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Presbyterians urged to stand up to power, pass overture on fossil fuel divestment at Earth Care luncheon

June 18, 2014

Rebecca Barnes speaks at the Presbyterians for Earth Care Luncheon at the 221st General Assembly (2014) in Detroit, MI on Tuesday, June 17, 2014.

Rebecca Barnes speaks at the Presbyterians for Earth Care Luncheon at the 221st General Assembly (2014) in Detroit, MI on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. —Michael Whitman

Author and educator Bill McKibben made a video plea to those gathered Tuesday for the Presbyterians for Earth Care luncheon, urging them to stand up to power.

“Standing up to power is what we are called upon to do as Christians,” McKibben said in a six-minute video. “I know it can be tough to convince others, especially Christian communities, which tend to be conflict averse. There are times we are called to stand up to power, and there are no greater powers and principalities than those who derive wealth from fossil fuels and use that wealth to go to places we don’t want to go to as a civilization.”

He urged the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to pass Overture 15-01 on fossil fuel divestment, which won committee approval Tuesday. 

“We have to get to work, and that work needs to happen very quickly,” McKibben said. “We need for your news to get out, because that news will hearten others around the world. We will look forward to all that happens in the days ahead.”

Fletcher Harper, executive director of GreenFaith, an interfaith environmental group, said the fossil fuel divestment movement “is advancing because it is small and unafraid. We need the courage and conviction of our faith that is not just limited to legislative or incremental gain. The audacity of faith in God and the power of God’s love will make the creation and God’s people whole.”

The Cool Planet Working Group from First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto, California, won the Restoring Creation Award for its leadership supporting efforts to divest the PC(USA) from fossil fuel companies.

Winning the William Gibson Lifetime Achievement Award was Lynn Cameron of Mt. Crawford, Virginia. Presbyterians for Earth Care gave her the award for volunteering “thousands of hours” and traveling “countless miles to advocate for cleaner air and water and in protecting her nearby Shenandoah Valley and forest areas from hydro-fracking and other industrial types of development.” 

  1. Sue, I see where you are coming from. Many churches in my area are able to keep their doors open and serve the people because of money donated to the church from people in the energy industry, We must tend and serve God's creation as you have stated I just think there are other issues that we should be taking on and this is not one of them.

    by Tim Taylor

    June 19, 2014

  2. Until sometime in the far distant future when aircraft and diesel trucks can move and transport goods without fossil fuel, it is essential to our way of life. Anyone who thinks we can do without it is fooling themselves, and at tremendous expense to all of us. Our President has already squandered billions of dollars on now defunct "green companies" that didn't work and went bankrupt, nevertheless enriching his friends who owned the companies. One has to be careful to whom one places his allegiance. All those "green efforts" are fruitless anyway because even if all those bankrupting policies were adopted, the other much larger countries of the world won't follow them. Estimates are that if we did it, it would only make 1/2 degree difference in 100 years - and our country would have gone bankrupt and disappeared long before that. It is just not Christian to be blind the obvious. Christ came to seek and to save those who are lost - this does not help that effort.

    by Ken McSwain

    June 19, 2014

  3. Unfortunately until the fossil fuel companies change their business models, it will be very hard for us to change our life styles. As Christians we are called to tend and serve God's creation, how can this not be an important issue for the General Assembly?

    by Sue Smith

    June 19, 2014

  4. I would hope that all the folks that support the divestment of fossil fuel stocks will also follow their conscience and divest their homes and Church buildings of all electricity produced with this resorce. Their Abodes and Sanctuarys will be dark and hot this summer, dark and cold this winter.

    by dave semsick

    June 18, 2014

  5. I have to agree with Marty Taylor. Going political is only going to make us loose focus as to what Christ preached.

    by Chris Witham

    June 18, 2014

  6. I am very disappointed that General Assembly and PCUSA is spending time on this type thing. When large congregations are leaving PCUSA, there are things of much more urgency that should be discussed. This political boondoggle is for the birds. I am all for protecting the environment, as was my father, a life-long oil company employee and Presbyterian Elder. But GA meeting about anti-fracking is a long way off what I believe is the purpose and mission of the Church.

    by Marty Taylor

    June 18, 2014

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