You’ve no doubt seen the media attention given to the United Church of Christ’s General Synod vote on July 1 to support a resolution titled Urging Divestment – Along with Other Strategies – from Fossil Fuel Companies. Many media outlets are picking up on a word that appears only once in the “be it resolved” clauses of the resolution: divestment. Focusing on divestment, however, doesn’t tell the full story of the changes the Church has committed to accomplishing — 

  1. All participants of the Church, from the individual congregant to the national ministries, are encouraged to make public witness to the realities of climate change in the form of activism, advocacy for a legislative response, and the use of intentional investment practices “up to and including divestment.”
  2. The financial ministries of the Church are asked to continue their longstanding social responsibility programs by prioritizing shareholder engagements with fossil fuel companies to encourage positive change in the corporations we own.
  3. Within 18 months, churches and ministries affiliated with the denomination will be offered an opportunity to invest in a new United Church Funds investment option that will be free of fossil fuel companies — our existing funds will remain unchanged for investors who do not favor divestment.
  4. United Church Funds will create a set of metrics by which the “best in class” fossil fuel companies will remain eligible for investment — an iterative process that will begin with the first set of metrics published by June 2015.

Because the original resolution simply called for divestment, United Church Funds became deeply involved in reaching this collaborative and mutually agreeable set of “be it resolved” clauses. And we have just begun this journey of change, embarking on a learning-intensive and launching the lengthy process of creating a multi-year roadmap to implementation.

In an initiative of this magnitude, change occurs over time. United Church Funds will follow a steady and careful course of research and discussion, pursuing the multi-step process identified in the resolution with diligence and care. We look forward to including our clients in this process of education and adaptation, and we invite your thoughts and feedback at [email protected].