Christian Imperatives for Environmental Care

Christian Imperatives

Date and Time

Sunday, April 11, 2021 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM


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This is a Webinar style event. A Zoom link with be email to those who register on the day of the event. 


The Kaufman Interfaith Institute will be offering a virtual adaptation of the Grand Dialogue conference. After our 2020 Grand Dialogue coinciding with Earth Day 50 was cancelled due to COVID-19, we are revisiting its theme as part of our Year of Interfaith Healing, focusing on “Healing our Earth.” 

This event will explore how various leaders within the wider Christian tradition approach environmental action. This event will offer two dialogue session in which individuals talk to one another about their faith convictions and wisdom for this necessary work. 

Christian Imperatives for Environmental Care

A Two-Part Panel Discussion

Sunday, April 11, 2021

2-4 pm

  • From a Christian Perspective, Why Care for the Environment?
    • George Heartwell - Former Mayor, City of Grand Rapids
    • Steve Bouma-Prediger - Leonard and Marjorie Mass Professor of Reformed Theology, Hope College
      • Steve Bouma-Prediger is the Leonard and Marjorie Mass Professor of Reformed Theology at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. A graduate of Hope College, his Ph.D. is in religious studies from The University of Chicago. His most recent book is Earthkeeping and Character: Exploring a Christian Ecological Virtue Ethic. Other books include For the Beauty of the Earth: A Christian Vision for Creation Care, revised second edition. He has received numerous teaching awards, including being selected by the Hope class of 1998 to give the Commencement Address and being voted in 1999 the recipient of the Hope Outstanding Professor-Educator Award.
    • Sister Damien Marie Savino - Dean of Science and Sustainability, Aquinas College
      • Sister Damien Marie Savino, FSE, Ph.D., is a Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist and currently serves as the Dean of Science and Sustainability at Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In this position she oversees the Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography and Environmental Studies departments and the college’s Center for Sustainability. Sister Damien Marie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Biogeography from McGill University, her Master of Science degree in Soil and Plant Science from University of Connecticut, her Master of Arts degree in Theology from The Catholic University of America and her Ph.D. degree in Civil (Environmental) Engineering from The Catholic University of America. She has lectured and written widely on Laudato Si’ and creation care, as well as on themes related to ecological restoration and resilience theory, ecological health, ecology and theology, and science and faith.
    • Chris Elisara - Director of the Creation Care Task Force, World Evangelical Alliance
      • Dr. Chris Elisara is the director of the Creation Care Task Force for the World Evangelical Alliance, the world’s third largest historic Christian organization with 600 million members and national alliances in over 129 countries. In this role Dr. Elisara represents evangelicals at the United Nations and other international bodies on a wide range of environmental issues including climate change, biodiversity, food systems, and sustainable urbanism. In 1996 Dr. Elisara founded the Creation Care Study Program (CCSP), an environmental studies program with campuses in Belize and New Zealand that serves over 25 Christian colleges and universities. A champion of urban design and placemaking, Dr. Elisara leads the Placemaking Studio for the Ormond Center at the Duke Divinity School. 

  • What Are You Doing to Care for the Environment?
    • Dave Warners - Director, Plaster Creek Stewards
      • Dr. Warners works in the areas of Restoration Ecology, Plant Systematics and Evolution, Sustainability Studies and Faith-based Creation Care. His current research focusses on how to engage the local community to work together to restore health and beauty to the Plaster Creek Watershed. This work involves propagating native plants from local genotypes for use in habitat re-creations, as well as ongoing research on stream microbes, macroinvertebrates, flow dynamics, and overall water quality. He has also done work in prairie, forest, and wetland restorations.
    • Kyle Meyaard-Schaap - Vice President, Evangelical Environmental Network
      • Rev. Kyle Meyaard-Schaap serves as the Vice President of the Evangelical Environmental Network. He holds an undergraduate degree in religious studies from Calvin University (B.A. '12), a Master of Divinity degree from Western Theological Seminary (M.Div. '16), and is ordained in the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA). Kyle has been named to Midwest Energy Group's 40 Under 40 and the American Conservation Coalition’s 30 Under 30 cohorts for his work on climate change education and advocacy. Most recently, he was named a Yale Public Voices on the Climate Crisis Fellow for 2020. His work has been featured in national and international news outlets such as PBS, NPR, CNN, NBC News, New York Times, Reuters, and U.S. News and World Report. He is married to Allison and lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with their son, Simon.
    • Gail Heffner - Professor Emerita, Calvin University
      • Dr. Gail Gunst Heffner is an Emerita faculty member from Calvin University. From 2004-2020, Gail served as the Director of Community Engagement in the Office of the Provost where she co-founded and co-directed Plaster Creek Stewards. Plaster Creek Stewards has worked for more than a decade to address environmental justice inequities as an integral part of their watershed restoration work in West Michigan. 
    • Steve Mulder - Michigan Regional Organizer, Climate Witness Project
      • Steve Mulder is a retired Insurance executive. Building on a lifelong passion for the Creation, he is now the Michigan Regional Organizer for the Climate Witness Project. In this role, he helps congregations connect and engage in creation care in 4 areas: Energy Stewardship, Education, Worship, and Advocacy. His love and concern for his kids and grandchildren and our world’s most vulnerable drives his determination to mitigate the worst impacts of the climate crisis. 

Registration is free but required. 

In lieu of an in-person conference, the Kaufman Institute is offering a series of spaces throughout the month that amplify wisdom, insights, and work pertaining to environmental action from numerous traditions and organizations. Be sure to check out our full list of Grand Dialogue events


Kaufman Interfaith Institute

(616) 331-5702


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Page last modified April 11, 2021