Climate change is an issue I have generally shied away from in the past.
Climate change is an issue I’ve been comfortable with not having firm convictions about.
Climate change is something I once thought was untrue. A trustworthy and reputable professor in the biology department at a local community college convinced me of this during a summer class I took.

One awesome aspect of the work I participate in and observe at ELCA World Hunger is that coupled with educating me, it also pushes and stretches me to internalize what I’ve learned about an issue, articulate a position, and then hold to those beliefs. Climate change is one of those issues. I’ve learned through conversations with my colleagues, interaction with many of our resources, like the Hunger and Climate Change Connections Toolkit, reading numerous blog posts, observing the serious care with which this organization approaches its commitment to environmental stewardship, and most recently, through preparation for intentional engagement with people attending the South Carolina and North Dakota Glocal Mission Gatherings on the topic of climate change and its relation to hunger and poverty.

My conclusion is not something radical or new. It’s old news to many of you who’ve been here longer than me. It’s simply this: climate change is happening and is impacting the most vulnerable people in the world. Those who are poorest and most vulnerable have the fewest resources to adapt and cope, and are at the greatest risk of suffering and hunger. This issue that seems to be unrelated to hunger actually is, in a very real way.

My favorite plenary session from the Urbana09 student missions conference (I hope you are not getting tired of reading about this!) was an address from Denise-Margaret Thompson on the evening focused on the environment. Denise-Margaret Thompson is a professor at the University of Trinidad and Tobago. Her work has focused on technology innovation, entrepreneurship and economic development. Hearing her passionate and compelling assertions about climate change was the beginning of a journey away from my reservations about the issue, and an excellent primer for all that I’ve learned at ELCA World Hunger.

Here are some of her remarks:

“This issue of climate change and the environment disproportionately affects the poorest, most vulnerable, and disenfranchised in our world who have no voice and had nothing to do with it in the first place.”

“Sustainability, climate change and the environment is not a new issue. It’s an old issue. But it will require each of us doing what we’re called to do to care for the earth.”

“The informed, deliberate, careful Christian worldview is too often absent because not enough of us have followed Jesus into this neighborhood.”

And my favorite: “Education is derived from the Latin educo, ‘I lead out.’ Nothing more succinctly describes our role in our societies today.”

Until recently, climate change is something I have been hesitant to “lead out” on. But that has changed. And even if I’m way behind the times are haven’t said much new in this post, I hope my honesty contributes something, and maybe encourages you to think about matters of injustice you might be hesitant to lead out on.

Julie Reishus