More than a hundred Evangelical Lutheran churches in Oregon are taking a moral stand on climate change by requesting divestment from fossil fuel corporations.
The climate activist group 350.org has asked churches, cities and colleges to divest from industries that produce coal, oil and gas because of their contributions to climate change. But so far only a handful of churches across the country have agreed.
The Oregon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America have now joined the movement. The assembly representing the synod’s 40,000 people and 115 congregations gathers annually and votes on new policies. It voted 102-94 to pass a resolution that requests ELCA church divestment from the 200 largest coal, oil and gas companies within the next five years.
“We wanted to touch everything connected with the ELCA: Any endowment fund, any pension fund, any retirement fund – even any congregational endowment fund,” said Michael Hall, who helped create the resolution as a member of the Environmental Stewardship Committee at St. Luke Church in Southwest Portland.
“Any seminary fund, any college fund…We’ve got all these different things going on. It’s a pretty big church.”
Hall said he created the resolution to ensure that investments by his church and synod are in keeping with their belief in caring for the Earth, but it was controversial.
“This is not an easy decision. There are consequences that can be difficult for people,” said Hall. “But on the other hand, we’re dealing with – in my mind – the sustainability of life as we understand it for our children, grandchildren. The animal world, the plant world, life on earth as we know it.”
Hall is hoping their resolution will make it to the floor for a vote at the national assembly for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.