Divestment from Fossil Fuel Company Stocks

Written by David Kepley, FACS Secretary, May 2021.

On March 23, the National Capital Presbytery (NCP) voted to divest its holdings in fossil fuel companies. The vote was 82%-18%. The NCP includes about 110 churches in the greater Washington, DC area with over 30,000 members. FACS Board member David Kepley was one of the leaders of this effort, which has been about 18 months in the making. The practical effect of this action will cause the divestment of over $500,000 of funds from the securities of fossil fuel companies.

The proponents of divestment cited two main reasons for this action: moral and financial.

Morally, the presbytery should not be profiting off that which harms others. The human impacts of our continued use of fossil fuels is disastrous for the poorest, most vulnerable members of our human family, the ones Jesus called “the least of these.” The American Lung Association estimates that more than 150 million people live in areas where the air quality puts their health at risk.

The companies that profit from despoiling the earth and endangering its inhabitants are also guilty of undermining and falsifying the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change. This hinders our ability to adopt policies that help us mitigate global climate disaster.

Financially, it might have been true once that fossil fuel securities were a good investment, but that is no longer the case. For example, ExxonMobil was recently taken out of the S&P 500.

To be a prophetic voice in our community and to profit from better investments, the NCP has divested.

Want to learn more? Two youth from the presbytery interviewed David Kepley and Mark Eakin about their roles in the divestment process. Read the interview.

Want to learn more about how to be a personal investor who invests your values? A member of the National Capital Presbytery Earth Care Network, Kent Myers, offers his investment advice.