The Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut

Water Justice - Trinity Institute 2017

The Book of Genesis states that before there was light or plants or living creatures on Earth, there was water. Water is a heavenly gift, essential to sustaining all forms of life on Earth. As water crises increase, from Flint to Standing Rock and beyond, access to safe and clean drinking water decreases – particularly for the poor and marginalized.             

Faith communities worldwide can help. From March 22-24, 2017, a leading group of activists, scholars, authors and experts come together to offer guidance to those wishing to take unified, faith-based action on the front lines of the water justice movement at Trinity Institute’s 46th National Theological Conference, Water Justice.” Conference participation is open to anyone interested in a practical, theological perspective on water justice with thought-leadership from experts and activists.

Trinity Church, NYC organizes and hosts he conference live. Sessions are webcast to registered Partner Sites across the  country and will include at least three sites in Connecticut. ECCT is grateful to the Sowing Seeds of God's Mission Grant from Province 1 (the Episcopal Province of New England), which covered Partner Site registration. Full details about Trinity Institute, include pre-conference videos, speakers and schedule, Lent curriculum & sermons, in-person registration link, and more, are here. (Overview of the conference, info and links to speakers, and full schedule are also below registration info.)

Trinity Institute begins Wednesday evening and continues Thursday and Friday (morning and afternoon). There's opportunity for discussion following each major presentation. There will light refreshments offered at each Partner Site in ECCT. At the ECCT sites offering webcasts full days Thursday and Friday, lunch is BYO or on your own at a nearby restaurant. Sites and registration info below. There is no fee charged to participate. 

  • St. Paul's, Wallingford - Wed. evening; Thursday and Friday both morning and afternoon sessions. (Contact Rob Page with questions about this site)
  • St. John's, Vernon - Wed. evening; Thursday and Friday both morning and afternoon sessions (Contact the Rev. Virginia Army with questions about this site)
  • St. Paul's, Riverside - Thursday and Friday morning and Friday afternoon sessions with conversation after each facilitated by the Rev. Stephanie Johnson (Contact the Rev. Stephanie Johnson with questions about this site)
  • St. Ann's, Old Lyme - Thursday and Friday, morning and afternoon sessions (Contact the Rev. Mark Robinson with questions about this site)

REGISTER HERE for any of the above Partner Sites in ECCT. It's not a commitment to attend all sessions


The ancient world knew water as a need, a gift, and a guide (the Hebrew word for rain and teaching is the same). Today, as the consequences of human-induced climate change become ever clearer, more and more of the world’s population lacks access to the clean, safe water we need to survive. The oceans, source of nutrition and livelihood for over a billion people, are literally dying. Fortunately, water can again become our teacher: The light at the end of this tunnel is that water survival will necessitate more collaborative, equitable and sustainable ways of producing energy, growing food, trading across borders, and producing goods and services….

Water will be nature’s gift to humanity to teach us how to live more lightly on the Earth, in peace with respect for one another and with true justice. Faith communities can take a leadership role by framing the water crisis in terms of our common humanity, our shared future, and the earth that is God’s gift. By drawing attention to the burdens placed on the most vulnerable, we can raise the call for justice – which, as the prophet Amos declared and Martin Luther King, Jr. echoed, must “roll down like waters.”


Facts are crucial. That’s why Trinity Institute 2017: Water Justice features speakers like longtime senator and activist Barbara Boxer, ethics professor Christiana Z. Peppard, and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe.

And pairing expert authoritative information with firsthand experience transforms facts into relatable understanding, which in turn inspires action. That’s why the Water Justice conference also features global storytellers like Polynesian Archbishop and author Winston Halapua, New York Times bestselling novelist Kim Stanley Robinson, and more, including activist students in the Bronx and an Australian who dressed up as Nemo to help save the Great Barrier Reef.

Schedule (full schedule for Trinity Institute)

All times are Eastern. This schedule includes options available to NYC participants only.
IMPORTANT: Check with your Partner Site to confirm which sessions they will webcast. 
Wednesday, March 22
Opening Worship
Celebrating the gift of water, with a sermon lifting up its spiritual significance—water is life!
Preacher: Winston Halapua, Archbishop of Polynesia
Keynote Address
Barbara Boxer, four-term U.S. Senator, a national leader on environmental protection and water justice, will frame the challenges we face in this moment in history and how we can join together to protect the most vulnerable, both people and planet.
Thursday, March 23
7:45am Registration Opens, Continental Breakfast
9:00am Gathering in Song and Prayer led by Melanie DeMore
Session 1: “Water: Commons or Commodity?”
The United Nations has declared water as a human right. Global markets regard it as a commodity. Can a fresh approach to market capitalism serve the common good, or does the world need a new and different system of exchange?

Opening Talk: Maude Barlow, international water justice advocate and best-selling author

Response: Christiana Peppard, theologian (Fordham University) and author

After introductory and response, a diverse group of storytellers from around their world will describe how they experience the water crisis in their contexts.
11:00am Break
11:30am Reflection Group Meeting
12:45pm Lunch
2:00pm Gathering in Song and Prayer

Session 2: The Global and the Local
Speakers in Trinity Church, New York; and St. Paul’s Cathedral, London will address issues in those cities to model how communities can solve local problems in light of global realities.

Opening Talk: Kim Stanley Robinson – The award-winning, best-selling science fiction author’s forthcoming novel New York 2140, offers a vision of the future of New York City in the 22nd century, “a flooded, but vibrant metropolis” where inhabitants have adapted to sea-level rise caused by climate change.

Panel response – Those working on addressing how we can preserve New York from sea level rise and storm surge – the science, the politics, the cost.

Moderator: Catherine McVay Hughes, former Manhattan Community Board 1 Chair

Panelists: Bill Golden – New York/New Jersey Storm Surge Working Group; Siobhan Collins – Manager, Water Program, Ceres; Rob Freudenberg – Regional Plan Association (RPA)

4:00pm Break
4:15pm-5:30pm Reflection Group Meeting
7:00pm Film Screening in Trinity Church
Friday, March 24
8:00am Continental Breakfast
9:00am Gathering in Song and Prayer
Session 3: “What Churches Are Doing to Make a Difference”
Opening Talk: Archbishop Thabo Makgoba from St. George’s Cathedral, Capetown, South Africa
A diverse, global group of presenters will relate stories about where faith communities are working to address the water issues presented thus far.
Dialogue and Q&A
11:00am Break
11:30am Reflection Group Meeting
12:45pm Lunch
Session 4: “Being Agents of Change”
This session will explore ways to make creative responses to the issues we’ve raised.
Opening Talk: Katharine Hayhoe, climate scientist (Texas Tech), author
3:00pm Break
Session 5: “What Can We Do Together?”
A representative group of emerging leaders in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Communion will present initiatives they are implementing, invite others to join them, and offer resources for participants to develop and sustain ministries in their own contexts.
5:00pm Networking Reception
Sunday, March 26
10:00am Discovery class & webcast
11:15am Holy Eucharist