This week we are fortunate to hear from lay deputy Paul Castelli, who served as assistant secretary for the legislative committee on environmental stewardship. As we work individually and in our communities in response to the effects of climate change, the work of this committee addressed the actions that the Episcopal Church can take to reduce support of the fossil fuel industry while encouraging sustainable energy sources. Their work also looked for ways that we, as God’s Church, can support environmental justice for all.
As a first time lay deputy from the Diocese of Michigan, I was given the opportunity by the president of the House of Deputies to serve as the assistant secretary on the new Legislative Committee No. 16 – Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation. The gathered committee (as is the case with all legislative committees at General Convention) was really a gathering of two committees, representing both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops, with a shared leadership and meeting structure. Our joint committee was assigned 12 resolutions and we created two.
Of the 12 resolutions that we received at the beginning of convention many were redundant, having come from different authors. Therefore, we decided to discharge all redundant resolutions into appropriate single resolutions to send to the House of Bishops, our house of initial action. In particular, resolution C045 for Environmentally Responsible Investing became an amalgam of a number of resolutions advocating for fossil fuel divestment and clean energy reinvestment. After hearing testimony on both sides of this complicated issue, we recommended that the two houses of General Convention act in favor of the composite resolution that we drafted. With the adoption of this resolution, General Convention calls upon the Investment Committee of the Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, and the Episcopal Church Foundation to divest from fossil fuel interests in as timely and fiscally responsible manner as possible while reinvesting those funds in clean, renewable energies. We also encourage all diocese and parishes to engage this matter in conversation over the coming year. It is important to note, as it was part of our committee’s decision-making process, that fossil fuel investment was a negligible percentage of the Episcopal Church’s total investments.
The other major resolution that we put forward to the houses was A030, which will result in the creation of a new advisory council on the Stewardship of Creation. The advisory council will oversee the creation and work of Regional Consultative Groups in the nine provinces of the Episcopal Church. The RCGs are to be interdisciplinary groups that will both analyze the impact on climate change in their respective regions and develop initiatives for the Church to respond to these issues.
C013 states the Episcopal Church’s official stance against environmental racism and A170 encourages the Episcopal Public Policy Network to continue its work for food system advocacy. A171 is a commendation on the Papal Encyclical Letter Laudato Si’of Pope Francis, encouraging our Presiding Bishop to write a Pastoral Letter to the Church on climate change before the United Nations Climate Change Summit in Paris in late 2015.
You can find the full text of the resolutions here along with a summary of all the actions of General Convention –
Thank you, Paul, for your fine work serving our Household!!
Let us pray –
you formed us from the dust of the earth,
and reveal your fingerprints in all flesh.
Teach us your deep wisdom in the order and beauty
of all that you have made.
When our care for your creation is found wanting,
reprove and reform us,
so that our footprints may be more gentle on the earth,
tending and keeping it as your own handiwork,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
From the Anglican Church of Australia Trust Corporation
~ Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee, Diocesan Council