DECORAH, IA (December 2, 2011) – Kristi Holmberg, whose family attends Crossview Covenant Church in North Mankato, Minnesota, is one of just 25 young people from around the world invited to participate in the first Youth for Eco-Justice program, which will be held in Durban, South Africa.
The event will start tomorrow (Saturday) and run through December 10. The World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation have organized the gathering, which is being held in conjunction with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban.
Designed for Christian leaders ages 18-30, invitees were chosen because they have been identified as change-makers in churches, faith-based organizations and networks worldwide.
“My passion for the church allows me to see its flaws and potential,” says Holmberg, a senior and religion major at Luther College in Decorah. “I am excited to work with other youth from around the world who also feel compelled to care about climate change and re-imagining the church in this contemporary context.”
The term eco-justice references the abuse of natural resources, its relationship to economic and political power, and the affect on the lives of people who are poor and powerless, organizers said. Eco-justice programs focus on sustainable development and “green economies.”
“Eco-justice was hardly in my vocabulary a year ago,” says Holmberg. “I am not an expert on climate change, nor has my lifestyle fully caught up with the knowledge I have gained over the last year, but I have been privileged with education, and I believe privilege is deeply intertwined with ethical responsibility.”
Holmberg’s travel expenses are funded through an undergraduate fellowship from the Fund for Theological Education (FTE), a national endowment seeking to cultivate a new generation of leaders to serve the church and the world. She is one of 40 undergraduates to be awarded the FTE fellowship for further exploration and discernment of ministry as a career.
In the months following the Youth for Eco-Justice seminar, the 25 participants will initiate and implement projects in their home countries based on their training and experience. They also will link with other ecological and social-economic justice groups, including the World Student Christian Federation and the Ecumenical Youth Council in Europe, both of which have launched campaigns focusing on environmental justice.
That training will include theological studies, workshops with experts, training sessions on communication, campaigning, and project management, and the development of resources and activities for promoting eco-justice at local, national and international levels.
“I hope the program will teach me how to preach the news of climate change in a voice where people can be mobilized to act rather than be paralyzed by despair,” says Holmberg. “I want to show – not tell – a compelling, ethical and sustainable vision for Christian discipleship and share resources from the program with faith communities in the United States.”
Holmberg is the daughter of Brad and Nancy Holmberg.