Tag Archives: resolutions

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? 

Thanks to the focus of the Delaware-Maryland Creation Care Ministry group who is acting as shepherd for the larger ELCA Sustainability Table on this facet of our work together.

See most recent 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:

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/.

#############

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.

Memorial for Transition to Clean, Renewable Energy; Upper Susquenanna Synod Assembly (2015)

WHEREAS, God created heaven and earth and everything therein and proclaimed it good (Gen 1:1ff); and God has entrusted humankind with the care of the earth (Gen 2:15); and

WHEREAS, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has adopted social policy statements, “Caring for Creation” (1993) and “Sufficient, Sustainable Livelihood” (1999) that call for economic and environmental justice, to protect the health and integrity of creation both for its own sake and for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations, and for economic justice, to consider how our actions affect the ability of all people to provide for their material needs and the needs of their families and communities; and

WHEREAS, in 1993 with the Caring for Creation social statement, we realized the urgency was already “widespread and serious, according to the preponderance of evidence from scientists worldwide [of] dangerous global warming, caused by the buildup of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide” from the burning of fossil fuels, and that “action to counter degradation, especially within this decade, is essential to the future of our children and our children’s children. Time is very short;” and

WHEREAS, climate research is clear that there has been a rapid rise in the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, with current levels (400 ppm) the highest in the past probably 2,000,000 years. This increase has occurred most rapidly in the past 200 years during the worldwide Industrial Revolution;[1]

WHEREAS, climate research is clear that burning fossil fuels is the major source of rising levels of carbon dioxide, negatively impacting our climate.[2] Consequently, the use of fossil fuels must be dramatically reduced; and

WHEREAS, the most recent report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change claims continued greenhouse gas emissions will cause “long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems;”[3] and

WHEREAS, in “Caring for Creation,” the ELCA declares that we will seek to incorporate the principles of sufficiency and sustainability in our life. Consequently: “We will, in our budgeting and investment of church funds, demonstrate our care for creation;” and

WHEREAS in 1990 and 2007 the ELCA Church Council approved an Environmental Social Criteria Investment Screen that recommends limiting investments made in corporations which are the most egregious in terms of damage to human health or the natural environment and investing in corporations which are taking positive steps toward a sustainable environment;[4] and

WHEREAS despite decades of shareholder engagement with fossil fuel companies, the industry continues to spend nearly $2 billion dollars a day searching for additional fossil fuel reserves and over half a million dollars a day lobbying governments for subsidies and support for further extraction;[5] and

WHEREAS fossil fuel divestment can have a major influence on how society responds to climate change;[6] and

WHEREAS the ELCA has historically divested during periods of great social need, including the movement to end apartheid in South Africa; and

WHEREAS by divesting from fossil fuels, the ELCA joins with faith partners such as the United Church of Christ[7] and the World Council of Churches[8] as well as large institutional investors such as Norway’s $850 billion Government Pension Fund Global[9] and a growing list of colleges and universities, cities, religious institutions and foundations in the fastest growing divestment effort in history[10]; and

WHEREAS, un-burnable carbon stored in fossil fuel reserves presents a material financial risk to investment funds that provide capital to these companies;[11]

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA memorialize the 2016 Churchwide Assembly to call on the ELCA and its related institutions and entities, such as the ELCA Endowment Fund Pooled Trust – Fund A (hereinafter “Fund A”), the Mission Investment Fund, Portico Funds, colleges, seminaries, Social Ministry organizations, camps, synods, congregations and individual members to take leadership and make a public commitment to transition away from investments in fossil fuels to investments in clean, renewable energy sources as expeditiously as it is financially feasible to do so; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that by December 31, 2016, the ELCA follow its published procedure titled Social Criteria Investment Screen Policies and Procedures Development[12] to develop a social criteria investment screen designed to result in divestment of all fossil fuels investments held in Fund A,[13] which includes prayerful consideration of the following recommended components:

a)Publication of a list of the values of all fossil fuel investments currently held in Fund A;[14] and

b)Cessation of any new investments in fossil fuel companies with respect to Fund A; and

c)Ensuring that all securities of fossil fuel companies that are either direct holdings or holdings in commingled funds are removed from the portfolio of Fund A within five years; and

d)Publication of quarterly updates, available to the public, detailing progress towards divestment of Fund A as set forth herein; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Upper Susquehanna Synod memorialize the 2016 Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA, as part of the development of the new social criteria investment screen identified above, to direct the ELCA’s corporate social responsibility review team to consider and recommend to the executive director of the ELCA’s Congregational and Synodical Mission unit, for further review pursuant to the ELCA’s published procedure titled Social Criteria Investment Screen Policies and Procedures Development, the addition of a fossil-free investment fund that excludes the 200 largest fossil fuel companies as an option for ELCA retirement plan participants; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this synod memorializes the 2016 Churchwide Assembly to urge members of the ELCA and its related institutions to exemplify personal and institutional responsibility by practicing energy conservation, purchasing more energy efficient appliances and vehicles, investing in renewable energy systems, and advocating at all levels of government for public policies that support clean, renewable energy sources.

Respectfully submitted,

The Rev. Dr. Leah Schade, Pastor, United in Christ Lutheran Church, Lewisburg, PA

and

The Buffalo Valley Conference of the Upper Susquehanna Synod

[1] Climate Change: The Evidence and Our Options, Lonnie Thompson, Ohio State University. Concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) over the last 800,000 years. Fig. 6, pg. 163. See http://researchnews.osu.edu/archive/TBA–LTonly.pdf. 2007 IPCC Working Group. “Atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration has continued to increase and is now almost 100 ppm above its pre-industrial level.” See http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch7s7-es.html. EPA: Causes of Climate Change. “Since the Industrial Era began, humans have had an increasing effect on climate, particularly by adding billions of tons of heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.” See http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/science/causes.html.

[2] NRC (2011). Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to  Millennia. National Research Council. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC, USA. “Emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth’s climate.” NASA: Global Climate Change; Vital Signs of the Planet. “Humans have increased atmospheric CO2 concentration by a third since the Industrial Revolution began. This is the most important long-lived “forcing” of climate change.” “Over the last century the burning of fossil fuels like coal and oil has increased the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2).” See http://climate.nasa.gov/causes.

USGCRP (2009). Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States. Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson (eds.). United States Global Change Research Program. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY, USA. “It is clear that impacts in the United States are already occurring and are projected to increase in the future, particularly if the concentration of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere continues to rise.” See http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=UCg7inA-HksC&oi=fnd&pg=PA13&dq=USGCRP+%282009%29.+Global+Climate+Change+Impacts+in+the+United+States&ots=uXe7HdVN2I&sig=3OcIArtThzaK sX5JwzBrWNEj59A#v=onep age&q&f=false. NOAA, USGS: Climate change impacts to U.S. coasts threaten public health, safety and economy Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities: A Technical Input to the 2013 National Climate Assessment. “…the effects of climate change will continue to threaten the health and vitality of U.S. coastal communities’ social, economic and natural systems.” See http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2013/20130125_coastalclimateimpacts.html

[3] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5.

[4] ELCA Environment Screen: http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource

%20Repository/Environment_Screen.pdf.

[5] Oxfam: http://www.oxfam.org/sites/www.oxfam.org/files/file_attachments/bp191fossil-fuelsfinance-climate change171014-en.pdf.

[6] Climate Change: Implications for Investors and Financial Institutions: Key Findings from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report. http://www.unepfi.org/fileadmin/documents/IPCC_AR5__Implications_for_Investors__Briefing__WEB_EN.pdf

[7] United Church of Christ: http://www.ucc.org/gs2013fossil-fueldivestment-vote.

[8] World Council of Churches:  http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/central-committee/geneva 2014/reportofthefinance- policy- committee/@@download/file/GEN_FIN06_APPROVED_Report_Finance_Policy_Committee.pdf.

[9] Article regarding Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/feb/05/worldsbiggest– sovereign-wealthfunddumps-dozens-of coalcompanies

[10] This website lists the institutions that are committing to divest from fossil fuels:  http://gofossilfree.org/commitments/

[11] University of Oxford: http://www.smithschool.ox.ac.uk/research-programmes/stranded-assets/SAP-divestment- report-final.pdf.

[12] Policy is accessible at: http://www.elca.org/Resources/Corporate-Responsibility.

[13] ELCA Endowment Fund: http://download.elca.org/ELCA%20Resource

%20Repository/ELCA_Endowment_Fund_A_Brochure.pdf

[14] By using the current list of 200 coal, oil and gas companies found here: http://gofossilfree.org/companies/. Source: Unburnable Carbon, The Carbon Tracker Institute; http://www.carbontracker.org/wp content/uploads/2014/09/Unburnable-Carbon-Full-rev21.pdf.