Divestment from Fossil Fuels
Looking into divesting your congregation from fossil fuels? See the MACUCC's new divestment portal for UCC churches at FossilFreeUCC.org and explore the MACUCC Resources and Links for Divestment page.
To Jim Antal, Bill McKibben’s August 2012 Rolling Stone Magazine article, “Global Warming's Terrifying New Math” sounded like a trumpet blast from Ezekiel. Jim and Bill had been arrested twice at the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline, and the three days they spent in jail further clarified for Jim that in response to the reality of climate change, God is calling the church to a new vocation.
On Dec. 10, 2012, the Massachusetts Conference Board of Directors voted to bring a Resolution urging divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies
to the General Synod of the United Church of Christ in July, 2013. In early January, Bill McKibben’s article in The Christian Century, "Playing offense: It’s time to divest from the oil industry"
, mentioned our vote and plans. Prior to Synod, ten other conferences voted either to co-sponsor or endorse the resolution.
From the beginning, we wanted this resolution to be a model for other religious groups. We were bold to believe that people of faith actually have the power – in concert with other political and popular forces – to bend the arc of justice.
In the months before Synod, Antal worked with the leaders of United Church Funds to draft some possible amendments to the original resolution that would make it actionable and would even allow UCF to support it. Many of the delegates were both shocked and pleased to learn that Antal had worked with United Church Funds to come up with a mutually agreed upon proposal. In addition to being a moral declaration, this resolution was also a commitment to actions and a process that had teeth.
Once Synod voted to approve the resolution
in addition to the ample coverage by world-wide media (summary here
), Antal began hearing from partners in the struggle to defend God’s creation. Bill McKibben tweeted, “Just got news that the United Church of Christ has voted to divest from fossil fuels. This is incredibly important news!” Then, McKibben wrote in an email to the AP that the UCC vote “may be the most important moment yet in the divestment campaign.” A Nobel Prize laureate and the head of a major Protestant denomination sent their congratulations. And Archbishop Desmond Tutu also sent his congratulations and added, “We hope others will follow your splendid example.”
All of us hope this resolution will become a model for all faith communities who care about God’s creation and recognize the urgent scientific mandate to keep at least 80% of the known oil, gas and coal reserves in the ground. As other denominations vote to divest – joining President Obama in his call to divest (Obama’s full speech here
) – our hope for a sustainable future will begin to take shape.