A look at one local group's active climate campaign

Patricia L. Skibbee shares the evolution of the Climate Action Project (CAP) and how it is currently taking action to foster environmental stewardship 

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
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Editor’s note: This is one in a continuing series of guest opinions about fostering environmental stewardship. The series is coordinated by ACES, the Alliance of Climate and Environmental Stewards.

Climate Action Project (CAP) is an action committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church/First Religious Society on Pleasant Street in Newburyport.

CAP has been focused on climate change since our inception 10 years ago. We started with a limited mission: convincing the congregation to divest from direct holdings in fossil fuel stock. That process took a year — meeting with the Finance Committee, researching consequences, sharing information on climate change, then known as “global warming”. (This was in the days when many had not even heard of the issue and when those who had thought it might happen “someday.”)

We won that vote.

The ensuing years saw many pot lucks with speakers, letter-writing mornings, work with the Gulf of Maine Institute, or GOMI, holding Climate Cafés bringing teen leaders together with adults to teach the grown-ups about climate, and organizing annual Earth Day Sunday services. In 2020 we wrote an Environmental Policy now formally adopted into First Religious Socieity’s governance structure which requires every action/decision of the church and Young Church curriculum to put environment/climate concerns as a priority. CAP used a MassSave energy analysis of the church building and Parish Hall to significantly reduce energy use via increased insulation and air infiltration blocking measures.

Now it’s hard (maybe impossible) to find anyone who isn’t familiar with the climate issue and who doesn’t realize it’s here with us right now rather than in some foggy distant future.

CAP has moved from informing people to encouraging and taking action: future use of heat pump technologies to further reduce the church’s carbon footprint; member Lance Hidy creating a beautiful graphic printed as a 24” by 24” poster/yard poster with the caption, “Love Our Earth”; our Director of Children’s Ministry, Mara Flynn, with CAP members; and organizing a Climate Justice Rally for Friday, Earth Day, April 22, afternoon at the waterfront park in Newburyport. Students of all ages in the church will make climate-care posters and parade through Market Square to the rally site. Theater in the Open, Imagine Studios, Tinkerhaus, Storm Surge, ACES, PEG Center for Arts and Activism, and Merrimack River Watershed Council are participating. All are welcome!

To prepare, Mary McDonald of Tinkerhaus will host a Community Sign Making on April 9, Saturday, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., at 3 Graf Road, Suite 11, in Newburyport. Again, all are welcome.

Julie Parker Amery, director of Faith Formation and Spiritual Exploration, is presenting “How To Save A Planet” on Thursday evenings continuing through April 14, on environmental/climate issues. Participants listen to a podcast then join virtually via Zoom to discuss.

This year’s Earth Day Sunday service, April 10, welcomes Salem State University professor Dr. Marcos Luna speaking on climate justice and science. In that service will be “A Moment For All Ages,” engaging the children in an environmental awareness activity.

CAP realizes we can’t save the planet by our work alone, but we endeavor to spread not only the word but also the actions, that, taken together, will keep our earth a beautiful and safe home for all of us forever.

This updated column was coordinated by ACES youth corps member, Caleb Bradshaw. To share any comments or questions, please send an email to To learn more about ACES and its Youth Leadership Initiative, visit website

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Patricia L. Skibbee

Pat has been pro-active for the environment throughout her life. A co-founder of the Citizens’ League for Environmental Action Now, a social studies teacher at Triton and co-creator of the Marsh Hike, an active member of the FRS’ Climate Action Project, and Greater NBPT Green Expo leader. She is now combining two loves – education and environment – as the president of C-10 and an advisor for ACES’ Youth Leadership Initiative.

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