Young Evangelicals Stepping Up on Climate Action
Good news: Evangelical Christians are stepping back up to overcome the climate crisis.
After months of careful preparation, a new national advocacy initiative called Young Evangelicals for Climate Action (Y.E.C.A.) has just gone live.
Y.E.C.A. was founded by a core group of evangelical students and young professionals at a planning retreat convened by the Evangelical Environmental Network in Washington, D.C., at the beginning of the year. Y.E.C.A. quickly grew into a national initiative with activists and supporters across the United States. In this short time, Y.E.C.A. leaders have already met with many evangelical leaders, as well as senior officials at the White House, to introduce Y.E.C.A. and share their concerns.
In seeking to live as Christ’s disciples, Y.E.C.A. has come to see the climate crisis not only as a pressing challenge to justice and freedom, but also as a profound threat to “the least of these” whom Jesus identifies with himself in Matthew 25. The early effects of climate change are already impacting many of our neighbors, both in the U.S. and around the world, and our time to act is running short.
Y.E.C.A. believes that God is calling us to take action towards overcoming the climate crisis. For Y.E.C.A., this means living as good stewards of God’s creation, advocating on behalf of the poor and marginalized, supporting our faith leaders when they stand up for climate action, holding our political leaders accountable for responsible climate policies, and mobilizing young evangelicals and the larger church community to join in.
In 2006, more than 100 evangelical leaders, including Rev. Rick Warren, Rev. Bill Hybels, and the presidents of numerous Christian colleges, organizations, and denominations, came together to release the groundbreaking Evangelical Climate Initiative. With more than 300 influential signatories, their joint statement affirmed that human-induced climate change is real, its impacts are significant – especially on the poor – and Christian moral convictions demand that the church respond. Their statement generated a lot of media coverage and frankly stirred up considerable backlash from skeptics both within and without the faith.
This was the high-water mark (no pun intended) of broad-scale American evangelical concern about the climate crisis. Regrettably, over the last several years, the climate crisis has largely dropped off the radar across the evangelical Christian community, just as it has within much of American politics. There are many reasons for this – one is that the climate deniers have been all too effective in spinning concern about this crisis into a politically toxic and culturally controversial issue – and all lead to the same urgent conclusion: things needs to change.
Y.E.C.A. is planning and praying to be part of re-awakening the American church and our nation to its critical role in overcoming the climate crisis. There is no time to lose.
Ben Lowe serves as the National Organizer and Spokesperson for Y.E.C.A. He is also the Director of Young Adult Ministries with the Evangelical Environmental Network and Chair of the Board of the Au Sable Institute. A dedicated activist and organizer, Ben was born and raised as a missionary kid in Southeast Asia, where he experienced firsthand the impacts of poverty and pollution. He is a 2007 graduate of Wheaton College (IL) and previously served as National Coordinator for the student creation care network, Renewal, and Outreach Director of A Rocha USA. Ben is also the author of Green Revolution: Coming Together to Care for Creation (IVP 2009) and a regular contributor to RelevantMagazine.com.