about LIbya for us to support. Sometimes the good in people needs a little encouragement to grow."
Please pray for Libya and especially for:
- courage, safety, guidance and wisdom for:
- peace-loving people, especially those who are actively working for peace
- Libya's elected politicians
- the small Christian community in Libya
- wisdom for leaders of other countries, as they seek to respond to the conflict in Libya
Action: If you would like to send a message of support to Libya, please contact us for Sarah's email - you can send a message via her.