Resolutions passed by the NSW/ACT Synod of the Uniting Church in April show that it is possible for religious institutions to take concerted action on climate change.
The Synod resolved to divest from stocks and shares in corporations engaged in the extraction of fossil fuels, and to redirect investments into renewable energy. Originally proposed by the Church's environmental network Uniting Earthweb, the final wording was agreed with the Synod's investment managers and unanimously passed by the approximately 400 members who were gathered for the meeting.
The Synod's decision connects with the global "Go Fossil Free" divestment campaign being led by 350.org's Bill McKibben, who is visiting Australia (Melbourne, Canberra, Sydney and Brisbane) in June. The campaign encourages universities, religious organisations, local councils and other institutions to get involved. To get a taste, have a look at their 'Do the Math' movie.
A second resolution, again passed by consensus, saw the Synod agree to to call upon the state government to protect important farming land, water resources and conservation areas from coal and coal seam gas mining. The proposal was brought by the New England North West Presbytery (regional Uniting Church body), and reflects growing concern and advocacy within the churches and communities in that part of the state about the escalation of fossil fuel mining.
A third resolution, with unanimous support once again, called upon the Synod and the Assembly to speak and act pastorally as well as prophetically in the Murray-Darling Basin. This resolution followed on from consultation involving farmers, greenies, scientists and pastors from within the church.
The Uniting Church has long been concerned about climate change and matters ecological and environmental. What these resolutions show is the increased mainstreaming of environmental awareness and concern within the Church, the willingness of the Church to put its money where its mouth is, the depth of support for action, as well as what is possible through collaboration across difference.
For more information about the resolutions, see:
Are you interested in working for similar action within your religious institution or organisation? Contact ARRCC to be put in touch with Uniting Church proponents who are happy to share their experiences.