This is my personal blog. My views are my own and do not represent those of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Open Iftar at Southminster

You might be interested in my radio report on the General Assembly.  I volunteer at KBOO, 90.7 and the station ran my report as a "News In Depth" piece on June 25th.

I spoke with Rick Ufford-Chase of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, Jeffrey DeYoe of the Israel-Palestine Mission Network, Nahida Gordon, author of Palestine Is Our Home, Ray Bagnuolo of That All May Freedly Serve, Michael Zimmerman of the Clergy Letter Project, and our Stated Clerk, J. Herbert Nelson.   It is an entertaining 13 minutes from a progressive perspective.

Here is the podcast.

I have an interview with Rick Ufford-Chase coming up next week about his book, Faithful Resistance: Gospel Visions For The Church in A Time of Empire.    You will be happy with yourself if you subscribe to the Progressive Spirit podcast via iTunes or your favorite app.  

The General Assembly was fun.  Several members of Southminster participated in the mass choir and many more volunteered throughout the week.  Nice to host folks in Portland.   We hosted about 40 General Assembly participants for worship and a vegetarian potluck on June 19th.  Patricia Tull preached a powerful sermon regarding Earth Care.

At the GA,  I was tickled that evolution passed the assembly.   The General Assembly overwhelmingly approved the Clergy Letter Project.   I didn't even think it would make it to the assembly, so to have it so well-received was most gratifying.

Mr. Wadji Said of the Muslim Educational Trust of Portland offered a prayer at the beginning of the business at General Assembly.   Here is the English text:
“Allah bless us and bless our families and bless our Lord. Lead us on the straight path – the path of all the prophets: Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. Peace be upon them all Amen. 
“In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, let us praise the Lord. The creator of the universe, the most merciful, the most compassionate and the Lord of the universe who has created us and made us into nations and tribes, from male and females that we may know each other, not that we might despise each other, or may despise each other. Incline towards peace and justice and trust in God, for the Lord is one that hears and knows everything and the servants of God, the most compassionate, the most merciful, gracious are those who walk in the earth in humility and when bigots and hateful and Islamaphobes address them, they say peace. Peace be upon them and peace be upon Allah.”
And the video (his prayer begins at 14:07):




I am proud of the PCUSA for choosing Mr. Said to offer this prayer.   It is an important move toward peace and a fulfillment of the PCUSA's Interreligious stance that was approved in 2014.  I am pleased to have served on the committee that worked on that stance in Detroit.

The most gratifying event happened the weekend the assembly started.  Southminster hosted the first ever Ramadan Tent Project in the United States.   In our backyard.   It was an Open Iftar for three nights, June 17, 18, and 19.    We received nice press coverage by newspaper prior to the event and KATU Channel 2 news afterward.     The Facebook site, Ramadan Tent Project Portland has some great pictures.

Across the street from my congregation is the Islamic Center of Portland.   It is the only Shia masjid in Portland and we couldn't ask for better neighbors.  They invited us to celebrate the birthdays of Mohammad and Jesus (PBUT) in December.  They overwhelmed us with hospitality (and food!).    On Earth Day, we invited them to a vegetarian potluck that we provided to discuss how our differing faith traditions inspire us to care for Earth.

My predecessor at Southminster, Peg Pfab, is on the board of the human rights council of Washington County.  She contacted me about some college students who were looking for a place to host the Open Iftar.   I contacted the leader, Sadaf Assadi, and we got the ball rolling.

Sadaf Assadi spearheaded the effort.  Here she is speaking to KATU.


To begin each of the three evenings, we gathered first to listen to speeches.




On the first night we heard from Imam Abdullah Polovina about peace and unity.




200 people attended each night.  After the speech, there was a call to prayer.   It was so beautiful to hear this prayer ring out into the neighborhood.




The Sunnis and Shias pray at slightly different times.   Here are the guidelines for when the sunset prayer or Maghrib happens.   Even as there were two different times for prayer many Sunnis and Shias and non-Muslims prayed together.   I was humbled to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in prayer that was an inter-faith and an intra-faith event.    Here is a photo of Sunnis, Shias, and several non-Muslims participating in prayer on the church lawn facing the Kaaba in Mecca.



While breaking bread, Muslims and non-Muslims shared stories and learned about one another.   I was even honored by being asked to speak on one of the evenings.  Here is the talk I gave.    Here is a picture of some of the amazing students who organized it.


The entire group!  They provided the food from various restaurants.  It was fantastic!



On night three, Aneelah Afzali spoke about the importance of getting to know Muslims to counter the organized, well-funded efforts to demonize Muslims and to divide us.


This was one of the most profound events in which I have participated.  I hope Southminster will participate again next year and I look forward to other inter-faith events with our Muslim friends.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Social Justice Committee Unable to Apologize for Spiritual Abuse of LGTBQ/Q People

Committee 11, Social Justice Issues (11-05) couldn't muster up the self-reflection to apologize to decades of spiritual abuse directed at its LGBTQ/Q members because of the PCUSA's policies and theological doctrines.  Instead the committee substituted a tepid "statement" to  LGBTQ/Q people by using the passive voice that is tantamount to "I'm sorry you feel that way."   To add salt to the wound, the substitute action the committee approved apologized in an active voice to those who left the church because they could not agree with the PCUSA's steps toward justice for LGBTQ/Q people.

To take this action following the mass slaughter in Orlando because of LGBTQ/Q hatred is particularly shameful.   I wrote about this apology previously so I will not repeat my arguments here.  Now is the time for the PCUSA to make a bold statement and a clear apology that its views have done and continue to do irreparable harm.

On Wednesday night, the assembly approved the Belhar Confession.  It reads in part:
  • that the church must therefore stand by people in any form of suffering and need, which implies, among other things, that the church must witness against and strive against any form of injustice, so that justice may roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream;
  • that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged; that in following Christ the church must witness against all the powerful and privileged who selfishly seek their own interests and thus control and harm others.
Therefore, we reject any ideology

which would legitimate forms of injustice and any doctrine which is unwilling to resist such an ideology in the name of the gospel.
Here is an opportunity for the PCUSA to live into this new confession.  It is not a faithful interpretation to continue to express the ideology of homophobia that directly leads to violence.

The Covenant Network is wrong on this one.   The reason they are wrong is that they think it is a higher value to seek unity with those whose ideologies we must reject than to stand with those who suffer because of these ideologies.    

The plenary will have the opportunity to revisit this unfortunate action during Thursday evening's plenary.   Read more at That All May Freely Serve

Below is Ray's excellent statement to the committee:
First, I begin this time asking for silence to remember the victims of the massacre in Orlando. For this, too, is ours. Please join me in a short moment of silent prayer. Thank you.

Forty years of the struggle for inclusion in this church has produced harms, as any conflict of such magnitude and duration is sure to do.

Years of unaffirming church practices toward our LGBTQ and supportive siblings have harmed our missions our families and one another in many ways including:

- Refusal of calls for queer folk
- Exhaustive and demeaning accusations, charges and trials against us and our allies
- Loss of pension benefits, careers,
- Being outed against our wills
excluded from our worshiping families sending too many to harms worse than these

Our institution has too often permitted dysfunction to rule, confirming public suspicions that QUEER folks and their allies were unwelcome here. At times, we have spread a disenfranchising gospel, one centered on exclusion, proselytizing fear as a path to love.

It doesn't work that way.

We can change this all beginning with 11-05.
we can accelerate an institutional admission And apology that brings us together. In so doing, We can recognize the PCUSA as one of the most welcoming faith communities in the world, committed to honoring those whose injuries have been real, long lasting and unaddressed.

Orlando, 11-05 can be statement of humility and courage and hope from a mainline Protestant denomination, profoundly impacting our church and our nation, even as we grieve such unimaginable loss.

For a time such as this, we, too, have been called. To this hope in our calling we have gathered. May we be ready now.

Clergy Letter Project Passes General Assembly!

The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to endorse The Clergy Letter, 14-02 by a vcote of 374-194.   This was an overture that started with the session of Southminster Presbyterian Church.  Last Fall, Cascades Presbytery endorsed it and sent it to the General Assembly.  It received concurrences from Eastern Virginia, and Upper Ohio Valley.
 
Kathleen Huddleston, an elder from Southminster, was the Overture Advocate.  She did a fantastic job presenting the overture to the Theological Issues and Institutions Committee and it was approved by the committee 66-10.   This is something I have been working on for some time.   The approval by the denomination will help on a number of levels.  It an atmosphere of science-denial, this will put the PCUSA on record as unambiguously supporting the teaching of evolution in public schools as "a foundational scientific truth."   It will show by example that people do not have to choose between science and faith.   It will invite the church to rethink its theology and its theological symbols in light of the advances in science, particularly the challenges of evolution in regards to ideas such as Creation, Providence, and what it means to be a human being.   Rather than regard science and evolution as an enemy of faith, this overture calls the church to befriend science and learn from it.

The General Assembly also approved overture 14-13, from the Presbytery of Boston.  This overture with concurrence by Cascades, Denver, Milwaukee, and Wabash Valley, was approved by the General Assembly, 305-264.    More specific than the Clergy Letter, this new affirmation provided a list of things that we know from scientific exploration:

today with confidence we can affirm:
•              That God has been calling this universe into being for at least 13.8 billion years and continues calling upon the Creation to bring forth new creatures;
•              That God’s creative call has resulted in virtually countless stars and planetary systems, and new stars and planetary systems are continuing to be created;
•              That, in response to God’s creative call, the Earth took form at least 4.6 billion years ago;
•              That, in response to God’s call, living creatures emerged on the Earth at least 3.6 billion years ago;
•              That God has connected all life on Earth in a network of kinship by virtue of descent with modification from common ancestors;
•              That, in response to God’s call, we Homo sapiens emerged as a species over more than 6 million years of hominin development;
•              That, since our line of descent split from the line that resulted in our contemporaries, the chimpanzees and bonobos, we Homo sapiens were preceded by at least eighteen already identified hominin species, all of which are now extinct;*
•              That, in the providence of God, we Homo sapiens have come to exercise extraordinary power over other creatures and their habitats, the Earth’s geological structures, and the meteorological systems of the Earth;
•              That, by virtue of the powers of intellect and creativity called forth in us by God, we bear exceptional responsibility for the future of the Earth and all its constitutive creatures.

Since science would not speak of "God," this statement is a theological statement and invites an ongoing "interactive engagement" between theology and science.   One of the challenges for theologians is to explore what we mean by using the word "God" among other things.   

Thanks to the Presbyterian Association of Science, Technology, and the Christian Faith and in particular to Overture Advocate, Sara Joan Wasson Miles, who provided an excellent explanation of this overture to the committee.  




Monday, April 04, 2016

Why Barbara Wheeler is WRONG (Again)

Former President of Auburn Theological Seminary, Barbara Wheeler, has written an essay, entitled, "BREACH OF FAITH: Why the Apology Overture is So Wrong."   The LayMAN linked to it as well.

I will comment on her essay.  First, a word about the overture.

Overture 11-05 sent by the Presbytery of New York City with concurrence from the Chicago and Genesee Valley presbyteries recommends that the PC(U.S.A.)
"Admit that the PC(USA) has been wrong in the way it has treated the LGBTQ/Q community" 
and
"Apologize for the teachings and actions that have created marginalization of our sisters and brothers, adding to the erroneous belief that people who identify as LGBTQ/Q should be considered unworthy to serve fully or be honored as family within and without the church."
I think it is long past time for such an overture.   Let us recall what has happened in our denomination.   Until just a few years ago, LGBTQ/Q people were prevented from being ordained as officers in the church due to provisions in our constitution.  Their relationships and marriages were not recognized.  They and their allies were taken to church court for challenging these unjust provisions.  I participated in more than one presbytery meeting in which awful things were said about fellow Presbyterians who are LGBTQ/Q.

Actions, attitudes, and theological opinions against LGBTQ/Q people have damaged not only individuals but the entire PC(U.S.A.)  Those attitudes and actions and theological opinions were wrong.  After a long struggle, the denomination removed those beliefs from our official documents. That was a good thing.  Those beliefs did damage to human beings and continue to do damage.    I am amazed that LGBTQ/Q people show up for church at all.   They owe the church nothing.  The church owes them far more than a belated apology.

I could write pages on this.  But I think you get my point.

So what is up with Barbara Wheeler?   She writes in her essay that an apology to LGBTQ/Q people is a "breach of faith."
"After the ordination and same-gender marriage amendments and associated authoritative interpretations passed in quick succession, some Presbyterian evangelicals voiced their fear of being “Kenyonized”—denied ordination or punished by church courts for convictions at odds with those held by the majority. This measure, which would force many conservative evangelicals to participate in the condemnation of their own deeply-held beliefs, will be seen by many as a step in that direction."
This is the same argument we hear from evangelical Christians about how they are being persecuted and oppressed.  They will be forced to "marry the gays" and on and on.  I can see why they are afraid since they have been so skilled at actually persecuting gays for years.    But this overture is not about them.  It is about the marginalization that has been visited upon LGBTQ/Q people by the church.   It was wrong.   It is still wrong.  It still happens.

The phrase "deeply held beliefs" sounds so pious and sacred.  "These are my deeply held beliefs and no one must offend me for having them."  What are these "deeply held beliefs"?  Here is an example.  This is from the Authoritative Interpretation that darkened our denomination for 30 years:
"...homosexuality is not God’s wish for humanity. This we affirm, despite the fact that some of its forms may be deeply rooted in an individual’s personality structure....”   
“Even where the homosexual orientation has not been consciously sought or chosen, it is neither a gift from God nor a state nor a condition like race; it is a result of our living in a fallen world....”  
“As we examine the whole framework of teaching bearing upon our sexuality from Genesis onward, we find that homosexuality is a contradiction of God’s wise and beautiful pattern for human sexual relationships revealed in Scripture and affirmed in God’s ongoing will for our life in the Spirit of Christ....” 
“…the New Testament declares that all homosexual practice is incompatible with Christian faith and life....”
These are a few of the "deeply held beliefs" that were part of the official interpretation of our constitution.  These "deeply held beliefs" encouraged second-class status in church and in society for LGBTQ/Q people.  These "deeply held beliefs" provided theological justification for spiritual abuse and often violence against LGBTQ/Q people.

Those beliefs, "deeply held" as they might be, are wrong beliefs.   Believe it or not, some beliefs need to be challenged.   Even so, there are church officers who believe all kinds of wrong things.   No one is policing them.  An apology for wrong beliefs and subsequent actions based on those beliefs is not policing either.   People can still hold wrong beliefs, we are all about freedom of conscience, but that doesn't mean we as an institution will not move ahead and redress past wrongs.

She writes that the "Apology Overture
targets, scapegoats and demonizes one group, those who did not prevail in the ordination debate. It breaks our promises to respect their beliefs and actions. It violates the freedom of conscience of the minority. It is a breach of faith."
This is where she fundamentally misses the point.   People can still believe wrong things.  They still will.   It isn't about them.  This overture is about apologizing for the pain caused to LGBTQ/Q people because of wrong beliefs that had been written into our authoritative documents and wrong behavior that came from those beliefs.   The faith was "breached" long ago when this targeting, scapegoating, and demonizing of LGBTQ/Q people was the order of the day.  Now that many in the PC(U.S.A.) are changing their beliefs, those who still hold them want to cry foul and pretend they are being oppressed when they are not.    

I titled this post "Why Barbara Wheeler is WRONG (Again)", because several years ago she wrote a similar post advising the PC(U.S.A.) not to change the constitution and remove barriers to ordination.  Even though she was for changing it in theory she was against it in practice.    I responded with Why Barbara Wheeler Is WRONG.    She was wrong.  She was wrong for the same reason then as she is now.  She doesn't understand privilege.   I wrote then:
It is hard to get a grasp on privilege. Here is a seminary president, a straight person, a well-meaning liberal, bright and articulate, who has been blessed with the privilege to earn the title, elder. I don't know if it is a matter of caving under pressure or fear of success, but it seems at the moment when significant change can happen, liberals get scared. They are scared of losing the institution. Scared that conservatives will leave. Scared that demands for justice do not sound nice. 
Here's the thing.  Just because the PC(U.S.A.) voted for marriage equality and ordination, that doesn't mean that justice is fully realized.   That was only the beginning.   We still have a long way to go.  Apologizing for the pain caused by our theological views is a start.


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Progressive Spirit

I have been producing a weekly half-hour radio program and podcast for over four years.  Nearly 190 episodes.   I am now putting it in a higher gear.   First a name change.   The show is now called Progressive Spirit.  Here is what it is about:
Progressive Spirit is a half hour program that explores the intersection of spirituality and social justice. Listen to interviews with top scholars, authors, social justice activists, and spiritual leaders from Portland and around the world.  Politics, sex, science, spirituality, justice and peace.


The old name, Religion For Life, had some marketing challenges.   Many people wouldn't listen to my show because of the name or if they listened it was often in spite of the name.   When they did listen, they would say things like, "Your show is good.  It isn't anything like the name!"

As much as I tried to make folks see it was not a program to promote religion or a specific religion but was an educational program about religion, well, meh.

The new name, Progressive Spirit, reflects the progressiveness and the spirit of the show.  It is about spirituality and social justice.   I am thrilled and grateful to KBOO 90.7 in Portland for allowing me to produce the show and to give it some air time.

On a TBA basis, you will be able to hear Progressive Spirit on KBOO during the morning affairs programming between 10 and noon, Monday through Friday.

Progressive Spirit is heard weekly on WETS 89.5 Johnson City, Tennessee, WEHC 90.7, Emory, Virginia, and WPVM 103.7 Asheville, North Carolina.    It is a fully produced 27 minute program free to stations.

You can also catch it on podcast via your favorite podcast app.  Please let me know how you listen to podcasts and I will make sure you can get Progressive Spirit on it! Podcasts are uploaded every Sunday morning at 11 Pacific Time and remain on the website indefinitely.   You can catch up on all the previous episodes!

And join me as we look ahead.  I have some great guests coming up including Ned Rosch, founder of the Portland chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace, Jim Wallis, author of America's Original Sin, John Caputo, author of The Folly of God, Jay Weller, author of When God Isn't Green, and Dan Barker, author of God:  The Most Unpleasant Character in All Fiction.

If you have ideas for guests contact me at my new e-mail.

You can expect Progressive Spirit to be even more edgy, more socially-justice focused, and to have a wider variety of guests as now I am in Portland at one of the most progressive radio stations on the planet.

Check out KBOO's website!



Thanks for listening!

Monday, February 29, 2016

I Will Zumba My Way to General Assembly

Behold, a belly that Zumbas...


Oh, yeah, this belly will be moving to the beat of the Witherspoon Dance at General Assembly in Portland.    Registration is now open.   When you register sign up for the dance!   Come to the Voices of Sophia breakfast, too!

Here is the Winter issue of the Network News published by Presbyterian Voices for Justice.  We will have a helpful General Assembly issue out in plenty of time that will tell you exactly how to vote on each overture.

If you are looking for a place to worship on the Sunday before the
down and dirty business begins, there are plenty of fine congregations, including, ahem, Southminster!   Preaching that day will be  Dr. Patricia Tull, Presbyterian minister and A. B. Rhodes Professor Emerita of Old Testament at Louisville Presbyterian Seminary.  She is the author of Inhabiting Eden:  Christians, the Bible, and the Ecological Crisis.




I am still hoping that another presbytery will concur with Cascades Presbytery to send Overture 29, Endorsing the Clergy Letter Project, to the General Assembly.  I simply am inept at politicking for these kinds of things.  There is no web page for it.  There is no organization sending out emails and hustling up contacts.  I am afraid this fine overture will go extinct because it could not adapt to the lobbying environment.   That said, I am pleased that Cascades Presbytery approved it.   Salute!

Hope I yet hold for a concurrence.

Here is the list of overtures submitted so far. 







Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Don't Leave the PCUSA to the Narrowest of Minds


PCUSA Headquarters wants to hear from you.  What direction do you think the Presbyterian Church (USA) should take in the future?    Take a few moments to fill out the on-line survey.




Personally, I think we should ditch the ordination questions (p. 4) and get rid of mandatory beliefs altogether.  

I vote for a theological upgrade.


The Original Sin of Christianity is to Think It Is About Jesus

We have a doozy of a Jesus Seminar on the Road this weekend.   Jeff Robbins and Tom Sheehan are the presenters.   The topic will be God, Christianity, and the Human Future.


Here is an interview with Tom Sheehan at OregonLive.

He says:
"My thesis is that the original sin of religion is to think that it's about God," said Sheehan, who teaches religion and philosophy at Stanford. "The original sin of Christianity is to think it's about Jesus."
And...
I'm arguing that to think that religion is a path to God misses the whole point. The God of western Christianity is all about human beings. God's doing fine. He is not a neurotic mother who needs to be called up once a week. Jesus was all about people: 'Don't love me. Love one another.'
I interviewed Jeff Robbins about the seminar.    What is religion?
It gives people a narrative frame of reference with which to live their life with meaning and purpose.
Yep, religion is about human beings.  At least that is what I think.

What do you think?

We have about 70 registered so far and we have space for you!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Time for a Theological Upgrade?

I wrote a post for the Presbyterian Voices for Justice, Fall 2015 Network News.  It is "A Call to the Entire Church." You will find it on pages 4-7.

I respond to the moderator's "call to the church."  I think this would be a great time to explore theology and to make official what many of us do anyway, and that is be open to a wide variety of beliefs, including non-theism.    The Jesus Seminar is talking about this with their new God and the Human Future Seminar.  Coming to Beaverton, November 6-7!

They are asking whether or not "God" has a future.  Many people are asking including many in our pews and many who have left the pews because our dogma is dated.    I think we need to make space to talk about it.   Here is what I wrote...

---

In a recent issue of the Presbyterian Outlook, Moderator Heath Rada, has issued “A Call to the Church.” 

He is calling for
“A churchwide discussion to assess the will of the PC(USA) that would be led by the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly. The Office of the General Assembly is expected to make an announcement soon of how that will work.”
Why? He said:
“There is a profound and rapid change in the world around us that has put the Church’s relevance (not just PCUSA but the entire Church) in question in ways we have not seen in our lifetime."
I am full agreement on both points. The world has changed and we need to talk about it. I can’t be sure exactly what “rapid and profound change” Moderator Rada has in mind, but I think it has to do with theology. I think our theology is still in the 17th century while we live in the 21st century. The dogmas of our religious heritage do not meet the challenges of the world presented to us by science and by social science. All of the beliefs we are supposed to affirm such as Creation, Virgin Birth, Resurrection of the body of Jesus, miracles, original sin, atonement, heaven and hell, and a supernatural interventionist god called God are metaphors.  At least that’s what I think. I also think many church members and teaching elders think like I do even as for various reasons they are not able to say it clearly.  (Read More)

---

A concrete change to make is to change radically the ordination questions.  They turn people off and drive people away.   My session is already sending three resolutions to the presbytery about fossil fuel divestment, recommitting to social justice, and evolution.  Another to remove the first four ordination questions is too much for one day.  But maybe someone else will send such an overture.  

I think it is time.  What do you think?   Or perhaps more to the point, what is the purpose of the ordination questions and what do they mean to you?




Fossil Fuel Divestment Overture


The session of Southminster Presbyterian Church, Beaverton, Oregon at its October 15th meeting concurred with the session of First Presbyterian Church, Central Point, Oregon to request that Cascades Presbytery send the following overture to the 222nd General Assembly (2016).
2016 PCUSA Fossil Fuel Divestment Overture Recommendation
The session of First Presbyterian Church, Central Point, Oregon requests the Presbytery of the Cascades send an overture the 222nd General Assembly (2016) to:
1. Express its profound concern about the destructive effects of climate change on all God’s 
creation, including a disproportionate impact on those living in poverty and in the least developed countries; the elderly and children; and those least responsible for the emissions of greenhouse gases. The 222nd General Assembly (2016) thus recognizes the moral mandate for humanity to shift to a sustainable energy regime in a way that is both just and compassionate. This mandate compels us to action as a denomination to divest from the fossil fuel industry even as we reduce our use of fossil fuels and shrink our carbon footprint. 

2. Call upon the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Church (USA) Foundation to:
a.                    Immediately stop any new direct investment in fossil fuel companies 

b.                   Work to ensure that within three years, none of the Board’s or the Foundation’s directly held or commingled assets includes holdings of either equities or corporate bonds in the fossil fuel companies identified in the Carbon Underground 200 list1 by:
i.                                       Working with current and prospective asset managers to develop and implement institutional fossil free investment options 

ii.                                     Establishing within one year fossil free investment options for fund participants 

iii.                                    Actively seeking out and investing in renewable and energy efficiency related securities 

iv.                                    Notwithstanding the above provisions, retaining or acquiring minimal sufficient investment in fossil fuel companies to participate in shareholder engagement activities 

v.                                     Notwithstanding the above provisions, taking no action inconsistent with fiduciary duty or principles of sound investment, including the real and substantial risk of stranded carbon assets 

c.  Incorporate into public financial reports regular updates detailing progress made towards these ends.
3. Call upon the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to inform affected fossil fuel companies and the larger public of the passage and implementation of this resolution
4. Call upon, and provide instructional materials to assist all levels of the denomination (presbyteries, congregations, and individual members) in taking action to slow climate change, including: divestment of fossil fuel holdings; shareholder activism; investments in renewable energy; advocacy at local, state, and federal levels for policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and local efforts to reduce carbon footprint consistent with the 2006 call2 for denominational carbon neutrality, and the 2008 “Power to Change” recommendations.3

2016 PCUSA Fossil Fuel Divestment Overture Rationale
In 1981, our church made clear through the document “The Power to Speak Truth to Power” the importance of transitioning away from a fossil fuel based economy.
In 2008, our church made clear through the document “The Power to Change” that the catastrophic effects of Climate Change make this transition essential to the preservation of human life and God’s good creation.
For over two decades, our church’s committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment has engaged in shareholder action with fossil fuel companies. They have done an exemplary job, but have made no impact in addressing Climate Change. When the best people we have make so little progress, the fault lies with an intractable industry, obsessed with profit at the expense of creation.
Our church has voiced support for legislation addressing the need to transition to a fossil free economy, but has no power to enact it. Our church has voiced support for taxes on carbon emissions, but has no power to levy them. Our church has voiced the need for all members of our denomination to do what they can at an individual level, but individuals acting alone can do little to shift the course of an entire economy.
Our church invests hundreds of millions of dollars in fossil fuel companies.
We, as Christians, have the privilege, responsibility, and obligation to speak with moral authority on issues of great importance. However, the power and clarity of prophetic voice is easily stained by hypocrisy and inconsistency.
Many claim that it is inconsistent to divest from fossil fuels while we are members of a society that is addicted to them. This is true. But it is equally inconsistent to attempt to rehabilitate that society while invested in its addiction.
Even as we continue working to mitigate the climate crisis, we must shed the burden of our investments in climate destruction. This act will speak more loudly and more clearly than any prophetic declaration we have voiced to date.
It’s time to put our money where our mouth is. It’s time to divest from fossil fuels.
===============================================================
“Can we hear the grave warnings in reports like this one [Power to Change] from Christians who have carefully studied these matters? And then can we act as stewards of God’s earth, witnessing to Christ in the re-direction of our lives toward a more sustainable future? I pray that we can, and that our church’s good work can help in this great change.”
- Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, April 2009


1 http://fossilfreeindexes.com/the-carbon-underground-2014/ or current equivalent (accessed 06-17-2015)
2 http://www.pcusa.org/resource/guide-going-carbon-neutral/ (accessed 06-17-2015)

3http://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/acswp/pdf/energyreport.pdf (accessed 06- 17-2015)