WATERFORD — Beginning October 8, the Waterford Congregational Church (WCC) launches a monthly discussion group on how we can take action on climate change. These groups will be held in the Wilkins House Community Center, next door to the church in Waterford, from 6:30 to 8 pm. Each will involve an expert presentation to better understand the issues involved, a facilitated discussion/working group, and a call to action featuring specific steps we can take. The series will be led by the Rev. Doretta Colburn, pastor of WCC, and church Trustee Kerry Johnson.

We are being bombarded almost daily with ways to lessen the impact of climate change. From shorter showers, to meatless meals, to switching over to renewable energy, to changing where we invest our capital. And the lingering questions: Is it enough? Can we really make a difference? Is it hopeless? The answer is YES, we CAN make a difference. And if we commit to changes in how we live, there is hope.

The first session will explore the world view with Dr. Tom Hammett, a Waterford summer resident who is also a Virginia Tech professor of Natural Resources and Environment. He will discuss the impact of climate change across the world with emphasis on the United States and our own State of Maine. He will look at impact on our environment, our economy, immigration and other critical issues and what impact they will have on decisions we as citizens will need to make locally.

Hammett says, “This is an important forum where we as a community can discuss the scope and impacts pf the changes happening in our precious landscape here in the Waterford area, and together identify ways that will help us cope with our common concerns about this evolving situation.”

The second session, on Tuesday, Nov. 12, will center on spiritual and ethical perspectives on climate change—how do our traditions, our faith, and our values inform the role of humans in the care and nurture of the Earth? Then, on Tuesday, December 3, we will hear about the impacts of climate change from those on the frontlines—such as farmers, environmentalists, fishermen—and how they already are influencing our lives.

Further sessions will explore how to encourage more people to get involved in behavioral changes that will impact warming, how to overcome the sense of powerlessness and hopelessness many feel about the challenge of climate change, how to calculate our own carbon footprints, how to better preserve our wildlife, and how to calculate and manage the costs associated with responding to climate change, among others.

The retired Lutheran pastor, the Rev. Elaine Hewes of Blue Hill, ME, said in remarks at a recent climate conference in Blue Hill, “Not having hope is not an excuse for not doing anything.” These conversations are seeking to give us the tools to become active problem-solvers.

Rev. Colburn says that this series fulfills a long-held dream of hers, “All of my 25-year ministry I’ve wanted to do this, to bring the two—the Church and the environment—together. I have always felt that the Church needs to step up to the plate and focus on what stewardship of the Earth really means.” She says the church is extending invitations to neighboring communities and congregations, to environmental groups, and to any interested citizens.

Johnson, with a background in education and management consulting, said the sessions are designed to be “conversational and highly interactive, and that participants will play active roles in setting agendas for succeeding meetings.” He says the goal is “is to inspire individual and collective action that makes a difference in our efforts to leave the planet in a healthier state than we found it. We owe this to our children and our grandchildren.”

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