“For Christians, doing something about climate change is about living out our faith – caring for those who need help, our neighbors here at home or on the other side of the world, and taking responsibility for this planet that God created and entrusted to us.”

— Katharine Hayhoe

The First Church Climate Change Initiative kicked off Phase I in March 2022 with in-depth discussions sessions based on Katharine Hayhoe’s book, Saving Us: A Climate Scientist’s Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World .

We learned how to better communicate the problems and solutions to a Changing Climate and that connecting to what people value can open minds. We also identified potential action items in 5 categories: Climate Education, Church Facilities, Climate Communication, Political Participation, and Spiritual Mission.

The team is now looking for concerned individuals to help evaluate and select actions to implement that will make a difference.  After this initial selection process, we anticipate large and small projects will emerge with corresponding flexibility in commitment.

Check out the project concepts below and if you see somewhere you’d like to help or if you just want to find out more, use the button to connect with the team.

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Climate Education

Our youth will live the results of decisions we make today.   They are aware climate change is bad but schools are not teaching the subject, whether to avoiding politics or teaching to the test (MCAS).  We need to inform our children of the causes and impacts of climate change.

The project concepts below are aimed at preparing our youth for future leadership, give them hope and address a growing climate anxiety among our children.

  • Christian Education: Work with First Church Christian Ed to weave climate change into its education programs.
  • Public Education: Promote secular K-12 climate change curriculum and standardized testing within school systems.
  • Awareness Events: Conduct events focus on creating student dialog on climate impacts, actions, and anxiety.
  • Climate Clubs: Assist schools in forming student clubs to work on projects that address climate change.
  • Climate Careers: Organize career day events and resources focusing on “Green” occupations to which students may aspire.

Church Facilities

In an effort to “practice what we preach” we will assess First Church facilities to implement solutions that reduce our emissions of climate warming carbon dioxide, increase resilience to climate impacts and help our environment through waste reduction and increased recycling.

  • Sustainable Facilities: Conduct climate footprint audit of First Church facilities to identify projects to reduce our carbon footprint. Approved proposals lead to projects for implementation.
  • Consumables Recycling: Conduct an audit of First Church’s use and disposal of recyclables, including food, plastic, paper, and metals. Propose projects to reduce waste and increase recycling.
  • Climate Impact Resilience: Assess First Church facilities structure and systems’ ability to withstand climate impacts from hurricanes, drought, fire, flooding, and heat waves.  Look at ways to serve as a ‘sanctuary’ for the local community during climate disasters.

Political Participation

Late Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill believed “All politics is local.”  Following his advice, we are exploring projects to make our voices heard in perhaps the most consequential climate change arena.

Working locally and regionally, we will channel our efforts to influence policy to address the causes of climate change, lessen impacts already ‘baked in’, and insure climate justice for everyone, both locally and worldwide.

  • Town of Sterling Climate Change Plan: Campaign for Sterling to create a formal process to assess, plan and act to reduce the Town’s carbon footprint and take remedial actions to offset the impacts of climate change on the town and its residents.
  • Legislative Influence: Plug into political efforts of the Worcester Congregations for Climate & Environmental Justice, UU Mass Action, and Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light. Help our community relay their concerns to public officials.

Climate Communication

Katharine Hayhoe believes “The most important thing you can do to fight climate change is to talk about it.” How do you talk to someone who doesn’t believe in climate change? Not by rehashing the same data and facts we’ve been discussing for years.

Hayhoe points out the key to having a real discussion is to connect over shared values like family, community and religion — and to prompt people to realize that they already care about a changing climate. The project concepts below aim to spread the word on climate change by linking personal values to the problem.

  • Dialog Guide: Develop a climate change dialog guide with ‘hooks’ relating the problem to local values. Challenge individuals to discuss climate change with at least 3 people.
  • Carbon Footprint Tips: Create tips on how individuals can combat climate change through personal and community actions. Distribute flyers, newsletters, etc.
  • Eat Pray Learn: Climate Change interactive seminar for the greater Church community with a meal of multiple climate-friendly foods.
  • Internet Media: Develop email lists, newsletters, web pages, blogs, social media, supporting dialog and projects to slow climate change and soften its local impact.

Spiritual Mission

Pope Francis tells us “We are stewards, not masters of our earth. Each of us has a personal responsibility to care for the precious gift of God’s creation.”  We at First Church need to carry this message of our sacred obligation forward through all channels of our spiritual communications.

The climate team projects below will work with our spiritual leaders to integrate God’s call for us to be good stewards of the earth into our daily spiritual conversation.

  • Sunday Sermons: Work with Pastors to present an annual sermon (coinciding with Earth Day) on God’s call for humans to be stewards of Creation and combat climate change. Explore other opportunities to convey our responsibility to be good stewards of the Earth.
  • Spiritual Climate Essay: Write and publish a theological call to action on climate change based on biblical and other religious teachings.
  • Earth Stewardship Covenant: Work with Governance to define a Covenant that recognizes our belief that God has placed his Creation into the Stewardship of Humanity.
  • Pub Theology: Incorporate Climate Change in Pub Theology “Nested Love Project.”

If you would like to participate in any of these projects or just have a question, please contact us by clicking on the button below.

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