Dedham church's nativity scene sends powerful message about climate change

DEDHAM, Mass. — A church in Dedham is at it again, using their nativity scene as a way to make a bold political statement.

This year's hot-button theme was climate change.

Father Stephen Josoma, the pastor at St. Susanna Parish, says they set up the nativity scene in such a way to start a conversation.

Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph and other quintissential Biblical figures are depicted surrounded by an encroaching sea of blue. Animals have been submerged and trash, specifically plastic bottles, float along the manger.

A sign above the scene reads, " God so loved the world'...Will we?"

"I think we ought to kind of gather people's awareness to bring about a change of mind and heart to get people to do what we're able to do to take care of this world of ours," said Josoma.

Josoma says the theme for the nativity scene is an important one as global warming affects everyone.

"It's happening as we speak, it's not a future event that may or may not happen," said Josoma.

His parishioners seem to agree.

"Jesus was born into the circumstances of his time," said Pat Ferrone, a parishioner. "You can't pick up the paper or magazine or whatever without knowing, without learning something dire."

Creating political conversations has been a theme at St. Susanna's for the past couple of years.

In 2017, the nativity scene called to mind some of the country's deadliest mass shootings. The manger was surrounded by a list of all the school shootings that have happened across the country along with their death tolls.

Last year, the nativity scene was surrounded by a cage to draw attention to the crisis at the border. The phrase "Peace on Earth" was depicted with a question mark instead of as a statement.

A Methodist church in California has set up a similar nativity scene where Baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph are depicted as refugees in cages. According to the church, the nativity scene is being used to send a message about the Trump administration's separation policies at the U.S. - Mexico border.

However, like with most politically-charged things, the nativity scene doesn't appeal to everyone in the town.

"I don't think it's a good idea to mix those two topics together," said Mike Looby, a Dedham resident. "It's in bad taste."

Nevertheless, Josoma defends the principles that motivate the church to keep pressing on important issues around the world.

"The gospel calls us to action, it calls us to see life in a different way," said Josoma. "It calls us to bring a different set of values into our world."

>> Nativity scene at California church depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph as refugees in cages