United Thank Offering

Water, Water, Everywhere

February 5, 2024
United Thank Offering

By Heather Melton, UTO Staff Officer

Where I grew up, most kids spent the summer at the community pool. As a child, I was apprehensive about going under, so swim lessons started off on a rocky path. Thanks to a teenager dunking me, I realized that I loved going under, so much so that my next issue with swim lessons was not keeping my head above water long enough to hear the instructions. Thus began a lifelong love of water. I like to be in it, around it, and watch it. Recently, we’ve experienced a lot of rain and snow in the mountains that I can see from my house. It’s been a wonderful gift as folks who live in an arid desert to have so much precipitation. I’ve enjoyed noticing the gratitude of my neighbors at the bus stop for the precipitation, enjoyed a sledding trip with another family where the snow gently fell as kids came careening down a hill covered in fluffy snow, where joy and gratitude abounded. Water is an incredible gift—humans are around 55% water, and we certainly cannot live without it. Water helps everything grow, and it connects us through our baptism to God and to one another. I am profoundly grateful for water, even if it is one of those things that I also take for granted.

This past summer, UTO released an amazing and free Vacation Bible Camp called “Waves of Gratitude.” This resource is available for free to anyone who wants to use it. While creating it, my kids and I spent a lot of time talking about water as we practiced experiments, did crafts, and made water-themed snacks. As we talked about water conservation, I realized that there was likely more we could do around our house to conserve water. One of the big things we changed is that we no longer use liquid detergent of any kind in our laundry room. Gone are the pods and jugs of liquid. We now use little sheets that fully dissolve and come in easily recyclable packaging. Not only is better for the environment because it uses less water, it also means smaller packages being trucked around for distribution. Selfishly, I now have a ton of space in my laundry room that was crammed with jugs of liquid before. It’s a small change, but an easy one, which for our family means it’s a lasting one. “Waves of Gratitude” really inspired our family to reduce water usage in creative ways as a small way of saying thank-you to creation for the gift that is water. 

A lot of the board was involved in creating “Waves of Gratitude”, so it should be no surprise that we’ve been talking a lot about water and resources around here as well. As we head toward General Convention, when we typically release a bunch of new materials, we’re now doing it in ways that use less paper, and thinking about the longevity of our convention giveaways and their sustainability. Instead of printing and shipping materials multiple times, we’re going to print locally to convention. This supports small business; and it means that whatever paper we have didn’t take an extra trip it didn’t need. 

Finally, the grant committee has the biggest inspiration on the case for water: The 2025 grant focus (read more below) will be on water as a nod to when Jesus says that when he was thirsty, we gave him something to drink. 2024 is shaping up to be the year of water for UTO, and we hope you’ll join us in finding ways of giving thanks for this gift and doing our part to ensure that there is clean, safe, and sufficient water. This can look like making a thank offering for a trip to the beach, changing to using the low-water setting on your toilet or appliances, trying out laundry detergent in sheet form, or adding a rain barrel to your yard. Whatever you do, we hope you’ll tell us about it. Each month we’re going to have information about water on our social media and here in our newsletter. We’ll share some fun pieces of “Waves of Gratitude” that you can do at home (even if you don’t have kids, these are fun activities!) and share stories of water conservation that you can easily do as a way of saying thank-you for water. 

If your church, community, or family is doing something cool with water, let us know! We want to share it with others to help inspire gratitude for water this year. And thank you, for all that you are doing now to conserve or protect water. I see you turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, picking up trash when out on a walk, and I am so very grateful because water is the absolute best.

The Rev. Cn.
Heather Melton

Staff Officer for the United Thank Offering

Click here