At its February meeting, the Christian Reformed Church’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to sign a declaration on creation stewardship and climate change that was written last July by evangelical leaders from around the world at a meeting in Kenya.
It states that humans have not always been faithful stewards of creation and have harmed the earth through ignorance, neglect, arrogance, and greed, causing the current environmental crisis that is leading to climate change and a rise in global temperature.
Peter Vander Muelen, director of the CRC’s Office of Social Justice and Hunger Action, presented the declaration to the trustees. “This is not about policy, about mitigating climate change,” he said, “it’s about agreeing that it is happening and that humans have something to do with it.”
Vander Meulen said that making this a CRC priority is not about policy and legislation but education. “We need to wait for more reports before coming out with opinions on policy,” he said. “We need to take the rhetoric down and talk about the ethics of this.”
Some trustees worried about the fallout of signing the declaration. Trustee Rev. Dan Mouw said, “My concern is the CRC taking a precise stand on an issue so widely debated, with strong opinions. If we endorse this, we risk politicizing it even more.”
Vander Meulen pointed out that the declaration was drafted by 156 leaders of evangelicals from around the world, not just people in North America. “We have to read it in that context,” he said. “This is a moderate statement that reclaims the middle ground, without falling into the right or left ditch.”
Trustee Rev. Ken Boonstra agreed that the declaration is moderate. He quoted from the CRC’s own Contemporary Testimony, “Our World Belongs to God.”
“We’ve already endorsed a document that laments our abuse of creation that has brought lasting damage to the world we’ve been given,” he said. “Now that is a dangerous declaration.”
Trustees endorsed the statement and agreed that it should be a denominational priority.