Religion rejuvenates environmentalism

Evangelical pastor Ken Wilson’s environmental conversion began two years ago with goose bumps, watery eyes and an appeal for help.

“I heard Gus Speth, the dean of forestry at Yale, say to a group of religious leaders, ‘I used to think the top environmental problems facing the world were global warming, environmental degradation and eco-system collapse, and that we scientists could fix those problems with enough science,’” Wilson recalls. “‘But I was wrong. The real problem is not those three items, but greed, selfishness and apathy. And for that we need a spiritual and cultural transformation. And we scientists don’t know how to do that. We need your help.’”

Back home, Wilson thought more about passages in the Bible containing messages of stewardship for the earth. He began preaching about a Christian duty to protect the environment, or “creation care,” at the Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor, Mich., where he is senior pastor.

“It was like I was popping a cork,” Wilson says. “People came up to me in the lobby after the lectures actually with tears in their eyes, saying thank you for speaking to this issue.”

Wilson was surprised to see that many of those people were new to the church.

“There was a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology who came to the church for the very first time for the creation care series, and he said to me, ‘Here’s a church that is finally talking about science in a positive way and actually cares for the environment.’”

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Video by Courtney Woo

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