Anabaptist Collaboration on Climate Change
Climate change has emerged as a central threat to our planet, and therefore a threat to sustaining humanity. A growing number of Anabaptist communities recognize the moral urgency of responding to the crisis, while Anabaptist organizations are likewise coming to grips with its impact on their operations. Within the Anabaptist community, there is a potential for bringing together Anabaptist values and actions in a more coordinated manner that both benefits existing responses, and furthers the climate efforts across multiple sectors: religious, humanitarian, educational, entrepreneurial, and others.
In response to the need for scaling up Anabaptist responses to climate change, a major gift was provided more than five years ago by a generous donor for the formation of the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions (CSCS). CSCS operates as a partnership of three key Anabaptist institutions; Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College and Mennonite Central Committee. The Center is currently housed at EMU and all core partners provide oversight through appointed representatives to the Oversight Board.
Five years later, much has happened through CSCS through its programs to: 1) develop young leaders through a variety of opportunities, and support student-led actions on Mennonite college campuses, 2) provide congregational leaders wishing to engage churches climate issues with an in-depth retreat program, 3) raise the profile of diverse global voices through various venues, and 4) support the development and dissemination of innovative approaches to addressing climate change.
Much has been accomplished in five years through CSCS and much has changed in the global reach of climate change. It is time for CSCS to move to its next natural phase of work by building on successes and embracing new roles. CSCS and its supporters see an opportunity to help facilitate bringing together Mennonite and other Anabaptists organizations and individuals in order to implement more impactful programs that can address climate change through collaborative actions. These collaborations could happen among just two partners or multiple partners. As a neutral party and as an organization that has worked with many implementing partners already, CSCS may be in the perfect position to convene collaborative working groups among Anabaptists concerned about the potentially disastrous impacts of climate change.
As a part of its evolving work, CSCS has also now entered a phase where it must dramatically improve its ability to fund work, and is moving to become a 501(c) 3, tax-exempt organization with an independent board and governance structure.
CSCS wants to further support effective climate action within the Anabaptist community, while ensuring that our efforts are sustainable as an organization. To this end, the CSCS Director, and the leaders of CSCS’s current core partners, are convening a meeting of Mennonite organizations and individuals January 26-27, 2022 to solicit input, launch our new efforts, and seek both financial and programmatic support to move forward. The goals of this collaboration are:
– To explore an Anabaptist approach to climate issues – what are goals and strategies, priority areas, unique contributions, and next steps in how Anabaptist organizations can continue to meet together about climate change and other sustainability issues.
– To solicit concrete program ideas that would assist organizations in their climate work, and that would most effectively move the needle on climate issues in the Anabaptist community.
– To assist CSCS in developing support that provides sustainable operations that would ensure continued impact and benefit within the Anabaptist community and its organizations.