The session of Heartland Church at our January retreat has approved sending to the Presbytery of Des Moines two overtures for the General Assembly. For those of you who are new to being Presbyterian, the national church gathers in a General Assembly every two years to consider the direction and mission of the Presbyterian Church USA. This year’s gathering is in Baltimore in July. The GA (Presbyterians love acronyms) will consider overtures from many of the Presbyteries from around the country on such= issues as changes to our Book of Order (Presbyterians love order) to advocacy (Presbyterians love to protest) to mission around the world (Presbyterians love mission). It is a raucous affair with much worship, debate, and the joy of being part of God’s Kingdom. You may remember I had the privilege to be a delegate to GA from the Presbytery of Des Moines in 2018.

Both overtures our session is sending to the Presbytery (and on to the GA if the Presbytery agrees) concern the environment and climate change. The first action is to concur with another overture from Monmouth Presbytery (New Jersey) for the PCUSA to divest from the “fossil fuel industry engaged in coal, oil, and gas exploration, extraction, and production” and instead invest in companies with “a predominant focus in renewable energy and efficiency.” The Presbyterian Church USA has a long history of shareholder engagement to hold industries accountable to the just and equitable values Presbyterians seek to uphold. In the past the PCUSA used divestment to witness against apartheid in South Africa.

The second overture sent by the session is a new one encouraging the whole church to cut their carbon imprint by 25 % in four years. This call is to urge all levels of the church (GA, Synods, Presbyteries, sessions) to examine their policies and practices and seek ways to reduce and mitigate our impact on the environment. This includes us as individual disciples as we live out our faith every day.

Both overtures are rooted in a sense of our discipleship as a church. Rather than simply seeing these overtures as a political agenda, we understand that our following of Jesus means a concern for the environment and belief in the redemption and reconciliation of all Creation. We have grown more and more aware of the climate impact on our Heartland South folk down in El Salvador. We are becoming an Earth Care congregation in the PCUSA.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Pastor Alex.

Grace and Peace,