Have you ever had the Holy Spirit confirm a calling? If so, you know these moments tend to be catalytic for your life trajectory. Brian Webb—the current Sustainability Director at Houghton College—recalls a moment when he was called to lead other believers in the concept of Creation Care. “At the time I was working at Houghton College as the Director of Intercultural Student Programs and was starting to get involved with creation care. My wife and I had been praying about where I needed to focus my efforts,” Brian said. “Our pastor preached on the passage from 1 Corinthians 12 about the body of Christ. During the message, I felt the Holy Spirit saying ‘Whichever way you choose to serve me will be good work and I will bless you, but because there are so few people who understand and communicate creation care, the church will suffer for your lack of involvement.’ Before the sermon was over, I knew what I was supposed to do with my life and since that time I have been shaped into the role I am currently in.”
Brian has been the Sustainability Director at Houghton College since 2012. Under Brian’s leadership, Houghton is making creation care a part of their institutional identity.
This mission is accomplished through two main initiatives:
- Assessment of institutional efforts to implement environmental stewardship.
This includes fostering methods to reduce energy consumption or water usage, increasing recycling efforts on campus and assessing college policies to make sure they are in line with ecological best-practices. On a larger scale, the Solar Array on Houghton’s Field of Dreams has been an opportunity Houghton took to reduce their environmental footprint.
- Educating students on the concept of Christian stewardship and creation care.
This takes place largely outside of the classroom. Brian coordinates a group of about 85 students in an Eco-Rep Group. This group learns and practices creation care on Houghton’s campus. One of their projects this year is to convert the campus to use recycled paper. In the past, the group has hosted panel discussions about creation care topics or hosted events to increase environmental awareness. Most of the ideas from the group originate with the students; Brian’s role is to mentor these students towards accomplishing these goals.
Brian is pleased to work at Houghton College with a supportive administration and student body. He says, “At Houghton, we try to place the concepts of creation care and sustainability within a biblical frame. This has enabled us to create an atmosphere where environmental stewardship is welcomed as a natural response of our own Christian faith and celebrated—not feared as an uncomfortable, political topic.
As a part of his role, Brian has the opportunity to interact with various organizations who advocate for climate change. Often, individuals in these organizations are surprised when they learn Brian is supporting their efforts from a Christian standpoint. He says, “Creation care, environmental stewardship, and climate change are issues the church should own. Instead, we’ve abandoned them to the secular environmental world. As the church steps up to our God- given responsibility of being good stewards of God’s creation, the world is able to see the church as relevant, caring, and compassionate. From an evangelistic perspective, advocating in creation care presents an opportunity to bring individuals into the church.”
Brian believes creation care is relevant to the church because it gets to the core of how we understand God’s relationship with the world and our purpose of bringing glory to Him. “When we look at scripture two very important things stand out:
- Jesus says the most important thing we can do is to love God. Caring for creation is a way we show love to our creator and the masterpiece he has put here for us to enjoy.
- Jesus also said the second most important commandment is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Jesus goes on to describe how loving our neighbor is put into practice when we put the needs of our neighbor above our own. Creation care is very direct in caring for our neighbors because it helps us to survive. God created our environment very specific to our needs- we depend upon it for food and for water for clean air; taking care of it is very directly caring for people in a positive way.”
In his journey of advocating for the environment, Brian has been impressed with the efforts from Houghton College and other leaders in the Wesleyan Church. He says, “Leadership in the Wesleyan Church is promoting a Christian understanding of climate care. It is a good place to be in and the church is on the verge of making a real stand.”
To learn more about creation care and climate change, visit http://climatecaretakers.org/.
Jessica White is a Staff Writer for Education and Clergy Development, and the mother of two young daughters, Abigail and Josephine. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and taught second grade for three years before resigning to stay at home and raise her children. To read more about Jessica and the rest of ECD’s writing team, click here.