For Ehret Nottingham, creation care has always been a part of a well-lived life.
His first memories are of exploring the outdoors, and as a high school senior, he’s still affected by the world around him. “In Colorado, I’ve seen the impact humans have on our environment,” Nottingham says. “It’s a beautiful area, but we also face damaging challenges like fracking and urban sprawl. It’s a very visual contrast here.”
Nottingham applied his passion for creation by leading a school walkout and climate rally on March 16. The Fort Collins event was part of the global Youth Climate Strike. More than 1.4 million students participated in over 100 countries.
The protest was an educational experience for Nottingham. Youth leaders learned how to organize effectively, working with school and city leaders to obtain permits and recruit speakers. Students developed skills like graphic design and public speaking.
“My favorite critique we got was ‘stay in school,’” remembers Nottingham. “If we wait until we’re more educated and have credentials, then it will be too late to make the changes our climate needs.”
Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri, associate minister of Green Chalice agrees. “We’ll need significant systemic efforts to enable a livable planet into the next 100 years…May we be in solidarity with our youth as an expression of our love for God and our neighbors.”
An important piece of these systemic efforts is leadership development, an identified priority of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Nottingham’s leadership has certainly been supported and encouraged by Heart of the Rockies Christian Church (in the Central Rocky Mountain region), where he is an active member.
Invited to preach on Youth Sunday, he chose to reflect on his favorite Scripture, James 2:14-18. Associate Minister Rev. Daniel Lyvers says Nottingham’s sermon “reminded us that God’s love is made known through what we do, and how we act in relationship with each other and God’s creation.”
“Ehret has such a vision for what the Church can and should be, and young folks like him give me so much hope,” celebrates Lyvers. “My prayer is that we allow ourselves to pay attention to the truth – that God is shaking things up through young people like Ehret, and I pray that we, as churches, continue to offer space for our youth to challenge, inspire, and lead us in creating community in the way God envisions.”
For Nottingham, activism is a natural expression of his faith. He encourages other students to get active in their communities, be early supporters of new opportunities, and “disregard the scary ‘what if’s’ when you start something new.”
“This protest was not the end of the line or the culmination of the movement – it’s the beginning. When you go home after church, you don’t forget what you learned – you keep working on it.”