At the end of March, the Annual Assembly of the Metropolitan New York Synod, one of the most populous geographical divisions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), resolved to divest from fossil fuels within five years. The Synod Assembly also voted to ask the national body of the church to do the same at the Church-wide Assembly in 2016. We are grateful to leaders from NYIPL who participated in this very significant step forward!
The divestment resolutions were the culmination of work that began shortly after the People’s Climate March in New York City last September that elevated the climate crisis as a moral issue. Gerard A. Falco, Chair of New York Interfaith Power & Light and Chair of the Synod’s Environmental Stewardship Committee explained, “Lutherans from our Synod and across the country were deeply involved in organizing the People’s Climate March and making it the success it was. The march galvanized public opinion, and our committee decided to build on that momentum to get these divestment resolutions passed.”
The Metro New York Synod now joins the New England and Oregon Synods, as well as many other congregations and religious bodies in the US and abroad, in divesting from coal, oil, and natural gas companies because of their damaging effects on the climate. This religious divestment movement parallels the strong student-led campaign to divest colleges and universities, and the growing campaign to divest state and municipal pension funds.
Robert Rimbo, Bishop of the Metro NY Synod, said “With this action, our Synod joins the chorus of those who acknowledge that ‘if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.’ This is a fiscally responsible step, but it’s also the right thing to do. As Christians, we are called to care for all Creation. As Luther himself wrote, ‘God is essentially present in all places, even the tiniest tree leaf,’ so ‘to do harm to Creation is also to assault God. And when humans assault God, there is only one outcome, and it is not a good one for humans.’ With these resolutions, we’ve taken a further step in living out our Lutheran vocation.”
The Metropolitan NY Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church covers the five boroughs of New York City and Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester counties. The Synod has approximately 64,000 baptized members in 190 congregations served by about 300 pastors and 100 lay leaders. For more information, visit http://www.mnys.org/. For the texts of the resolutions, go to http://tinyurl.com/MNYS-ELCA-resolutions.