CUSJ Congregational Divestment Survey Results

Note: This post was updated on March 5, 2017, to add the Unitarian Church of Vancouver and the First Unitarian Church of Victoria to the list. On March 7th, the Unitarian Church of Montreal was added.

In spring 2016, the CUSJ Board decided to follow up on the CUSJ Board’s call to action  and the Unitarian Universalist Association’s 2013 call to action, urging all congregations to divest in order to mitigate climate change. We sent out a Fossil Fuel Divestment Survey to congregational contacts on the 46-member CUC list.

We received a total of 15 responses, and we now know that at least eight Canadian UU congregations have divested, and many reallocated their fossil-fuel holdings in socially responsible investments (SRIs)–BRAVO!!! 

Divested congregations

These congregations are:

  1. First Unitarian Church of Ottawa (the home congregation of CUSJ board member Frances Deverell).
  2. The Unitarian Fellowship of Northwest Toronto.
  3. Unitarian Congregation of Niagara.
  4. First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto (who did not respond to our survey, but who is listed on the page of divested organizations).
  5. The Unitarian Church of Vancouver (see note above). John Taylor writes that, in 2012, “the Environment Committee, with the full support of the Investment Committee, presented a motion at a congregational meeting to make it official that we would not invest in fossil fuels. It passed with an overwhelming majority. A couple of years before fossil fuels crashed on the stock market so everyone believes we were right in staying out of them as investments.
  6. First Unitarian Church of Victoria (see note above) divested in 2015. Adeleine Morris, co-chair of the Investment Committee, writes: “More than a year ago our Board requested that we investigate the possibility of investing in socially responsible funds.  Our committee decided to move our funds to Genus Capital Management Inc. in Vancouver.  We are now invested with their socially responsible fund and it does not include fossil fuels.”
  7. The Unitarian Fellowship of Peterborough, has passed a resolution to divest– a step in the right direction!
  8. The Unitarian Church of Montréal voted to divest on March 5, 2017.

Congregations that did not divest, but have no fossil-fuel holdings

The congregations listed above are not the whole picture. Some congregations made the decision to avoid fossil fuels from the outset. For example,  South Fraser Unitarian Congregation has escaped the divestment dilemma altogether, having always dealt with a local credit union that focuses on socially and environmentally responsible lending/investing. Eight congregations responded that they did not have any investments, fossil-fuel or otherwise, which is also good news from a Climate Change perspective.

So, divested 8 + 9 (no investments) = 17 UU congregations that make CUSJ proud. That leaves 29 congregations whose divestment status is still unknown. However, if one assumes that congregations in smaller cities do not have investments, there are only about four UU congregations that have yet to divest.

 Call to action

If your congregation has not divested because of lack of information, I urge you to get in touch with one of the congregations that has done so, for help getting started–or you can contact Cym Gomery or another member of the CUSJ Board for help with your quest. However, it is not too late! If you wish to complete the brief survey, please click here.

Note: For a list of North American congregations that have divested, see the GoFossilFree site. For the list of our American UU counterparts that have divested (and there are many), please click here for Wes Ernsberger’s list.


1 thought on “CUSJ Congregational Divestment Survey Results”

  1. Good work, CUSJ! I’m pretty sure The Unitarian Church of Vancouver also divested a number of years ago. I think John Taylor could confirm whether or not that is so. “I note that you cite CUSJ and UUA calls to divest but didn’t mention that CUC also issued a call for members to divest of fossil fuel holdings at its 2015 AGM and also a call for action then in support of clean air, water & soil policy at municipal, provincial and federal levels. Keith Wilkinson [CUC Environmental Monitoring Committee]


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