100 signatures reached
To: Luther Seminary Board
Seek to Divest Luther Seminary from Fossil Fuel Companies
With gratitude for what God our Creator has given us—bodies, health, food, clothing and all that is ours;
With humility, loving-kindness, and a concern for doing justice as we live out God's call to be good stewards of the earth (Micah 6:8, Gen. 2:15);
With hope for the future of Luther Seminary;
And with hope for future generations of creatures and the new creation to come;
We propose that the Luther Seminary board:
1. Identifies whether the seminary has investments in fossil fuel companies;
2. Communicates openly with the undersigned about the sum of these investments or lack thereof;
3. Seeks to divest from fossil fuel companies if we indeed have investments there.
We hope that this process of investigation and sharing is filled with gospel hope and gratitude for what God has given us and with love for our neighbors. Peace and thanks for your prayerful consideration. Students from Voca: Gospel and Justice, a Luther student group that is sponsoring this petition, will be following up with you as partners in this effort.
Why is this important?
As Luther Seminary has been facing a financial crisis these last months, our world has been entrenched in a global climate crisis. Half of the Arctic ice cap has melted, oceans have grown in acidity by 30 percent, and the frequency and severity of super-storms and droughts has risen. All of these mounting trends—and many more—seriously compromise the interdependent ecological systems that sustain life and civilization as we know it. These effects of climate change have already hurt vulnerable populations—and the poor will continue to suffer first and most. As a robust consensus of scientists has concluded, global climate change is caused by a wide range of human activities, with the burning of fossil fuels being by far the greatest contributing source.
These two crises—Luther’s and the world’s—may seem to have nothing to do with one another. However, our own crisis gives us a unique opportunity to reevaluate our financial priorities and figure out how to invest our money in ways that serve the neighbor and reflect our calling as stewards of the earth.
Earlier this year in The Christian Century, Bill McKibben issued a call to churches (and universities and other institutions) to divest from fossil fuel companies. Given the wealth and lobbying power of fossil fuel companies, it is very hard to make the systemic changes needed to move towards a more sustainable energy economy based on improving energy efficiency, decreasing fossil fuel consumption, and investing in renewable sources like sun and wind. However, these systemic political changes are needed if we are to stay below the 2-degree Celsius warming limit that world nations have agreed to. Right now, fossil fuel industries have five times as much fossil fuel in reserve as we can possibly burn to remain at or safely below this limit.
McKibben, a climate activist, writer, and college professor, is also a Methodist Sunday school teacher and has written a book on the theology of Job. He and others have turned to people of faith to act as responsible stewards and leaders in the face of this crisis. The Massachusetts UCC conference has already passed a resolution calling for denomination-wide divestment. They write:
“We can’t continue to profit from wrecking God’s creation—not through our pensions, not through our endowments, not by our personal investments. As Jesus said: ‘Where your treasure is, there is your heart also.’”
As a seminary community rooted in the Lutheran tradition, we can also turn to Martin Luther’s writings about creation to inform our action. In his Large Catechism, Luther writes movingly of the first article of the creed—I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth:
“Here much could be said if we were to describe how few people believe this article. We all pass over it; we hear it and recite it, but we neither see nor think about what the words command us to do. For if we believed it with our whole heart, we would also act accordingly, and not swagger about and boast and brag as if we had life, riches, power, honor, and such things of ourselves, as if we ourselves were to be feared and served. This is the way the wretched, perverse world acts, drowned in its blindness, misusing all the blessings and gifts of God solely for its own pride, greed, pleasure, and enjoyment, and never once turning to God to thank him or acknowledge him as Lord or Creator.”
We hope that this petition is considered with prayers for creation and for Luther Seminary. Students from Voca: Gospel and Justice, a Luther student group that is sponsoring this petition, hopes to walk with the board and the seminary as this process continues.
Bill McKibben, “Playing Offense,” The Christian Century, January 9, 2013, 26-29. Also accessible online: http://www.christiancentury.org/article/2012-12/playing-offense.
You can read a copy of the UCC divestment resolution here: http://macucc.org/pages/detail/2563
Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert, eds. The Book of Concord: The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2000).