The Presbyterian Outlook is an independent weekly newsletter covering the life of the PC(USA). This series of articles provides a helpful overview of the actions taken by the 221st General Assembly.
Reported by Stephen Valastro
I have made notes on the plenary for Friday afternoon and I will share those here with you all. Once again when I state that the advisors approved or disapproved I am not breaking it down but taking into account the YAADS, TSADS, Ecumenical advisors and Mission advisors as one unit of advisory delegates.
Plenary began this afternoon at 1:30 and we are actually on schedule for the week. An immense amount of work on your behalf has been done here at General Assembly this week but we are not done. This may turn out to be the longest day this week if history is any example. The plenary opened with prayer from a young volunteer alumnus who spent a year in Northern Ireland as a young man. We have had Ecumenical greetings from all over the world this week and this afternoon the greetings were from right here in the US. Continue reading
Reported by Dale Southorn
The debate on divestment from fossil fuels burned up a lot of energy. There was a lot of hot gas released and the atmosphere was electric. After much debate we ran out of gas and voted to refer the motion like good Presbyterians. We referred it the MIssion Responsibility Through Investment committee. We charged them to report back to us in two years. Good work HRP on making the PC(USA) start an important conversation.
This morning Teaching Elder Jacob Bolton spoke as Hudson River Presbytery’s Overture Advocate on overture 15-01 Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies. (Select Committee 15 and then select Overture 15-01). Here’s the argument he eloquently made:
Good morning, I am Jacob Bolton, a Teaching Elder from the Hudson River Presbytery. Financially, there are three clear reasons to divest from Fossil Fuels.
First, there is a carbon bubble and it is huge. The dot.com bubble of 2002 was roughly $5 trillion while the home equity bubble of 2009 was roughly $7trillion. Financial researchers from numerous management companies, including Bloomberg markets, acknowledge that the carbon bubble is likely a $20 trillion financial catastrophe waiting to happen. We cannot extract and burn all of that carbon; thus soon, very soon, it’s value will drop and recession will again rear its ugly head.
Second, reinvestment in green energy will create new jobs. Renewable energy prices have fallen, meaning it is cheaper to create these technologies and additionally the demand for them is higher. Currently, there are more individuals employed in the US today in solar energy than in the natural gas and coal industries combined. Individual homeowners are having solar panels installed on their homes as a cost savings practice. In the wind, water, and solar industries alone there will be 7.5 million jobs created over the next forty years, not including geothermal which is what heats and cools the building I currently serve. And finally, keeping global warming below the dangerous threshold of 2°C would require a relatively minimal and cost effective investment: “The $44 trillion additional investment needed to decarbonize the energy system by 2050 is more than offset by over $115 trillion in fuel savings – resulting in net savings of $71 trillion.”
And third, we are not hurting our pensions or the foundation by doing this. As of numbers reported in 2013 less than 3% of our collective funds are invested in fossil fuels. This is roughly $200 million we are talking about. Now that seems like a lot to all of us, but let’s get real, all that money will be reinvested, just not in the fossil fuel industry, and honestly, these numbers are incalculable to most of us anyway, and I often wonder what is the more bewildering mystery of faith, the fact that somewhere us Presbys collectively have almost $10 billion invested in the market, or that our creator God could give me the breathtaking responsibility to care for, to love, and provide for this guy, my son, Joseph.
Friends I leave you with a quote from Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary, which just divested from fossil fuels last week, of which I am an alum. “ . . . it is on moral grounds that we pursue divestment, and on theological grounds that we trust it matters. The Christian term for this reckless hope in the power of God to use our decisions of conscience to transform the world is resurrection, and I have faith in the power of resurrection.” Friends, I too have faith in the power of resurrection, and I also have faith in the power of this assembly and the power of this committee. Thank you.
 DBL Investors, Carbon Tracker, SRI Wealth Management Group, RBC Capital Markets
 “US Solar Industry employs more than coal, gas combined”, http://www.greenbiz.com/blog/2014/01/31/us-solar-industry-employs-more-coal-gas-industries-combined
 Tom Van Dyck, interview
 “Energy Technology Perspectives 2014,” International Energy Agency, May 2014.
By Noelle Damico, “Prayers for a New Social Awakening,” eds. Iosso and Hinson-Hasty, Westminster John Knox Press, 2008
Guard your church, O God
From illusions of grandeur
From obeisance to power
From vanity that demands notice
Guard your church, O God
From certainty that exterminates novelty
From uncertainty that precludes action
From neutrality that blesses what is