We’re joined this week by members of the planning team for the Youth and Young Adult Climate Summit taking place this summer as part of MennoCon 2023. This unique event will include experts in climate change, spiritual activism and social justice to explore ways that youth and young adults ages 14-25 can put their faith to work to address this crisis. Participants in this episode include recent college grad, Lynn Hur; past ~ing Podcast guest Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz who is the Mennonite Church USA minister for Peace and Justice; Jennifer Schrock, leader of Mennonite Creation Care Network; and Doug Kaufman, director of Pastoral Ecology at Anabaptist Climate Collaborative. We’ll hear about their vision for this conference event, as well as what will be included for participants in this unique opportunity.
Doug Kaufman, Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Jennifer Schrock, Lynn Hur, Ben Wideman, Lisa Bowens, Dennis Edwards
Ben Wideman 00:00
It’s season three of ~ing Podcast, a production of MennoMedia’s Leader Magazine. What does it mean to authentically follow Jesus?
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 00:08
Looking at the youth and young adult Climate Summit… it’s a significant issue and one that calls us back to our commitment for MC USA from the Creation Care Resolution that was adopted by the delegate assembly in 2013.
Doug Kaufman 00:21
Thinking about how so many of us, but especially youth, as the generation that’s bearing the brunt of climate, the climate change that’s coming.
Lynn Hur 00:31
Absolutely necessary to talk about solidarity and climate anxiety when we’re talking about climate change to the younger generation.
Jennifer Schrock 00:41
This is maybe an opportunity for you to learn a little bit more about climate change and think about where and how it touches your life.
Ben Wideman 00:50
Join us as we talk with people of faith who are creatively thinking, growing, and being… people who are reimagining and exploring what it means to enrich faith in a complex world. Our conversation begins now. Join us as we journey together. Hello, friends. Welcome back to ~ing Podcast. I’m really excited today to be joined with four guests: for people who are part of the planning team for the upcoming Youth and Young Adult Climate Summit, which is hosted as part of MennoCon 2023. It’s happening in Kansas City on July 7, and today we get to learn a little bit more about what is going on here, how it’s all coming together, and who is really hoping to be a part of this really special and unique event. I’m joined today by Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz who was on the podcast just a few weeks ago, Lynn Hur, Jennifer Schrock, and Doug Kaufman, thank you to all of you for taking the time to be with us. I’m wondering for folks who don’t know you, how do you describe yourself these days? Just give us a little bit more background about who you are and maybe what draws you to this Youth and Young Adult Climate Summit.
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 02:08
I’m Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz. I’m the Denominational Minister for Peace and Justice for Mennonite Church USA. And I think I probably on our, in the group that’s here today have the least expertise in this area. So I’m so grateful that these other three are part of the planning team for the youth and young adult Climate Summit. But it is part of my peace and justice work at Mennonite Church USA part of the portfolio that I carry, and I’m so excited to be with this group. And looking forward to this summit on July 7.
Doug Kaufman 02:47
I’m Doug Kaufman and I call myself an Eco Pastor, that would be the quick way to say who I am, or father to Noah, Jacob, and Isaiah. And the long version is that I’m Pastor of Benton Mennonite Church in Goshen, Indiana, and also the Director of Pastoral Ecology at Anabaptist Climate Collaborative. I’m a pastor who cares about climate change, I tend to have really interesting conversations with people because of that.
Lynn Hur 03:15
Hi, my name is Lynn Hur. I’m a recent college graduate from UCLA where I studied sociology, and conducted community engagement, or community based participatory action research in sustainability. So sustainability and climate action have always been my interest both inside and outside of the classroom, which sort of drew me to just accepting Lori’s invitation to the planning team.
Jennifer Schrock 03:45
Jennifer Schrock and I’m the director of Mennonite Creation Care Network. And I just realized with a jolt that at the time that I started working with creation care, which was the very beginning of when Mennonite Creation Care Network was just sort of the gleam in our directors eye at Mary Lee Environmental Learning Center. The attendees that are coming weren’t born yet.
Ben Wideman 04:12
Jennifer Schrock 04:12
So in one sense, I, I did wonder, “Am I the person that should be planning a youth conference?” On the other hand, I’m also a representative of the generation that has worked to bring this about and is eager to see the next generation flourish. And part of that is having a healthy climate.
Ben Wideman 04:40
I think that’s a good place to start. How did this all come about? Let’s start at the beginning. Who’s behind this initiative? And and when did the first inklings of this climate summit take place?
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 04:53
This came about as a result of a meeting that I wasn’t in attendance. I assume Jennifer and Doug were there for a meeting that was held on climate change in January of 2022, I believe. So there was this, the… there was an agreement that came out of that meeting that as to host a summit on climate change in 2023 is kind of part of our Christian faith that caused us to just recognize the significant threat to global communities, the economic justice, and kind of the next generation from climate change. So that was a commitment to explore our work and mission in sustainable and just climate solutions. And so that’s when MC USA, agreed to partner with Mennonite Creation Care Network and Anabaptist Climate Collaborative, to work together on this initiative. So when I came on board with MC USA, that was one of the pieces of my job that I already knew was going to happen in at MennoCon. So that’s when I think I joined with Jennifer who put me in touch with others, who became part of the planning committee to kind of lead this initiative.
Doug Kaufman 06:09
That was an event that Anabaptist Climate Collaborative, used to be the Center for Sustainable Climate Solutions. And so January a year ago, we gathered all these leaders from within the Mennonite Church. So the Everence CEO was there, Goshen College, Eastern Mennonite University. And we got all these leaders to say that we think that climate change is important. And so Glenn Guyton… as part of his time there was inspired to pull together this climate summit.
Ben Wideman 06:40
How did the names get pulled together? Do you know who was responsible for deciding who was going to be a part of this team?
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 06:49
I think we just pulled together names, I want to say, Jennifer, and then Doug, and then some of my colleagues at MC USA, I was just asking questions about who needs to be invited to this to help to plan it that has this either as their expertise or areas of passion. And so we came together, I think we’re a group of nine or 10, I want to say I shouldn’t know that off the top of my head, that come together monthly to plan this. And we also, MC USA, also in peace and justice, has a an intern, who’s Sara Werner, who is amazing, and has been really helping to also pull this together for us as well.
Jennifer Schrock 07:34
I think we aspire to have representatives from different different ages, but particularly some younger people, some people with different climate aspects. We were trying for a youth sponsor, and Sarah Warner that Lorraine was just mentioning, she is a youth sponsor, we have a parent of youth on our committee, and also to have some people with different angles on climate change, because there are so many ways to go at it.
Ben Wideman 08:10
So this team assembled, and then started to dream and imagine. Can you talk about some of the things that you’re hoping to get out of this climate summit when it actually takes place?
Doug Kaufman 08:22
I think one of the things that I was excited about is when we decided to invite to Talitha Amadea Aho to be the keynote speaker. She’s someone that’s written about spiritual care for youth, with their climate anxiety. And so thinking about how so many of us but but especially youth, as the generation that’s bearing the brunt of climate, the climate change that’s coming, experience all kinds of difficult emotions. And so trying to think about how we can help us to face climate and do something more about it can help churches and youth sponsors and others think about how we as a church can be a place where we can express our emotions around climate change, and find a good way forward a way to engage in action to not just be frozen in anxiety or denial.
Jennifer Schrock 09:15
I hope that that youth and young adults will find mentors and find the mentors that they need that fit them. Maybe they won’t all click with the same person, but I hope there’s a variety of people that they can encounter that will inspire them. And I hope that they will feel a part of the church and that the church is a place where they can work at these things and find support and find a community that understands this issue.
Lynn Hur 09:53
I think it’s absolutely necessary to talk about solidarity and climate anxiety when we’re talking about climate change to the younger generation. And so it was a no brainer for me to be involved in this because this is exactly the type of conversation I want to have. But particularly I think I bring in as a woman of color and someone who lives in an urban area to bring in this perspective of like, of environmental racism, and the experiences of bipoc folks within the sustainability industry, and climate oriented action, and how oftentimes entering into this type of field of the means necessitates entering a predominantly white institution or organization. And so that’s something I’m really excited to talk about this summer.
Ben Wideman 11:00
You’ve already mentioned, Doug, you mentioned one of your guest speakers. But that’s not the only sort of field expert that you’ve brought in. Can you talk a little bit about some of the key folks who will be sharing with attendees?
Doug Kaufman 11:16
Yeah, one of the other people is Sibonokuhle Ncube, Dr. Sibonokuhle Ncube, from Zimbabwe, who’s been part of the Brethren in Christ Church, and worked in development and a lot of development work in Zimbabwe… is climate focused and dealing with the consequences of climate change in a very harsh and difficult sort of way. And so we’re excited to have her to bring you the kind of global justice perspective to bring your perspective from a woman of color.
Ben Wideman 11:53
There are also some panel discussions. It looks like with with a variety of panelists who bring their own expertise to the table.
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 12:02
Yes, so the one the person that Doug mentioned is one of our panelists. We also have Lynn, is going to be one of our panelists. And so we’re looking forward to hearing just about what she spoke about in terms of urban planning and the equitable, equitable and creative public spaces for bipoc and immigrant communities. I think that’s an important piece of the conversation. Luke Beck Kreider, who is the Assistant Professor of Religion and Sustainability at Goshen College, and his work is focused on environmental issues and how they intersect with social and political dynamics like violence and gender equality and economic justice will also be one of our handle speakers.
Ben Wideman 12:43
Wow! Sarah Nahar… is she the other name that we haven’t mentioned yet?
Jennifer Schrock 12:47
Yes, yeah. So I was just trying to think of how she describes herself.
Ben Wideman 12:53
She wears many hats, that’s for sure.
Jennifer Schrock 12:56
Sarah is an amazing, as… an amazing 30-something person. I guess I would say, a lover of Jesus, a lover of justice, and a person who also loves studying toilets. So she she is working on learning more about just sanitation and the justice issues there of you know, the fact that something like a billion people maybe don’t have adequate sanitation, for their wastes. And you know, that’s, that’s something that has Climate Connections to or at least an environmental connections.
Ben Wideman 13:47
Some of you may know, Sarah as the former Executive Director of Community Peacemaker Teams as well. So some, definitely someone who has been active in lots of different global issues and projects.
Doug Kaufman 13:59
Yeah. And she’s, she’s a student in religion and environmentalism. And I’ll just say that she believes that Christians and our people should learn how to deal with their ****! You can edit that out. When I did a podcast in Spanish, I use the word “mierda” so I feel that’s a good way to describe too.
Ben Wideman 14:27
I find it really interesting that you’ve chosen to connect this to Mennonite Convention here this summer, I think there would have been two other possibilities, one to just sort of make it smaller seminars as part of convention to sort of incorporate it into convention rather than make it its own standalone thing and then there’d be the other way to sort of make it a whole separate event that’s, you know, not even in Kansas City but requires people to travel separately to a summit on its own. You found yourself somewhere in the middle. Can you talk a little bit about how that decision was made? And what the benefits are of attaching it to Mennonite Convention in this way?
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 15:09
Well, I think part of it was that for MC USA of wanting to focus on something specific, at convention, at a previous convention, there was a Peace and Justice day that was held the day before convention just to focus very specifically on peace and justice issues. So I think for this, looking at the youth and young adult Climate Summit is a significant issue and one that calls us back to our commitment for MC USA from the creation care resolution that was adopted by the delicate assembly in 2013. So this was a part of what the commitment that we made. And I think it’s also looking at our carbon footprint for those who are already coming. It’s not creating a separate event that uses more of the resources that already feel scarce. And so it was a way to kind of do that at the same time, which made a lot of kind of ecological sense as well.
Ben Wideman 16:05
Yeah, travel especially is such a huge challenge in getting people to where they’re going. So I can see the value there for sure. Can you talk about who this is for? Is it just just for high school aged youth who are attending Mennonite convention? Or what’s your vision for who should attend?
Doug Kaufman 16:25
No, it’s definitely for youth in the broad sense – high school youth, college students. And I think it’s up to age 25 that we’re thinking. And we’re even hoping to have a representative from Sustainability Alumni Network, Harrison Horst, to do one of the breakout sessions because there’s a number of Mennonite related alumni who are engaged on climate and ecological issues. So so anyone in that age group that’s interested.
Jennifer Schrock 16:55
We we also have a member on our committee who is from Canada. And Mennonite Creation Care Network has been historically throughout its time a bi-national organization. So we do have ties in Canada, and would welcome Canadian youth and young adults too.
Ben Wideman 17:16
That warms my Canadian heart to hear you say that.
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 17:20
I mean, we have the morning worship, we have Talitha as our keynote. We also have the panel speakers that we talked about. But then in the afternoon, we’re planning to have breakout kind of workshops that participants can choose. So we will have some that will run once and we will have some that role will run twice that the youth and young adults can pick where they want to go for those two time slots.
Ben Wideman 17:48
For those breakout sessions, I’m guessing that will be a way for participants to interact a little bit more with the collaborators who you’ve been invited to this summit?
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 17:59
I think so we are inviting our panelists to be to do some some of those breakouts. We also have ideas for other ones that some on the planning committee will also be involved in. So for instance, we will have someone on our planning committee is from… Galen Fitzkee’s from the Washington… MCC’s Washington office, and we’ll be doing a workshop on advocacy. And it’s like, so that’s exciting to have others going on as well.
Lynn Hur 18:28
I am also involved in one of the workshops, that will be a bipoc roundtable on… just it kind of came from just a necessary space where we can talk about the inequitable effects of climate change on people of color and our experiences of working in sustainability or those who are looking toward working in sustainability and climate action. But ultimately, it sort of stemmed from my interest within urban studies, urban planning right now, which is really the interest in our relationship to land. Specifically, the ways that the legacy of colonization and pillars of white supremacy and racial capitalism in this country tends to alienate ourselves from the land. And so I want there to be very fruitful discussions, hopefully between other bipoc youth, but all are welcome to join. But hopefully with lending an ear toward and prioritizing the voices of bipoc youth. But yeah, I’m really excited for that.
Ben Wideman 19:43
It seems like a very practical way of taking a lot of heady material and breaking it down to the level of like, you know, here’s how we hit the ground running then…
Lynn Hur 19:55
Ben Wideman 19:55
…solutions and pathway forward.
Jennifer Schrock 19:58
We really wanted participants to have it chance to interact with the speakers, especially since the speakers won’t have that much time individually, because we’ve got five of them. So you know, sometimes you hear an inspiring speaker, and then you never… they go away and you never connect. And this is a chance to make that connection. And to learn a little bit more about the, the people that interested you most.
Ben Wideman 20:24
I like that.
Jennifer Schrock 20:25
I just like to issue a call to action for our listeners who are not youth or young adults. This is maybe an opportunity for you to learn a little bit more about climate change and think about where and how it touches your life and where and how you might respond. And also, we would appreciate your prayers for the convention for the attendees. And for the leader, the leaders, the speakers.
Ben Wideman 20:58
Such a good word. Thank you, Jennifer. Yeah. Well, I want to say thank you to all four of you for not only helping to put this together, but for really creating an offering for the church. This is as you were saying so important. And something that is weighing heavily on the hearts and minds of so many of us, it really means a lot that this is being put together. And thank you for taking the time. I know that there are folks like me who have been listening to this conversation and want to know more, where do we direct them.
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 21:32
You can register on the MC USA website for the Mennonite convention website there will be it can be done in conjunction with registration for men and a combined convention or it can be done separately as a youth and young adult climate summit registration. Either way.
Ben Wideman 21:50
That Mennonite convention website does show the full schedule and includes the cost and much more details on all of our speakers and resource people that are a part of it as well. So I encourage you to check it out. It’s a really important resource. Friends, thank you so much for taking the time and for adding your voices to inc podcast.
Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz 22:14
Thank you for having us!
Lynn Hur 22:15
Doug Kaufman 22:16
Yeah, thank you, Ben.
Ben Wideman 22:21
Next week on in podcast, we’re joined by Dr. Lisa Bowens and an old friend, Reverend Dr. Dennis Edwards, as they talk about their new book. Do Black Lives Matter?: How Christian Scriptures Speak to Black Empowerment.
Dennis Edwards 22:35
So the pressure for me is to say, Can we can we see the scriptures as generating that kind of activist spirit? I think all the folks that we were able to get into this project would share that kind of passion that the scriptures actually don’t squash our activism or our passion for justice. It actually pushes us
Lisa Bowens 22:55
This understanding that God is still with us. Right in the midst of everything we’re facing, God is still present.
Ben Wideman 23:09
As always we’d like to thank our guests and all who support ~ing Podcast. Thank you for joining us on the journey. If you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review in your favorite podcasting app. And if you have something to share, send us a message at [email protected] or by leaving us a voicemail. ~ing Podcast is hosted by Reverend Allison Maus and Reverend Dr. Dennis Edwards. And produced by me, Ben Wideman. Views and opinions expressed on ~ing Podcast are those of our hosts and guests and may not represent that of Leader Magazine or MennoMedia. ~ing Podcast is a production of MennoMedia, a nonprofit publisher that creates thoughtful Anabaptist resources to enrich faith in a complex world. To find out more, visit us online at MennoMedia.org.