The United Church of Christ (UCC) is known for its progressive stances on women's issues, LGBT rights and economic justice. So it is no surprise that they have adopted a strategy to combat climate change at their annual convention underway in Long beach, Calif.
However, the vote by the General Synod to investigate, and possibly divest from fossil fuel companies was hailed in an interview with The Huffington Post as a first by any religious group and the first by a national body of any kind.
“Today, the UCC added another ‘first’ when it became the first national faith communion to vote to divest from fossil fuel companies –- and to do it with the support of its major investment institution, United Church Funds,” said the Rev. Jim Antal, conference minister of the Massachusetts Conference of the UCC and a major proponent of the resolution.
Antal had been spending a lot of time over the last eight years working on climate change issues, but he said it was when he read a piece by Bill McKibben in Rolling Stone called "Global Warming's Terrifying New Math" that he knew he had to do something. He wrote the resolution last Thanksgiving, and since then ten other conferences joined the Massachusetts group to support the divestment bill.
What makes Antal the most excited is that he worked closely with the denomination's investment group in the planning of the resolution so that the end result is feasible proposal that can be implemented by any pension board.
Since the passage of the resolution, Antal has heard from other clergy of other denominations who have congratulated him and indicated that they are interested in following the United Church of Christ's example.
But perhaps no reaction is as satisfying is the one from the man who in a sense inspired Antal a year ago. McKibben tweeted his own reaction to the UCC's resolution:
Just got news that the United Church of Christ has voted to divest from fossil fuels. This is incredibly important news
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) July 1, 2013