Resolved, that the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, divest itself of any assets currently invested in companies involved in the fossil fuel industry (e.g., oil, gas, coal, and unconventional fuels such as tar sands and oil shale) and undertake no such new investments without congregational approval.
Be it further resolved that the First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah,
encourage other churches, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and other
religious denominations to do the same.
Interest in the idea among our members was sparked by the visit of Bill McKibben to
Salt Lake City in December, 2012, during which he urged divestment by colleges and
universities, churches, and other socially-conscious organizations. Since First Unitarian fits that description and most members and friends are acutely aware of climate change and the environmental destruction caused by burning of fossil fuels, it represents an opportunity to do our part in an effort to help preserve a livable planet for ourselves, our children and grandchildren, and generations yet unborn. Clearly the overwhelming majority of scientific opinion regards climate change and human responsibility for it as
a serious and potentially catastrophic threat.
As the primary investment entity in First Unitarian, the Endowment Fund Committee
was consulted early in the process and subsequently conducted substantial research into the possible economic impact of divestment on the Endowment Fund. Since many of
the most profitable mutual funds do invest in fossil fuel companies, it seems likely that efforts in the future to “grow” the Fund may be impacted to some degree. Nevertheless, members of the Endowment Fund Committee find themselves in sympathy with the
idea behind the resolution, and, should the proposal receive congregational approval,
will dedicate themselves to finding still-profitable investments free from fossil fuel
involvement. Consideration of the possibility of investing our Endowment Fund’s
assets in the UUA Common Endowment Fund in Boston has been abandoned for the
time being in view of the UUA’s current investment in a number of fossil fuel companies. Some supporters of the proposal hope that local contributions to the Endowment Fund will actually be increased by members and friends who appreciate the decision to divest.
Contributors to the Endowment Fund are assured that moral principle is valued over income earned. In a free church, the decisions made by individuals concerning their private investments are obviously theirs to make in accordance with their personal consciences and priorities.
With these understandings, the resolution is placed before the congregation for approval.