Boston Presbytery, MA, Pastor of Church of the Covenant, Boston, Eco-Stewards Program Coordinator, recent Chaplain to Harvard students, former PCUSA Camp Director
My name is Rob Mark, and I am a Teaching Elder pastoring a congregation in the Presbytery of Boston. As a direct beneficiary of the investment work of the Board of Pensions, I am deeply grateful for their faithful work, but I am also deeply hopefully about this divestment overture, as it makes sense morally and financially.
I’m honored to speak on behalf of my 3-month-old son, Rowen, who we named after a tree in the highlands of Scotland, now facing the affects of an altered climate.
Climate change is frightening. And like all of us, I am motivated to help make this world a less scary place for my son’s generation and beyond.
I have the privilege of working with young adults, through the ministries of our Eco-Stewards Program, and as a recent chaplain to students at Harvard.
And I am continually inspired by how the young adults I work with, instead of giving into the way of despair or complacency, have been facing their fears around climate change through creative responses. I’ve seen them embrace this now global divestment movement in creative ways through arts, music, rallies, advocacy and organizing.
And it has been powerful for these young adults to see that we who follow Jesus, we who are part of the PCUSA, support their efforts. In joining them in this work, we witness to the gospel in new and creative ways. Divestment as creative evangelism.
Passing this overture will not only send a powerful moral message to the fossil fuel industry, it will serve as an effective witness to the good news of the love and justice of Jesus.
Building authentic bridges with young adults is part of the hope for a future for our church. We need the alternative and renewable energy that they bring- we need the creative response that they engender.
The Better Future Project in MA consists of young people who yearn for a future free of the fear of climate change and free of the hypocrisy they see in institutions that don’t walk their talk.
This group echoes what we are all saying today – that we all want and need energy. We simply want it to come from alternative and renewable sources that do not harm God's people and creation.
There are hopeful reports like Stanford’s Mark Jacobson’s 2013 study entitled “The Solutions Project” that indicate within the next 16 years we as a nation can generate almost all of our energy needs from alternative, renewable sources that will create millions of jobs in our communities. Creative response is possible!
1 John Chapter 3 says: “Beloved, we are God’s children now….”
But it goes on: “what we will be has not yet been revealed.”
There is much up in the air. What will we be? As a church, as a planet? What future awaits future generations?
1 John 3 goes on to say:
“11 We should love one another… not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”
Friends, the most vulnerable in our world are in need. May we, PCUSA, respond to that need. May we love in truth and action. And may we have the courage to divest, and in so doing, say no to fear, and yes to love.
Our son recently discovered he has hands, and that they are connected to his body and he has agency over them. A beautiful, miraculous life moment to observe. Friends, our Reformed faith reminds us that in grace, God has given us some agency to be the hands and feet of Jesus for others. May we remember we have hands and act boldly as part of the body of Christ.
Our profound words of thanks to you all, dear committee, for listening to us, and for your faithful work. We will keep you in our prayers as you discern and deliberate.
We as a group of advocates will be staying around to help answer any further questions you may have of us.