“This gathering today is to affirm that God has gifted us in many ways, one of which is a good mind to figure out how things are going,” said Bob Coleman, the chief programming minister of the Riverside Church in New York City. “It’s not so much an embrace of science, but an acknowledgement that science is a part of us, it’s a part of our own living every day.”

With record-breaking global temperatures in 2012, severe droughts and several storms and hurricanes on the East Coast, some members of the American clergy are saying that human decisions that contribute to the extreme weather associated with climate change can no longer be left in the hands of politicians.

Promoting an awareness of climate change and the role of humans as stewards of the earth has become a popular theme among progressive religious congregations. Even the climate skeptics in their ranks, some said, are starting to realize that something strange is going on. A “pray-in” at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church and a subsequent march to the White House, which was blocked by bleachers as workers swarmed about setting up for the inaugural parade, was timed for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. The civil rights leader’s face was on banners, and his name was evoked repeatedly throughout the event.

Some participants described environmental activism as an extension of the work that King did to advance civil rights and economic justice, especially given the correlation between poverty and pollution.