Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Divests from Fossil Fuel Companies

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STONY POINT, NY –  On the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2015, and on the eve of the visit of Pope Francis to the United States, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship announces a vote to divest its endowment of fossil fuel extraction investments.

“We are divesting of fossil fuels precisely because we are a peacemaking organization,” said the Fellowship’s Co-Director Emily Brewer. “For our children, grandchildren and those who come after them, unmitigated climate change will lead to a future of war and violence over access to drinkable water, breathable air, safe food and diminishing land. We sound this alarm to reduce that violence. Already some impoverished communities, least responsible for climate change, are early victims of it. On this most complex issue, we act out of faith in a creator God and a love for creation itself.”

Founded in 1944, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is a nation-wide community of Presbyterians who seek to follow the nonviolence of Jesus by working to reduce war and violence in the world. The divestment vote took place at the Fellowship’s national gathering in Stony Point, NY Sept. 17-19, upon the recommendation of the Fellowship’s Endowment Fund Committee.  The PPF endowment is invested at the New Covenant Trust Company of the Presbyterian Foundation.

The divestment statement is entitled “Investing for Life: Fossil Fuels are Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things.” In addition to the divestment action, it affirms the need for multiple strategies to reduce greenhouse gases, and highlights concern for the large number of families whose income is now dependent on fossil fuel extraction. “The importance of creating new alternative energy industries and jobs cannot be overstated,” said Brewer.

The full text of the fossil fuel divestment action is online here. It includes a quote from Pope Francis, who speaks this week to Congress and the United Nations on climate change concerns.

In other actions, the Fellowship approved structural changes to replace its 50 member National Committee with a larger Activist Council and to expand the size and work of its Executive Committee. Leadership actions include the election of Rev. Elizabeth Shannon and Rick Ufford-Chase as volunteer Co-Moderators. Shannon is Director of Campus Ministries at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL and Ufford-Chase, Moderator of the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), had served as the Fellowship’s Director and Co-Director since 2006.

A new staff plan affirmed Emily Brewer and Rev. Fritz Gutwein as Co-Executive Directors. Brewer, a 2015 graduate of Union Theological Seminary in New York and a candidate for ordination under the care of East Tennessee Presbytery, will serve full-time. Gutwein, who also works in faith-based housing development in Washington DC, will serve as part-time Co-Director.

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