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Working on climate change is crucial to the well-being of all life on Earth. It is also crucial for the mental well-being of people everywhere, those who stand directly in the path of climate change and those who feel hopeless about overcoming it. Studies show that doubt and hopelessness on climate change is caused by people’s concern that human greed and climate denialism will win out. In contrast, hope around climate change is caused by people’s commitment to personal action, attempts to change awareness and social norms, and at a smaller scale, government action, scientists and faith. What does this mean? It means that our actions matter, our voices matter, and just by example, we can create hope wherever we go.

The emotions of hope and doubt predicate individual behavior. There is a reason why attacks on climate science push messages such as “the science is not unanimous”, “it’s too late”, “it’s God’s will”; they are designed to sow doubt and apathy. Now more than ever, we must highlight examples of constructive hope; wise hope in the words of Roshi Joan Halifax and active hope as Joanna Macy calls it. We must find ways to counter the negativity and fear that dominate mainstream media coverage on climate change and ecological devastation.

In this newsletter, we highlight Revered Ed Brown, an evangelical preacher who has been working for decades to convince skeptics within the evangelical Christian community on the importance of addressing climate change. In March of this year, Loka co-hosted a public talk led by Dr. Katherine Hayhoe, a renowned climate scientist and evangelical Christian, in partnership with Upper House and the Center for Religion and Global Citizenry. Dr. Hayhoe pointed out that among the one-quarter of Americans who identify as evangelical Christians, a significant majority reject the science behind climate change. However, there’s hope; recent studies show that “clear factual information endorsed by a trusted – evangelical – source can change the minds of climate skeptics.” Reverend Ed is one such example!

On a final note, contemplating on and expressing emotions of gratitude help people feel more positive and creates emotional well-being in the long-term. Whether we celebrate Thanksgiving or not, let us make time to be grateful for what we have this season; for our families and dear ones, for our communities of body and spirit, for indigenous peoples whose lands we may be living on today, and for the lessons of mutualism and interdependence nature continues to show us.

Warm regards,

Dekila Chungyalpa
Director
Loka Initiative
University of Wisconsin–Madison

Faith In Action:

Working to Further Creation Care as a Gospel Movement for Evangelical Christians

Rev. Ed Brown is Director and CEO of Care of Creation, and also serves as Lausanne Catalyst for Creation Care for the Lausanne Movement. He directs the work of Care of Creation in the US, Kenya and Tanzania, and as Creation Care Catalyst he oversees the development of a global creation care network under the Lausanne Movement in partnership with the World Evangelical Alliance. His current project is the Lausanne Creation Care and the Gospel global campaign, a five-year effort to jumpstart creation care movements around the world.
What project or initiative are you working on that excites you? What are its goals?
 
Rev. Ed Brown: We had a meeting in Jamaica in November 2012 that was called the Jamaica Consultation on Creation Care in the Gospel. As Evangelicals, the gospel is central to our faith. The idea was to explore how the topic of Creation Care - environmental stewardship or concern for the environment, intersected with the core theological concepts of our community. We had about 60-70 people in attendance, and it was a very successful meeting. One outcome of the meeting was a document called the “Jamaica Call to Action.” This document effectively became a manifesto for people in the Evangelical Church who wanted to continue to work in the field of creation care. It was built on two foundational statements that we used to build our calls to action. First, we believe that creation care is a gospel issue. Caring for God’s world is the very heart of what it means to be a human being and to be a Christian. Secondly, creation is involved in an environmental crisis that is serious and must be resolved in our generation.

That was the start of the Global Campaign for Creation Care and the Gospel. The strategy was to hold conferences on a regional basis in different parts of the world. We started in southeast Asia in March 2014 and had representatives from nine countries attend. We expanded this to two to four conferences in various countries per year. Five years later we have had 10 conferences and have two additional scheduled. We now have a global network of about 1,500 members in about 130 different countries. We have two upcoming conferences in 2020 - one in eastern Europe and one in east Africa. After that we’ll be looking at a final capstone event in 2022 where we hope to bring people from all of those regions together to celebrate 10 years of working on creation care in the gospel, and talking about where we go from there. It’s been very exciting and a lot of work, but far more successful that we imagined at the very beginning considering that we had few resources to start with.

How did you overcome challenges as this campaign grew?
 
We had a lot of volunteers and have been strong on local leadership. At any given place we had a local chairperson and representatives from all the countries that would be involved in a conference. We focused on having a strong local leadership with guidance from the central office so we had some continuity with all the conferences. We keep the meetings to 100 people or less which allows for good interaction and fellowship. We have made the program very action oriented. So, before the end of the conference, each group has an opportunity to sit with other people in their country to make an action plan. What are we going to do when we go back? It helps people to plan how to take action.
 
How can people get involved or connected to your work?
 
Our program is primarily focused on Evangelical Christians in various parts of the world. We are very open to working with other groups, but we feel our particular calling is to our own faith family. Our family needs to understand this message and that’s what our primary focus is. Having said that, we are open to having others follow along with what we’re doing. The best way to track what we’re doing is go to our website.

How do you overcome challenges in the U.S.?
 
We seldom find people in other countries who are cynical or questioning climate change. They know it’s real because they’re living in it. In the U.S. progress is slower, but our basic method is to try to depoliticize climate change. Politics has contaminated the issue, and some people address it from the point of view of political affiliation rather than faith-oriented convictions. We want to say, let’s look at this not as a political issue, but as an issue of caring for people who are suffering – as an issue of what the Bible really teaches. If I’m doing a full-weekend seminar, the first two hours are spent reviewing what the Bible says about caring for the environment. Once you do that, it is possible to talk about these crises, because they have a theological framework in which to understand it.
 
What do you do to take care of yourself to build resilience?
 
For me, there are three sources. One is spending time with God himself through Bible study, prayer and what you might call meditation. The second is spending time in nature – just getting out and walking or riding my bike. Third is spending time with other people who also share these convictions. A lot of times that happens over email or phone because we’re all scattered around the world, but we have good networks of like-minded people globally.

What are you most hoping to achieve?
 
Stopping climate change may be out of reach. But we can work to change the conversation in the Evangelical Church. In my lifetime, I want it to be a normal and accepted value of Evangelical Christians that we care for God's creation. I want this to be considered a core part of accepted Christian values. The details will work themselves out if people believe that.

Religion and Ecology in the News

Loka named 2019 M List of Innovators in Diversity and Inclusion, awarded by Madison Magazine.
Read More About the Award

 
Dekila Chungyalpa the Director of the Loka Initiative talks resilience, adaptation, and how to build bridges as ways to courageously face an uncertain future due to climate change
Listen to the Podcast

 

 Events

Climate Fast Forward Conference
The Wisconsin Academy and partners are bringing together the state's best strategic thinkers on climate change for a working conference designed to "fast forward" solutions for a more sustainable Wisconsin and world. Climate Fast Forward is a different kind of conference, one that leverages collaboration and crowdsourcing in the pursuit of ready-to-go solutions for carbon reduction and climate resilience.

November 8 in Madison, WI, learn more >
Climate and Health Kick-Off Conference
Physicians, Nurses, and other Health Professionals in Wisconsin, Are you concerned about the health effects of climate change? Health Professionals are key to the solution.

November 16 in Milwaukee, WI, learn more >

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