On Sabbath, September 3, 2022, Adventist Community Services (ACS) hosted a water distribution at a local Adventist school in Jackson, Mississippi, a city of about 150,000 residents. A total of 15,000 bottles of water were handed out.
As reported by writers Emily Wagster Pettus and Michael Goldberg in an Associated Press article, Jackson has had a severe clean water shortage after late-August flooding caused by heavy rainfall led to a chemical imbalance at the O.B. Curtis Water Treatment Plant. Jackson residents were already under a boil-water notice since July 30, with systemic problems over the years coming to a head.
While efforts to repair the problems are underway, some residents have no water while others have been unable to flush toilets or use the water coming from their faucets.
Many organizations, including ACS, have been involved in water distribution in Jackson. After meetings with Lillie Buckingham, the South Central Conference ACS co-director, as well as the Office of Regional Conference Ministries and several local Adventist pastors in Jackson, it was decided that a major water distribution would take place on September 3, at 3 p.m., at the E. E. Rogers Seventh-day Adventist School in Jackson.
For three hours on that Sabbath, volunteers and pastoral leadership from the three Adventist churches in Jackson operated a drive-up water distribution. Residents received two cases of bottled water per household on a hot, late-summer day. More than 100 volunteers of varying ages participated in this event, giving out 17 pallets of water.
Pastor Edward Harden, of the Berean Seventh-day Adventist Church, reported seeing many of his members who had not returned to church since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic helping at the water giveaway. At the end of the giveaway, Barbara Barnes, South Central Conference’s ACS co-director, thanked the crowd of volunteers, stressing that the need would continue and require additional support for several months at least.
Another water distribution is scheduled for 3 p.m. on September 6, at a different location in the city.
“This issue will be with the residents of Jackson for a long period, and according to the local leadership, a lot of financial support will be required to remedy the problem,” shared W. Derrick Lea, NAD ACS executive director. “As the situation continues to develop, ACS will work with local organizations, businesses, and governmental leaders to determine how we might be a resource during these challenging times.”
Lea shared that the NAD will support the South Central Conference in this effort; and while financial donations are welcome, more delivery of water to local churches may be made available in the coming days. “Please keep the city of Jackson in your prayers, and the volunteers too, many of whom are also living under these tough conditions,” added Lea.