On Saturday, February 19, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the British Columbia Synod are hosting a climate justice action group event entitled Lutheran Young Adults for Climate Change. The free event will be held online via Zoom. Those interested in attending are asked to register at: https://bit.ly/3Grvc3o.
ELCIC National Bishop Susan Johnson will open the event, which includes three panelist from the ELCIC who will highlight their experiences as participants at recent United Nations Conference of the Parties (COP) climate change conferences around the world. Jeff Buhse (Manitoba), Katarina Kuhnert (Northwest Territories) and Erika Rodning (Alberta) will share their thoughts on how faith organizations can address the climate crisis.
“This is the kind of event that we always envisioned after coming home from the COP conferences,” former National Church Council member Jeff Buhse says. “That was one of the initial purposes for us attending the UN conferences: bringing the message back home to our fellow churches.”
Buhse, who attended the COP conference back in 2012 in Doha, Qatar, is excited to get to hear the stories shared by two other youth delegates who have followed in his footsteps.
“I am actually quite interested to see what the experiences of both Katarina and Erika were in comparison to my own,” Buhse adds. “I’m quite curious to see how the LWF and their participation has shifted over the years. Whether it’s for our National Church, our Synods, our congregations or people individually, there will definitely be many tangible takeaways on what we can do to make effective change globally, locally, and as members of the ELCIC.”
Joining Buhse as a guest panelist will be circumpolar climate scientist Katarina Kuhnert. Transplanted from her Eastern Synod home of Waterloo, Ontario, the fully-licensed remotely operated aircraft pilot resides north of the Arctic Circle in the Northwest Territories where she works to monitor ecosystem change, survey water and permafrost levels while mapping the landscape of the Beaufort Delta Region of the western Arctic.
Last fall, Kuhnert had the opportunity to serve as one of four representatives from the Lutheran World Federation at COP-26 in Glasgow, Scotland. She collaborated with the Interfaith Liaison Committee, the World Council of Churches, the ACT Alliance and the Climate Action Network of Canada, before presenting at the People’s Summit for Climate Justice on the topic of energy transitions. Now, having the opportunity to both speak and listen to the experiences of others at the upcoming Lutheran Young Adults for Climate Change event has Kuhnert thrilled.
“I’ve been involved with a couple different events organized after returning from COP-26,” she says. “But the benefit of this one is that this is a chance to hear from people who have represented the ELCIC in this international forum over the past number of years. At this event in particular, you will have access to the institutional memory of the ELCIC’s involvement in various COP conferences from the past five years through the experiences of Jeff, Erika and myself. You will have a diversity of perspective coming from a diversity of experience. Each COP has a different focus, which is an added benefit of this event.”
Kuhnert’s passion for climate justice stems both from her work and the ongoing involvement in her faith-based circles. Referencing the work of ELCIC partner KAIROS and its For the Love of Creation campaign, the Eastern Synod’s youth climate justice event and the ELCIC’s Task Force for Carbon Neutrality, the young scientist is pleased with the Church’s commitment to a greener future.
“Climate change is an intersectional and an intergenerational issue, and we need to respond in a diversity of ways across generations,” Kuhnert says. “This affects everyone from youth and children to adults, elders and leaders in the church. The potential for challenges of the current climate crisis impacts so many elements in our lives. Attending events like this, building our understanding of what’s happening and our networks of support, our community resilience improves greatly by having these conversations together. When we hold the burdens of challenge and change together they become a little bit lighter.”