Tag Archives: resolutions

Carbon Fee (and Dividend) Resolution Passed at Churchwide (2019)

The following Synod Resolution was passed by the SC Synod of Wisconsin and passed at Churchwide Assembly in 2019.  See links within text for background information. For more material to consider when talking about “carbon” see this post as well.
Please contact us if you intend to propose a similar resolution.

Carbon Fee (and Dividend)

1. South-Central Synod of Wisconsin (5K) [2019]

Whereas this synod became the first major religious denominational body to join the growing secular movement to address greenhouse gas emission causing climate change; with the landmark 2017 resolution endorsing Carbon Fee and Dividend; and

Whereas this synod’s advocacy continues with current congressional legislation for Carbon Fee and Dividend, HR 763, “The Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act”; and

Whereas the urgency for action becomes ever more apparent for all of God’s creation—plants and animals, human lives, and entire ecosystems—especially on behalf of the most vulnerable; therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin memorialize the ELCA Churchwide Assembly to encourage ELCA members to learn about and advocate for a national strategy for Carbon Fee and Dividend.

Background

The scientific community overwhelmingly agrees that increases in greenhouse gases (GHGs) released into the atmosphere impact the climate globally, resulting in more frequent and intense extreme weather patterns that destabilize the environment. This destabilization impacts everyone—contributing to forced migration, exacerbation of poverty, national security concerns, food insecurity, shifts in sea habitats, increased health risks and threats to ecosystems that could lead to the extinction of some species. Climate change mitigation measures must be implemented rapidly according to the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report in order to avoid irreversible damage. The 2018 fourth U.S. National Climate Assessment states that without sufficient mitigation efforts to achieve decarbonization, climate change will have significant impacts on the American economy and quality of life. One mitigation tool is a carbon-pricing mechanism, known as carbon fee or carbon tax. A carbon fee or tax is a policy tool that provides a financial incentive to reduce GHG emissions by attaching a price to emissions (CO² emissions or multiple GHGs) or their emission inputs, namely fossil fuels.

According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) March 2019 Report, “economic modeling indicates that a carbon tax would achieve emission reductions, the level of which would depend on which GHG emissions and sources are covered and the rate of the carbon tax.” A carbon tax would increase energy costs while producing significant revenue for the U.S.

Implementation of a carbon tax presents challenges relative to its design and implementation, consequences of the imposed taxes and how to distribute the generated revenue. CRS finds that “policymakers would encounter trade-offs among objectives. The central trade-offs involve minimizing economy-wide costs, lessening the costs borne by specific groups—particularly low-income households—and supporting a range of specific policy objectives.” Lower-income households tend to spend a greater portion of their income on energy needs. Also, those communities that depend upon fossil fuel energy would be disproportionately impacted. This memorial is supported by the social statement Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood for All, which calls for “scrutiny of how specific policies and practices affect people and nations that are the poorest, and changes to make policies of economic growth, trade, and investment more beneficial to those who are poor.”

This memorial furthers the ministry of the ELCA by being another tool to implement goal four, objective five of Future Directions 2025: “Lead and participate in national and global advocacy efforts to advance gender justice, climate justice and human rights, and to alleviate poverty and hunger, engaging church networks and joining with ecumenical partners, leaders of other faiths and the global church.”

A carbon fee and dividend appears to be one of many potential mitigation policy tools to remedy the impact of climate change, but there are many challenges presented by implementation of such a policy tool. It is important for ELCA members to learn about the carbon fee and dividend and its implementation to make informed decisions to ensure the tax and potential dividend causes no harm to any sector, community or people. Research will be needed to develop education awareness of carbon pricing and the various avenues for distribution of dividends, and to evaluate what, if any, national advocacy strategy should be framed. Addressing carbon pricing is part of the 2019 ELCA Advocacy priorities and is not likely to require additional resources for educational awareness except for communication resources.

Recommended for Assembly Action

To receive with gratitude the memorial from the South-Central Synod of Wisconsin concerning Carbon Fee and Dividend;

To reaffirm the commitment of this church to engage in advocacy that seeks sufficient, sustainable livelihood for all; and

To refer to the Domestic Mission unit for the development of a plan that promotes educational resources on Carbon Fee and Dividend to assist in forming the basis for any potential advocacy strategy.

How Do We Truly Commit to the Earth Charter?

During the 2019 Churchwide Assembly the ELCA voted to officially sign onto the principals of the Earth CharterFor a history on that process read here (click).

Now what? How do we all make sure we live this out? 

The Delaware-Maryland Creation Care Ministry group first started to shepherd this task for the ELCA Sustainability Table in the spring of 2020.  Then by the fall, thanks to funding from the Stewardship of Life Institute, Organizing for Mission, and the Central States Synod (CSS)  an inaugural group rallied together to be trained with organizing skills to see that churches know how to live out these principals.  Within the first year the plan is to engage at least 20 churches within the MD/DE, CSS, Metro NYC and New England Synods.  Learn more and follow this team on their group page:
Lutherans Embracing the Earth Charter!

See working group notes here (from May 2020) and consider how your synod (or just your congregation) may follow their lead: 

As part of the Sustainability/Environment Table workgroup to implement the Earth Charter, the Delaware-Maryland Synod Creation Care Ministry decided to focus on principles 7.a. and 7.b. under II. Ecological integrity.

7. Adopt patterns of production, consumption, and reproduction that safeguard Earth’s regenerative capacities, human rights, and community well-being.

a. Reduce, reuse, and recycle the materials used in production and consumption systems, and ensure that residual waste can be assimilated by ecological systems.

b. Act with restraint and efficiency when using energy, and rely increasingly on renewable energy sources such as solar and wind.

These were recommended because we believe these goals can be embraced and achieved by our congregations and because energy efficiency and adoption of renewable energy sources is critical to address our climate crisis.

As such, we developed an Eco-Resolution (see here) that was to be presented during this year’s Delaware-Maryland Synod Assembly in May 2020.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our assembly was cancelled, however we continue to share our message via digital means including videos we have produced.

Our Synod Council will vote on whether to pass the resolution and Larry Ryan produced a video to explain our objectives:  YouTube link

  1. Awareness of the ELCA’s longstanding support of Creation Care and specifically the 1993 ELCA Social Statement on the Environment.

2. Awareness of the Earth Charter that was endorsed during Churchwide Assembly in 2019.

3.  Implementation of portions of the Earth Charter working in cooperation with the ELCA Sustainability/Environment Table.

4. Engaging with congregations to help them be better stewards of creation as defined in our project “New Hope for Creation” that received funding from our Synod Connectedness Team.

In addition to our video on the Eco-Resolution, we asked Delaware-Maryland Synod Bishop Bill Gohl to produce a video that explains the Earth Charter at a high level : CLICK HERE

And as part of our outreach to congregations with our New Hope for Creation project, Charlie Bailey produced a video (click here) for his congregation that invites them to become better stewards of creation by becoming a covenant congregation, modeled after LRC’s Covenant for Congregation.

The Delaware-Maryland Synod Creation Care Ministry would be happy to engage with other Synods in implementing the Earth Charter and other creation care work.

Lutheran Responses to Fossil Fuel Dependency

Some of us bemoan the fact that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has not committed to entirely divest from fossil fuels as many others have (see latest cohort of 42 religious institutions). Some of us are wary of pulling out entirely from shareholder positions when we may be able to have more leverage to make change having a seat at that table.  Others have a deep concern for all who are dependent on these economic systems,  which many of us are complicit in driving every time we use a device or heat up our dinner.

There are many facets (explore below) involved with this complex issue which we are called to discuss and act on as people of faith. There are ways to move forward before we reach a church-wide consensus.  Below are some of our responses, thus far, from regional resolutions to individual members lifting up a moral calling.
Where are you called to next?

Click on each below to hear stories and information we hope will inspire you to act and bring others with you:

*Carbon Pricing: Suggested Resolution for 2021*

The Board of Directors of Lutherans Restoring Creation has unanimously endorsed the resolution (see here) adopted by Upper Iowa River Conference of the Northeastern Iowa ELCA Synod to support Advocacy for the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

Lutherans have gathered together as a Faith Action Team with Citizens Climate Lobby.  They are educating fellow congregations and urging synods to propose resolutions to their local council leaders re: the Carbon Dividend Act.  LISTEN/WATCH HERE to the March 1st recording ASAP to find out more.

Next steps: 
1) Find out if your synod is taking resolutions and what the deadline and process is on your synod office website.

2) Work with your Green Teams (+/or any other ELCA members concerned about climate change) to make adjustments to the template to work for your own context.

3) Forward throughout your region to find other congregations to support it (explore materials below for help).

4) Regardless of where the vote goes you will have raised the issue and helped educate everyone involved!

ELCA Carbon Pricing Principles and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (03-01-21)

Conference Resolution Template ELCA Advocacy and Carbon Pricing

Synod Assembly Resolution Template ELCA Advocacy and Carbon Pricing

Click here for Presentation Slides by Bob Lindmeier, Senior Chief Meteorologist, WKOW TV & ELCA Synod Creation Care Team (best if seen with link above as well)

So We Can Restore Creation

While caring for the environment can feel overwhelming, it’s when we stand together, each doing our part, that we find hope, gain strength, and make a difference. Find a tool below to help celebrate God’s gifts to us!

Download (Click Here) the information shared from Portico and Lutherans Restoring Creation at Churchwide Assembly 2019 to celebrate our progress and map the long way we still need to go to restore creation.

Join Up

Adults, start by taking the LRC Personal Covenant.  In 5 – 10 minutes, complete your covenant with creation. You’ll start to receive LRC’s monthly Good Green e-News linking you to other Lutheran earth-keepers and helpful resources.

ELCA Retirement Plan members, invest consciously using Portico’s ELCA social purpose funds. Call a Portico Financial Planner at 800.922.4896 to learn whether you’re in the social purpose funds and how to make that choice.

Children, take the Child’s Pledge With Creation.  Print out this out and discuss with your family. Tip: Frame your completed pledge using a larger piece of cardboard like a cereal box and decorate it with magazine photos that are important to you.

Teens, take the Youth Pledge. Then, walk through the Your Day experience, reflecting on how your daily decisions can impact others with whom we share this planet.

Inspire Others

Rally your congregation to take the Congregational Covenant with CreationThen, use LRC resources to create an action plan with support from LRC mentors.

Active Earth-keepers, become a Green Shepherd in your synodAs your synod’s point person for LRC and ELCA Advocacy and Stewardship outreach, learn to identify, connect and motivate other “green sheep” in your synod.

 

Make Memorials to Churchwide Assembly ASAP

Our list of synod/church-wide resolutions re: eco-justice are still listed on our “archived” site here.  For the upcoming Churchwide Assembly in Milwaukee this August the initiative with the most ground support thus far is detailed below, but if your synod has other ideas please let us know so we can share your goals.

*** UPDATE as of June 4, 2019****

Colleagues, I write to inform you that this past Thursday evening the Upstate New York Synod approved the memorial requesting that the Churchwide Assembly endorse The Earth Charter by a vote of 192-13.  No one spoke in opposition.   So as of now we have four synods that are sending this memorial to Churchwide–New England, Southeast Pennsylvania, Gulf, and Upstate New York.  I think there may be one other synod considering this.

Congratulations on your good work!
Peace,
W. Merle Longwood, PhD
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies
Siena College
********************************************

Thanks to a passionate group of Lutherans from across the country there is momentum to request that our ELCA Churchwide Assembly agrees to be an institutional endorser of the Earth Charter.  See note below and follow links to discover how you can bring this to your next Synod Assembly!

From: Merle Longwood

Here is the final version of the resolution submitted to the Reference and Counsel Committee of the Upstate New York Synod, along with the cover letter that I sent accompanying that. It has some editorial corrections that I think may be helpful if others of you are still working on getting something to your own Reference and Counsel Committees.

Let’s hope it really becomes possible for this to come to the 2019 Churchwide Assembly for its endorsement.

To Download a PDF copy Click here: EarthCharterMemorial2019

For a Word document to be sent to you for editing to customize for your synod please write or call Phoebe ASAP at info at lutheransrestoringcreation dot org or call 617-599-2722

The New England Synod also submitted a Memorial to sign the Earth Charter. The HOW – TO submit a Memorial is outlined in this document from Sec. Chris Boerger: Memorial Resolutions Memorandum 2018

Eco-Resources for Your Synod Gatherings

What can YOU do to get congregations in your area thinking about Caring for Creation as part of church?

1. Host a Presentation or Workshop:
  • No need to start from scratch – we have many templates that you can use as is or add to. Also plenty of resources are available that connect with a broad range of themes depending on the synod’s theme.  Contact us to have materials sent/attached to you directly: info@lutheransrestoringcreation.org
  • If your gathering is looking for special guests – check our list of speakers and see what other “Green Shepherds” may be in your area. 

2. Care for Creation Worship:
3. Propose resolutions:
4. Host a display table with information:
  • Print out a few sample materials and be sure to have people sign up for more information (you can use this form [Sign-IN-at-Events-sheet.pd]  scan/email it back to us and then we’ll send back a list of everyone in your synod who has interest in this ministry!) Set up a computer(if wi-fi is available) and share some video educational tools.
  • Stories. Showcase examples of what is happening in the congregations of your synod and ask for more stories – from gardening together, to washing dishes rather than throwing them away. Celebrate what everyone has to offer!
5. Use Environmental “best practices” at your synod assembly

Southeastern Synod’s Green Task Force

The Southeastern Synod decided to enlist a caring for creation “task force” at their 2013 Synod Assembly and since then a small band of powerful people across several states have gained momentum. After meeting as a small group several times to set goals and evaluate personal assets, the team embarked on a two day retreat in March 2014 to brainstorm and educate themselves on the tools and challenges of this ministry.

In 2016 their assembly passed a memorial to go to the Churchwide assembly asking for more investments in cleaner energy.  Reaching out and sharing their resources at the South Carolina Synod Assembly, this team is passionate about sharing significance of the vocation of being a good steward to their brothers and sisters in Christ.

Most recently the team sent fifteen members in February 2018 to LutherRanch in Tallapoosa Georgia as a part of a regional retreat and training session. Since then churches in the synod have signed congregational covenants, stepped up their involvement in the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio and created new green teams.

Contact Mary McCoy, member of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Marietta GA and chair of the Task Force,  or find someone on the Creation Care Ministries map who is closer to where you are!

 

 

 

Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod Assembly passes three eco-related Memorials/Resolutions (2015)

At the Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod June 2015 Assembly three eco-related Memorials/Resolutions were passed. The following is a summary of the voting experience from Pr. Leah Schade. Email Phoebe Morad if you would like to contact her personally for more insight.

Colleagues: The Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly (PA) just voted in favor of the Eco-Reformation Memorial. It appeared that the vote was about 60%-40%. The Assembly also voted in favor of a related Eco-Reformation Resolution. It appeared that the vote was about 80%-20%. The one pastor speaking against the motions stated that they appeared to be “hijacking” the 500 th Anniversary of the Reformation. I spoke in favor of the motions and explained that they were integral to Luther’s thought, Lutheran theology, and in keeping with the ELCA’s previous social statements.

The Assembly also voted in favor of the Memorial for Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy. This vote was close: 79 in favor, 67 against. Those speaking against the memorial said that the motion “went too far,” making demands on those who would not want to divest. “You’re trying to shove this down our throats,” said one pastor. Four people spoke in favor of the memorial (myself included) highlighting that it is a prudent fiduciary measure to divest from fossil fuels, that we need to keep the carbon in the ground in order to avoid further climate disruption, and that the memorial is in keeping with Jesus’ command to care for the “least of these.” I presented a workshop about the motions prior to their coming to the floor (powerpoint available here).

 

 

Metro NY Synod Resolution on Energy Stewardship (2010)

A Resolution on Energy Stewardship – Metro NY Synod

Whereas, we in the industrialized world are consuming energy and Earth’s resources in a way that is both unsustainable in the future and unfair to those in the developing world; and there are disturbing scientific reports of environmental degradation, global climate change, a record rate of species extinction, and a depletion of non-renewable resources that should give us pause; and

Whereas, human activity, especially the over-consumption of energy and resources, appears to be a critical driver in these changes in climate and environmental distress, both causing harm to God’s creation and exacerbating already difficult situations for millions living with poverty and hunger, as weather extremes such as flood and drought increase; and

Whereas, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, recognizing the gravity of these threats, has long been committed to addressing environmental issues as part of our call to justice, sustainability, and solidarity with affected communities and, along with our partners in the Lutheran World Federation and Lutheran World Relief, committed to working to alleviate hunger, poverty, and unsustainable living conditions globally; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that the congregations, administrative offices, and outdoor ministry facilities of this synod be encouraged to offer a public witness of energy stewardship by: (1) Measuring the greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., “carbon footprint”) of the facilities they own, to establish a baseline starting point; and (2) With the guidance of the synod’s Environmental Stewardship Committee [see Addendum to this resolution], conduct an energy audit to determine what options there are for reducing energy use; and (3) Make a commitment to decrease their carbon footprint by a certain percentage over a specified period of time through energy conservation, efficiency, or clean energy measures; and be it further

RESOLVED, that the congregations, administrative offices, and outdoor ministry facilities of this synod be invited to share this information with the Environmental Stewardship Committee, synod office and, where applicable, on ELCA congregational reporting forms, and subsequently also share what energy-saving steps were taken, and what measurable energy savings have been realized, as evidenced in a lower carbon footprint measurement; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this synod memorialize the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America at its 2011 Churchwide Assembly to challenge all expressions of the ELCA to reduce their energy-related greenhouse gas emissions by at least 5 percent per year with the ultimate goal of reducing these emissions 25-40 percent by 2020, and to share this commitment and steps taken to achieve it in a public way in official publications and communication channels of this church.

—Submitted by the Environmental Stewardship Committee of the Metro New York Synod

Committee Recommendation: Reference and Counsel recommends adoption of this Resolution.

Approved unanimously May 14, 2010

Florida/Bahamas Synod Energy Audit Resolution (2009)

Florida/Bahamas Synod, 2009

Congregations to do Annual Energy Audits

Targeted to 25% by 2020

WHEREAS, we face urgent climate perils that remind us of the story of Noah and the Ark as God’s earth nears a climate tipping point;

·     Warming of the atmosphere, rising sea levels, changing rainfall and weather patterns will leave millions more people hungry, displace millions from their homes, and lead to increased disease, heat-related illnesses at death.

·     These are the unraveling results of over-dependence on fossil fuels.  Fossil fuel dependence is at the core of the most pressing issues confronting people and governments all over the world – global security, human rights, mass extinctions of species, health, and economy.

·     We all face a critical moment in history, challenged to choose between two distinct futures.  If we continue on our current path, we face catastrophic consequences for generations to come.  When we choose to embrace a new energy and climate vision, we face a future built on justice, earth stewardship, sufficiency and sustainability.  Together, we can address our call to provide for the vulnerable among us and protect the diversity in God’s gift of Creation.

WHEREAS, God challenges us through the prophet Micah to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly, how then shall we act as a people?

·         In the economic, energy, and climate change crises that face our nation and global community, there is both danger and opportunity.

·         Too much of the conversation on the economic crisis has ignored the causes of poverty and the growing ranks of the poor.

·         When we choose a new path, we can create a sustainable and more just future for our nation and all of God’s people.

·         All of us – business and government, private and public, faith-based and nonprofit, the well-organized and the often-forgotten – need to be involved if we are to attain clean, sustainable, and just energy for all people.

·         By working with existing and emerging networks we can develop practical steps for guiding our congregations and our members in increasing energy efficiency and using more clean energy.

WHEREAS, by discussing sacred texts, actively listening to scientific information, and centering in prayer we can open ourselves to new ways in which our footprint on   the earth reflects our true spiritual values and leads to greater forms of sustainable society while lowering waste and abusive consumption of non-renewable resources; and

WHEREAS, how we witness and give voice to a just and sustainable world is public testimony to the depth of our faith in God who made the creation very good; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that we as a people accept the call to  seize this opportunity to declare a vision of transformed economy that is more inclusive and sustainable – a vision that involves challenges both to our own communities of faith and to society in general; and be it further

RESOLVED,  that we call on the bishop and other church leaders of the Florida-Bahamas Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to urge our congregations to engage in sacred conversations for discerning the kind of world God calls us to pass on to our children, grandchildren, and all of God’s creatures; and be it further

RESOLVED, that as people of faith we urge congregations of the Florida-Bahamas Synod to address our own use of energy by conducting energy (carbon footprint) audits in our houses of worship and our houses of business and our homes for living; and be it finally

RESOLVED, that these audits be a first step in a series of actions to reduce our carbon emissions 25% by 2020.

New England Synod Takes the Challenge (2013)

At the New England 2013 Assembly, June 7-9, voters agreed to urge the restraint of hydraulic fracturing and request an eventual divestment of church funds from fossil fuel companies. LRC Synod Trainer, Nancy Urban, was also there to challenge everyone passing by to see how “cool” their congregation was with a game giving points to those who have taken steps to reduce their carbon footprint. Beyond winning a delicious piece of Fair Trade chocolate as an reward for playing the game, we learned as a community that we are ready to take on the most meaningful challenges of caring for creation. While progress was made on paper and good conversation, it must be seen how the actions of our members and congregations enact the good intentions of these statements.  See full versions of what was voted on here and here.

Synod Resolutions: Synod Actions

Resolution to become an LRC Synod
Central States Synod
Approved June 2015

Resolution to become a Green Synod
Northern Illinois Synod Assembly
Approved April 2008

Resolution on Establishing an Environmental Stewardship Committee
Metropolitan New York Synod, 2009

 

Central States Synod Assembly Resolution Calls for “Green Action” (2017)

At the 2017 Synod Assembly in Kansas City, voting members adopted a resolution that encourages “its leaders and congregations to make use of the resources of Lutheran Restoring Creation for faith-based congregational initiatives and addressing care of creation and the threat of climate damage.” Included in this call to action are efforts to conserve energy and/or the use of renewable energy, congregational educational programs and action plans that may include such things as installing solar panels to generate renewable electricity, utilizing the Lutheran study guide on the Encyclical Letter of Pope Francis (Laudato Si, On Care for our Common Home), and supporting policies that seek to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Click here to view the Lutheran study guide.

Further, the adopted resolution states “the Central States Synod recommends that all members of its congregations be active environmental stewards and ‘green disciples’ by engaging in prayer for guidance, study to gain a better understanding of environmental issues, and action to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

To help you and your congregation carry out this resolution, the LRC Mission Table will provide regular Green Action items in the Synod e-newsletter. For more information on Lutherans Restoring Creation, if you’d like to host a Creation Care workshop, or if you need help in your setting, please contact Noni Strand, the LRC Mission Table chair at nonistrand@gmail.com.

 

 

Synod Resolutions: Divestment from Fossil Fuels

Transition to Cleaner Energy Memorial
Upper Susquehanna (PA) Synod June 2015

Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod’s Creation Care Task Force pledges to investigate what divestment would mean for the synod and the world. June 2015

Metro New York Synod
Approved May 29, 2015
News Release 

Saint Paul, MN Area Synod
Approved April 24-25, 2015
Oregon Synod
Approved May 18, 2013.
New England Synod
Approved June 7-9, 2013

New England Synod’s Bishop Hazelwood Connects with Catholics over Climate (and other) Changes

On the heels of the Pope’s Encyclical encouraging caring for our common home, two religious leaders in New England came together this month in agreement that the 500th anniversary of the Reformation is a time to see how churches can work together to solve some of our most pressing justice issues: including the state of our planet and those least capable of adapting to increasing natural disasters and public health concerns.

Read Boston Globe article here

Copy of Bilateral Letter from Cardinal O’Malley and Bishop Hazelwood’s linked here.

Oregon Synod Divestment Resolution (2013)

St. Luke Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution passes at Oregon Synod meeting

On Saturday, May 18th, 2013, the St. Luke Fossil Fuel Divestment Resolution PASSED a vote at the ELCA Oregon Synod. Now it will be forwarded for consideration at this summer’s Churchwide Assembly in Pittsburgh.

In a meeting also attended by Secretary of the ELCA David Swartling, the synod Reference and Counsel Committee suggested an alternative “RESOLVED” clause that they believed had a better chance of being adopted on the national level. This alternative, mirroring one submitted at the NW Washington Synod meeting, requested an “opt-out of fossil fuel stocks” option for church employees in the Portico pension program.

St. Luke’s Pastor David Knapp, Council President Barbara Roady and Environmental Chair Michael Hall declined, stating that, given the magnitude and urgency of the issue, they wanted St. Luke’s request to fully encompass all ELCA-connected investment programs.

With two minor text adjustments, the resolution was allowed to go to the floor “with reservations” about its financial/legal ramifications and the feasibility of its requested actions.

Floor debate about the resolution was dramatic and the final outcome was far from obvious. In the end, the vote tally showed 102 in favor, 94 opposed and 14 abstaining.

 

 

Metro NY Resolution 2015 Release: Fossil Fuel Divestment

NYC-AREA LUTHERANS RESOLVE TO DIVEST FROM FOSSIL FUELS

CULMINATION OF EFFORTS BEGUN SHORTLY AFTER LAST YEAR’S PEOPLE’S CLIMATE MARCH

June 1, 2015 (New York, NY) – On Friday, March 29, the annual Assembly of the Metropolitan New York Synod, one of the most populous geographical divisions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), resolved to divest from fossil fuels within five years. The Synod Assembly also voted to ask the national body of the church to do the same at the Churchwide Assembly in 2016.

Reverend John Z. Flack, pastor of Our Savior’s Atonement in Washington Heights, Manhattan, introduced the two resolutions from the floor of the Assembly. One resolution calls on the Metro NY Synod to “cease any new investments in companies whose primary business is the exploration, extraction, production, or refining of coal, oil, or natural gas,” and to “ensure that, within five years, directly held or commingled assets” in such companies “are removed from its portfolio.” The resolution also urges member congregations to follow these steps.

The second resolution calls upon the 2016 Churchwide Assembly “to urge that, by May 1, 2017, all ELCA congregations and independent, cooperative, and related Lutheran organizations and investment corporations” take these same steps to remove fossil-fuel investments from their portfolios.

Both resolutions passed with very little opposition.

The resolutions were the culmination of work begun shortly after the People’s Climate March, a gathering of 400,000 people in New York City last September, calling attention to what many now refer to as the “crisis” of climate change. As Gerard A. Falco, Chair of the Synod’s Environmental Stewardship Committee, explained, “Lutherans, from our Synod and from across the country, were deeply involved in organizing the People’s Climate March and making it the success it was. The march galvanized public opinion, and our committee decided to build on that momentum to get these divestment resolutions passed.”

About $289,000 of the Synod’s current investment portfolio will be immediately re-allocated in response to the Assembly’s action. Altogether, the Synod’s investments total about $12 million.

With the passage of these resolutions, the Metro NY Synod joins the New England and Oregon Synods – and many other congregations and religious bodies, both in the US and abroad – in divesting from coal, oil, and natural gas companies because of their damaging effects on the climate. This religious divestment movement parallels the strong student-led campaign to divest colleges and universities, and the growing campaign to divest state and municipal pension funds.

Robert Rimbo, Bishop of the Metro NY Synod, said “With this action, our Synod joins the chorus of those who acknowledge that ‘if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.’ This is a fiscally responsible step, but it’s also the right thing to do. As Christians, we are called to care for all Creation. As Luther himself wrote, ‘God is essentially present in all places, even the tiniest tree leaf,’ so ‘to do harm to Creation is also to assault God. And when humans assault God, there is only one outcome, and it is not a good one for humans.’ With these resolutions, we’ve taken a further step in living out our Lutheran vocation.”

The Metropolitan NY Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church covers the five boroughs of New York City and Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties. The Synod has approximately 64,000 baptized members in 190 congregations served by about 300 pastors and 100 rostered lay leaders. For more information, visit http://www.mnys.org/.

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Contact:
Sarah Gioe
Director of Communications
Metro NY Synod, ELCA
212-870-2376
sgoie@mnys.org

Gerard A. Falco
Chair, Environmental Stewardship Committee
Metro NY Synod, ELCA
914-548-3108
gafsail@aol.com

Northeastern Pennsylvania to Study Divestment (2015)

The following resolution was passed at the June 2015 Assembly of the Northeastern Pennsylvania:
WHEREAS, Jesus calls us as his disciples to both love God and love our neighbor, and climate change is a direct threat to both God’s creation and God’s people, the church should be a leader in all efforts to preserve and protect creation;
WHEREAS, the current movement to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in sustainable forms of energy are an important part of the overall campaign to combat climate change and protect people and the planet;
RESOLVED, Resolved, that the Synod’s Creation Care Task Force be authorized to conduct a study to discuss and evaluate divestment from fossil fuels in preparation for a vote about possible divestment at the 2016 Synod Assembly.
For more information about issues specific to Pennsylvania go to the Lutheran Advocacy office in PA.