An interfaith response to climate change
propelled by the moral imperative for immediate and
just climate action in Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan

History of Hope for Creation

Hope for Creation began in March 2014 when leaders from several downtown Kalamazoo churches, Kalamazoo College’s Chapel, Temple B’nai Israel, and the Sisters of St. Joseph organized a four-week series of presentations.  Approximately 150 people gathered each of four Monday evenings to participate in “Hope for Creation: Faith and Action.”  Attendees learned how climate change is affecting Michigan and how other U.S. communities are responding to extreme temperatures, storms, flooding, public health issues, and seasonal weather pattern changes. 

After this series, a planning team continued to organize one or two large events each year to educate members of the faith community about climate change issues and potential actions. These events, with attendance ranging from 60 to 100, included speakers such as Rob Sisson, president of ConservAmerica.  Sisson clearly explained why climate change is an issue where conservatives and liberals can find common ground. An event called Climate Ready Kalamazoo brought sustainability planners from Ann Arbor and Traverse City to meet with Kalamazoo city staff in the afternoon, followed by an evening presentation to educate the community about municipal climate action planning. 

This all-volunteer planning team also developed a statement of mission and goals: “Hope for Creation is an interfaith network of people whose faith traditions teach that people and the planet flourish when social and natural communities are in harmony. To live our values, we are called to the great work of seeking balance and justice on earth. We encourage people from faith communities and the wider community to undertake climate action in individual lives, in congregations, and community governance.”


To accomplish these goals, we have continued to engage in a variety of actions over the years. These include large gatherings such as “Harvest of Unity” meals in the fall and smaller events such as Hope for Creation breakfasts.  Occasional Green Team gatherings bring together earth care teams from many congregations to share information about earth care activities taking place in their houses of worship. Discussions of books such as Nature’s Best Hope, by Douglas Tallamy have helped people learn about environmental issues and action steps.  Reading and discussing other books, such as Me and White Supremacy, by Layla Saad and The Intersectional Environmentalist, by Leah Thomas, have grown the organization’s awareness of the urgent need for environmental justice for all.


Hope for Creation has had an informal affiliation with Michigan Interfaith Power and Light (a 501c3) since 2014, and in 2019 HFC became the Southwest Michigan Chapter of Michigan IPL. That affiliation made it possible to receive grant funding in 2020 to hire a quarter-time coordinator and to undertake projects that require sustained attention over time. These projects have focused on building lasting relationships that expand and diversify faith community participation in Earth care through activities such as planting and maintenance of congregational gardens.


HFC has also: incubated an EPS Foam recycling program with the City of Kalamazoo; advocated for Climate Emergency declarations by city and county commissions, and; worked during the COVID epidemic to create a series of Green Team videos about faith community participation in climate action, best practices for creating effective Green Teams, and about actions congregations can undertake.  Hope for Creation’s gatherings, both in-person and virtual, continue to create a sense of community and foster collaboration and education.  This leads to new projects in congregations and increasingly effective advocacy in local communities.  A priority-setting process in the spring of 2023 led to the formation of teams in these areas:  land stewardship, advocacy, and zero-waste living.  We also continue offering support and guidance to congregational green teams and providing education and recipes for plant-based diets. Because of all these efforts, environmental community organizations and city leaders have come to recognize Hope for Creation as an important faith-community voice on climate change.