Faith and water conservation leaders are asking Oklahomans to pray collectively for rain.
Monday, leaders of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, Oklahoma Conference of Churches and the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma's Whole Creation Community ministry gathered at the state Capitol to talk about a statewide initiative designed to encourage residents to pray for rain and to urge better stewardship of water.
“Prayer works — not only because it puts us in touch with God but it helps us focus on important issues,” said the Rev. William Tabbernee, executive director of the Oklahoma Conference of Churches.
Clay Pope, executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, said that three prayer services are planned in the coming months, beginning with a gathering May 1 at Oklahoma City University. He said other prayer gatherings will be June 26 and Sept. 18.
Pope said the Interfaith Days of Prayer for Rain and Water Stewardship highlight the need for prayer for rain but also the need for people to be good stewards of the Earth.
The Most Rev. Stephen Charleston, an Episcopal bishop who is professor of Native American Ministries at OCU's St. Paul School of Theology, said Oklahomans know all too well what it is like to experience a dearth of rain.
“This is an opportunity for us to do what we did years ago in the Dust Bowl days. We needed water desperately,” Charleston said, referring to the environmental crisis that destroyed much Oklahoma farmland during the 1930s.
He said people during the Dust Bowl era helped one another as they faced catastrophic conditions.
“It didn't matter what color or faith you were. We need that same spirit in Oklahoma today,” he said.
The Rev. Justin Lindstrom, dean of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral, said the statewide initiative goes hand in hand with the efforts of the Whole Creation Community, a ministry that started at St. Paul's and has been expanded across the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma. The ministry is a network of churches committed to fostering environmental stewardship.
Lindstrom said he hopes that praying for rain will spur Oklahomans to think about water conservation and the importance of caring for the natural resources God has provided.
“Prayer without action simply is a discussion with God. I truly believe prayer does lead to action. If we're truly praying, then we will act in accordance with what that prayer is about,” Lindstrom said.
Ferrella March, a St. Paul's member who leads the Whole Creation Community ministry, said the prayer partnership between faith and secular groups is needed despite recent precipitation.
“We know there's been rain here lately but not enough to sustain us through drought situations,” she said. “This is a good way to bring people of different faiths together on common ground.”
Other speakers at Monday's news conference included Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and state Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha.
If you go
Interfaith Prayer for Rain Service