Belfast Telegraph

Church is urged not to invest in fossil fuel firms

Questions: Stephen Trew
Questions: Stephen Trew
Allan Preston

By Allan Preston

Presbyterians have been challenged by a rival denomination to ditch fossil fuels.

The call came from a business leader in the Church of Ireland, ahead of the Presbyterian General Assembly which begins today.

Stephen Trew, the Church of Ireland's divestment leader, said his church and the Catholic Church in Ireland had already voted to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.

He said he hoped the Presbyterian Church would act on a climate report it produced last year called Care for God's Creation.

The report called for a "practical application of what we can do as a denomination, as churches and as individual members to care for God's world and to reduce our adverse impact on it".

Mr Trew questioned why the report did not include a commitment not to invest in fossil fuel firms: "To avoid a catastrophic two-degree rise in global heating, 80% of current fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground. So why are churches still investing in fossil fuel companies?"

A spokesperson for the Presbyterian Church in Ireland said no decision on the matter would be made today.

"The Church will be looking at a very broad range of church-related issues and areas of public policy this week," he said.

"As business for this year's General Assembly has already been agreed, climate change and areas relating to it will not be debated again during this Assembly.

"At last year's General Assembly, the Church commended a substantial report on climate change and encouraged congregations to consider how its conclusions might challenge lifestyle choices on the ground through practical day-to-day action.

"The report asked us all to think more about the way God has called us to be stewards of his creation, and such issues should, no doubt, be at the forefront of our minds."

There are just under 220,000 Presbyterian Church members in Ireland belonging to 536 congregations across 19 presbyteries.

Current Moderator, Rt Rev Dr Charles McMullen, will perform one of his last duties this evening with a review of his year in office.

The Moderator-Designate, Rev William Henry of Maze Presbyterian Church, will then be officially nominated and elected by the General Assembly 2019/20.

At 50, he will be one of the youngest Moderators in living memory, the 174th to be elected since 1840 and the fifth to come from a Lisburn congregation.

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