One night a few weeks ago, my husband Jim and I browsed some of the many “best of rock groups” lists online, just for fun. As expected, The Beatles and Elvis Presley were among those featured prominently; but some surprises included Johnny Cash (I love Johnny Cash, but consider him more country than rock) and Madonna.
Combined, there were probably hundreds of artists on the various lists. Each in their own way have influenced those in their profession to achieve new levels of artistry and inspired the rest of us with their talents.
One thing they all had in common was their authenticity. Each put forth who they were through their music, making themselves available so we could see some of who they are and in doing so, connect with something in ourselves. There is a saying: “People take heart when you give them yours.” This year so many creation care and climate leaders gave us their hearts, talents and voices to help fulfill our moral responsibility to care for God’s creation and the least among us. Similar to the musical artists, each of these leaders is inspiring and influencing many others by sharing with us what inspires them, so that together we can create a pure, clean home for us and all God’s creatures.
As we go into this holiday season of hope and celebration for the new year, here are 7 faithful leaders whom I have been blessed to work with or have especially inspired me with their faithful witness and commitment to do unto others as we would have done to ourselves and our children. Who is on your inspiration list?
Lise Van Susteren: In addition to being a psychiatrist bringing much-needed attention to the lasting psychological impacts of climate change, Lise worked with Moral Action on Climate to pull together the Moral March and Prayer for Climate this past September in Washington D.C. Additionally, she puts her passion into action in her own backyard by serving on the board of Chesapeake Climate Action Network.
Christiana Figueres (Executive Secretary of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change): Motivated by “…her drive to protect the environment and her deeply personal goal to secure a better world for her two daughters…,” Ms. Figueres has been involved in international climate negotiations for over two decades and has overseen the Paris negotiations, which led to a strong climate outcome that we can build on for years to come.
Katharine Hayhoe: By sharing her personal story of being a scientist and evangelical Christian, Katharine makes it easier for the rest of us to share our own stories, in turn, connecting with and inspiring others in our own spheres.
Coming Together in Faith on Climate Leaders: As Brian McLaren said, each and every leader who joined the Coming Together in Faith on Climate events in Washington D.C. this past September, ‘added their Amen to Pope Francis’ call for a just and sustainable world.’ Click here to see a complete list of speakers.
Carol Devine: In addition to her full time ministry of a Kentucky church, Carol continues to inspire many others with her work to engage and elevate leaders and congregations that are leading on creation care and climate through the Disciples of Christ Green Chalice program, a founding partner of Blessed Tomorrow.
Michele Combs: As the Founder and Chairman of Young Conservatives for Energy Reform, Michele is advancing a clean energy economy by mobilizing young conservatives in 31 states through connecting with their values of independence, security, prosperity and family.
Pope Francis: Pope Francis’ leadership on creation care, climate and ‘caring for the least of these’ is awakening new commitments to action globally. On a personal note the rich content of Laudato Si was refreshing for my own creation care journey. I was especially inspired to be with Blessed Tomorrow Leadership Circle members and friends as we witnessed Pope Francis enter St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington, D.C. this past September and received a spontaneous wave from His Holiness.
Apart from inspiring me in 2015, these leaders (among any others), are propelling me to further action in 2016. They are a regenerating well of inspiration and hope for a climate that needs our help. We have a singular task to care for creation care, but as this list indicates, there are many ways to do it.
How will you inspire others to act on climate in 2016?