Wayland Baptist University champions Creation Care initiative

November 17, 2011

PLAINVIEW – For Dr. Herbert Grover, caring for the environment is more than a topic for classroom discussion, it is a way of life. Since joining the Wayland faculty in 2008, Dr. Grover, along with other faculty, staff and administrators, has spirited a campaign to lead Wayland to be more conscientious regarding the environment and conservation of natural resources.

Over the past few years, Wayland has taken steps to reduce its carbon footprint by retrofitting lighting with more energy-efficient units, as well as using energy-efficient construction materials with all new construction, and starting a recycling program. Groups on campus have also started community clean-up projects as well as a community garden that has benefitted Faith in Sharing House, a local charity that supplies food to needy families.

The Wayland administration has included creation care in the school’s strategic plan, calling for more conservative use of resources. An environmental science field of study has been added to the curriculum, and other academic schools are working across disciplines to determine how their fields can benefit creation care.

“I think (Creation Care) is obviously pretty important,” Grover said. “I don’t think it is necessarily an issue that needs to displace all of the other important issues in the world, but I think it needs to receive the same kind of attention.”

Part of Wayland’s strategic plan calls for a Creation Care Day to be held at the school each year, beginning on the Plainview campus and eventually spreading to the university’s external campuses. The special day is to emphasize the importance of caring for the environment and its natural resources. This fall the school planned to hold its first Creation Care Day and get a feel for how the event would be accepted. Led by Dr. Grover, dean of the School of Math and Sciences, Wayland’s Creation Care Day, originally scheduled for Nov. 9, turned into an entire week of projects.

“I was very pleased,” Grover said. “This was our first shot and it evolved into a week-long event instead of a single day.”

Creation Care Week was highlighted by Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, a climatologist who works at Texas Tech University. Her research has been used to help develop state and federal policies. It has been presented before congress and she has been featured by various news organizations including Fox News’ "O’Reilly Factor" and the BBC.

Hayhoe spoke at chapel, participated in a question and answer session and offered a brief seminar concerning future projections for West Texas. She pointed to research that shows the climate is definitely changing, resulting in more extreme weather. Hayhoe said much of the change is due to greenhouse gasses that surround the earth. She said the United States produces 30 percent of the world’s greenhouse gasses. Yet while the developed countries produce the gasses, it is the undeveloped countries that suffer most from the climate extremes as they are less prepared to deal with the changes.

“This is more important to the mission field than we sometimes recognize,” Grover said. “The people who suffer from unwise use of natural resources are usually the poorest people. If we can help people understand the consequences of those actions, their circumstance will improve.”

To close out the week, Wayland teamed up with the City of Plainview, Pitch-In Plainview, local 4-H members and Wayland’s Students in Free Enterprise to hold an electronics recycling project. SIMS recycling parked a truck on the Wayland campus and community members were encouraged to drop off their old computers and other electronic devices for proper disposal. The group filled 17 large crates that typically average around 400 pounds when full. Grover said they collected somewhere between 3 and 4 tons of electronics.

Other groups also worked at various projects. The WBU Geological Society held its annual Running Water Draw clean-up, picking up trash along the draw that runs through Plainview. The local chapter of the Mathematical Association of America raked leaves as a fundraiser, not only cleaning up people’s yards, but collecting the leaves to be used as mulch for the community garden.

While these projects benefitted the community and those involved, creation care can be overwhelming to those who look at the big picture and wonder how their one small action can have any impact on a global scale. Grover said the importance of creation care goes way beyond the impact.

“It basically has to do with your attitude toward the Creator,” Grover said. “If we know something we are doing is degrading the quality of creation, what justification do we have for doing it? If there is an alternative that is positive, then do that which is positive.”