I want to write to you today about Overture 09-01 from San Francisco Presbytery, “On PC(USA) Fossil Fuel Divestment.” PEC has supported this overture from the beginning of its predecessor and several of us on the PEC Steering Committee have also worked on the Fossil Free PCUSA Steering Committee.
The overture and the work of Fossil Free PCUSA calls our denomination to do four things:
1. Express its profound concern about the destructive effects of climate change on all God’s creation and divest from fossil fuels even as we reduce our use of fossil fuels and shrink our carbon footprint.
2. Call upon the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Foundation to immediately stop new investments in fossil fuel companies, and within three years, divest from the fossil fuel companies identified in the Carbon Underground 200 list.
3. Call upon the Stated Clerk to inform affected companies of this action.
4. Call upon all levels of the denomination (presbyteries, congregations, and individual members) in taking action to slow climate change.
You can read the full text of the overture.
Divestment is a way for we people of faith to act out our theology. We believe that caring for creation is an integral part of who God calls us to be. We can’t care for creation well if we are invested in companies that destroy creation as part of their business model. We are called to be prophetic models of change, so we must model what it means to put our treasure where our hearts are.
Where we put our money defines us and has great power. That power is why it matters what we buy at the supermarket (buying organic and local food creates greater demand for more organic and local food), why it matters what kinds of cars we buy (buying less gas for a hybrid vehicle creates less demand for fossil fuels), and why it matters what products we fill our lives with (even changing to recycled toilet paper changes demand for paper!) Where we put our money shows where our hearts are.
And so it matters where we put our investments—how we make money is a symbol for who we are as people who follow Jesus, people who are called to love with our whole selves. If we make money from fossil fuel companies, it doesn’t matter if we put that money back into local food or hybrid cars or recycled paper—it’s money that comes from companies that burn fossil fuels and wreak havoc on the planet. That’s why divestment needs to be part of our response to climate change.
But divestment from fossil fuels has never just been about money. It’s also a way to change society and speak up against the destruction of God’s good earth. So, if you’re a commissioner at General Assembly, please support this overture to divest from fossil fuels.
Fossil Free PCUSA will be joining PEC at General Assembly—we’ll even be together in the exhibit hall in Booths 208 and 210.
Vice Moderator of PEC and member of FFPCUSA Steering Comittee
Abby Mohaupt is an eco-feminist theologian and ordained PC(USA) teaching elder inNorthern California. She holds a Master of Divinity and a Master of Theology from McCormick Theological Seminary. She currently serves as the Faith Community Liaison and Volunteer Coordinator of Puente de la Costa Sur in Pescadero, CA, a resource center for farmworkers and families.