Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Divests Endowment of Fossil Fuels

Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew United Methodist Divests Endowment of Fossil Fuels

5/1/2015

The Board of Trustees of the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew has voted unanimously to divest its endowment of fossil fuel-related investments. The decision, made March 19, 2015, was based on both ethical and financial factors.
 
The Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew joins a growing number of churches and religious groups that have deemed the behavior of the fossil fuel industry unacceptable, and are taking an active role in opposing its influence and tactics. The suffering, loss of life and loss of habitat that climate change promises—and has already begun—to inflict, directly violates the Christian calling to love one’s neighbor, serve and protect the poor, provide for future generations and act as stewards of God’s creation.
 
James F. Karpen, senior pastor at St. Paul and St. Andrew, says, “It is vital that the investments of a religious community be in harmony with our Biblical and ethical commitments; anything less smacks of hypocrisy. The current trajectory of the fossil fuel industry spells violence towards the environment and the people and creatures who share it. It is the sort of thing that must make God weep.”
 
The Board of Trustees’ decision to divest was also grounded in financial and economic concerns. Gary Matthews, of First Affirmative Financial Network, LLC, advised that the balance sheet values of most large fossil fuel companies were arguably overstated due to listed fossil fuel reserves that would not be produced or burned due to severe climate change impacts. Investors will eventually recognize these “stranded” assets as essentially worthless and the stock prices of these companies will likely suffer as a result. Thus divesting from fossil fuel companies might actually enhance the endowment’s long-term performance.
 
Rosina Pohlmann, leader of the St. Paul and St. Andrew Green Team, says “Our hope is that the larger United Methodist Church will see this action and similar actions in other churches as incentive to take up the call for divestment.” Three days prior to the Trustees’ decision to divest, St. Paul and St. Andrew’s Church Council voted unanimously to endorse a resolution put forth by grassroots movement Fossil Free UMC to divest the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits of fossil fuels. The resolution will be brought to regional Annual Conferences in June and then forwarded to the General Conference in 2016.
 
St. Paul and St. Andrew is a progressive and welcoming United Methodist congregation on Manhattan's Upper West Side. www.stpaulandstandrew.org

Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew (United Methodist)
263 W. 86th Street, New York, NY 10024
 
Contact:
Rev. James F. Karpen, Senior Pastor
k@stpaulandstandrew.org
212-362-3179 (ext. 133)
 
Rosina Pohlmann
green@stpaulandstandrew.org
646-942-4377