Leaders hope to strengthen environmental justice and peacemaking initiatives
by Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service
CORBETT, Ore. – Two strong voices in environmental justice and peacemaking have decided to come together in an effort to strengthen their work. Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) and Fossil Free PC(USA) have announced a formal partnership in which FFPCUSA will operate as a project within PPF. Leaders of both organizations say the move is in recognition of the “crucial link between environmental justice and peacemaking.”
Under the partnership, PPF will provide additional support to Fossil Free PC(USA) in nonviolent direct action while Fossil Free will share its environmental justice work with PPF.
“Climate change is already a cause of war and violence, so including environmental justice more fully in PPF’s work helps us more fully live into our commitment to nonviolence and preventing war,” said Emily Brewer, executive director of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. “PPF supports divesting from fossil fuels because we know from the New Testament that Jesus cares what we do with our money. Knowing this, we cannot continue to fund violence caused by the greed and destruction of the fossil fuel industry. We are honored to come more closely alongside FFPCUSA in this work.”
Both organizations are hoping the 223rd General Assembly (2018) will consider whether the denomination should divest from the fossil fuel industry. In July, Hudson River Presbytery unanimously passed an overture that would direct the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation to divest from fossil fuel and actively invest in securities focused on renewable energy. Both PPF and Fossil Free PC(USA) support the effort. Earlier this month, San Jose Presbytery concurred and placed it on the docket for the General Assembly meeting in St. Louis next summer. Supporters say other presbyteries are considering similar resolutions in months to come.
“We are delighted to connect our work of responding to the urgency of climate change with the work of Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. As Presbyterians, we live by faith and by the biblical call to love creation with our whole selves—with our hearts, minds, souls, and wallets,” said the Rev. Abby Mohaupt, moderator of Fossil Free PC(USA). “For the sake of the gospel, we work in solidarity with people who are already experiencing the affects of climate change, like war, floods, hurricanes, as well as people who have no other option but to work for the fossil fuel industry.”
The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship was started in the 1940s to support conscientious objectors to World War II. PPF still calls for the abolition of war and encourages Presbyterians to enact peace. In 2015, the PPF Activist Council voted to divest its own endowment from the top 200 carbon companies. Since then, PPF has been committed to helping the PC(USA) and other Presbyterian bodies and individuals do the same.
Since 2012 Fossil Free PC(USA) has worked within the PC(USA) to challenge the denomination to respond faithfully to climate change. The organization has campaigned to divest PC(USA) funds from oil, gas and coal companies as “one step toward a faithful and sustainable future.” In 2014, 12 presbyteries concurred with the overture to divest from fossil fuels; in 2016, 31 presbyteries concurred.
Besides working on an overture to General Assembly in 2018, Fossil Free PC(USA) has been encouraging synods, presbyteries, congregations and individuals to divest their own holdings in fossil fuels.
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