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Winter Edition
Volume 98, Number 3

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Students study moss and plant growth

In May 2006, Andrew Rosamilia '07 and Melissa Mazurkewicz '08 studied moss and plant growth on cloud forest trees in Panama as part of their Tropical Forest Ecology course.  Examining organisms and ecosystems in such an unspoiled natural state helps students to become adept at recognizing human impacts and disturbances on the environment.

Creation care (continued)

As part of its response to the call for better stewardship of God’s Creation, Messiah College purchases 4.5 percent of its electricity from wind power, a renewable energy source. In recognition of its leadership in this area, the College recently received the 2006 Green Power: Turn It On! award from the environmental organization Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future. A long-term goal is to bring Messiah College “to 100 percent renewable energy down the road,” says Erik Lindquist, associate professor of biology and environmental science at Messiah College and faculty advisor for the student-led organization Earthkeepers.

While environmental stewardship has been gaining momentum on Messiah’s campus as well as on a national level, the idea is certainly not new to the College. Indeed, Messiah’s Community Covenant includes “faithful preservation of the environment and wise treatment of natural resources” as part of what it means to respect God’s Creation.

“Messiah’s not playing catch-up here, but is helping to shape this discussion nationally,” says David Foster, associate professor of biology and environmental science. Connecting Creation care with the spiritual heritage of Messiah College, Foster emphasizes the College’s roots in the Brethren in Christ tradition, which values a lifestyle of simplicity. “Being careful with our resource use is a very foundational tradition in the heritage of our college. The College was founded by a group of believers who have historically said ‘we don’t want to waste the resources God has given us. We want to use them wisely.’”

Stewardship Rooted in Scripture

Joseph Sheldon cites Genesis 2:15 and God’s instructions for humans to “till” and “keep” the land as the primary biblical call to environmental stewardship. The Hebrew verbs in this verse, abad and shamar, may also be translated as “to serve” and “to protect.” In its efforts to serve and to protect the environment, the Creation care movement takes these biblical instructions very seriously. “A steward is one who has been charged to take care of something that is owned by another,” Sheldon explains.

Another key principle of Christian environmental stewardship is to preserve the blessing of fruitfulness that God gives to Creation in Genesis 1:22 (as well as to humans in verse 28). “Creation was given the same blessing [as humans] to be fruitful and multiply. Our responsibility is to ensure that this continues,” says Sheldon.

Lindquist began thinking about environmental stewardship when he observed that many of the animals he was studying in the Republic of Panama were becoming extinct. He looks to the Old Testament example of Noah as a model for Creation care. “The story of Noah connects righteous people with the care of Creation,” Lindquist suggests. “God hand-selects Noah to be an example to the world, and the world doesn’t listen to him. But he goes ahead and protects organisms from the danger of extinction.”

Lindquist’s extensive research into the behavioral ecology and natural history of the Panamanian golden frog is the subject of the upcoming BBC documentary Life in Cold Blood, which is scheduled to air in 2008. Lindquist is actively involved in endangered species conservation and population recovery, and he co-directs a multi-institutional species survival initiative for the endangered Panamanian golden frog.

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