This reflection was written by Christine Seibert, a Climate Leadership Fellow '17-'18, and a current member of our Steering Committee.
I’ve been hearing a phrase again and again from Christians who are involved in climate action. “I feel like I’m constantly witnessing: in my faith circles I witness about how God calls us to steward his creation, and in secular circles I have the opportunity to share about my faith and how it’s the reason for my action on environmental issues.” If you’ve ever felt this, you are not alone! Earlier this month I had the privilege to travel to D.C. to attend the Citizens’ Climate Lobby conference and lobby day (read more about Y.E.C.A.’s stance on carbon pricing here). I had the pleasure of hearing from Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a member of our Senior Advisory Board and one of the keynote speakers at the conference. She embodies the call to witness to multiple communities. In a packed and energetic conference hall, Dr. Hayhoe spoke to an audience of over 1,400 people about her work and how her faith impacts what she does. Because of her role as a scientist, she had the opportunity to speak to a large crowd about her work, but also the motivation of her faith. She was unashamed to use the platform that God had given her to speak on issues of faith.
Proof of how God can take this courage and use it in powerful ways came during another moment at the conference. During a keynote session on diversity, the moderator, Madeline Para, spoke about working with members of Y.E.C.A. She described getting to know a leader during our Evangelical Climate Advocacy Days event in 2017. Madeline recounted that the leader offered to pray for her. She said that no one had ever asked to pray for her before but agreed. Through the prayer, Madeline remembered how heard and understood she felt, and how encouraged she was that this Christian was offering her work up to God. This encounter transformed Madeline’s perspective on evangelical Christians, and over 1,400 participants got to hear about it.
I regularly find that my involvement with Y.E.C.A. prompts questions from friends and coworkers. In situations where faith can be a taboo topic, hearing that I’m a part of Y.E.C.A. gives people permission to ask questions. Wait, so you’re a Christian and advocate for climate action? How do you reconcile faith and science? What church do you attend? These conversations open a door that often remains closed, and helps break down stereotypes as people are exposed to someone who is both serious about Jesus and serious about climate action. While my heart longs for the church to continue to advocate for loving our neighbors through climate action, I sometimes feel that the reason God has put this on my heart is actually to witness about Christ within the environmental world, and not the other way around.
Dr. Hayhoe’s address showed the richness of being unashamedly Christian in an often secular movement, and Ms. Para’s testimony confirmed its power! It emboldened me to bring up my faith in more conversations at the conference, and showed me how faithful God is when you choose to honor him. I hope this post encourages you to be bold about sharing your faith and how you live it out. Blessings!