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Eastern emissaries mesh evangelism and environmentalism at summit

A group of Eastern representatives recently attended an environmental summit for student leaders at Wheaton University in Illinois.

Senior Drew Howe, first-years Jeremiah Barker and Brittany Mellinger, junior Anna Pelger and Vice President of Student Development Bettie Ann Brigham joined students from colleges all across America, including Wheaton, Gordon and Messiah, for the Jan. 6-8 event.

The host organization was the Wheaton student chapter of A Rocha, a group dedicated to caring for God’s world.

The heart of the conference was to motivate students to act.

The group got to participate in the conference by discussing SPEAK and the process of Eastern’s switch to 100 percent wind energy.

According to Howe, the response was positive, and a couple of schools were considering trying to get wind energy.

The summit is a reflection of a change that is happening.

Barker believes that there is “a shift in the evangelical culture to be environmentally minded.”

Howe agreed.

“Something big is brewing and will have a huge impact on Christian universities,” he said.

What does this mean for Eastern’s campus?

“We’re going to bring the message to the students,” Howe said.

Since returning to Eastern, both Howe and Barker saw how unique Eastern’s view of these issues really is.

“We see the environment in the context of social justice,” Barker said.

Whether students agree or disagree on such things, “we can’t risk being wrong,” Howe said.

“As Christians, we are called to stewardship and to live sacrificially,” Pelger said.

The goal now is to try to get students working with the administration on these issues.

This small group of students hopes to have a student forum soon to talk about these issues. Pelger stressed that caring about environmental issues is not just understanding the scientific aspect of it, but acting on something concrete.

They hope to develop university accountability partners to ensure that each university is moving forward with any and all plans and to encourage each other. Barker hopes to see diverse groups of people both on campus and off committing themselves to better the world.

“I’ve been given this information, and it would be foolish not to act on it,” Pelger said.

She hopes to see a huge movement as all types of people stand together to work for creation care. The hope is that their small group of students will grow, raise awareness and call students to action in the coming weeks and months.

As Howe says, “We can’t afford to wait.”

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