The trustees of a progressive Christian seminary voted unanimously Tuesday to start divesting from fossil fuels, claiming that the move shows faith communities’ growing concern over climate change.
Union Theological Seminary in New York City has become the world’s first seminary to take such a staunch stance, ensuring that its more than $108 million endowment no longer invests in fuels critics believe are negatively impacting the environment, according to a press release.
“Scripture tells us that all of the world is God’s precious creation, and our place within it is to care for and respect the health of the whole,” explained Union President Serene Jones. “As a seminary dedicated to social justice, we have a critical call to live out our values in the world.”
She continued, “Climate change poses a catastrophic threat, and as stewards of God’s creation we simply must act.”
Michael Johnson, chair of Union Theological Seminary’s investment committee, added in the release that he believes “climate change is … killing people” and that it is no longer moral to make money off of the production of fossil fuels.
The school will also work to make its campus more environmentally friendly and will head a conference from September 19-21 days before the United Nations’ Climate Summit.
That meeting, titled, “Religions for the Earth,” will include “a dialogue about spirituality and faith based action on climate change” that culminates in an interfaith service.
Here’s a list of the steps that the school will take following the adoption of the resolution:
“We will ask the managers of each of our separately managed accounts to divest of, and not invest in, fossil-fuel companies, just as we have for liquor, tobacco and other industries.
We will ask our valued, highly regarded managers of our commingled funds if the funds’ portfolios include fossil-fuel companies. If so, we will ask for the formation of a fossil-fuel free fund and indicate our desire to consider that refashioned fund.
We will screen those commingled funds which are not central to our portfolio, and, if those funds will not divest of fossil-fuel stocks, we will withdraw from those funds and find some which will.
For any future donors to endowed funds, we will work to provide a fossil-fuel free fund, if they so wish.”
Read the divestment resolution here.
Union is likely the first seminary to divest, but it only one among other religious groups expressing qualms about fossil fuels and climate change.
Consider the fact that the General Synod of the United Church of Christ voted in July 2013 to begin divesting from these companies, as the Huffington Post noted. Others, including Anglicans in New Zealand and Quakers in the United Kingdom, have followed suit.
(H/T: Huffington Post)
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