Should Christians be concerned with the slow deterioration of planet earth? Should we care about declines in the overall quality of soil, water and air? What about deforestation, endangered species and global warming?
The leadership at Southern Nazarene University thinks so, and is a part of a growing group of evangelicals, including members of the distinguished Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, who believe global conservation is a faith-based responsibility. Conservation is cast in moral terms. In an effort to distinguish their mission from "green" radicals and the negative connotations often associated with some environmentalism, they refer to their movement as "creation care".
Brad Strawn, Vice President for Spiritual Development at SNU, and dean of the Chapel, sees creation care as a movement with a Biblical basis for existence.
"God gave man dominion over the garden," Strawn said, "It is our responsibility to care for it. After all we can't re-create what He designed....we need to preserve it."
Current "creation care" efforts have gained new momentum on the SNU campus, spear-headed by Strawn and powered by a group of more than 25 committed SNU students. Intense reviews are in process of how SNU can continue to grow as a more sustainable institution of higher learning. The most recent effort places recycling bins in all campus building for paper, plastic, cardboard, and aluminum cans, in hopes of not only stepping up campus recycling, but also to encourage the city of Bethany to launch a more active role in Recycling.
The group is working to define ways to become more accountable for the the University's "ecological footprint". This involves analysis of SNU's demand on the environment including its consumption of natural resources versus the plant's capacity to regenerate them. The goal: energy-efficient building, dramatically reduced waste across campus, student activist clubs, restoration projects, and more.
"Ultimately, the students serve as 'eco-reps' on behalf of sustainability," Strawn said. Eco-Super Heroes is an SNU grassroots movement established to help make SNU a "green" campus. Currently comprised of 31 members, the group maintains an Internet presence on Facebook and is open for anyone to join. Search "Eco-Super Heroes" on Facebook within groups.
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"Green" at SNU
- Lighting has shifted to all high-efficiency bulbs as lighting is replaced throughout all buildings.
- Irrigation of the campus utilizes a well watering system.
- Low-Flow toilets are installed during the replacement process in all dorms.
- Thermostats are controlled by computer for energy management.
- Sprinkler heads are being replaced for more efficient watering times.
- Metal used in maintenance is recycled.
- Branches trimmed from trees are recycled into ground cover.
- Mowed grass is used for the Horses at the SNU Horse Barn
- Batteries used in maintenance are recycled.
- Aluminum cans, paper and plastics are the recycling focus for current students working to place recycling bins and dumpsters in and by all campus buildings.
- High efficiency lighting installed in all campus buildings.
- Low-Flow facilities in all buildings.
- Growing own vegetation.