The United Church of Christ will divest from fossil fuels in an attempt to battle climate change.
The church will be the first major church in the U.S. to vote to divest from environmentally unhealthy substances, according to a church statement.
"Today, the national Synod of 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," Rev. Jim Antal, who is a leader of the resolution said.
The resolution was proposed by the Massachusetts Conference and backed by 10 others. The church hopes to find fossil fuel-free investment options and identify the "best in class" fuel companies by 2015. Their plan is to have divested from all fossil fuel investments except for those deemed "best in class" as soon as 2018.
Antal called this an "oxymoron" because no companies are likely to be worthy of this title.
"This resolution becomes a model for all faith communities who care about God's creation and recognize the urgent scientific mandate to keep at least 80 percent of the known oil, gas and coal reserves in the ground. . . This vote expresses our commitment to the future. By this vote, we are amplifying our conviction with our money," Antal said.
Several delegates expressed concerns during the floor debate that such resolutions could hurt certain states economically. Montana, Wyoming and Kentucky are especially dependent on the fossil-fuel industry for jobs and revenue.
"Let's talk real divestment here," Mark Wampler of the Iowa Conference said. "Divest yourself of your airline tickets and find a non-carbon way to go home."
The General Synod also resolved to make religious buildings more eco-friendly.
"The encouragement portions of the resolution are what resonated with many committee members," said Brace. "By reducing our carbon footprint, we are helping the environment one step at a time," Sara Brace, committee chair and delegate from the Pennsylvania Northeast Conference said.