Dear Sisters and Brothers back at Old First,
Below is a letter from the Collegium (the five Executive Ministers of the United Church of Christ) to the Synod Delegates taking a solid stand on the issue of divestment from our investments in oil (a resolution to be considered by the Synod Delegates this week) and, more importantly, challenging us to consider making environmental stewardship a top priority for our collective voice.
I find this very exciting, though it arrived on almost the eve of the Synod — leaving not much time to share locally before the floor debate. I think this is the issue at General Synod that will be most struggled with this year. The investment folks will be concerned….pensions, endowments, all that stuff…..but if we don’t take the stand, what are we saying? We have to lead; it is what the UCC stands for, right?
Anyway…it is good to know that our leadership is tipping their hand, and their platform, before the Synod begins.
There will be likely a lot of energy in the house, given the 3 days of important Supreme Court rulings — some great, others not so good. This is, however, a moment that we must act upon: the tipping point is here, and we must act in faith…
from Long Beach, CA, a delegate to the UCC 29th General Synod
GOD’S VISION: Environmental Responsibility
An Open Letter to the Delegates of the Twenty-ninth General Synod
from the Collegium of Officers
Grace to you, and peace, from our Savior Jesus Christ!
We are keenly aware of the conversations occurring throughout our church regarding how best to move forward boldly and responsibly on the critical issues of climate change and environmental justice which are before you. As your officers, we want to be responsive to the needs of the whole church including those who faithfully advocate for decisive action to save the earth from a disastrous future and those whose investments might be affected by a call for divestment from fossil fuel companies.
We believe that God is calling the United Church of Christ to become the leading religious voice on climate change and environmental racism and, as officers of the
church, this public leadership requires us to state our conviction that our church’s resources not be invested in fossil fuel companies. We state this position not as those who claim to possess all wisdom, but in humble recognition of the complexity of the issues before us. Humility demands that we recognize, among other things:
~ The fiduciary responsibility to invest workers’ pensions in a prudent manner, as well as the assets of churches and faith-based organizations.
~ Divestment is only one strategy for applying economic leverage. Positive investment and corporate engagement are also viable strategies.
~ The global south is most impacted by climate change, and we have not had dialogue with our global partners on fossil fuel divestment.
Recognition of complexity does not negate the calling of the Stillspeaking God to decisive action. Scripture says that creation itself longs to be set free from decay (Romans 8:21); we must respond to that longing in light of current realities.
Accordingly, we call for a multi-pronged approach to the environmental crisis upon us:
1. Building upon the momentum of Mission 4/1 Earth, we commit to facilitating church-wide conversations on the environment and faithful, decisive actions to protect it.
2. We commit to engagement with our global partners on a variety of environmental issues, including climate change.
3. We call for shared decision-making across the life of the church on positive investments in renewable energies and the removal of investments from fossil fuel companies.
4. We will resource the church on issues of environmental racism and lead the way in advocacy.
5. We call for aggressive shareholder action to ensure that corporations operate in environmentally responsible ways.
6. We call for “green fund” investment options so that each of us, across the life of the church, can be called to thoughtful and informed decision-making about how our personal and institutional resources are invested.
Roy Tillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil, said recently in Cleveland, “Climate change is a serious and complex problem that society may not be able to fix and will just have to deal with.” As officers of the United Church of Christ, we respond by saying that climate change is a serious and complex problem that God calls the church and all humanity to address boldly and faithfully.
We fully trust that God’s Vision will prevail as we work together as the UNITED Church of Christ toward a just and sustainable world as made manifest in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, General Minister and President
Mr. W. Mark Clark, Associate General Minister
The Rev. J. Bennett Guess, Executive Minister, Local Church Ministries
The Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, Executive Minister, Justice and Witness Ministries
The Rev. James Moos, Executive Minister, Wider Church Ministries