The biblical symbolism of life-giving water is not lost on members of Good Shepherd Lutheran congregation in Traralgon in Victoria’s Latrobe Valley as they look at the new water fountain out the front of their church.

The installation of a public drinking fountain in front of the church as a community service was proposed at a congregational church council meeting in 2020 and late last year that idea became a reality. A new walking and cycling path had been extended linking Traralgon with the nearby town of Morwell, with the nearest water fountain 1.7 kilometres away. So the Good Shepherd leadership thought that out the front of their church would be an ideal location for a drink stop for thirsty walkers and cyclists.

Congregation elder and Gippsland Parish treasurer David Mirtschin says the next step in the process was to apply for a grant through Gippsland Water’s community support program in the hope of funding the purchase of a fountain. The application was successful and, after negotiations with Gippsland Water and the Latrobe City Council, the council also arranged and paid for the installation of the fountain, connecting it up with Traralgon Lutheran Church’s water meter. This means that the congregation only has to pay for the water used by joggers, cyclists, walkers, ‘woofers’ and any other users, which David says was an extra, unexpected blessing to come from the congregation’s initiative.

‘God blessed us with extra help and now all that we need to do is pay for the water usage’, he says. ‘The idea was to provide a community service and, at the same time, let people know there’s a church here.’

The fountain is complete with a dog bowl and a park bench has also been installed at the site.

David says the congregation is also keen to allow members of the public to use the church carpark while they go for a walk or cycle along the path and hopes to gain approval for the erection of signage advertising this extra free service. The possibility of church toilets being made available to path users while the building is open is also being investigated, while David says the church is keen to put up a sign near the fountain promoting its use and evoking Jesus’ promises at the same time, with wording such as: ‘Come and drink the Water of Life’.

This story has been expanded from ‘Water for the thirsty’, first published through the LCANZ Vic-Tas District’s eVoices.

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