In the closing days of the last year, the environmental and creation care family lost several important figures, in addition to those like Renee Padilla whose passing we noted earlier in the year. Among those whom we have lost recently are the following:
Bishop Desmond Tutu was most well-known for his participation in the liberation of South Africa, as well as his partnership with Nelson Mandela both in fighting apartheid and in leading the movement for peace and reconciliation in the “new” South Africa. It is perhaps less well-known the extent to which Bishop Tutu was concerned about environmental issues, including climate change and environmental justice generally. He will be remembered for many things, not least for reminding us that creation care affects all of human life and society – there can be no justice without environmental justice. As if to make a final statement, he requested not only a modest funeral with the cheapest wooden coffin available, but an eco-friendly burial method known as aqua-mation. (Read more here, here, and here.)
Professor E.O.Wilson also left us in December. A longtime faculty member and researcher at Harvard University, his contributions to the field of environmental studies were numerous with more than 30 books published. Considered by some to be “Darwin’s natural heir”, we would perhaps remember him best for his work attempting to bring the faith and scientific communities together:
In addition to groundbreaking work in evolution and entomology, in his later years Wilson spearheaded a campaign to unite the scientific and religious communities in an odd-couple pairing he felt presented the best chance to preserve Earth.
The latter work was best captured in his short book, The Creation, penned as a letter from Wilson, a scientist and avowed agnostic, to a hypothetical pastor: “Dear Pastor, we need your help. The Creation – living nature – is in deep trouble…” [Editor’s note: this book was highly influential for me when I was beginning my work in creation. It is worth your time if you have not read it.] (More on Wilson here.)
And finally, Harold Snyder, a man many would not have heard of even in the US, but whose quiet work more than 50 years ago laid the foundation for Au Sable Institute, one of the most influential institutions in the American creation care movement from the late 1970’s right up to the present: “In 1956, Dr. Harold Snyder embarked on a mission to establish an outdoor camp that would focus on science and draw boys into a closer relationship with God. With the help of family and friends, Harold established the Au Sable Trails Camp for Youth which eventually became the Au Sable Institute.” Au Sable went on, under the leadership of Cal DeWitt, to train hundreds of students who went on to influence Christian colleges and universities as well as the church at large. (Read more here)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, Hebrews 12:1
[NOTE: If you know of Creation care leaders who have passed on in your own country, please write and let us know. We will occasionally try to honor those who have gone before us.]