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The Church’s Role in Climate Change

Church + Climate Change = Action

image1Hi there! Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the church’s role in climate change, and to what degree – if to any degree – the church should get involved.

It’s a rather touchy topic that can get too political and scientific real fast. From my understanding as a figuring-out-life-and-religion young adult, Christianity comes back time and sermon again to one unwavering concept: love. God loves us, and it is for some of us, our constant goal to love Him, His people, and His creation.

From these basic values, we derive our outward expressions of religious laws. This leads to unbelievably positive outcomes like political activism and social change and evolution of society towards doing what’s right.

On a Mission

img_2053Take the rise of mission trips, for example. Growing up in the church with a Lutheran pastor for a father, I heard my share of missionary stories. I learned that not only do missionaries spread the good word, but they also address social, political, and economic issues.

Throughout history, members of the church have been at the forefront of trying to right injustices… all because groups of people recognize the importance of taking action and sharing God’s love they have experienced. It’s rather remarkable.

This doesn’t have to be your interpretation, no doubt the church and global missions can be criticized for some of what they have done, but I see a direct link between social injustices brought upon by climate change and taking action as a Christian.

Privilege and Climate Change

There’s a fascinating study called the Global Climate Risk Index 2016 that looks at countries most affected by a changing climate. The top ten countries are developing countries, with Honduras, Myanmar, and Haiti topping the list.

Essentially, the poorest and most under-privileged people are impacted the most by climate change, and they are seeking ways to amplify and multiply their voices, particularly seeking help from people in developed countries. Why? Because in reality, people in developed countries have more privilege and more power and more weight in the world. Especially we Americans.


That is why for believers like me, we need to care as a church, to love our neighbors like we love ourselves. In this time of climate change it is up to each one of us to figure out our roles. For believers it is important to understand to what degree does God plan for us to become environmentally or politically active.

What does Action Look Like?

I’ve realized that my ways of becoming active seem to include public speaking on these issues, writing constituent letters supporting climate action, meeting with representatives to find common values, and the involvement goes on. There are individual efforts we make, but get magnified as we do them as a church group. In my case I’ve also adopted a vegan diet  to reduce my resource intensity and carbon footprint and have begun to speak out about it.

At the end of the debate, climate change is not a political issue. It’s not a scientific issue, and it’s not even an environmental issue. It’s a social justice issue, and it just makes sense to take action.

Have a great week and don’t be trashy.




Author: Elke Arnesen

Elke Arnesen is an 18-year-old gap year student interning with Peterson Toscano. She's planning on studying environmental policy in college next year but for now is gaining support for carbon pricing in her free time.

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