On Thursday, Jan. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Belfast Free Library, the Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition will offer “Ecological Crisis, Religion and Human-Earth Relations — Challenges and Opportunities.” The presenter will be the Rev. Martha G. Kirkpatrick, rector of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Belfast.

“In face of unprecedented assaults on our environment,” Kirkpatrick said, “the religions of the world are re-examining their attitudes and values toward nature.” The talk will briefly examine the basic tenets of the world’s religions that reflect attitudes toward nature and discuss challenges and opportunities for making common cause for earth care. The meeting is free, open to the public and light refreshments will be served.

A native of Maine, Kirkpatrick grew up and attended schools in Portland. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa with highest honors from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., where she majored in history and government. In 1981, she earned the Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., again with honors.

Focusing on environmental law, Kirkpatrick began her legal career with the Conservation Law Foundation in Boston as a pro bono attorney, specializing in water use, protection of wetlands, oversight and leasing rights in Georges Bank, and management of coastal zones.

From 1984 to 1991, she held various positions with the EPA in Washington, assisting in the drafting of legislation and working on the 1991 reauthorization of the Clean Water Act. In 1991, she returned to Maine to become director of Maine DEP’s Bureau of Land and Water Quality. From 1999 to 2003 she served as DEP Commissioner.

Changing her career path to enter the ministry, Kirkpatrick graduated from Harvard Divinity School in 2007 and was ordained later that year. Her master’s thesis concentrated on “incarnational ecology,” a growing field of theological scholarship. Moving from scripture and tradition towards the ethics of common cause, she addressed planetary crisis as a challenge to the church.

For the past two years, Kirkpatrick had been assistant rector of Grace Episcopal Church, Bath and also served as the environmental stewardship officer for the Episcopal Diocese of Maine.

The Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition is a group of individuals working to support conservation and stewardship of natural, scenic, historic and public access resources in the watershed through research, community-building and education.