It was a moment of historic importance for the wider United Church of Christ and for the Minnesota Conference. On Monday, United Church Funds opened a new Beyond Fossil Fuels investment fund with $21 million dollars from investors across the United Church of Christ. The Minnesota Conference was one of those founding investors, making our own initial investment in the fund of $1.75 million.
At our Annual Meeting of 2013, the Minnesota Conference UCC passed a resolution urging divestment from fossil fuel companies. This action was followed less than a month later by the passage of a similar resolution at the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, our national biennial meeting. In both cases, the resolution was an attempt to align our prophetic commitments and our sacred role as caretakers of God’s Creation with how we manage our financial resources. These were decisions of stewardship… our stewardship of God’s precious Creation and our stewardship of our money.
This is the season for many of our churches when we talk more often and reflect more prayerfully on our stewardship as congregations and as individuals. Sometimes we treat stewardship as if it were only about paying the church’s bills or satisfying a budget. But to consider our stewardship is to really ask ourselves questions far deeper than how we can meet the budget. Budgets are our mission statements; they are a reflection of our priorities and our intentions for our ministry in the world. And our decisions about money – how we spend it, how we share it, and how we invest it – are really an expression of our own values and commitments as people of faith. But somehow when we start talking about money, we often lose sight of our mission and values and faith.
None of us are perfect when it comes to stewardship, but every once in a while we get it right. The roll-out of the Beyond Fossil Fuels Fund in the United Church of Christ, and our Conference’s investment in it, is a bold step in the right direction. There is certainly more work yet to do on this front. But I celebrate this significant and historic moment and what it signals about our willingness to make our money follow our mission.
Does your passion for your church’s mission in the world fuel and shape your discussions about money? Or do your conversations about money tend to obscure the faithful purposes to which you’re called? May God bless each of us as we consider our own stewardship in the world.
Grace and peace,