Hispanic evangelical leaders for the first time are pushing for action on climate change.
Leaders of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the Hispanic version of the National Association of Evangelicals, joined the Evangelical Environmental Network Wednesday to announce their new partnership.
The two organizations plan to meet elected officials in Washington and work together to educate Hispanic churches on creation care, including helping churches learn how to be more energy efficient.
"This is so crucial to us because more than just climate change it is a pro-life issue," said the Rev. Charlie Olmeda, board member of the NHCLC and senior pastor of 3rd Day of Worship in Allentown, Pa., on Wednesday.
Olmeda highlighted that biblical stewardship of the environment is among the seven priorities of the NHCLC. He said the NHCLC has been working on passing comprehensive immigration reform for years, but the organization recently realized that immigration and environmental issues are related.
"We are seeing people migrate to the United States because of the needs they are confronting in their own countries," said the Rev. Efrain Pineda, senior pastor of Centro Cristiano Ministries in Manson, Wash., and a board member of the NHCLC. "A lot of the needs have to do with climate change. Poverty is increasing due to land destroyed and land hurt."
Pineda said Hispanic Christian leaders are hearing in their churches from new immigrants that they are coming to America to seek a better life because their rice field or bean field is not producing.
The NHCLC represents more than 22,000 churches across the nation and 16 million Hispanic born-again Christians.
Olmeda believes that the Hispanic Christian community's large population will make a difference when it comes to climate change advocacy.
"We all know that when it comes to government it is all about numbers," Olmeda said. "And when you represent a large constituency then you have an influence behind the bills that we are looking to see passed."
"So the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Council will begin to disseminate this information among churches and our organizations," he said.
Olmeda said now member Hispanic churches can not only say they believe in good environmental stewardship but through the partnership with EEN they will know how to respond to climate change.