Welcome

Fossil Free Menno is about a big problem, a medium-sized denomination and a simple spirited idea.

The problem is climate change, the denomination is Mennonite Church Canada, and the idea is a refusal to invest in the companies that profit most from destruction of the climate.

Fossil Free Menno is not an organization with grandiose visions, but an opportunity to sign a little letter—the Open Letter on this site. It is an imperfect, incomplete step by people who believe the church must lead.

It is a call, a prayer, a small step of faith.

At the core of Fossil Free Menno is the hope, angst and care of all those who have signed the Open Letter. Scroll down or see the menu bar above to sign and to see who else has signed.

From the Fossil Free Menno ad hoc coordinating group:
– Katie Doke Sawatzky, Vancouver
– Kenton Lobe, Winnipeg
– Stephanie Janzen-Martin, Waterloo
– Steve Heinrichs, Winnipeg
– Will Braun, Morden, MB

Updated April 25, 2014 – For the complete list of signatories, see the Signatories page. The list below is not complete.
Updated July 2, 2014 – This page provides a summary and welcome. Although this initial info is dated from several months ago (and has not changed), other parts of the website are updated regularly (and sometimes daily). Please check these pages for more current information and resources. Thank you.

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Sign

Read the Open Letter to MC Canada regarding fossil fuel divestment here.

If you wish to add your name to the list of MC Canada-connected people who have already signed the letter (see the list in the blog post below), email fossilfreemenno@gmail.com. Put “sign me up,” or something equally logical, in the subject line. Also, pls include your home congregation or the congregation you are most connected to or were most recently connected to. Include additional relevant affiliations if you wish.

If you wish, add a 140-character long statement about why you want to sign.

If inclined, encourage others to consider signing as well.

Why Divest?

First, what is fossil fuel divestment?

It simply involves re-allocating any investments a person or organization has in the 200 largest publicly traded fossil fuel companies.

This constitutes a moral stand and sends a message to the industry.

Divestment is a strategy that has worked in relation to the tobacco industry, Darfur and, or course, apartheid.

Divestment is also an opportunity for re-investment. That is, dropping investments in companies that benefit from climate change and increasing investment in companies whose business model involves moving the world away from climate change.

Divestment does not involve shutting down the fossil fuel industry or abandoning life as we know it.

The case for divestment (and some common objections)

Fossil fuel divestment is an ethically imperfect, strategically important chance to move the climate discussion forward (hopefully toward further action).

To sign the Open Letter on this site is to say, in essence, that we need to keep looking at what more we can do to address climate change and we need to do so collectively.

That said, there are some objections to divestment that are worthy of consideration:

1.) It’s hypocritical. I just filled my tank with gas, how can I call for divestment?

Even if we use fossil fuels, we don’t have to pad our portfolios with global warming profits. There is an undeniable element of duplicity, but are two wrongs (burning fuel and investing in climate change) somehow better than one (just burning the stuff)?

If it’s wrong to wreck the planet, it’s doubly wrong to profit from the wreckage.

But of course, things are more complex than just that. 

Divestment is a carefully thought out strategy to address climate-related public policy by weakening the companies that have successfully lobbied against policies that would make it easier for all of us to reduce our climate impacts. These companies not only provide us with what have become the necessities of our lives, they actively and aggressively resist public policy that would reduce carbon emissions. 

The case for the movement has been made most clearly by Bill McKibben, who wrote one of the first books about climate change for a general audience in 1989 and who Time Magazine calls “the planet’s best green journalist.” He is also vocal about his Christian faith. Many of you will be familiar with him. 

In summer 2012, Rolling Stone published a passionate article in which McKibben laid out his argument for divestment. The summary:
– We’re headed for climate doom.
– Efforts to date to halt global warming have failed.
– Change on an individual level is important but such change takes something we don’t have: time.
– Broader policy change is really the only hope, esp placing a price on carbon (proceeds to be invested in energy alternatives).
– Despite public support for such policy, fossil fuel companies have successfully stymied it.
– Divestment is a long shot, but maybe the best shot we have.
– It worked in relation to tobacco, Darfur and apartheid.

McKibben’s argument isn’t perfect, but it may be the best we have.  

Let not the perfect be the enemy of the good. Let not a measure of hypocrisy paralyze us from doing the halting good we can. If only people of 100% ethical purity did good, there would be a whole lot of us wringing our hands on the sidelines of our childrens’ and grandchildrens’ unenviable future. 

Some day, younger generations will ask our generations what we were thinking. 

Encouraging Mennonite Church Canada to study divestment in no way precludes individual measures to reduce GHG emissions. Nor does it preclude faith communities from lamenting our oil entanglement and working through the spiritual stress around that (as per the pipeline prayer event last year). 

Freeing ourselves completely of oil is a paralyzing thought, and we need to be attentive to that reality. At the same time we need to act creatively and collectively to take the reasonable, life-giving, earth-saving measures before us (as many of you do). 

2.) Shouldn’t we encourage big oil companies to change instead of ditching investments in them?

Some investors go this route, encouraging change by means of shareholder resolutions and direct communication with company executives. Other people say not only that there is little evidence that this works but that the fundamental core objective of these companies is to burn as much fossil fuel as possible. Shareholder action won’t change that.

In his 2012 article, Bill McKibben noted that some of the big oil companies––he uses BP as an example–—made forays into alternative energy. “But,” he writes, “its investments in alternative energy were never more than a tiny fraction of its budget for hydrocarbon exploration, and after a few years, many of those were wound down as new CEOs insisted on returning to the company’s ‘core business.’

“In December, BP finally closed its solar division. Shell shut down its solar and wind efforts in 2009. The five biggest oil companies have made more than $1 trillion in profits since the millennium – there’s simply too much money to be made on oil and gas and coal to go chasing after zephyrs and sunbeams.”

One case for investor engagement vs. divestment can be read here:
Insights for Investors Working for Bolder Intervention on Climate Change (Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility)

For those who choose engagement over divestment, that engagement should be active and concerted, lest it become an idle justification for continued profits.

McKibben’s case for divestment vs all other options can be found here:
“Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”

3.) The Open Letter is not theological enough.

The letter is about ethical and moral responsibility. It is about responding to a global phenomenon that directly affects growing number of “the least of these” every year. It is about respecting the earth that God created. It is for, within and about church. 

Theologians have been slogging away on this stuff for a long time. We wanted a concise call to action, not a theological treatise. We assume that those who sign bring the full weight of their faith and theology to this matter. 

4.) The letter is an affront to our faith leaders; that’s not how we operate.

MC Canada leaders have shown considerable willingness to address climate issues. The letter acknowledges this and encourages continued work. It is meant as respectful, constructive participation in church process. 

5.) I’m not into click-here-to-change-the-world schemes.

We’re not either. But this seemed like a logical, though imperfect, way to gather and focus the concerns and energies of MC Canada people across the country and beyond. It is a letter within a faith community, not an anonymous, out-of-the-blue-ether online blitz.

6.) Too political.

Mennonites of the MC Canada variety have long been deeply involved in many political matters—abortion, same sex marriage, voting, restorative justice, peace, Aboriginal issues, etc. Much of what we do and buy has political implications. Perhaps it is time to give this old, generic, go-to Mennonite excuse a rest and talk about what is really at stake and what our public responsibility is. 

Finally, the following are a few resources that might help you discern whether divestment is a sound strategy in our collective efforts to engage climate change.

Open Letter Signatories

Please see the Signatories page for the complete, current list of signatories. This list is no longer current. Thank you.

………………….

Scott Dolff,St. John the Divine, Victoria, BC
Anita Fast, East Van Mennonite Gathering, Langley Mennonite Church, BC
Julianna Bender, Hamilton Mennonite, Hamilton, ON
Matthew Wiens, Home Street Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Elizabeth Redekopp, Home Street Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Val Steinmann, Erin, Ontario
Dick Benner, Editor, Canadian Mennonite magazine, Waterloo, ON
Sheila Klassen-Wiebe, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Meghan Entz, Douglas Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Melody Neufeld-Rocheleau, Saskatoon, SK
Geraldine Balzer, Nutana Park Mennonite, Saskatoon, SK
Wendy Janzen, St. Jacobs Mennonite, St. Jacobs, ON
Dorothy Friesen, Winnipeg, MB
Kerstin Balzer-Peters, Nutana Park Mennonite, Saskatoon, SK
Cassandra Bangay, Community Mennonite, Stouffville, ON
Alison Regehr, Community Mennonite, Stouffville, ON
Sarah Steiner, Community Mennonite, Stouffville, ON
Aaron Bueckert, Mount Royal Mennonite, Saskatoon, SK
Josie Winterfeld, Stirling Ave Mennonite, Kitchener, ON
Matthew Knight, Little Flowers Community, Winnipeg, MB
Hedy Sawadsky, First Mennonite, Vineland, ON
Jamie Arpin-Ricci, Pastor, Little Flowers Community, Winnipeg, MB
Jonah Langelotz, Sargent Ave Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Paul Dyck, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Jon Owen, Little Flowers Community, Winnipeg, MB
Jeff Martin, Hanover Mennonite/Assembly Mennonite, Hanover, ON/Goshen, IN
Nesrin Berrak, Toronto, ON
Gordon Janzen, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Johanna Braun, Covenant Mennonite, Winkler, MB
Leslie Allaby, Osler Mennonite, Osler, SK
Hannah Enns, River East MB, Winnipeg, MB
Marty Penner, Pembina Mennonite Fellowship, Morden, MB
Katie Doke Sawatzky, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Rebecca Dyck, Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal, Montreal, QC
Garry Janzen, Sherbrooke Mennonite, Vancouver, BC
Stephanie Janzen-Martin, Waterloo North Mennonite, Waterloo, ON
Reuben Janzen-Martin, Waterloo North Mennonite, Waterloo, ON
Yvonne Stoesz, Pembina Mennonite Fellowship, Morden, MB
John Docherty, Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal, Montreal, QC
Dora-Marie Goulet, Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal, Montreal, QC
Luke Martin, Mennonite Fellowship of Montreal, Montreal, QC
Bernie Loeppky, Pembina Mennonite Fellowship, Morden, MB
Megan Klassen-Wiebe, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Rick Zerbe Cornelsen, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Laura Dyck, Stirling Avenue Mennonite, Kitchener, ON
Melanie Penner, Portage Avenue Church, Winnipeg, MB
Andrew Wark, Portage Avenue Church, Winnipeg, MB
Brent Gouthro, Pembina Mennonite Fellowship, Morden, MB
Amy Peters, Hanley Mennonite, Hanley, SK
Stephanie Epp, Nutana Park Mennonite, Saskatoon, SK
Kevin Drudge, Covenant Mennonite, Winkler, MB
Bert Lobe, Kolkata, India
Josiah Neufeld, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg
Sara Brubacher, Stirling Mennonite, Waterloo, ON / First Mennonite, San Francisco
Rebecca Seiling, St. Jacobs Mennonite, St. Jacobs, ON
Jon Nofziger, Emmanuel Mennonite, Abbotsford, BC
Stan Olson, Emmanuel Mennonite, Abbotsford, BC
Wayne MacDonald, Wildwood Mennonite, Saskatoon, SK
Stephen Nighswander-Rempel, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Anna-Marie Epp-Janzen, Emmanuel Mennonite, Abbotsford / Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg
Chris Lenshyn, Emmanuel Mennonite, Abbotsford, BC
Henry Krause, Langley Mennonite Fellowship, Langley, BC
Henry Regier, Elmira, ON (scientific contributor to IPCC)
Melanie Kampen, Springfield Heights Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, MB
Norman Braun, Covenant Mennonite, Winkler, MB
Matthew Dueck, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Esther Epp-Thiessen, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Dan Epp-Thiessen, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Mark Bigland-Pritchard, Osler Mennonite Church, Osler, SK
Brander McDonald, Indigenous Relations Coordinator MCBC
Peter Haresnape, Toronto United Mennonite / Christian Peacemaker Teams, Toronto, ON
Evelyn Rempel Petkau, Carman Mennonite, Carman, MB
Melita Rempel-Burkholder, Home Street Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Byron Rempel-Burkholder, Home Street Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Lorne Brandt, Peace Mennonite Church, Richmond, BC
Kathryn A. Thiessen, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg
Lora Braun, Morden Mennonite, Morden, MB
Jeanette Sivilay, Grace Mennonite Church, Steinbach, MB
Joanne Moyer, Home Street Mennonite, Winnipeg / Toronto United Mennonite
Esther de Groot, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg
Julie Derksen, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Kenton Lobe, Charleswood Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Carla Niemi, Living Hope Community Fellowship, Surrey, BC
Steve Heinrichs, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Ann Heinrichs, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Krystofer Penner, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Esther Kern, Christian Peacemaker Teams, Toronto, ON
Arlyn Friesen Epp, Home Street Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Judith Friesen Epp, Home Street Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Will Braun, Pembina Mennonite Fellowship, Morden, MB
Jennifer deGroot, Pembina Mennonite Fellowship, Morden, MB
Vivian Unger, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Jeff Thiessen, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Kathy Moorehead-Thiessen, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Vic Thiessen, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Pat Janzen, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Helen Rempel, Bethel Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Christine Penner Polle, Hope Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, MB
Henry J Rempel, River East MB, Winnipeg, MB
Joel Derksen, River East MB, Winnipeg, MB
Betty Heinrichs, First United Mennonite, Vancouver, BC
John Heinrichs, First United Mennonite, Vancouver, BC
Aaron Epp, Douglas Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Jared Redekop, Home Street Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Laela Janzen, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Marilyn Houser Hamm, Altona, MB
Duane Steiner, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Anna Schaefer, Hope Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, MB
Curtis Wiebe, Hope Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, MB
Jason Hildebrand, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Bill Block, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Sig Polle, Bethel Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Kirsten Freed, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Daniel Epp-Janzen, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Eric Stutzman, Hope Mennonite, Winnipeg, MB
Joe Heikman, Wildwood Mennonite, Saskatoon, SK
Mary Funk, Jubilee Mennonite Church, Winnipeg, MB
Marcus Rempel, Ploughshares Community Farm, MB

Your Comments

Update – April 21, 2014 – In order to, hopefully, make this website easier to navigate, comments have been moved to a separate page on this website. Please find us there. Thanks.

The following are comments sent by people who have signed the Open Letter.

As people who love the Creator, let us realize how our actions affect ALL She creates and join a global movement that advocates for the health of the earth.
– Hannah Enns

I sign this letter because I am inspired to be part of a process, however imperfect and small, that will invite members of our Mennonite community into an awareness that is vital to our continued justice and peace work. The first steps towards redemptive change may be small, but when many step together, ripples and blooms are seen.
– Katie Doke Sawatzky

I use fossil fuels of course but would like to have other options offered that use less. So to invest in making the fossil fuel industry stronger is nonsensical. We need to stop exploration of fossil fuels and look at diminishing our consumption of energy and consumption in general of goods. Let’s invest in alternative cleaner energies.
– Luke Martin

Seeking right relationship with God, our brothers and sisters, and the earth means fossil fuel divestment.
– Laura Dyck

Leaders need help sometimes to set policy direction. All of us are struggling to make changes personnally and professionally. If we had strong visible leadership on this issue who kows where this will lead.
– Brent Gouthro

Divestment is for our generation what conscientious objection was for our grandparents. The war against creation is being waged with our dollars now, not our bodies.
– Marcus Rempel

Faith calls us to action, and it is time for the church to take action about climate change.
– Sara Brubacher

To live at peace means living peacefully with the people around us, the animals and birds around us, the plants around us, even the soil and the insects around us. The way many of our churches are operating now is perpetuating violence against the planet as we presume to be superior and dominate rather than realize our deep dependence on all of creation.
Thank you for this initiative.
– Amy Peters

The situation is urgent and we must do what we can to make changes.
– Stan Olson

If we want to change this world for the better, we have to make the necessary changes first within ourselves and our communities.
– Anna-Marie Epp-Janzen

Where your treasure is, there shall your heart be also. Treasure invested in fossil fuels means destruction of God’s world and God’s people.
– Mark Bigland-Pritchard

I heartily endorse the Open Letter to MC Canada. An intense carbon based future is an agenda of big corporations and makes no sense to the health of our earth, of which we are part.
– Wayne MacDonald

Climate change is a moral issue, and as people of faith we are called to love our neighbours, not make their lives impossible.
– Christine Penner Polle

I began researching likely effects of forecasts of climate change in 1984. I contributed to IPCC’s [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] assessments for which that organization was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize.
– Henry Reiger

A small but significant way to connect values and finances and challenge the divide between conscience and capitalism.
– Joe Heikman

Climate change is happening. May God guide us on how we can help to save our environment. We all need to do our part.
– Helen Rempel

We need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and support our First Nations in their efforts in this area as protectors of the earth.
– Lorne Brandt

This is an important issue for our faith community to address.
– Evelyn Rempel Petkau

This is really only one small step; there are more.
– Bill Block