I am Sue Smith. I worked for JP Morgan Chase for many years and I represent the Presbytery of Monmouth. We suffered the brunt of Hurricane Sandy in NJ. This church is 5 blocks from the ocean and suffered a half million dollars in damage. They say climate change has impacted their ability to do ministry. Coal, oil and gas companies know they are responsible for increased greenhouse gas emissions causing climate change, yet will not change their business models.

We hear the church needs these companies to invest responsibly. Morningstar data shows over the last five years the integrated oil and gas industry has only returned 7%[1]  versus 18[2] in the broad market. The tobacco industry returned over 23%[3]. The church can’t invest in tobacco – it is a line we do not cross. Tobacco harms individuals; why are we willing to continue to cross the line with an industry harming all of God’s creation? After prayerful consideration, I decided I could no longer cross the line. I divested my individual holdings in fossil fuels.

There is a suggestion to refer overture 15-01 to MRTI. This overture says stop investing now and then gives MRTI up to 5 years in the divestment process to use real seats at real tables to make real impacts on the conversation. The market lives and dies on the next quarter, 5 years is a long time.

And Exxon shareholders have already brought a greenhouse gas emissions resolution every year since 2007.[4] The Rockefellers favor it.[5] But Exxon is not responding; less than 30% of shares vote for it and that is 700 million shares.  8 years of corporate engagement. The shareholders just bring the resolution back year after year because there is no movement.

For this issue at this time, MRTI can’t do it alone. Talking in the boardroom is not enough. That conversation needs support in the marketplace of public opinion. To impact that marketplace, please approve this overture as written and stop investment immediately and give the church its prophetic voice.  God’s creation cries out for it.

[1] Industry Returns: Morningstar, Stock Industries: Total Returns (%), Oil & Gas – Integrated, http://news.morningstar.com/stockReturns/CapWtdIndustryReturns.html (accessed June 11, 2014).


[2] Broad Market: Morningstar, Index Performance: Return (%),http://news.morningstar.com/index/indexReturn.html, (accessed June 11, 2014).


[3] [3] Industry Returns: Morningstar, Stock Industries: Total Returns (%), Tobacco, http://news.morningstar.com/stockReturns/CapWtdIndustryReturns.html (accessed June 11, 2014).


[4] Walden Asset Management, “Shareholder Resolution History”, http://www.waldenassetmgmt.com/Investing-for-Change/shareholder_resolution_history, (accessed June 11, 2014).

[5] Clifford Krauss, “Rockefellers Seek Change at Exxon”, The New York Times, May 27, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/27/business/27exxon.html?_r=0 (accessed June 11, 2014).