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The Battle Against Global Warming: What's Our Moral Responsibility?

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

For millions of subsistence farmers in Kenya climate change is not a political debate. It is a reality in which adaptation can mean the difference between life and death. Join us for a conversation about the urgent situation and what our responsibility is as a global church.
A woman carrying a Canadian Foodgrains Bank bag of grain

A woman carrying a Canadian Foodgrains Bank bag of grain /World Renew

Climate Conversation: A Free Event

Climate Conversation: Messages from Kenya to North American Christians

Monday, November 3, 7-9 P.M.

Wealthy Street Theatre

1130 Wealthy Street SE

Grand Rapids, MI 49506

More info

As Americans we are familiar with the political debate about global warming. With the causes of global warming so intimately connected with the economic prosperity of so many countries, it’s difficult to know what to do. Although it is a contentious topic in religious circles, Christians can no longer ignore the issue. The effects of global warming are intensifying and we have a moral responsibility to ensure that current, as well as future generations, don’t suffer because of our choices.

As someone who advocates for social change that is just, Kris Van Engen from World Renew says “We are called to love our neighbors. Taking care of the environment is a way to do that--not just across the street but globally.” As the average American, we may not personally see the subtle effects of global warming; however, they are evident in many places around the globe, especially in communities of extreme poverty. Those who live in extreme poverty are the ones who most depend on the earth for sustenance. Subsistence farmers around the world can testify that global warming is a serious issue.

For millions of subsistence farmers in Kenya, climate change is not a political debate. It is a reality in which adaptation can literally mean the difference between life and death. “When global neighbors say that their farms are now disrupted by climate change, that their long-settled lands are now regularly being eroded by flooding, that droughts are leading to water shortages and tense tribal relationships; we have a moral responsibility to listen and respond,” Van Engen says.

As Americans, “We have a lot more in common with Kenyan farmers than we may think. Perhaps most importantly, we both depend upon a healthy and productive earth for our survival. While we in the U.S. may be more removed from the process of food production than Kenyan farmers, we are no less dependent upon healthy soil and productive growing seasons to feed us,” adds Kyle Meyaard-Schaap the Creation Care Coordinator for the Office of Social Justice. 

In the Spring of 2013, a group from the Christian Reformed Church traveled to East Africa to learn how changing weather patterns are affecting Kenyan’s daily lives. One of the young men that had a chance to travel with this group, Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, states that one of the most important things he learned from Kenyan farmers is that “for Kenyans, climate change isn’t simply a debate--it is a reality that they are living with everyday. Its effects are not some far-off prediction, but their ‘new normal.’ They do not have the same privilege of skepticism that our wealth and ability to adapt to changes affords us in the U.S.”.  

Although “Climate change is a threat, it is also an opportunity to build relationships and to problem-solve in deeply creative and exciting ways,” Meynard- Schaap says, “ I think one of the most hopeful parts of this whole discussion is that when we do take steps to live more lightly, we find joy and contentedness because we are living in ways that we were created to live.”

On November 3, 2014, World Renew is hosting a panel discussion about the urgent situation in Kenya (as well as other parts of the developing world), asking questions and exploring answers that orient us toward hope and positive change; What is our responsibility as a global church? How we can help those living in poverty beyond providing financial assistance and food aid?

The evening will feature a panel of experts that includes Davis Omanyo, East Africa Ministry Team Leader (World Renew); Cybelle T. Shattuck, a doctoral candidate in the School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) at the University of Michigan (Shattuck is focused on faith-based sustainability initiatives); and Michael VanderBrug, Owner, Trillium Haven Farm and organic gardening and food systems consultant. In addition to the panel discussion, on-the-ground footage from Kenya will be shared as well.

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