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

Hope for Creation has many Planning Committee members who work with the Michigan IPL team.




Terri Benton-Ollie

At a very young age, I embraced my passion to positively impact literacy and health. The dual-concepts of “Love One Another” and The Golden Rule are the foundation of my spiritual existence. Hope for Creation is a good fit for my current “season” as I believe that our spirituality impacts our environment; philosophically, we all borrow our earth from our children, we do not inherit earth from our ancestors.  

I have earned a Master of Public Affairs and Administration from Western Michigan University, and Master of Science in College Personnel Administration and a Teaching Certificate in Marketing and Distributive Education, both, from University of Central Missouri. I am a proud member of the Allen Chapel AME Church, Church Women United, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., AAU Sports, and MHSAA Officials Association.  Above all, please pray that God continue to bless my husband, D. O’Neal Ollie (1995) and our 2 amazing children, Bass and Symphony.  



Steven B. Bertman, PhD

As a Jewish scientist, I feel strong pulls from both the commandment to take care of the world and to do so in a data-driven way.  Hope for Creation is a great way to join together these goals and develop interest and enthusiasms for community-wide action on climate change.  Climate change will affect all aspects of human life and only together can we work to ensure a viable future for our children.



Eileen Best

Eileen is a Certified Christian Educator in the Presbyterian Church (USA). She has served churches in Pennsylvania, New York, and Michigan. A favorite activity was to organize mission trips for young people to Washington DC, Jamaica, and Cuba. She retired in 2019. Eileen started and leads the Green Team at her church, Westminster Presbyterian in Portage.  Eileen and her husband, John, have three young adult children. She enjoys cooking vegan food, growing vegetables for her family and others, and reading. Caring for the earth is a long time passion. Hope for Creation is a way to work with others to care for creation.



Joan Hawxhurst

Joan serves as the part-time Coordinator of Hope for Creation. Over the years, Joan has founded a national organization for interfaith families, led the development of Kalamazoo's community reading program, and reinvigorated Kalamazoo College's career center. She fell in love with the beauty and power of the Great Lakes when she came to Michigan in 1994 with her partner, Steve Bertman, a professor at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at WMU. They are members of Temple B’nai Israel in Kalamazoo and the proud parents of two graduates of Kalamazoo Public Schools who are finding their own ways to be the change they want to see in the world.



Sister Virginia Jones, CSJ

Sister Ginny holds a Ph.D. in Fisheries and Wildlife-Environmental Education from the College of Agriculture, Michigan State University, an M.S. in Botany, also from MSU, and a B.S. in Biology from Springfield College, Massachusetts.  As a biology professor at Nazareth College, she led the effort to sponsor Kalamazoo’s first Earth Day celebration in 1972 as a teach-in event. She developed the Bow-in-the-Clouds Natural area, dedicated in 1974 as part of Nazareth College’s Golden Anniversary. She also developed and coordinated the Nazareth Center for Eco-spirituality offering programs connecting spirituality and environmental issues (Care of Creation) and has served on the board of Michigan interfaith Power and Light.

She has led and served on numerous local and regional boards and has been widely recognized for her work in community education and health, eco-justice, and environmental studies. She has expertise and certifications in: interpretation of the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator, permaculture, spiritual direction, and applied ecopsychology.



Reverend Ruth Moerdyk

Ruth’s education includes Chicago Theological Seminary and the Institute for Spiritual Leadership, Chicago, Illinois. She attended Kalamazoo College and has done conflict resolution training with Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, anti-racism training (most recently with Michigan Conference of the UCC), and professional coaching. She is active in the Kalamazoo Climate Crisis Coalition and Kalamazoo Nonviolent Opponents of War, as well as serving as Secretary of Board for Michigan Conference of the United Church of Christ. Currently serving as pastor of Skyridge Church, her previous service includes: Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Kalamazoo, Michigan; Southern Care Hospice, Kalamazoo, Michigan; Osage United Church of Christ, Osage, Iowa; Congregation for Reconciliation, Dayton, Ohio.



 Rick Welch

I discovered Hope for Creation by attending a luncheon at Kanley Chapel a few years ago. Since then I have grown in my understanding of and commitment to fighting the climate crisis we see going on around us now.  I am passing this understanding on to my home church - First Congregational of Kalamazoo-UCC by starting a "Green Team " there and asking for help with a polystyrene recycling program that we are collaborating on with the city of Kalamazoo.  I am also active in ISAAC, an interfaith social justice group that works on policy changes within the community and state of Michigan.  I have lived  in Kalamazoo since 1988 - it is now home.



Nancy Louise Appel
I am an Environmentalist, but even more so, a Humanitarian that is a peaceful warrior for Social Justice in all forms. My occupation has been in healthcare as a Registered Dietitian but recently have shifted my focus to the health of our Earth and the Peoples inhabiting it. 

I have facilitated an EarthCare Team at my church starting programs such as styrofoam collection for recycling, Adopt-a-Highway program, cork, battery and general recycling in the church and produced three worship services for Earth Day Celebrations, recruiting the speakers, as well as other presenters on various topics. I served on the Board for Unity EarthCare Worldwide Ministries and as an Executive Committee member for the Southwest Michigan Sierra Club; tabled at Citywide Earth Day celebrations and am currently a member of the Hope for Creation Interfaith Group here in Kalamazoo. 

I know that we are starting to run out of time to save our planet, and I am heeding a call to help bring people together, especially the oppressed, who will be the most affected by Climate Change. Education to raise awareness of the problem and what we can do about it together, I believe is the answer. 



 Tobi Hanna-Davies

Tobi Hanna-Davies has been trying for a long time to do her part to care for Creation.  She became a vegetarian in the 70’s (even though she grew up on a beef farm) when “Diet for a Small Planet” taught her how damaging it is to eat meat, especially beef. She furnished a whole preschool program with free, re-used tables, rugs, crates, etc, salvaged from bulk “trash” pick-up, which taught several hundred children and their families to re-use. She advocated for access to electric charging in the parking structures the city was building in the 90s when she was on Ann Arbor City Council, which motivated “Car and Driver” magazine to editorialize against her!  She became vegan because of the Reading Together book “We Are The Weather” a few years ago.  She’s been hanging all her clothes to dry since the 80s, to reduce her family’s fossil fuel use. She’s been getting all her groceries at food co-ops since the 70s because co-ops believe in organic, local, bulk, and fair trade. She’s been driving a hybrid car since 2001, and now a pre-owned plug-in hybrid that gets her everywhere local without any gas (pictured above at the PFC Natural Grocery & Deli’s new charging stations.). She recycles, composts, uses rain barrels, writes to legislators, gives all she can afford to environmental organizations, and is a St. Luke’s Episcopal Church representative to Hope for Creation.



Mary Ann Laurell

I am a long time member of Portage United Church of Christ, and have been actively involved with the Social Concerns Team there since it’s inception in 2019.  PUCC’s recent membership with Hope for Creation allows me to become involved in our community with something that I have been passionate and supported for years.



Cybelle T. Shattuck
My life and work focus on the intersection of religion and environmentalism. At Western Michigan University, I hold a joint position in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Department of Comparative Religion. The position is perfect for a person whose PhD research at the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment explored earth care activities in US faith communities. I also have a MS degree from the U-M with emphases in Environmental Justice, Environmental Psychology, and Conservation Biology, and a MA in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.I decided to dedicate my life to climate action and the need for a just transition to a sustainable society that supports the health and wellbeing of all people after narrowly missing being caught in a tsunami while traveling in India. Until then, I was a lecturer in the Religion programs at WMU and Kalamazoo College, where I helped students develop intercultural understanding. Since shifting fields, I have had the chance to work on climate adaptation resources for Great Lakes communities with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and collaborate with Michigan Interfaith Power and Light on development of the Stewards of Hope program, which helps congregations start green teams and implement sustainability projects.

Hope for Creation is important to me professionally and personally. It provides opportunities to apply “best practices” that emerge from my research to help build a more equitable climate-resilient community. It also keeps me grounded, better able to appreciate complex networks of factors affecting behavior and progress that often get oversimplified by researchers. In my personal life, Hope for Creation sustains me when the magnitude of the climate crisis seems overwhelming. My efforts can seem so small, but fellowship with people of faith who share the vision of a just, healthy, and sustainable community gives me the courage to keep going.In my work at WMU, I strive to help students become knowledgeable and resilient climate justice proponents. I also walk the talk as a member of the WMU Climate Change Working Group, the Asylum Lake Policy and Management Council, the Green Sanctuary Committee at People’s Church of Kalamazoo, the Hope for Creation board, the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition, and a past board member of Michigan Interfaith Power and Light.

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  • Tanai Dawson
    published this page in About 2022-01-15 21:30:33 -0500