The importance of sustainable resources sparked passion in many commissioners, but particularly in the minds of the Young Adult Advisory Delegates and Theological Student Advisory Delegates, who were standing at least four deep at each of the four microphones when the question was called. Their frustration was voiced later by Rebecca Dix, a TSAD from Pittsburgh Presbytery as she requested that the TSAD voices not be silenced.
One young delegate, Juliann Pond, spoke to the overture by saying that her favorite hymn is They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Love – love for others, self and planet earth. “Planet Earth is an amazing gift from God, and it is not right to continue profiting from companies destroying planet earth. We need to consider if the church is okay with profiting from companies that are destroying planet Earth. It is time to show some love,” she said.
However, not all YAADs were in favor of divesting. Taylor Street, a YAAD from Philadelphia, spoke against divestment “because it causes us to lose our voice and will not help us impact future sustainable energy resources. We need to learn more about this issue before we make this drastic decision to divest.”
Jody Harrington, a commissioner from “deep in the heart of Texas” expressed her frustration with the discussion by reminding the group that these fossil fuels are “the power that lights the hall where we are seated, enabled travel to Detroit, and are companies leading the way in research and seeking alternative forms using their own money. These are the companies you are calling morally repugnant. Is the church ready to characterize this entire industry on which our country runs as repugnant?”
John Vick of Central Florida called the question with this comment: “I came to this General Assembly with high expectations that I would hear great things about what the church is doing in the world. We have spent more time talking about this issue than just about any other. It’s time to call the question.”
Elizabeth Terry Dunning, chairperson of MRTI assured the assembly that the 40 year old committee is committed to social justice as an integral part of the way the church thinks about its investments, its witness, and its stewardship.A Board of Pensions representative reminded the assembly that divesting means the denomination loses any opportunity for meaningful dialogue that will move these companies toward reconciliation of the concerns. She also noted that the balance of the BOP portfolio is $8.5 million. Of these funds, the BOP owns stock in 43 names listed at carbontracker.org and comprises 2.15 percent of the entire portfolio.
After the vote on the overture, Commissioner Walter Jancura attempted to introduce a new motion that would include the recommendation that the General Assembly reduce their own energy consumption and encouraged the commissioners to reduce their own carbon footprint by at least ten percent.
Moderator Heath Rada, with input from Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons, ruled that the motion was out of order but assured Jancura that the General Assembly is already committed to energy efficiency.