Refugia Newsletter by Debra Rienstra - Issue #2



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Debra Rienstra
Debra Rienstra
Welcome to the Refugia Newsletter! This is a biweekly newsletter for people of faith who care about climate and want to go deeper.

Refugia News
Applications are now open for the Refugia Church Cohort, part of Western Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program. Rev. Ron Rienstra (yep, that’s my husband) and I will be leading a D.Min. cohort beginning May 2022. If you or someone you know is thinking about a D.Min. degree and the refugia concept seems intriguing, please check this out and consider applying.
Doctor of Ministry Degree | Western Theological Seminary
This Week in Climate News
I’ve been trying to process postmortems from COP26 in Glasgow, which ended officially on Nov. 13. It’s not easy to make sense of it all, with some participants and commentators claiming much success and others claiming abject failure. Both, it seems, are true. I choose to be grateful for progress on ending deforestation, reducing methane emissions, and on getting some meaningful cooperation between the US and China. I also choose to remain unsurprised that the commitments agreed on are so far insufficient to assure no more than 1.5C in warming this century–and that COP commitments have little to no “teeth.”
COPs are important, but they are only one piece of how change happens. Despite some disappointing results, the public awareness roused by COP26 matters. And the real work continues. Here’s a short, helpful summary of what was accomplished–and what wasn’t–written for the LA Times by an atmospheric science professor.
Op-Ed: Glasgow's hope at a critical moment in the climate battle - Los Angeles Times
Deeper Dive
It’s only right to stick with the COP26 theme for the deeper dive this week. I thought this Washington Post story was really beautiful and heartbreaking. It features voices (and artful photos) of people from around the world–with attention to those from “climate vulnerable” nations–describing what’s at stake for them on the ground in facing the effects of climate change. These effects are real and significant right now, and it’s crucial to hear the voices of those on the front lines.
What the COP26 climate summit means to people around the world - Washington Post
Refugia Sighting
Oh fine. One more COP26-related piece and then I’m done, I promise. I want to give a shoutout to my friend Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, who labors mightily–and surprisingly cheerfully–to create a beautiful refugia space within (this may surprise you) White American evangelicalism. Kyle is the VP of the Evangelical Environmental Network, a group less than 30 years old that is working to convince American evangelicals that “creation care” is a crucial part of Christian discipleship. As Kyle reflects on COP26 in this Rolling Stone interview (Rolling Stone, people!), he describes how the EEN has created a refuge especially for young evangelicals. Many young people in evangelical spaces feel betrayed by their elders who refuse to take climate change seriously–among other things. Kyle, I’m proud to say, is an alum of Calvin University (where I teach), and has received our Young Alumni Award (and rightly so).
The Wayback Machine
And now, after all that seriousness, something that’s just for fun.
Preparedness is Key - Debra Rienstra
Thank you!
Thanks for reading! I keep these biweekly newsletters quickly scannable, with opportunities for deeper reading as you are able. I also tend to emphasize the connections between faith communities and climate action.
If you are so inclined, please follow me on Twitter or Facebook @debrakrienstra. Also check out my website at
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Debra Rienstra
Debra Rienstra @debrakrienstra

A fortnightly newsletter for people of faith who care about climate and want to know more and do more.

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Prof. Debra Rienstra, Calvin University, 1795 Knollcrest Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546