Doug Graber Neufeld, professor of biology at Eastern Mennonite University and director of the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions, has been appointed the chair of the Mennonite World Conference’s new Creation Care Task Force.
The task force was convened with the goal of helping “the global Anabaptist communion understand our responsibility and take action in the global climate crisis.” A core question is: “What does it mean to follow Jesus into this crisis?”
The Creation Care Task Force will explore the diverse ways in which members are affected by the climate crisis, assess practical ways to encourage ecologically faithful living, encourage the development of biblical and theological capacity relevant to the climate crisis, and formulate both short-term practical responses and a comprehensive plan for MWC ecological commitment.
“I am honored to work with sisters and brothers from around the planet on this task force, and to provide a connection between Mennonite World Conference and institutions here in North America that have been working with creation care,” Graber Neufeld said. “We hope that this task force can give voice and leadership for the many people in churches around the world who passionately believe that being a disciple of Christ means we should care about all of creation.
“It has become clear that taking care of our planet is one of the major challenges of our time, and that Anabaptists around the world have something important to contribute,” he added. “This is a global challenge, and the solutions are also global. As faithful followers of Christ, we are called to work together to care for creation, and Mennonite World Conference is positioned to bring together Mennonite voices from around the world on this issue.”
The volunteer task force includes representation from MWC’s five regions, Mennonite Creation Care Network and Mennonite Central Committee, according to a MWC release. The group was organized by the Faith and Life Commission and will report to the MWC Executive Committee. Funding will come in part from MWC’s carbon offset account,, an initiative started in 2010 that sets aside $50 for every 1,000 kilograms of carbon burned as a result of official MWC travel.
“We celebrate the emergence of this task force. Central to our mission is to respond faithfully to God’s renewal of his creation – which is one of the works of the Holy Spirit,” says MWC general secretary César García. “This contrasts with the world’s practices of domination, exploitation and accumulation.”
Although the global pandemic seems like the priority for this time, the drop in air pollution and the emergence of wildlife in regions under lockdown has demonstrated the interconnectedness of humans and their environment. “COVID-19 shines a spotlight on the way that our well-being depends on a healthy relationship with God’s creation,” said Graber Neufeld.
“The impacts we are feeling from the pandemic show more clearly similar challenges that will occur if climate change continues unmitigated,” he says. “However, we also see more clearly how we can change to live in better relationship with creation.”
In addition to Graber Neufeld, other members of the task force include:
Europe: Rebecca Froese, PhD candidate in Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany; associate fellow, Research Group Climate Change and Security, University of Hamburg, Germany. Home church: Mennonite Church Hamburg-Altona, Germany.
Africa: Sibonokuhle Ncube, national coordinator of compassionate development service, Brethren in Christ Church, Zimbabwe; MDiv (candidate), Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Indiana
Latin America: Juliana Morillo, missionary in Peru and now in Colombia, with the Mennonite Teusaquillo Church in Bogotá. MSc development and environmental management; Latin America Facilitator for the Lausanne/WEA Creation Care Network.
Asia: Nindyo Sasongko, PhD (candidate), systematic theology, Fordham University, minister, GKMI Mennonite church, Indonesia.
North America: Jennifer Schrock, MDiv, Chicago Theological Seminary; director, Mennonite Creation Care Network, Goshen, Indiana.
MCC: Anna Vogt, director of MCC Ottawa, formerly of MCC SEED and Justapaz in Colombia.