Online Program to Empower Lay and Ordained for Climate Justice Work in Communities
“Climate change affects every corner of the world”
(LWI) – “My passion for climate justice makes me have a different worldview regarding all of creation. The church must be involved in this work,” says Kwanele Ncube, pastor and dean of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe. “The desire to be an advocate for climate justice led me to this program.”
The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and the Center for Climate Justice and Faith at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary (PLTS) are offering a non-degree learning program on climate justice and faith for the second time. Applications are open until June 10 for interested persons from LWF member churches, lay and ordained. Upon completion of the online curriculum, participants will receive a certificate in climate justice and faith.
Ncube is one of 30 students representing ten countries and aged between 21 and 70 who took part in the first course in 2021.
Learning together across continents and generations
“We particularly encourage applicants from populations most affected by climate change,” says Elena Cedillo, LWF Climate Justice Program Manager. “Anyone interested in learning more about and acting on faith-based initiatives to engage in climate justice work in their context – and who wishes to explore the spiritual underpinnings of this work – will benefit from this opportunity.”
“This certificate offers an online cohort-based, transcontextual program that enables participants to cultivate moral, spiritual and practical capacity for leadership in climate justice work within their communities,” adds Reverend Chad Rimmer, program of the LWF. Identity, Communion and Formation Executive. Topics include theology, ethics and spirituality related to climate justice; climate change knowledge; and social change practices that link ecological well-being with racial, economic and gender justice.
Believers acting for climate justice
“Working with the other students made me realize that even though the climate change affecting my area is unknown to some,” says Ncube. “Climate change has affected almost every corner of the world in one way or another.”
“The course made me more sensitive to the unequal and unfair distribution of the effects of climate change on various populations. Also, hearing from other students gave me an idea of how privileged we are in the United States,” says Deborah White, an American journalist from Reno, Nevada, who also took the program.
Oinike Natalia Harefa is a lecturer at Sundermann Theological Seminary of the Christian Protestant Church (BNKP) in Nias, Indonesia. “I teach missiology,” she says. “In my class, I always include the subject of ecology because I believe that caring for the earth is a sacred calling of the church. This certificate program has helped me see that even though women , indigenous peoples and young people are often the first victims of climate change, governments often do not consider them as subjects in making important environmental decisions.
Put faith into action
At the end of the course, participants are committed to climate action in their region and communities.
Ncube has already planted trees on a small scale. “This is the work I will continue to pursue after completing the certificate as my area is quickly becoming a desert due to deforestation.”
White plans to develop a two-part curriculum for all ages on Christian responsibilities to care for God’s creation and launch a climate news website.
In addition to teaching, Harefa has found other ways to share more about ecology and the church’s call to protect the earth. “This semester, I wrote an academic paper on ecological damage. I also write and share climate justice poems on social media,” she says.
Details and applications
The second program runs for 15 weeks starting September 5, 2022 and will continue for a further 15 weeks in May 2023. Applications can be submitted online until June 10. Scholarships are available based on need.
Both Cedillo and Rimmer serve as learning guides, accompanying the participants.
By LWF/A. Weyermuller
LWF Climate Justice