Michigan Conference UCC Response to Flint Water Crisis

From Conference Minister, Rev. Dr. Campbell Lovett

Many of you have been calling with inquiries about the City of Flint water crisis that has commanded a lot of governmental and media attention in January.

We have one UCC church in Flint – Woodside Church. It is a federated church with the American Baptists, and is served by a great UCC pastor, Rev. Deb Conrad, who is passionate about issues of social justice. The water crisis in Flint is the most important issue on which the pastor and people are now working, most of whom are affected by the lead in their drinking water and blood.

It is difficult in one missive to describe the extent of this tragedy and the decades-long response that will be needed to adequately care for those who have been exposed to lead and other toxic chemicals. And, it is just as difficult to briefly describe the decades-long build up to this tragedy. If you want to read more about the crisis and its roots, this post offers one interesting overview: https://thirdcoastconspiracy.wordpress.com/2016/01/18/democracy-disposability-and-the-flint-water-crisis/

People ask what they can do. Here are a few possible responses for your consideration:

1) Please continue to keep in prayer the residents of Flint, Michigan and Woodside Church that is ministering prophetically in the city.

2) Encourage the UCC/DOC partnership as the Michigan Conference, Michigan Region, Woodside Church and Vermont Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) work together to supply bottled water, water filters, and replacement cartridges to Flint residents.

3) UCC Disaster Ministries’ personnel have been very responsive. A Solidarity Grant of $3,000 has been approved by Disaster Ministries that will help provide water and filters, and advocacy for those whose water has been shut off for non-payment (it is hard to believe that residents are being asked to pay for water that is poisoning them). If your church or church members want to support Flint residents, I am suggesting donations to the UCC’s Emergency USA Fund with “Flint Water” in the designation box: https://unitedchurchofchrist.nationbuilder.com/emergency_usa_fund

You can donate to Woodside Church directly, again with “Flint Water” in the memo line.

4) Through our Prophetic Integrity Mission Area Team, we partner with Michigan Unitarian Universalist churches for advocacy efforts. These are two of the current appeals for your consideration:

Call Gov. Snyder (517-373-3400 ) and urge him to:
Expedite the process of the State of Michigan for purchasing and delivering safe water for all residents to drink;
Refund all residents who have been required to pay for water that they cannot drink, and;
Secure state and federal funding so that permanent improvements can be made to Flint’s water system.
You can register your opinion with Governor Snyder online at this address:
https://somgovweb.state.mi.us/GovRelations/ShareOpinion.aspx

You may also call President Barack Obama at 202-456-1111 and urge him to:
Encourage all appropriate federal organizations to expedite their support for addressing the immediate need of Flint residents for safe, affordable water, and;
Encourage all appropriate federal organizations to expedite their funding for short and long term improvements of Flint’s water system.
You can register your opinion online with President Obama at this address:
https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact

There will be continued needs for the people of Flint. I give thanks for the presence of a UCC church in Flint that is helping to meet those needs, and for UCC churches in Michigan that will do what they can to be supportive.
With you on the journey,
Campbell Lovett

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