Chuck Cram, pastor of the Aspen Community United Methodist Church, is carrying a new message today: Global warming is happening and it's time to do something about it.
Cram has joined Al Gore's army of presenters for the "Answer the Call" program, a multi-media presentation based on Gore's book and 2006 film "An Inconvenient Truth."
After attending a Jan. 4-6 training session in Nashville, Tenn., Cram, along with 200 other trainees, is now qualified to present a version of Gore's computer-based slide show.
"I'm very excited and I want to get out and make some presentations, talk to people, field their questions and do what I can," Cram said.
While researching for a sermon on environmentalism in October, Cram stumbled across Gore's website www.theclimateproject.org . He saw the call for volunteers, applied and was accepted in December. The cost of the trip to Nashville came out of his pocket, he said, with a little help from the church.
"It was really an inspiring event," Cram said of Gore's training program. And Cram was humbled by his fellow trainees who ranged from NASA scientists, to professors, to business owners and other clergy members.
"The bios on these people were amazing. I didn't fit in," he joked.
Gore welcomed the group on opening night and walked trainees through the slide show on the second day. One of Gore's science advisors answered questions.
"We really learned a lot about the research and the vetting of the information," Cram said.
"Within the scientific community there isn't any debate about global warming," Cram said. Any doubt about global warming comes from the media and the influence of large oil companies, Cram said. He called the misleading information "inexcusable."
And Cram is frustrated by members of the religious right who spread the wrong message about global warming. He hopes his church will be on the leading edge of environmental action, and he sees his work spreading the message about climate change as an important part of that.
"There isn't anything more important than being good stewards of God's creation," the pastor said. "That's pretty basic."
There is no silver bullet to the problem of climate change, Cram said, but there is what he called "silver buckshot," or lots of small ways people can make a difference.
"Get involved, think about your house and your vehicle," he recommends. People can make use of existing technology to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. By using efficient light bulbs, driving efficient vehicles, avoiding idling auto engines - a host of "little tiny things" - people can make a difference.
"It's very hopeful. We still need to convince a lot of people that there is a problem, and that's kind of what the first part of the message is about. And then we get into what we can do and how we respond to this problem," Cram said.
Cram called the former U.S. vice president "very accessible." Cram expected little more than a cameo during the training from the former U.S. vice president, but Gore spent a lot of time with trainees. Cram called Gore "very accessible."
"He doesn't put on airs," Cram said, and added Gore has a great sense of humor.
Cram is ready to schedule presentations of "Answer the Call" in the Roaring Fork Valley. He offers 20-, 40- and 60-minute versions of the slide show. Cram cannot accept a fee to give the presentation, but said it is reasonable for individuals or organizations to cover his travel expenses. He plans to hold the first presentation in coming weeks at the Aspen Community Church.
To arrange a presentation, contact Cram at the church at 925-1571, by cell phone at 319-0458, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charles Agar's e-mail address is email@example.com.