Update on Natural World Investment Screen Resolution

November 04, 2014

The California-Nevada Conference Committee on Advocacy and Justice has awarded a $500 Peace with Justice Grant to Earth Justice Ministries and has designated the Reverend Sharon Delgado to facilitate communication and action on the 2014 Annual Conference Resolution in support of an investment screen expressing United Methodist Social Principles on the Natural World.  The resolution directs:
 
“that the California Nevada Annual Conference Committee on Advocacy and Justice, Conference Board of Pensions, and Council on Finance and Administration convene a consultative process with the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to explore an investment screen which would guide United Methodists’ investment decisions specifically related to The Natural World (¶160) section of the Social Principles…” and
 
“that the goal of the consultative process be a progress report at the 2015 California Nevada Annual Conference Session and the timely submission of General Conference legislation for the denomination as a whole.”
 
This resolution was passed almost unanimously without debate on the floor of Annual Conference when presented as a substitute motion to “Go Fossil Free:  Resolution in support of Divestment from Fossil Fuel Companies.”  The goal of focusing on an investment screen instead of divestment was to avoid the possible legal complications that could come with divesting from fossil fuels on a company by company basis.  Those who are working on this issue in Cal-Nevada also hoped to create clear communication among boards and agencies, a more cooperative process, and a broader effect in the United Methodist Church than a simple divestment resolution might bring.  For more about how the substitute motion developed, see the article on the Fossil Free UMC blog by Sharon Delgado:  We Can Do this:  A Natural World Investment Screen.
 
The rationale for either divestment from fossil fuels or for creating a fossil fuels investment screen is to practice what we United Methodists preach about climate change.  The immediate goal of the process here in California-Nevada is to determine whether consensus can be reached on a suitable resolution to be presented at the 2015 Cal-Nevada Annual Conference, to then be forwarded on as a resolution to the 2016 General Conference. 
 
People who are interested in helping to further this process are invited to become knowledgeable about the issues related to this resolution and to engage in this conversation.  Rev. Delgado is available to share information and resources about climate change, fossil fuels divestment and investment screens, the Fossil Free UMC movement, and related issues and developments.  She offers Power Point presentations on these topics. Contact Rev. Delgado by clicking here.
 
For an overview of Fossil Free UMC, the movement to get The United Methodist Church out of fossil fuel investments, watch this prerecorded 14-minute Fossil Free UMC Webinar with the Rev. Jenny Phillips, coordinator of Fossil Free UMC.  You can find out more at the Fossil Free UMC website or at the Fossil Free UMC FaceBook Page
 
Resolution in support of an investment screen expressing United Methodist Social Principles on The Natural World.
 
Passed by the 2014 California-Nevada Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
Whereas unintended consequences deriving from attempted directives to divest from certain industries for social purposes include the possibility of legal liability for the violation of trust agreements, and
 
Whereas the United Methodist Church has had a strong and historic positive experience guiding investment decisions by adopting screens within its investment policy that state principled objectives rather than “picking stocks”, and
 
Whereas the Social Principles are organized into sections (The Natural World (160), The Nurturing Community (161), The Social Community (162), The Economic Community (163), The Political Community (164), The World Community (165)) and the first of them, The Natural Community has heretofore not been represented within the United Methodist system of investment screens, and
 
Whereas the desire to reflect our social principles in investment applies not only to General Agency funds, but also to Annual Conference Foundations and other endowments, United Methodist institutions and local churches,
 
Therefore Be it Resolved that the California Nevada Annual Conference Committee on Advocacy and Justice, Conference Board of Pensions, and Council on Finance and Administration convene a consultative process with the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits to explore an investment screen which would guide United Methodists’ investment decisions specifically related to The Natural World (¶160) section of the Social Principles, and
 
Be It Further Resolved that the goal of the consultative process be a progress report at the 2015 California Nevada Annual Conference Session and the timely submission of General Conference legislation for the denomination as a whole.