Presbyterian Leadership Takes Historic Stand

Presbyterian Leadership Takes Historic Stand 

LOUISVILLE, KY - February 17, 2012 - The General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to send a recommendation to the July meeting of the 220th General Assembly (national Presbyterian voting body) to divest its holdings from Caterpillar, Inc., Hewlett Packard, and Motorola Solutions.   The original recommendation came from the denomination’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) at its meeting of September 2011. MRTI’s recommendation first went to the GAMC Subcommittee on Justice, who passed it on to the larger body by unanimous consent.

Brian Ellison, Chair of MRTI, made presentations to both the subcommittee and the larger body, covering the long and painstaking process of corporate engagement that led to this recommendation.   A Presbyterian pastor from Kansas City, Ellison made it clear that MRTI’s attempts at engagement with the top executives of these companies over the years have borne no fruit and that according to the Presbyterian Church’s own investment guidelines, MRTI is left without any choice but to recommend divestment as the last step of the process. When asked why these companies are being singled out among all those that do business in Israel, Ellison said that these companies profit from non-peaceful pursuits by supporting illegal occupation, which is not in line with Presbyterian values or investment philosophy.

When a member of the subcommittee mentioned that she had received information by e-mail from a Presbyterian opponent of divestment suggesting that MRTI had not gone far enough in contacting company executives, Ellison disagreed and went on to say that MRTI and its ecumenical partners persistently contacted CEOs and top executives of the three companies over several years, and received no meaningful responses to their questions or concerns.

The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the PC(USA) [IPMN]commends the General Assembly Mission Council for this historic vote.   Much like the decision by Presbyterians in 1983 to divest from companies profiting from Apartheid in South Africa, this is an action that will send a clear message to the world that our Church will do everything in our power to make sure it does not profit from violence or the systematic violation of Palestinian human rights.   If history is our guide, then such action, when combined with those of other religious bodies and individuals of conscience, will help bring change and transformation to the land that holds deep meaning for all the people of the three Abrahamic faiths. 

About IPMN: In joyful obedience to the call of Christ, and in solidarity with churches and our other partners in the Middle East, this network covenants to engage, consolidate, nourish, and channel the energy in the Presbyterian Church (USA) toward the goal of a just peace in Israel /Palestine by facilitating education, promoting partnerships, and coordinating advocacy.

Our network speaks TO the Church not FOR the Church.