In the first pages of Genesis, God gives Adam and Eve one of the central commandments: to take care and establish dominion from each large animal to the smallest speck of soil. For alumnus and current theology graduate student at Canadian Mennonite University Justin Eisinga, this profound partnership between theology and the environment has been at the forefront of his mind for quite some time.
“One of my interests, research-wise, has been ecology and theology, which comes out of my experience in Indigenous circles and learning from theologians who are working to reconcile the relationship between Indigenous people and the church,” says Eisinga. “That would be the main source, people who’ve taught me that we need to find resources within the Christian tradition to restore our relationship with the land.”
Eisinga’s passion led him to A Rocha Canada, a Christian organization that seeks to show God’s love for creation through scientific research, conservation, environmental education and sustainable agriculture. On Earth Day 2020, after they became Climate Smart certified, CMU partnered with A Rocha to implement a composting initiative to reduce waste buildup in landfills, thereby inhibiting the release of methane in the atmosphere. Due to his established relationship with A Rocha, Eisinga has been tasked with spearheading the project.
“Redeemer did a good job of helping me develop that vocabulary and the lens through which I now see.”
“My role started as the compost coordinator, but I’ve transitioned into working on sustainability projects for the university into the winter and next year,” he explains.
All composted material will be used as fertilizer for CMU’s farming collective, Metanoia Farmers, along with campus landscaping and staff and student community gardens.
“Long term, the vision is that the project will be integrated into CMU’s academic and community programming. Hopefully, CMU becomes even more of a place of learning and relationship-building not just between people, but people and the earth. We’d also like it to become a student-run initiative, which will benefit students on campus by giving them the opportunity to learn and work.”
As he strategizes different ways to help the project mature and grow, Eisinga looks back on his time at Redeemer as the starting point of his distinct goals and worldview.
“I was given a holistic vision of what God’s plan for creation really is. Redeemer did a good job of helping me develop that vocabulary and the lens through which I now see.”