Faith Groups to Pray for Action during prayer vigil on the Salton Sea

COACHELLA — The region’s diverse faith communities are joining together for a morning prayer vigil to build support for the recovery of the Salton Sea on Monday, Oct. 10, during Indigenous Peoples Day.

Places of worship from El Centro in Imperial County to Palm Springs plan to participate. The hour-long vigil will begin at 10 am at 3713 Capri Lane in Desert Shores (Thermal). All are welcome.

The Prayer Vigil is being organized by the Desert Interfaith Council with help from EcoMedia Compass, Audubon California and the City of Coachella’s Interfaith Alliance. Interfaith Council president Dr. Paula Trimble-Familetti calls the faith-backed initiative a first for the Coachella Valley and surrounding areas. “People of faith can no longer sit silently as the Salton Sea continues to deteriorate and action is placed only in the hands of politicians and environmental activists. This is a profound moral issue, and we are asking all people to step up as stewards of our earth and accept a personal responsibility to care for God’s creation.”

The decline of the Salton Sea and the resulting health impacts have been the subject of years-long studies and plans involving limited restoration experiments, all with high price tags. Recent scientific and epidemiological research has identified the growing threat that decades of pollutants exposed by the drying waters is posing to children and adults who live and work nearby. The towns surrounding the Salton Sea report the highest incidence of asthma in the state. Chuck Parker and Feliz Nunez, co-chairs of the Salton Sea Coalition, warn that a much larger region beyond the sea is affected by fast spreading toxic dust: “The Salton Sea is about both humans and animals who will continue to be at risk from wind-borne chemicals deposited by factory-farming over many decades and the untreated sewage that has flowed into the sea.”

Salton Sea restoration was assumed by the State of California in 2003. Unfortunately, over the ensuing years deliberations about possible options have resulted in inadequate action. The Salton Sea Coalition has been advocating for the importation of water from the Sea of Cortez as the most viable solution to replenishing the water loss.

“More than 100 worship groups, representing thousands of people, lie in the path of the Salton Sea’s polluted air,” according to Dr. Familetti, “and we must stop kicking the can down the road. We must add our voices, prayers and blessings to those demanding action. Please join us on 10/10/10. The 10th hour of the 10th day of the 10th month!”

“I believe in the power of prayer, which must be followed by action,” said Coachella Mayor Steven Hernandez. “The prospect for a restored Salton Sea will become more challenging as time progresses if we don’t put an action plan to work now.”

In addition to the Desert Interfaith Council, sponsors include the United Methodist Church of Palm Springs; St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, Palm Desert; Unitarian Universalist Church of the Desert, Rancho Mirage; Bloom in the Desert Ministries, Palm Springs; St. John’s Lutheran Church, Palm Desert; Our Lady of Soledad Catholic Church; the City of Coachella; EcoMedia Compass; Audubon California; Comite Latino del Pueblo y Migrantes of Coachella Valley; and United for Justice.


Image Sources

  • Prayer: Shutterstock