State Treasurer and U.S. senatorial candidate Robert P. Casey Jr. greets members of the Messiah community after the Pennsylvania premiere of the film The Great Warming. Casey, along with U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (via video), responded to the film.
Environmental film's Pennsylvania premiere at Messiah sparks dialogue
In February, The New York Times reported that 86 evangelical leaders sent a letter to the National Association of Evangelicals supporting a major global warming initiative. The letter called Christians to action, stating “millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.”
While this stance marks a significant shift for some church leaders, Messiah College has long promoted the stewardship and care of all of God’s Creation. In recognition of this ongoing commitment, Messiah College was chosen to host the April 20 Pennsylvania premiere of a major new documentary film titled The Great Warming. The movie is a dynamic presentation of the facts about global warming, vividly depicting how climate change is affecting the lives of millions around the globe.
At the conclusion of the film, U.S. Senator Rick Santorum (via video) and State Treasurer and U.S. senatorial candidate Robert P. Casey, Jr. (in person) provided a public policy response. Their comments were followed by a panel discussion and question-and-answer period, moderated by Messiah professor David Foster. Messiah College welcomed the following distinguished panel members who responded to the film and also fielded audience questions:
- The Reverend Richard Cizik, vice president of government affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals
- John Kermond, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research visiting scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Program Office
- Joseph Sheldon, professor of biology and environmental science at Messiah College and board member of the Evangelical Environmental Network
According to Sheldon, in premiering the film at a location like Messiah College, the producers tried to “get the movie to the Christian community,” a group that, in Sheldon’s opinion, is often marginally informed about matters related to environmental stewardship. He emphasizes that this is an important component of Christian education in preparing students for leadership and responsible living in the world today.
“Many students come to Messiah having never heard a sermon on environmental stewardship as a biblical principle,” he says. “We must educate students. In the end, it’s not about cramming [them with] answers. The most important part of the educational process is providing students with the tools they need to effectively investigate and evaluate the information that is out there.”
—Rebecca Ebersole Kasparek ’96 and Devin Thomas ’09