Skip to main content

Creation Care & Climate Justice

Our Creator God has made a magnificent, complex, beautiful world, and this world is not unaffected by what we humans do. 

Our consumption, our use of natural resources, our output of waste – all of these things affect the creation that God made and declared good.

Beyond the direct effects on "the environment," our failure as stewards of creation also impacts the wellbeing of other humans, particularly the poor, the hungry, and the powerless, who God has called us to aid. 

Christians who are concerned for social justice shouldn't consider creation care and justice as separate or unrelated issues. Indeed, environmental degradation often first and most affects poor and vulnerable populations.


Climate Witness Project

Join a supportive community while you act to combat climate change!

Go Deeper

God calls us to be stewards of his good creation. Our contemporary testimony states, "by sovereign appointment we are earthkeepers and caretakers: loving our neighbor, tending the creation, and meeting our needs. God uses our skills in the unfolding and well-being of his world." (Contemporary Testimony, par. 10). But because we have sinned, we have failed in this calling, polluting and destroying much of the creator's work. 

However, in Christ we find redemption, not only for people, but also for the rest of creation, which suffers from the consequences of human sin. For God's purpose in Christ is to heal and bring to wholeness not only persons but the entire created order. 

As we wait for the restoration of the creation to wholeness, we commit ourselves to work vigorously to protect and heal that creation for the glory of the Creator. This includes the commitment to work for responsible public policies which embody the principles of biblical stewardship of creation.

2012 Synodical Statement on Climate Change

In 2010, the synod of the CRC instructed that a task force be formed to study and present a Reformed perspective of creation stewardship, including the issue of climate change. In 2012, the Creation Stewardship Task Force presented its findings in the Creation Stewardship Task Force Report (read the summary here). Synod 2012 responded by affirming its findings and adopting its recommendations, thereby becoming one of the first evangelical denominations in the United States to affirm the scientific consensus on climate change, calling it a "moral, religious, and social justice issue," and calling its denominational bodies, congregations, and individual members to private and public action.

Below is Synod 2012's statement, along with its recommendations to the denomination, churches, and its members:

Approved by Synod on June 13 and 14, 2012


  1. It is the current near-consensus of the international scientific community that climate change is occurring and is very likely due to human activity
  2. Human-induced climate change is an ethical, social justice, and religious issue
  3. Grounds:
    1. Such climate change poses a significant threat to future generations, the poor, and the vulnerable
    2. Such climate change poses a significant challenge to us all
    3. We are called to “commit ourselves to honor all God’s creatures and to protect them from abuse and extinction, for our world belongs to God” (Contemporary Testimony, par. 51)
  4. Therefore, even when scientific uncertainties are taken into account, the precautionary principle (e.g., Overture 60, Agenda for Synod 2012, p. 594) compels us to take private and public actions to address climate change.

Recommendations to Churches

Call to Action

  1. That synod call upon the churches, members, and denominational bodies to be voices for justice and public examples in the effort to live sustainably within our God-given resources, to promote stewardship in our own communities and our nations, and to seek justice for the poor and vulnerable among us and for future generations.
  2. That synod call upon the churches and their members to reduce individual and collective carbon emissions to the atmosphere. We should examine energy choices in our homes, lives, businesses, farms, and institutions from a perspective of stewardship, challenging ourselves to use less energy and to use it more wisely.
  3. That synod call upon the churches and their members to consider and advocate for public strategies that reduce carbon emissions and move us toward very low or zero net emissions.
  4. That synod call upon the churches, their members, and appropriate denominational agencies and institutions to respond with generosity and compassion to people and places negatively affected by climate change, as well as to make efforts to mitigate it. This includes advocating with our governments to take the necessary actions in an effective global framework to assist populations that are bearing the brunt of the negative effects of climate change while being the least able to cope.
  5. That synod direct the BOT to ensure that educational resources and programs are identified and made widely available to congregations, schools, and other groups in order to promote participation in the urgent global conversation concerning care for the creation.
  6. That synod request the BOT to review the operational practices of major CRC agencies and institutions in the light of this report’s conclusion concerning the need to exercise robust leadership in caring for the creation and addressing a changing climate, including the need to reduce our denominational carbon emissions.
  7. That synod request the BOT to encourage several appropriate creation care organizations to apply for placement on the list of accredited nondenominational agencies recommended for financial support submitted for approval to Synod 2013.
  8. That synod accept this report as fulfilling the mandate of the Creation Stewardship Task Force and thank them for their work.
  9. That synod request that members of the task force make themselves available for approximately twelve months for forums, discussions, and educational sessions around the denomination.
  10. That synod commend the Creation Stewardship Task Force report to the churches as a guide for prayer and discussion, and for direct action and advocacy when and where appropriate.

Additional Synodical Statements

Synod has taken significant action on creation care four times over the past two decades. First, in response to various overtures the early 1990s, the Synodical Task Force on CRC Publications and the Environment examined the use of resources at the denominational level, and Synod commissioned CRC Publications to produce study guides on the ethical framework of environmental stewardship.

Second, the 1997 Synod alerted churches to the Reformed Ecumenical Council's report, "The Just Stewardship of Land and Creation," which includes guidelines and recommendations that can be used by churches, classes, and institutions.

Third, in 2008, an overture requested clear guidelines for CRC institutions, agencies, and congregations to implement practices that respect God's creation.  In response, Synod approved Article 38 which states that the denomination has "...[No need for] further analysis regarding the extent and often uncritical use of the finite resources provided by God through the earth," affirming that, "…it is clear that we are only beginning to understand the consequences of maintaining the increasing consumption of finite resources and our waste disposal."  Synod then instructed the BOT to establish and maintain a webpage with up-to-date eco-justice resources, which can be found on the Office of Social Justice's Creation Care resources page.  

Finally, in 2010, Overture 7 asked for the identification of the CRC’s position on anthropogenic global warming. Synod 2010  responded by reaffirming the significant contribution that humans make to environmental problems worldwide, accepting the Micah Declaration the Micah Network Declaration on creation stewardship and climate change (see below), and establishing a task force to report on Reformed creation stewardship and climate change at Synod 2012.

Climate Change

Synod 2008 approved an updated version of Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony in 2008, which identifies climate change as a creation care issue of importance for the church: 

51. We lament that our abuse of creation
has brought lasting damage
to the world we have been given:
polluting streams and soil,
poisoning the air,
altering the climate,
and damaging the earth.
We commit ourselves
to honor all God’s creatures
and to protect them from abuse and extinction,
for our world belongs to God.

In 2006, Peter Borgdorff - then the Executive Director of the CRCNA - and Andy Ryskamp, the Director of CRWRC (now World Renew), both signed the Evangelical Climate Initiative statement, Climate Change: An Evangelical Call to Action. The statement declares that "human-induced climate change is real," and it calls on the U.S. government to pass legislation establishing limits on carbon dioxide emissions. "Christians must care about climate change, because we love God the Creator and Jesus our Lord, through whom and for whom the creation was made. This is God's world, and any damage that we do to God's world is an offense against God himself." 

In July 2009, the Office of Social Justice and CRWRC both signed on to a Micah Network Declaration on creation stewardship and climate change, calling on world leaders to address climate change and environmental degradation.  

In February 2010, the CRCNA Board of Trustees endorsed the Declaration on behalf of the denomination, and Synod 2010 accepted the Declaration “as speaking to its concern for and responsibility toward creation” (Acts of Synod 2010, p. 871).

The CRCNA Board of Trustees endorsed the Declaration on behalf of the denomination in February 2010.

The Micah Network Declaration states that in the beginning God made a creation characterized by just relationships. However, we have often failed in our calling to be faithful stewards of God's creation, which has produced the current environmental crisis and led to climate change. The declaration affirms that "rapidly increasing greenhouse gas emissions are causing the average global temperature to rise, with devastating impacts already being experienced, especially by the poorest and most marginalized groups."

Therefore, we commit to follow God's calling to participate in the renewal of all creation. "We join with others to call on local, national, and global leaders to meet their responsibility to address climate change and environmental degradation through the agreed intergovernmental mechanisms and conventions, and to provide the necessary resources to ensure sustainable development...[and] to protect the lives and livelihoods of those most vulnerable to the impact of environmental degradation and climate change."

In response to Overture 7 requesting the CRC’s position on anthropogenic global warming, Synod 2010 instructed the establishment of a task force that would present a Reformed perspective of creation stewardship, including the issue of climate change, to Synod 2012.

Perspectives from the CRC Mission Field

CRC ministries around the world are extremely worried about the effect that climate change is already having on the poorest of the poor whom we serve. World Renew staff find that the people they work with who are in vulnerable economic, social, and political conditions are experiencing the impact of climate-related events right now—they are losing access to food, water, work, and are already suffering from the direct effects of environmental degradation. We cannot continue to face our brothers and sisters in Christ while doing – and saying – nothing about what they name as the most important barrier they face: a climate changing before their eyes. 

Thus, our Reformed faith demands action on climate change not only to fulfill God's calling to be caretakers of His creation, but also the command that we love our neighbors. 

As Christians, we affirm that the earth is the Lord’s and that God is the Creator of all things. All of creation was created good, but through sin the relationships of the created order are fractured. While Christ is the one who has reconciled us with God and is setting all things right, we are called to be his disciples, joyfully loving and serving God, our neighbors, and all of creation, for our reconciliation in Christ makes us yearn for the reconciliation of the entire created order. We are stewards of creation, therefore, because this is both our created duty and our joyful response to the God who declares all he has created “very good”!

We lament that our abuse of creation
has brought lasting damage
to the world we have been given:
polluting streams and soil,
poisoning the air,
altering the climate,
and damaging the earth.
We commit ourselves
to honor all God’s creatures
and to protect them from abuse and extinction,
for our world belongs to God.
(Our World Belongs to God: A Contemporary Testimony, para. 51) 

Soil and land are being degraded and eroded at an alarming rate; 870,000 different chemicals, most of which are foreign to creation, are currently used commercially; 2.2 billion acres of natural land have been converted for human use since 1850; animal species are going extinct at ever increasing rates; the earth’s climate system is being disrupted in dangerous and alarming ways. In many ways throughout creation, things are not the way they are supposed to be.

Why we care

We care about the well-being of creation because every single human being, whether living in downtown Manhattan or in rural Bangladesh, depends on creation to survive. This is especially true for the billions of people around the world who depend on the earth for their immediate well-being—subsistence farmers, small-scale herders and ranchers, and millions who fish local reefs and fisheries both to feed their families and to send their catch to market. 

These are people for whom a healthy creation is most desperately and immediately important, and these people are hurt first and most deeply in a creation that is “groaning as in the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8:22). Creation care, then, is a deeply moral issue with immediate implications for billions of people around the world.

We believe that speaking out on behalf of God’s creation and for all who depend on it for survival (all of us!) makes the church a place of lived theology. The CRC cares about this issue and has proven so through official statements, energy recovery projects at the denominational building and in local churches, and through lifestyle changes and adjustments made by individual members. Together these efforts reflect a church whose heart is aligned with the heart of God and desires to do his will in, and on behalf of, his creation. We have a long way to go, but we’re on our way!

One of our favorite examples of restoration comes from our partners in Kenya, East Africa. World Renew has been partnering with local organizations in Kenya on community development and sustainable agriculture for decades and is seeing some incredible results. On a recent learning tour to the region, a delegation of CRC members got to see firsthand glimpses of restoration occurring in Kenya. They learned the stories of organizations like Care of Creation, which is dedicated to training local farmers in the principles of sustainable agriculture that it calls Farming God’s Way. By using mulch to retain moisture and limit pest infestation, and by working organic matter into the soil through natural composition rather than traditional tilling techniques, farmers are seeing yields that are proving resistant to drought and that are greater than those of their neighbors using conventional farming methods.

The group heard stories about organizations like the World Agroforestry Center, which is developing agroforestry projects that are yielding amazing results. When farmers plant trees among their crops, they find that the leaves of the trees not only provide shade from the direct, equatorial sun for fledgling crops but also later become nutrient-rich organic matter when they fall off the trees and decay into the soil. The delegation also learned about sand dams, an ingenious indigenous solution to the problem of seasonal drying along rivers. A low wall in a seasonal riverbed collects sediment while water flows over the wall and continues downstream. In only a matter of months, the piled sand behind the wall traps clean water that remains just inches below the surface even when the river has stopped running. This conservation method has provided a year-round source of water for countless communities who in the past had to travel miles on foot to get water during the dry season.

We also see glimpses of God’s kingdom in our local communities. In Grand Rapids, a group of concerned community members came together a few years ago around the severely degraded state of their local watershed, particularly one of the watershed’s main tributaries—Plaster Creek. Calling themselves the Plaster Creek Stewards, the group organized local clean-up days and educational seminars to help people understand the importance of a healthy watershed and why we as Christians should care. After only a few years of work, the group has already obtained a multimillion dollar grant from the Clean Water Act to continue its work, and the health of the Plaster Creek Watershed continues to improve. [Know what watershed you live in? Find out here!].

These are only a few glimpses of restoration that our denomination has been privileged to witness, but there are countless others. Wherever relationships between humans and creation are being healed; wherever people serve creation and are served, in turn, by a healthy environment; wherever creation is cared for, restoration is taking place.

World Renew - a Christian humanitarian organization committed to helping small farmers feed their families and earn extra income through sustainable agriculture practices that protect and nourish the land. Many of these farmers are struggling to adapt to changing weather patterns and rainy seasons. Access projects, stories, and videos.

Au Sable Institute - A Christian institute of environmental studies that offers environmental science programs for students and adults of all ages: primary and secondary school, college, and graduate school. Its mission is to integrate knowledge of the creation with biblical principles to bring the Christian community and the general public into a better understanding of the Creator and the stewardship of his creation.

A Rocha - A Christian nature conservation organization.  A Rocha projects are frequently cross-cultural in character, and share a community emphasis, with a focus on science and research, practical conservation and environmental education.

Citizens for Public Justice - Their Canadian Interfaith Call for Leadership and Action on Climate Change was endorsed by CRC-Canada and several CRC congregations.

DeSmogBlog - A reputable and award-winning blog established to "clear the PR pollution that is clouding the science on climate change." It offers great stories, resources, and studies that cut through the spin and get to the facts.

Evangelical Environmental Network - A non-profit organization that seeks to educate, inspire, and mobilize Christians in their effort to care for God's creation, to be faithful stewards of God's provision, and to advocate for actions and policies that honor God and protect the environment.

Kairos - While the CRC does not endorse all Kairos’ statements, they have helpful in-depth materials on climate justice.
Restoring Eden - A movement of like-minded people who see a strong connection between our Christian spirituality and our role as caretakers of creation. Its mission is to make hearts bigger, hands dirtier, and voices stronger by rediscovering the biblical call to love, serve, and protect God's creation. - An organization seeking to build a global, grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis.