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Should Your Church Divest?

In the 21st century, religious congregations and committees must face the necessary integration of creation care with their commitment to stewardship. This isn’t a question of if, it’s a question of how. Simply having awareness of environmental and social issues is no longer an option for stewardship. Awareness needs to shift to tangible results by actively caring for the world in which we live.

Recently, there have been multiple opportunities for denomination leaders to consider taking their commitments to stewardship one step further in their fiduciary priorities. By divesting their investments from fossil fuel portfolios, they can then reinvest to sustainable and responsible investments. These actions often set a precedent for individual congregations to follow suit with their priorities for creation care and church finances.

On an individual congregation level, it can be challenging to serve on a finance committee when there are differing opinions and feedback on how church funds should be disbursed and appropriated. This slows the process for prioritizing investment changes to months, even years.

Finance committees have a main responsibility: to financially do what is in the best interest of the congregation.

This charge can extend beyond simple “dollars and cents” to reset the congregation’s intentions about the types of investments that are owned.

One philosophy gaining major traction in the wake of Pope Francis’s 2015 encyclical ‘Laudato si’ is the concept of selling fossil fuel investments and reinvesting in sustainable and responsible investments.

Most traditionally managed endowments only have to reallocate about 8% of their portfolios to accomplish this shift, and can still maintain competitive returns.

Our team launched ReVest to help congregations navigate this process of shifting investments so they’re more closely aligned with their 21st century priorities in creation care and stewardship. Check out this video featuring Susannah Tuttle, director of NC Interfaith Power and Light (NCIPL) and Pete Krull discussing the concept of ReVest.

Meeting Katharine Hayhoe and Thoughts on Climate Change

Raised by an environmental scientist, I have heard about global warming for as long as I can remember. However, as I am reminded each holiday when I sit down with extended family and friends, there are still many people I know and love who do not accept climate change.

This past Thanksgiving, I experienced a major turning point when my grandmother said that based on all the changes she has noticed, she is ‘beginning to believe’ global warming is real.  She wondered aloud: how was global warming becoming a religious or political topic?

Dr. Katharine Hayhoe did a marvelous job covering that question during her keynote at First Baptist in Asheville on April 5.

photo by Dayna Ruggerio

photo by Dayna Ruggerio

In her talk, “Science, Faith and our Changing Climate,” Dr. Hayhoe said that discussing whether or not someone believes in climate change is like asking if someone believes in gravity – whether or not they do, they are still falling in one direction if they walk off a cliff.

When you ask someone about their belief on climate change, she explained, the problem with asking at all is that it ultimately questions their opinions, identity, and ideology.  This immediately makes a person defensive and emotionally involved.  If someone asked you if you believe in gravity, you would likely feel a little confused by the question, but not have the same strong emotions you experience when asked if you believe in global warming or if you believe in a certain religion.

Dr. Hayhoe makes it clear that she does not believe in global warming.  She knows based on scientific evidence that it is a fact and that humans are causing it.  Unfortunately, because we view and discuss global warming as if it is something to be believed in, it is associated with religious and political ideologies.  This has resulted in barriers in some faith communities to accept climate change as a fact.  And as long as we continue talking about global warming as if it is something to be believed in, there will doubt.

Faith communities can be powerful forces to combat climate change.  Through joint prayer and action, they can make an enormous impact.  A congregation divesting from fossil fuels makes more of an impact than one individual.  A place of worship installing solar panels on its roof makes more of an impact than solar panels on a small home.

Because of the power the faith community has to make this world a better place, it is critical for us to stand together against global warming.

Hopefully we will all one day live in a world where no one believes in global warming, because it is accepted as a fact.

For information on what you can do as part of a faith community, please visit the following sites:

  • ReVest — socially responsible investing for faith organizations and individuals
  • Climate Caretakers — a global community of Christians committed to prayer and action on climate change.
  • Katharine Hayhoe — Katharine Hayhoe’s official site

photo by Dayna Ruggerio

photo by Dayna Ruggerio

 

 

Don’t Miss Climate Change Scientist Dr. Katharine Hayhoe in Asheville

Krull and Company is a proud sponsor of “Science, Faith and our Changing Climate, An Evening with Katharine Hayhoe.”

Who is Dr. Katharine Hayhoe?

Katharine Hayhoe, named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People In the World in 2014, will visit Asheville, North Carolina during April 5-6 for a number of events prior to and after her evening talk. These events, co-sponsored and hosted by MountainTrue and the Creation Care Alliance of Western North Carolina, include a day of prayer, a reception, the evening talk, and a breakfast the following morning. For the full schedule, click here.

Dr. Hayhoe is well-known for the clear connection she makes between science and faith on the subject of climate change. Although she is an atmospheric scientist and Director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University, she is able to explain climate change in simple language and well-understood metaphors. As an evangelical Christian, she makes a strong case for why Christians should care about climate change.

She is featured in the Showtime documentary, “Years of Living Dangerously,” and she co-authored A Climate for Change: Global Warming Facts for Faith-Based Decisions with her husband, Evangelical pastor Andrew Farley.

Who should attend?

Dr. Hayhoe’s events, especially the evening talk, are a great fit for students, individuals, organizations, and religious leaders.

Most importantly, if you are a member of a congregation and you want to learn more about environmental stewardship and understand the faith-climate connection, don’t miss this special evening.

Is the event free?

Yes, and it is open to the public.

I don’t understand the term “faith-climate connection.” Can you explain a bit more?

Dr. Hayhoe introduces the idea in the short video below. We think she’s a wonderful speaker because she doesn’t use a lot of jargon or lingo–she is so clear and concise when discussing climate change. This is a great one to watch prior to seeing her talk next week. BONUS: it features polar bears!

Please RSVP here.