Skip to main content

Op-Eds Address Paris Conference on Climate Change

March 23, 2016

A series of op-ed articles written by Christian Reformed Church members on the topic of climate change have recently appeared in newspapers and on news sites across North America.

Published in national, regional, and local publications, the articles address issues raised by — and cite pledges for change that came out of — the COP 21 international climate-control conference that took place late last year in Paris.

“These op-eds were a great way for people to express their opinions and also to help educate the public on this important issue,” said Rev. Richard Killmer, co-coordinator of the CRC’s Climate Witness Project.

“Jesus told us not to hide our light under a basket. What better way to go public about our faith than to address a key public issue like this [in the op-eds]?” said Killmer.

Begun last summer, the Climate Witness project has brought together 35 congregations and 200 climate witness partners to learn more about the issue of climate change and, in turn, to educate others about it.

As part of this project, climate witness partners wrote 14 op-eds. Six op-eds were placed in newspapers (five in the U.S. and one in Canada), and one appeared on the news site the Huffington Post.

Another six ran in The Network, a CRC site for members to connect about ministry, and one was published in ThinkChristian, the Back to God Ministries International forum for discussion.

By placing the op-eds and having them signed by CRC members, the goal was to gain the attention of other CRC members in various locations, said Peter Vander Meulen, coordinator of the Office of Social Justice.

“It is like a public testimony — a powerful way to get ourselves to take justice-seeking as discipleship seriously,” he said. “That same public testimony influences the rest of the community as well. It is a double win for justice education and public witness.”

Killmer is the only one whose op-ed was published before COP 21, which he attended along with three other CRC representatives to help provide a Christian witness on the issue of climate change to delegates who attended the conference.

Killmer and the others also sent back daily updates, and held a teleconference, for churches and partners involved in the Climate Witness Project.

In his op-ed, which appeared in the Huffington Post, Killmer wrote about the significance that Christianity, Judaism, and Islam place on the topic of climate change and how they urge “believers to take good care of and protect God’s creation.”

Meanwhile, retired teacher David Schelhaas picked up that theme in his Des Moines Register op-ed and highlighted the CRC stance that “God has commanded all human beings to tend and care for this lovely garden we call Earth.”

The CRC’s formal position, writes Schelhaas, a member of Covenant CRC in Sioux Center, Iowa, is that “human-induced climate change is an ethical, social justice, and religious issue that poses a significant threat to future generations, the poor, and the vulnerable.”

In an op-ed that appeared in the Hamilton Spectator, Henry Brouwer, a retired professor of chemistry and environmental science at Redeemer University College in Ancaster, Ont., writes that religious communities have a moral obligation to join with “politicians, scientists, engineers, and industrialists to tackle the immense issue of climate change.”

He also writes: “We all have a role to play in implementation of the Paris Agreement,” which establishes “a Green Climate Fund to provide a mechanism through which the richer nations can contribute money to the poorer nations to assist them in adapting to a low-carbon economy. . . .”