“In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”
We understand the Gospel as the story of redemption and reconciliation between God, creation, and our neighbors. This reconciliation is needed as a result of the Fall and our sinful nature. However, though we were all once far away from God, we have been brought near “by the blood of Christ” (Eph 2:13; Rom 5:10).
We are not merely passive recipients of the benefits of this redemptive work. We are called to actively participate in this ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18) and are empowered by the Holy Spirit to carry out this work in God’s world (Joel 2:28, Acts 1:8). Reconciliation does not mean that identities are flattened to the lowest common denominator, but that there is unity in diversity in God’s people, just as there is in God’s very being (Eph 4:1-16). The Trinity is the ultimate model and rationale for diversity in the ministry of the people of God.
The apostle Paul also extols the variety of gifts, knowledge, experiences, and perspectives in the body of Christ; “all the members of the body, though many, are one body” (1 Cor 12:12). In Jesus’ final hours, he prays for the sanctity and unity of his followers, that they would be one and would love one another, just as He and the Father are one (John 17:20-23). Paul suggests that without the diversity of spiritual gifts and graces there would be no Church at all: “If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, and one body.” (1 Cor 12:19-20)
This body of Christ is not present when the variety of its parts are not represented.
As we seek to live more fully into the ministry of reconciliation with God’s creation to which we are called, we recognize that we cannot work for reconciliation in one relationship while neglecting another. The ministry of reconciliation is holistic and undivided; we must seek to restore and reconcile all relationships, including relationships among God’s diverse people. We are called to confess the sin of division everywhere, to lament oppression and violence everywhere, and to seek healing and restored relationship everywhere. In doing this, we participate in the work of Christ, who has broken down the dividing wall (Eph 2:14).
This requires pro-active engagement that goes beyond a passive desire for change, for we recognize that the powers and principalities of this world collude to create structures and systems designed to keep us separate and unequal (Eph. 6:12). We are called to an active orientation in our reconciliatory work--an orientation that is described both in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), and the parable of the sheep and the goats, where Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45, emphasis added).
With this in mind:
- We recognize that in the history of the United States and the world, false divisions have been fabricated which have enabled and encouraged the subjugation, injury, and disenfranchisement of entire groups of people, particularly women and people of color.
- We recognize that in the history of our country and world, the voices of a privileged few have often set the agenda for the whole, with deleterious effects on those without power.
- We recognize that poor and minority communities have and will experience the brunt of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, and we seek to work towards affirming and lifting up the dignity and Image of God in our neighbors, near and far.
- We recognize that the ministry of reconciliation to which we are called by Christ requires that we clearly name the evils of division, oppression, and marginalization in our society and that we reject them.
- We recognize that the status quo of racial, ethnic, and gender exclusion is systemic and that actions to ameliorate the injustice of exclusion must be proactive and countercultural.
We thus understand diversity to be a fundamental component of achieving the goal of serving God more fully and effectively in our work as an organization (Acts 6:1-7). Therefore, we seek to include the concerns, perspectives, and voices of the whole of the evangelical body in the United States in our work, and to provide intellectual and programmatic space for new frameworks, approaches, and relationships regarding climate change action and advocacy. We seek for the decisions made at all levels of the organization to emerge from the values and perspectives of a diverse representation of evangelicals.
Therefore, we commit to the following:
- Create an institutional framework that facilitates the nuanced decision-making needed to address the concerns of people from a variety of Evangelical backgrounds.
- Cultivate and support diverse leadership teams (i.e., YECA staff, steering committee) that represent people from a variety of racial, ethnic, class, ability, and gender backgrounds and ultimately the fullness of the body of Christ.
- Develop institutional connections with evangelical organizations whose work both encompasses a greater breadth of climate change impacts and offers more diverse opportunities for action.
- Support initiatives that include, empower, and join with minority and low-income communities in order to pursue healthy, just, and sustainable climate solutions that arise out of the resources, assets, and people within that community.
- Equip YECA leadership to recognize systemic discrimination and implicit bias in order to work toward the removal of barriers that would prevent individuals from minority communities from participating in our shared work.
- Embed our commitments towards racial, ethnic, and gender diversity as a high-level priority within YECA’s strategic plan.