No to Divestment

Well, I'll be.

The Assembly took the whole morning (except for worship and lunch. from 8:30 am till 2:15pm, to come up wth their answer regarding devesting from fossil fuel stocks as a denomination. Given the direction this assembly has gone, I am surprised at their answer - but they voted NOT to divest and to take a more moderate position.

You can skip this paragraph if you're not a polity wonk. There were two pieces of action that came to the assembly: one from Hudson River asking for full divestment of all stocks related to fossil fuels, and one from New Covenant asking for engagement with oil companies as well as more responsible action on the part of consumers: i.e., using less oil, walking more, not requiring plastic straws, etc. As if to say - we have a role in protecting the environment as well as do the big oil companies.

When they came to the committee, after due consideration the commitee voted to send the Hudson River one (divestment) to the floor. Almost mmediately, a substitute motion followed which was a minority report from the committee. As is the case with substitute motion, the body had to amend and "perfect" the motio8n till it was where they wanted it. And then they had to do the same to the original motion. That's what took all the time.

After both were "perfected," then the question became, "shall the substitute become the main?" In other words, do we want to vote on the substitute motion instead of the main one? And sure enough, that's what they voted to do.

I think one of the most influential statements during this debate came from Ted Wardlaw, President of Austin Seminary. He spoke theologically in favor of the substitute motion, noting that someone earlier had said that unless one is in favor of divestment, one should not come to the communion table. Ted noted that it is FROM the table that each of us moves into the world to live and act as God's beloved. And as is frequently the case, he's right. I don't know whose helpful idea it was to exclude others from the communion table, but I'm not sure I can think of an appropriate time or place to do that if one is living and acting as a person of faith.

In that same light, I am pleased that there was no applause, or boos, or any reaction when the vote was declared. I know that there is grief on the "other side" of the issue. But I for one am glad that we can continue together down a fairly thoughtful path as we seek to do the right thing.


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