Riverside Community Church in Hood River has become the first faith-based congregation in the Gorge and the first within the Central Pacific Conference of the United Church of Christ (UCC) to vote to divest funds from the fossil fuel industry.
The action, adopted at a congregational meeting on May 15, makes Riverside one of a rapidly growing number of organizations, individuals and foundations in the nation that have chosen to divest from the fossil fuel industry because they recognize the moral obligation to take into account how financial investment decisions and activities affect all of planetary life now and into the future. Others joining in the movement to divest (now up to $3.4 trillion) includes the World Council for Churches; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; US Cities of Minneapolis, Portland, Seattle, Oakland and San Francisco; Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon; Stanford University, University of Washington; and over 500 other major institutions worldwide.
Rev. John Boonstra, a member of Riverside and a Creation Justice Minister in the United Church of Christ said the vote recognized the harm that the business plan of the fossil fuel industry is perpetuating on the planet and its inhabitants. “They have known for more than 20 years that the burning of their product is a major contributor to the warming of the planet. Yet, much like the tobacco industry, they have tried to hide the truth and sow doubt in the minds of people and policy makers in order to protect their hundreds of billions of dollars of profit.”
The resolutions affirmed commitments made by the national United Church of Christ (UCC) and the regional UCC church to 1) reduce the use of fossil fuels and our carbon footprint, 2) to fully divest from investment in the fossil fuels industry (oil, coal and natural gas), 3) to seek out fossil-fuel free investments that are guided by socially responsible investment principles, and 4) to vigorously search for investing funds diverted from fossil fuels into funds of sustainable and renewable energy. “Our faith compels us to say ‘no’ to this destructive industry so that we might say ‘yes’ to businesses that are committed to provide renewable energy for a sustainable future” Boonstra added.