Commentary: Defining Moments

Written by Karen Marysdaughter

As a UCC member in Monroe, Maine, and a leader of the fossil fuel divestment movement in our state, which is actively reaching out to faith communities, I was concerned by the focus of the story featured on the back of the January 11, 2015 UCC Sunday Bulletin titled “Defining Moments.”  

Although the stated topic of the story was the response to General Synod 29’s divestment resolution, the primary focus was on shareholder engagement, not divestment.  

Both within the UCC and elsewhere, there are differing views about the effectiveness of shareholder engagement vis-à-vis divestment, but that was not reflected in the bulletin.  Rather, shareholder engagement was referred to with phrases like “wins the race,” “hold companies accountable,” “tremendous response,” and “trust process,” while the only word used in relation to divestment was “impatient.”

Unfortunately, I think the bulletin gave the impression that shareholder engagement is clearly the more effective approach, despite what appears to be a pretty dismal response from fossil fuel companies.  They continue to seek to maximize the return on their investments from exploiting existing reserves and seeking new sources of oil, gas and coal, while reducing any commitment to renewable energy.

I realize that it is very difficult to communicate complex issues in a small space such as the back of a Sunday Bulletin. I’m aware of the hard work the UCC has done on shareholder activism; the lack of progress on that front is not due to lack of diligence on the church’s part.  And I am proud of the UCC for leading the way on fossil fuel divestment, as well as United Church Funds for offering a fossil free investment option.  I hope these points can be emphasized in future UCC materials for local congregations.

Karen Marysdaughter is a member of the Monroe Community Church United Church of Christ in Monroe, Maine, and a leader of Maine’s fossil fuel divestment movement, which is actively reaching out to faith communities.  

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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