By Kermit M. Hovey, Jr.

As we enter the winter holiday season, many of us take stock of our lives and the traditions and values that sustain and inspire us. Among them, I offer and consider “Faith, Hope, and Climate Action.” This phrase parallels and paraphrases the more common, “Faith, Hope, and Love.” It calls to mind virtues widely appreciated beyond its Christian roots. To have faith during the present, to hope for the future, and to exercise both with love undergirds and sustains many of us regardless of religion or ideology. All the more so for those of us who strive to care for creation, protect the environment, and restore the climate for the sake of a livable world.

Of course, I don’t pose climate action as a direct synonym or replacement for love. Rather, climate action exemplifies love. Climate action to mitigate, stop, and reverse the tragic consequences of the unfolding climate crisis expresses love and care for all. Few other ways allow us to love more fully. If we claim to love others, we can’t help but want people to survive and thrive in a livable world and to do what we can to make that possible.

Not surprisingly, we found expressions of faith, hope, and climate action at the 28th global conference on climate change. Over 70,000 concerned individuals, including representatives of organizations, businesses, and governments, gathered to grapple with this critical issue from November 30 to December 12. The 2023 Conference of Parties to the United Nations Climate Change ConferenceCOP28 for short — stands out as especially urgent, especially pregnant with possibility, and especially fraught with peril.

We confront a challenge never larger, critical deadlines never nearer, available technologies and strategies never more numerous or effective, and the risk of special interests deflecting and derailing timely action never more threatening.

So perhaps we should not be surprised at this historic first. As if recognizing the need for a miraculous sized collection of major breakthroughs and substantial agreements, COP organizers set up, for the first time ever, a Faith Pavilion.

The COP28 Faith Pavilion vision declares: “ In response to the growing climate crisis, faith communities are coming together to host the first-ever Faith Pavilion at COP28. It brings together a wide range of stakeholders to call for urgent action, inspire the world with solutions, and demonstrate the pivotal role of faith communities in tackling the climate crisis in support of people and the planet.”

You probably did not attend, and so you can at least express gratitude for two things. One, through the miracle of the internet, people were able to experience livestreams from the Faith Pavilion, along with other resources, at Two, thanks to the huge diversity of people at COP28, we likely share membership in communities and traditions with those who were there. Whether defined by geography, world view, religion, language, or more, people there represented us with faith, hope, and love through climate action.

For one example, those of us with roots in Wisconsin broadly (or more specifically, in the town of Middleton) share roots with Heather Phelps. This widely traveled and environmentally engaged woman traversed 10 time zones to participate in the Christian Climate Observers Program (CCOP) at this year’s conference.

Heather joined a small, dedicated, non-denominational Christian presence advocating for God’s creation as well as learning how to observe and witness from a Christian and missional perspective. CCOP sponsoring partners include the locally based Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassadors (WCCA).

Hear about Heather’s experiences and insights from her work in Dubai at 350 Wisconsin’s monthly meeting on January 8, titled “Witnessing Global Climate Action at COP28.” The meeting will run from 7:00 to 8:10pm on zoom. You can learn more and register here.

With faith, hope, and love, may we appreciate, learn from, support, and encourage those taking climate action in ways, times, and places we can’t. May we each find ways to exercise faith, hope, and climate action, whether on our own or with others. We may need a miracle to get everything done that needs to be done, but it’s a miracle we can participate in.

Among other things, Kermit Hovey is a Citizens’ Climate Lobbyist, Wisconsin Creation Care Ambassador, Faiths Connect for Climate Action organizer, 350 Wisconsin Climate Advocate, and Middleton Sustainability Committee Vice Chair.

An earlier version of this post appeared in the Middleton Times Tribune.