Fossil Free PCUSA

Group urges Presbyterians to learn about, discuss climate change; divest from fossil fuel companies

August 16, 2013


This weekend, Presbyterians and others interested in learning more about climate change and fossil fuels will gather in Knoxville, Tenn., for worship, education and small group discussions.

The event is organized by members of First Presbyterian Church of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Fossil Free PCUSA, a group calling for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to immediately stop investing in fossil fuel companies and to divest from all current holdings in the next five years.

“How can we as a denomination have a vested interest in a conversation about climate change if we’re not divested?” said Dan Terpstra, ruling elder at First Presbyterian.

The PC(USA) has already divested from industries like tobacco, alcohol and gambling, Terpstra said. Like these industries, the fossil fuel industry is one whose entire business model should not be supported by the church.

“From a Christian perspective, this becomes an issue of cross-generational justice,” Terpstra said.

Today, economically poor countries suffer the most from climate change. In the future, generations to come will feel the negative effects of climate change.

The goal of this weekend’s event is to raise awareness about the effects of climate change and to get people talking. Eventually, Fossil Free PCUSA wants presbyteries to pass the divestment overture so that it can be brought to the 221 General Assembly in 2014.

At least three congregations — in Boston, Palo Alto, Calif., and Oak Ridge — have already approved the overture.

“This is a really critical topic that we need to talk about as a denomination,” Terpstra said.

 After an ecumenical worship service, participants will dine on a 100-mile potluck, which will feature ingredients from within a 100-mile radius of Oak Ridge. The day will conclude with a lecture by Bill McKibben, a well-known author, educator and environmentalist. McKibben will also lead a small-group discussion about strategies and the moral and ethical perspectives on divestment.

  1. Instead of divesting as an act of protest how about quit using everything associated with fossil fuels. For those that propose to divest I suggest trying several months not using anything fossil fuel is used in. Your transportation, clothing, medications etc will be severely changed. Until you can change your life habits to show others it is possible and these are acceptable life style changes to your (our) current way of life then any overture makes no sense. If the goal is to quit using fossil fuels then show us what that looks like. The fact is the fossil fuel producers would be no more if there were no consumers.

    by Kerry Pollard

    January 28, 2014

  2. Actually, the safe thing for the PC(USA) to do in divest from EVERYTHING, for fear of supporting the latest politically correct no-no. For instance, the PC(USA) needs to raise awareness about the effects of stray dogs on migrant left-handed workers. Clearly the investment in dog-food companies has helped bring about this calamity.

    by Carolyn George

    August 21, 2013

  3. Not support fossil fuels!!! Just come on and take away all our income. You send the money to support our families and our children. All the work in our area is all fossil fuel. HMMM.... maybe I should stop supporting the Presbyterian Church USA!

    by Mary Campbell

    August 20, 2013

  4. Has Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) been approached about this matter of divestment from fossil fuel companies? If so, what has been MRTI's response?

    by Dan Schomer

    August 19, 2013

  5. I for one believe climate change is one of the things the Lord takes care of, along with creating solar systems and monitoring the timing of the tides. Certainly there must be other topics that are more critical to involved Christians today.

    by Fred Burkey

    August 18, 2013

  6. Oh good grief. These resources are here for our use. Come frack in my living room if you want, as long as I am fairly compensated. There are old and new gas wells all over my area, and guess what? NO PROBLEMS.

    by Karen Hudson

    August 18, 2013

  7. I agree with divestment. But I believe there's another factor very nearly as important, and at least equal to the use of fossil fuels in transportation: industrial farming of animals. Yes, there is the significant issue of violent animal abuse, but the issues that relate to climate control & related concerns include: -deforestation to grow feed crops -air, land, & water pollution from excretio -related oissues of glonal hunger, antibiotic resistance, hormone "pollution," human spiritual & emotional suffering, and new human diseases caused by ecposure in slaughterhouses. So as we pursue divestment, we should also seek to end the large-scale industrialized production of feed animals and grain for their food, seeking instead to favor agriculture fovused on plant-based human diets to address hunger worldwide and several chronic illnesses of our North American society. This should be a two-pronged effort.

    by Robin Lostetter

    August 16, 2013

  8. I certainly hope PCUSA takes a thoughtful, prayerful approach and not conduct a knee-jerk reaction and divest from oil the companies in haste. However, given past performance, the tone of the article and Mr. McKibben as speaker, I some how doubt it.

    by c. e.

    August 16, 2013

  9. Sure am glad the PMA is highly focused on politics as unfortunately is PDA rather than the sufferers from such things as Hurricane Sandy where PDA has completely dropped the ball with their new 'model' of operation---only establishing the hospitality sites without ever visiting or providing oversight where 'the rubber meets the road' for those still suffering!

    by dana gilmour

    August 16, 2013