Students join evangelical climate advocacy in D.C.

Calvin students participate in climate advocacy march on Saturday,  April 29.  Photo courtesy Miriam Kornelis.
Calvin students participate in climate advocacy march on Saturday, April 29. Photo courtesy Miriam Kornelis.

Six Calvin students participated in the Acting in Faith: Evangelical Climate Advocacy Days event that took place in Washington D.C. last weekend. Organized by the CRC Office of Social Justice, Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, Micah Challenge USA and Climate Caretakers, the weekend avoided political ideologies and instead emphasized their Christian unity over party identities.

Climate Caretakers, one of the weekend’s sponsors, outlined their reason for advocacy on their website: “As Christians, we care about climate change for two key reasons. First, we desire to honor God by stewarding what he has entrusted to us. Second, we believe that caring for the climate equals acting justly and lovingly toward our neighbors. In other words, the first and second greatest commandments as outlined in Matthew 22.”

After beginning with a Friday evening sign-making seminar at Sojournersan organization that examines the intersection of faith, politics and culture based in Washington, D.C.Saturday was march day. According to updates sent out by the Sierra Club, over 200,000 people gathered in the 90+ degree weather to march for climate care. “The march was very high energy,” said Calvin senior and sustainability intern Noah Praamsma, one of the student participants. “The creativity I saw in many people’s signs was a highlight, and I was pleased that so many tended towards a more positive, rather than angry tone.”  

After having the night off, events resumed in church the next morning. “Sunday’s message was on the Easter story and how that should define our mindset about stewardship; rather than being simply a ‘Good Friday people’ who are content to wait for salvation after death, we should remember that we ultimately believe in a new heaven and new earth. Actively preparing for that means loving your neighbor and promoting all peoples’ flourishing by protecting them from the impacts of climate change,” Praamsma recalled. Participants then received training on advocacy, learning the basics for meeting with congressional members the following day.

Gathered outside of the Capitol Monday morning, evangelicals gathered in prayer as they prepared to lobby for climate care. Praamsma, surprised at the accessibility to senators and representatives, said that “[the participants] often took the role of representing the evangelical church in our conversations with the legislators or their staff, which not only allowed us to push back against the stereotype of conservative Christians as being anti-science, but also to offer support and encouragement to officials who either identified as religious themselves or who were elected by a predominantly evangelical constituency.”

“Being here with the CRC and other evangelical organizations, along with so many other faith groups, has really demonstrated the importance of climate caretaking as part of our Christian calling,” Praamsma said. “It’s clear that the status quo does not have the wellbeing of people in mind, and advocacy is one of the best ways to change that.”

To get involved in climate advocacy at Calvin, contact any of the dorm sustainability coordinators or the Environmental Stewardship Coalition.

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