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September 2, 2013

OACD, Oklahoma Conference of Churches pair up for ‘drought prayer’

Event set for Sept. 18, local churches encouraged to participate

DUNCAN — Oklahomans are being asked to focus on water conservation and stewardship and continue to keep drought-affected areas in their thoughts. A state-wide day of prayer has been set for 6 p.m. Sept. 18, backed by Oklahoma Conservation Districts, Oklahoma Conference of Churches and Whole Creation Community partnership.

While the specter of a continuing drought has largely receded from most of the state, the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD), the Oklahoma Conference of Churches and the Whole Creation Community, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, are continuing their partnership to remind everyone of the importance of protecting and conserving our water with a joint day of prayer for water.

According to the Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, the rain received in central and eastern Oklahoma should serve as a reminder that water is a blessing that must be protected, even in times of abundance.

“It’s tempting to put our guard down and take our mind off of our water resources since the drought is clearly broken everywhere but far western Oklahoma,” Rev. Tabbernee said. “It’s easy to forget that this precious natural resource is a gift from God that we are charged to be good stewards of. That’s why we are continuing our focus on water. We must be good caretakers of this gift we have so graciously been given this summer and care for it accordingly.  

Tabbernee said Oklahomans should know that even though  most of Oklahoma is out of the drought, that is not so for the far western portion of the state or in the Panhandle.  

The Rt. Rev. Steven Charleston, Episcopal Bishop and Professor of Native American Ministries at Oklahoma City Universities Saint Paul school of Theology agreed.

“Our original focus obviously was on the drought and asking all Oklahomans to come together to petition for relief from the crisis that was before us but now we have an additional charge,” Bishop Charleston said. “Now our focus should change to also caring for what the Lord has given us through his mercy and ensuring that we care for the creation we all depend upon.”

According to Bishop Charleston, much of central and eastern Oklahoma have received above average moisture during July and August with parts of far western Oklahoma even receiving some relief from drought these past two months.

“In central and eastern Oklahoma July 2013 will go down as the second wettest in history,” Bishop Charleston said. “God has blessed much of our state with relief with the great gift of rain, but we need to remember that we need to care for this gift.

Clay Pope, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts (OACD) agreed, saying that now was the time for all Oklahoman’s to join together and focus on water resources.

“Water is our most precious resource,” Pope said. “You can live about 3 weeks without food. You can only live 3 days without water. All life depends on water and we have to conserve and protect it, even when it seems some of us have it in abundance. We also need to remember those among us who are still gripped in drought and realize that though we have had rain, the next drought is always just around the corner.”

Pope said that the joint call for prayer for rain and water stewardship will take place at 6 p.m. Sept. 18 at Saint Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City.

Local churches and other faith groups will also be encouraged to partner with their local conservation districts to plan events in their communities.  

“All of us as Oklahoman’s need to continue looking for guidance and help to be good stewards of the creation God has given us,” Bishop Charleston said. “While pray for those still in drought and say thank you for the rain we have received, we also should pray for the wisdom to use our water wisely.”

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