Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, former creation care coordinator for the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice and now a national organizer for Young Evangelicals for Climate Action, was recently featured in a PBS NewsHour report titled “Rising conservative voices call for climate change action.”
“This what democracy looks like,” said Meyaard-Schaap as he walked in the recent People’s Climate Change March in Washington, D.C.
“There’s a general perception out there that evangelicals are apathetic or antagonistic toward climate change. And that’s just not the case.”
Thousands of demonstrators, including the contingent led by Meyaard-Schaap, are bothered by what they see as a push by the U.S. government to unravel climate-change agreements and to weaken federal oversight of the environment. They filled the streets of the nation’s capital on Saturday, Apr. 29. Thousands of others also marched for the cause in cities across the U.S.
Before becoming a spokesperson for the nearly 10,000-member YECA, Meyaard-Schaap interned as a Western Theological Seminary student with the Christian Reformed Church’s Office of Social Justice. He later served as OSJ’s part-time creation care coordinator for about five years.
“Kyle was nurtured and encouraged by the CRC for many years, from his youth in Holland Christian schools to his work at OSJ,” said Peter Vander Meulen, coordinator of OSJ.
His role with YECA, and the CRC’s connection to it, said Vander Meulen, “is a really good example of a whole raft of seemingly unrelated incidents that came together to build this movement -- and the CRC played a significant role.”
First, said Vander Meulen, Meyaard-Schaap and others were on the steering committee that formed YECA.
Second, the CRC's Creation Stewardship Task Force report heavily influenced evangelicals in general and the National Association for Evangelicals and YECA in particular.
Third, there were over 80 evangelicals at the recent climate march organized by the group that emerged from COP21, the international climate change conference that took place in Paris in Dec. 2015. The CRC’s OSJ was an integral part of that group.
“Overall, almost half of the evangelical core delegation had CRC connections,” he said.
Of special note in the PBS story, he said, is the bipartisan effort that is emerging from this kind of work — particularly the Climate Solutions Caucus in Washington.
“This is our major advocacy goal — to get others, and especially political leaders, on board,” said Vander Meulen.
In the news report, Meyaard-Schaap addresses the issue of advocacy and the goal evangelical marchers have:
“For a lot of the more conservative lawmakers who have been able to depend on support from an evangelical voting bloc, we want them to hear us saying, ‘If you want to continue to be able to depend on this voting bloc, you need to start listening to what the next generation of evangelicals are saying is important to them.’
“And more and more, we’re saying with a louder and louder voice, ‘That’s climate.’ . . . May our work for climate action be a witness that points to the triune God.”