ELKHART, Ind. (Mennonite Church USA) — Mennonite Church USA Executive Board staff has named Karla Stoltzfus Detweiler as the new climate justice coordinator. She began the half-time position on September 5, 2023, working remotely as part of MC USA’s Transformative Peacemaking department, reporting to the denominational minister for Peace and Justice. The new position is among the recent actions to strengthen MC USA’s climate justice initiatives. Stoltzfus Detweiler holds a Master of Divinity degree in theological studies with an emphasis in ecological theology and ethics from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS), Elkhart, Indiana.
“I am thrilled that Karla has joined our team as the climate justice coordinator,” said Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, denominational minister for Peace and Justice. “Her vast experience as a pastor, whose deep joy and passion is to connect her Christian spirituality and climate justice, is what we need to expand and shape a ministry of creation care for our denomination.” As an ordained minister, Stoltzfus Detweiler served 12 years as pastor of Christian Formation at First Mennonite Church, Iowa City, Iowa.
In her previous position, Stoltzfus Detweiler served as executive director for Hungry World Farm, Tiskilwa, Illinois, a non-profit organization that focuses on educating, inspiring and connecting people around ideas of food, agriculture and caring for the earth.
“I have felt like creation speaks since childhood and I feel this connection with holiness when I’m outside and working the soil and with animals,” said Stoltzfus Detweiler. “I have this sense of care and love for creation and a sense of connectedness with God through creation.”
During her time as a graduate student at AMBS in the early 2000s, Stoltzfus Detweiler chose to focus her independent study on creating a curriculum around the topics of creation care and stewardship, at a time when climate justice was a relatively new concept within the church. “I created an independent study because there were no [creation care] classes [available] at that time. [I worked] with Luke Gascho, who was the director of Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center and my advisor for my independent study. The end project was a course syllabus and identifying texts that could be used for a class on creation care theology and ethics.”
Stoltzfus Detweiler has served in various roles and volunteer positions, including as a community garden organizer for Mennonite Voluntary Service, Topeka, Kansas, Mennonite Creation Care Network council member and aboriginal neighbors garden volunteer for Mennonite Central Committee in Saskatchewan, Canada.
Stoltzfus Detweiler said, “I enjoy engaging congregations, and I am looking forward to helping make resources available to people of all ages.
“I hope to help people move from a place of despair or fear or apathy to a place of hope and engagement because that’s what the message of our faith is, resurrection. Though we go through struggles and suffer, God suffers with us and brings new life; it is our calling to participate in that. That’s the story of Jesus, and it’s our story within the context of climate and of how we live in relationship with creation,” said Stoltzfus Detweiler.
Learn more about MC USA’s climate justice work during a webinar with Lorraine Stutzman Amstutz, Karla Stoltzfus Detweiler and Jennifer Halteman Schrock, former director of the Mennonite Creation Care Network on Sept. 19, 2023 at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT. Register here: https://MCUSA.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_TuvrgsfMQ0irOoUsTvvN6g
Read more about MC USA’s climate justice initiatives here: https://www.mennoniteusa.org/news/mccn/
By Christle Hain
Mennonite Church USA is an Anabaptist Christian denomination, founded in 2002, and a recognized peace church. Members seek to follow Jesus by rejecting violence and resisting injustice. MC USA’s Renewed Commitments state the following shared commitments among its diverse body of believers: to follow Jesus, witness to God’s peace and experience the transformation of the Holy Spirit. MC USA is comprised of 15 area conferences and more than 470 congregations across the United States. MC USA is part of Mennonite World Conference, a global faith family that includes churches in 60 countries. Mennoniteusa.org