So when my boss, MACUCC Conference Minister & President Jim Antal, mentioned that he would imperil his dignity for the sake of fossil fuel divestment, I seized the opportunity immediately.
My brainstorming was only matched in intensity by Winter Storm Juno (which PS – climate change didn’t make any more fun). I had plenty to fantasize about as I shoveled out my car, and then the sidewalk, and then the path to our backdoor, and then made dinner, and then repeated the process again.
So I shot Jim a perhaps overly enthusiastic email suggesting a variety of humorous and unusual punishments involving everything from chicken suits and banana peels to a Sunday School class brandishing snowballs.
Mind you, there are plenty of good reasons to consider fossil fuel divestment –preserving God’s beautiful Earth, standing up to the most powerful industry ever, helping our churches lead by example, good press, being part of the movement of this generation, good press, living hope, saving the world, polar bears, etc. — but, in case you wanted extra encouragement to consider dumping those ExxonMobil shares, we have one that is fun for the whole family.
“Mom, why are we divesting the church’s assets from fossil fuels?”
“Well, sweetheart, for your future. And so that our Conference Minister gets a pie to the face.”
What does this conversation need to look like to count for its delectable reward, you ask? It can get started among the Green Team, the investment committee, at church council meetings, or in the context of the wider congregation. The conversation can be in person, or digital. We want to know that folks within your church have made headway discussing divestment as a possibility. Send us a photo of your group meeting – because everyone appreciates a nice smile—or send a screenshot, if you go the digital route.
And, what better opportunity to jumpstart a conversation about divestment than Global Divestment Day, which is coming up (with an event in Boston on Thursday, February 12th!). Global Divestment Day can make an excellent deadline to get the ball rolling on the divestment conversation in your church, whether that means speaking to your investment committee, having an informational event in the works, sending out your first email on the subject, or unfurling a “We Divested!” banner.
Want some help getting started? We are currently looking for a church interested in a Divestment 101 talk before or after worship on Sunday, February 8, the Sunday before Divestment Day! Whether or not this Sunday works for you, please reach out if you are interested in an introductory presentation and Q&A from yours truly.
And, if your congregation does take up a conversation about divestment, don’t forget to alert me at firstname.lastname@example.org – otherwise, we might never get the chance to make our Conference Minister & President into a public spectacle!
For more information about Global Divestment Day, and questions about divestment generally, see GoFossilFree.org.
United Church Funds has a fossil free institutional investment fund, Beyond Fossil Fuels, available for churches looking to divest.
GreenFaith brings together divestment and faith with their Global Divestment Day resources for discussion and education.
Patrick Cage served as environmental intern at the Massachusetts Conference, UCC for six months in early 2015. He is a recent graduate of Yale College where he was an environmental studies major with a concentration in religion and the environment,