David Onnekink appointed as Professor

David Onnekinkhas been appointed as professor by special appointment at the Martine Vonk Chair for Christian Ecological Thinking as of January 1st, 2024. Dr. Martine Vonk (1974-2019) was committed to Christian ecological thinking and action and the Martine Vonk Foundation wants to build on her ideas, so that caring for creation becomes self-evident for Christians. To this end, the foundation collaborates with the Theological University of Utrecht, where there is already one minor in Ecological Theology .

The aim of the new chair is the study, development and stimulation of Christian ecological thinking. This concerns an appointment of 0.6 FTE for a period of five years. The chair comes from the Martine Vonk Foundation and is located at the Theological University of Utrecht. The chair will be embedded in the university’s education and research program. Especially in the Netherlands, ecological theology is still in its infancy and as a discipline needs a boost. In addition, churches, schools and social organizations need a thorough reflection on the relationship between God, man and creation.

Protestantism and ecology

David Onnekink (1971) is a historian and associate professor and education director at the Department of History and Art History at Utrecht University. His current research focuses on the relationship between Protestantism and ecology. He is particularly interested in the history and current affairs of missions and ecology from the Reformation to the present. He has several public and conference lectures, publications and research on missions and ecology to his name and he has experience in education at all levels. He has been a visiting professor in Edinburgh, Los Angeles, Williamsburg (Virginia) and Tokyo. In 2022 he was lecturer of the year at Utrecht University.

“Utrecht Theological University is pleased with this appointment because in David Onnekink we have an exceptionally gifted researcher and teacher. Based on his acquired expertise, Onnekink can make an important contribution to filling this chair. An added bonus is that he is affiliated with Utrecht University, which fits well with our vision of working together in the Utrecht context,” says Pim Boven, chairman of the Executive Board.

The Martine Vonk Foundation is also enthusiastic about the appointment. Chairman Theanne Boer: “David Onnekink has been studying the attitude of Christians towards nature for a long time, both in the Netherlands and in mission and development work. He combines his historical knowledge with current research into the sustainability of churches and Christian organizations. Together with theologians from the Theological University, Onnekink will work on further thinking through issues at the intersection of ecology, climate justice and theology. The Martine Vonkle Chair can therefore contribute to the social and scientific debate and to the substantive conversation in the churches about this urgent theme.”

The West dealing with creation

Dr. David Onnekink: “Many Christians are concerned about climate change and the loss of biodiversity. Christian culture and history provide numerous stories, images and attitudes that are necessary to understand Western dealings with creation. My current research focuses on missionary and diaconal organizations from the early modern period to the present: they played an important role in thinking about nature and climate in the countries where they were and still are active. This is in line with the ideas of Martine Vonk, who emphasized that the Netherlands is connected to nature worldwide and people in the global South. The Theological University of Utrecht is a fantastic environment to research this because of its expertise in the field of church history, systematic theology and missiology. With the Martine Vonk Foundation I am looking for collaboration with churches, schools and social organizations in the Netherlands.”

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