By Asher Price, American-Statesmnan.
About 30 regional church districts, or presbyteries, have supported a proposal by the San Francisco Presbytery calling on the Presbyterian Church (USA) to pull out of roughly $200 million in fossil fuel investments.
The presbyteries — there are about 170 overall — representing the oil-rich areas of Houston and Midland have proposed counter-resolutions that acknowledge the ills of climate change but discourage divestment; the Texas groups suggest the church use its shareholder status to improve the practices of energy companies.
The dispute, which will play out at the Presbyterian Church’s biennial assembly next week in Portland, Ore., lays bare another sticking point in a church that has already seen itself divided on such issues as gay marriage.
Citing the “destructive effects of climate change on all God’s creation,” the San Francisco proposal calls for no new investment in fossil fuel companies and selling off the fossil fuel stocks the church currently owns within three years.
The Presbyterian Church’s oil and gas investments represent roughly 2 percent of the organization’s investments overall.
“It’s a moral imperative to say we cannot profit from companies that are destroying creation,” said Susan Chamberlain, a coordinator with Fossil Free PCUSA, an organization pushing the divestment effort.
But a trio of resolutions proposed by the Houston-based New Covenant Presbytery, which is made up of 106 churches in Southeast Texas, and supported by presbyteries in Midland, Dallas, Lubbock, South Louisiana and Oklahoma, say divestment is misguided.