Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: The Wi$dom Path: An Adult Program on Money, Spirit, and Life

Story 1: Unitarian Universalist Association Approves Fossil Fuel Divestment

Part of The Wi$dom Path

By Donald E. Skinner, Christopher Walton, published by UU World online, June 30, 2014

Delegates to the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 53rd General Assembly approved divesting the UUA of most of its investments in companies that produce or process fossil fuels, including oil, natural gas, and coal.

The June 28 vote in Providence, R.I., was held after 30 minutes of debate, but the resolution had overwhelming support. A wave of yellow voting cards rose when Moderator Jim Key asked for votes in favor of the business resolution.

The divestment resolution (PDF) was carefully crafted over the past year and had the support of environmental activists, including the organization UU Ministry for Earth, as well as the UUA administration and Board of Trustees.

The resolution permits the UUA to keep some fossil fuel stocks in companies with which the UUA is engaged in shareholder actions seeking environmental justice. “The UUA has a long-standing history of fighting for our environment,” President Peter Morales said in a statement after the vote. “I am proud that we are going to put our money where our values are on this issue.”

At a mini-assembly about the resolution on Friday, June 27, the Rev. Peggy Clarke, minister of First Unitarian Society of Westchester in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., did propose one amendment, but it was defeated. Clarke asked that the UUA not be allowed to keep any fossil fuel investments. She said she didn’t believe that shareholder activism would work with this issue. “We’re not talking about asking a company to make a minor modification. We’re talking about the core of the industry. No activism will work in this case.”

Terry Wiggins, a member of First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, led the crafting of the agreement over the past year, along with the UU Ministry for Earth, the UUA Socially Responsible Investing Committee, and Treasurer Brennan. “We, private citizens and the private and nonprofit sectors, need to take matters into our own hands,” Wiggins said, “and use every strategy we can to convince the government and public at large of our planetary emergency, and that we must act now.”