First Church in UK Divests From Fossil Fuels
This week, Brighthelm Church and Community Center in Brighton became the first church in the United Kingdom to divest from fossil fuel. “We don’t want our money to support an industry that is killing the planet,” said Brighthelm’s minister, Rev. Alex Mabbs. “Instead, we want to contribute to a world in which all life can flourish.”
Divestment has been a major issue for educational institutions like Stanford and Harvard, as well as religious groups across the world. Archbishop Desmond Tutu and United Nations climate change secretariat Christian Figueres have linked the moral imperative to divest from fossil fuels to the historical anti-apartheid and slavery boycotts. “Dear friends, for the first time in history we human beings now have the power to alter the physical foundations of life on this planet,” said Figueres. “But as ever throughout history we also have the responsibility to set the ethical foundation of our global society. We have done this with slavery and with apartheid. It’s time to do it with climate change.”
Many religious groups have answered the call. In December 2012, the board of directors for the Massachusetts Conference of the United Church of Christ became the first religious body in the United States to vote to divest its assets from fossil fuels. In April 2013, the Uniting Church of New South Whales & ACT in Australia also made the bold step to divest, directing their investments into renewable energy instead. Now the United Kingdom has joined the list of countries with religious organizations willing to make this brave and important step.
“One of our core values at Brighthelm is sustainability,” said Mabbs. “It is increasingly clear that the burning of fossil fuels is not sustainable. Through its direct effect on climate change and increasingly intensive extraction methods it is causing huge damage to the environment and harming animals, plants, and humans.”
Hopefully, Brighthelm will serve as an example for other religious groups. In February, the General Synod of the Church of England voted overwhelmingly to “review” its investment policies. In addition, the Vatican still has yet to respond to a letter sent by multi-faith groups in North America and Australia to Pope Francis calling on the Catholic Church to divest. The time for these religious groups to consider divesting has passed.
The effects of climate change may cause suffering to large populations of people, as well as harm to creation. Religious groups have a moral obligation to act. Many thanks to Brighthelm for doing what’s right.
News and Photo Source: Fossil Free