WAKE FOREST — Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has been awarded a $126,500 grant from The Energy Foundation for initiatives toward creation care.
Jonathan Merritt, who initiated the Southern Baptist Environment and Climate Initiative in 2008, will consult with Southeastern as it implements and promotes “better care of God’s creation through increased awareness and increased opportunities to get involved,” according to a seminary news release.
The money provided by The Energy Foundation will be used for a recycling program at Southeastern; a national conference in November on creation care; funding Merritt’s position for a year through Southeastern’s L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture (CFC); and an endowment to provide creation care materials for the library and classroom.
The majority of the new efforts will be done in conjunction with the Center for Faith and Culture, which seeks to engage culture as salt and light, presenting and defending the Christian faith and demonstrating its implications for all areas of human existence.
As a consultant for the CFC, Merritt, a recent graduate of Southeastern, will travel to promote creation care and Christian stewardship of the environment.
“This grant is another testament to the great job that Dr. Akin and our fine faculty are doing here,” said Merritt. “If it were not for the Bible-based, intellectual freedom that Southeastern provides, I would never have been able to attempt something this big.”
In addition to funding Merritt as a consultant, the grant will also enable Southeastern to host a conference in November 2009 on earth stewardship, as well as a lecture series on environmental stewardship practices.
“We are grateful to The Energy Foundation for the grant to develop a conference on creation care,” said Bruce Little, director of the Center for Faith and Culture. “The conference gives us a platform from which to address a very important topic in our culture, a topic Christians have a stake in — not because there might be a crisis, but because our Christian worldview requires us to be concerned.
“We hope to be able to put the discussion in a proper theological context, showing that Christians should first be concerned about the environment for theological reasons, and then see how that commitment informs us on the issue before us.”
Merritt first became involved with efforts for good environmental stewardship during a Southeastern theology class, an experience that “lit a fire for creation care” in his heart. He said he is excited about the opportunities the grant presents to Southeastern and Southern Baptists.
“This grant enables us to leap to the front lines and speak with a voice that is rooted in God’s word and adequate to the tasks at hand,” he said.