First Christian Denomination Votes to Divest from Fossil Fuel, Hopes to be Model for Others

UCC pastor Jim Antal at White House
UCC pastor Jim Antal at White House

The United Church of Christ, a reformed Protestant denomination of with more than 5,200 congregations and one million members, voted yesterday to divest from fossil fuel companies as a step toward serious action to combat climate change. They are the first church body in the world and the first national body of any kind to call for divestment from fossil fuel companies as a way of addressing climate change.

[This report is compiled from several news sources.]

“This resolution seeks to use movement toward divestment to increase awareness of the damage to our environment and to create public pressure on fossil fuel companies to leave 80 percent of fossil fuel reserves in the ground,” UCC pastor Vicki Kemper said at the annual meeting of the Massachusettes UCC region that sent the resolution to the General Synod. “That’s right – we’re essentially asking them to walk away from $20 trillion in resources.”

Kemper acknowledged that if all religious groups and colleges and universities – where the divestment movement began – divested, only 2 percent of fossil fuel stock would be impacted. But, she said: “The only power we have in this challenge is the moral, spiritual power to revoke the social licenses of these companies to continue to profit from wrecking the earth. The question is – will we exercise that power?”

According to the news report: The resolution, brought by the Massachusetts Conference and backed by 10 other conferences, calls for enhanced shareholder engagement in fossil fuel companies, an intensive search for fossil fuel-free investment vehicles and the identification of “best in class” fossil fuel companies by General Synod 2015.

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Catch the Vision: Tar Sands Protest Art

Day 1: Sixty-five arrested. Locals were released by 8 p.m. Out-of-towners held in D.C. jail until Monday morning arraignment. The D.C. police seem to want to make an example of the first group in order to discourage the next 13 days of sustained protest.

What we know is that the small but real sacrifice of these few to be held over the weekend will be joined by hundreds of others. In determined peaceableness, we will flood the streets. We will raise the banners. We will fill the jails. Because we can not do otherwise. The cost of inaction is simply too high.

Some highlights from Saturday: Jim Antal, former head of Fellowship of Reconciliation and now president of the Massachussetts Conference of the United Church of Christ was arrested. Kristy Powell, originator of the One Dress Protest, was arrested. Lt. Dan Choi, leader of the protest against the former military policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”, was arrested. Fr. Jim Noonan, Maryknoll Catholic priest, who spent years in Cambodia under Pol Pot serving AIDS patients was arrested.