Dean Letter: Climate Change and Our Church

“The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world and all who dwell therein.”  
– Psalm 24:1     
Dear St. Paul’s family,
In 2019 our Endowment Committee voted to reallocate  about $700,000 of our stock holdings to a fossil-free fund managed by our investment adviser, State Street Global. This represented 24% of our $3 million endowment fund and 31% of our stock holdings. The new fund owns a cross-section of the stock market, as measured by the Standard and Poor’s 500 index, minus oil stocks. In addition, each company in the fund has pledged to move toward 100% fossil-free use over the next 20 to 30 years. (A recent proposal in Congress, the Green New Deal, aspires to 100% over the next 10 years.) We feel a strong spiritual obligation to do our part in combating the near-certain ravages of climate change in the years ahead, taking seriously our role as stewards of God’s creation (Genesis chapter 1; First Letter to the Corinthians 10:26).
We hope that eventually all of our endowment funds will be invested in fossil-free companies. The S&P 500 fossil-free fund was the first such fund to be approved by State Street. Historically, the absence of oil and gas stocks would not have hurt our performance. Other funds we own, such as international stocks, are still a work in progress. Prudent investment management dictates that we see a decent three-to-five-year track record before investing further.
Our Anglican cousins at the Church of England, working with the UK government, are rapidly moving in the same direction. Outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May last year announced Parliament’s aim to reduce emissions by 2050 from the original target of 80 per cent to “net zero”. Bishop Nicholas Holtam of Salisbury, the Church of England’s lead bishop on the environment, said: “this announcement is very welcome, and the UK can be proud to be setting an example…Christians and people of all faiths have long called for action on climate change both to preserve the natural world on which we all rely, and to protect God’s creation for generations to come….Climate change affects us all, but the world’s poorest are most vulnerable to extreme weather events and the least able to cope with the impact. It is imperative for us as Christians to press for action to deal with these threats….Ours is the first generation to know the full scale of the risks posed by climate change and could be the last able to do anything meaningful about it.”
We are proud to stand with our sisters and brothers in the Anglican Communion and across the world.
Your sister in Christ,

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