One of God’s first commandments to humankind was to “cultivate and care” for creation (Gen. 2:15, NASB). That’s why Calvin University biology professor Dave Warners says the concept of creation care shouldn’t be political or divisive.
Warners explains that God, the ultimate creator, found joy in his creation. Our fundamental responsibility of caring for this creation is meant to provide us with purpose, meaning, and joy as God’s image bearers. This is not a burden, but an opportunity and a gift.
The Reformer John Calvin also had a lot to say about caring for creation. He emphasized its essential place in Reformed Christianity in his commentary on Genesis, where he said, “The custody of the garden was given in charge to Adam, to show that we possess the things which God has committed to our hands, on the condition that, being content with the frugal and moderate use of them, we should take care of what shall remain … let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses.”
Having been born out of the Reformed tradition, Calvin University has made caring for creation a priority and continues to make it a pillar of its educational experience for students, faculty, and the local community and invites high schoolers to join a creation-care Green Team each summer.
The 12-student Green Team learns about native Michigan habitats and watershed ecology, works on bioswales and rain gardens, and undertakes large-scale restoration projects throughout the Plaster Creek Watershed, one of the most contaminated watersheds in West Michigan. The group is led by Warners, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology at Calvin in 1985 and a doctorate at the University of Michigan.
Each summer, Warners challenges his students and the Calvin community to incorporate creation care into their everyday lives: “Be mindful of how blessed we are by creation,” he says, “and let that blessing fuel you to find ways to give back when it gives so much. Each of us on this earth is capable of enhancing creation; our impact does not need to be negative.”
Warners believes the Green Team is not only an investment in the lives of the students who participate, but a way for Calvin to unite and give back to the Grand Rapids community and challenge future generations to embody John Calvin’s appeal to “let everyone regard himself as the steward of God in all things which he possesses.”