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Presbyterians plan 260-mile walk to General Assembly

Action seeks church divestment from fossil fuels

By Rick Jones | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – A group of Presbyterians will be making their way to the 223rd General Assembly this summer by foot. Organized by Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and Fossil Free PC(USA), participants from around the country will walk 260 miles from Louisville, the site of the offices of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to St. Louis, where this year’s G.A. will be held.

In a joint press release, the participants say they are making the walk this June to “stand against investing in the fossil fuel industry.” The journey begins at the PC(USA) headquarters on June 1 and will close at the opening of the General Assembly on June 16.  Organizers say they will end each day of the walk with teach-ins and worship centering around the stories and experiences of people on the front lines of climate change.

“As a pastor, I plan to participate in the walk because I believe our denomination must always stand alongside the most vulnerable in our society,” said the Rev. Neddy Astudillo. “Climate change is demanding from us not just to support with money those who suffer its symptoms, but to look at its root causes and do whatever is in our hands to avoid it.”

Astudillo and other participants will once again urge the General Assembly to vote in favor of the church divesting from fossil fuels. Fifteen presbyteries have already voiced support with the overture.

During the 222nd General Assembly in Portland, Oregon, the Immigration and Environmental Issues Committee recommended divestment by a vote of 31–25, but commissioners voted to continue the church’s current policy of corporate engagement in the hope that companies would work with them to reduce pollution.

“The Presbyterian Church has a long history of caring for creation through worship, education and advocacy,” said the Rev. Abby Mohaupt, moderator of Fossil Free PCUSA. “Divestment is the missing step in our love of God’s creation.”

“We all want to move toward a low-carbon future and it has never been more important to be engaged on this issue than it is now,” said Joseph Kinard, chair of the Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment. “We agree that climate change is real and that the church needs to respond. This can be achieved through several different strategies.”

Kinard added, “I am reminded of Micah 6:8: ‘What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and walk humbly with your God?’ We wish them well in this endeavor.”

Those interested in walking, sponsoring or endorsing the “PCUSA Walk for a Fossil Free World” can click here for more information.

Since 2012, Fossil Free PCUSA has been calling on the PC(USA) to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Since the 1940s, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has worked to end war and seek nonviolent solutions to world problems. Fossil Free PCUSA is a project of the fellowship.

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