The Episcopal Church voted today at its general convention in Austin, Texas, to divest from companies involved in Israel’s human violations against Palestine. The Church had defeated such measures before but now joins “nearly a dozen” other Christian denominations in taking economic action.
The news was announced by the Episcopal Peace Fellowship/Palestine-Israel Network:
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship/Palestine-Israel Network (EPF PIN) is pleased to announce that today at its General Convention in Austin, Texas, the Episcopal Church adopted a human rights investment screen to avoid profiting from human rights abuses committed in Israel/Palestine.
Following a week of passionate discussion and debate, Resolution B016 was passed by the House of Deputies earlier this week before being approved today by the House of Bishops easily by a hand vote. It calls for the Executive Council’s Committee on Corporate Social Responsibility “to develop criteria for Israel and Palestine based on a human rights’ investment screen” similar to the one passed by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2016.
The adoption of B016 marks a new direction for the Episcopal Church, which now joins nearly a dozen other Christian denominations, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodists, and the United Church of Christ, which have all taken economic action to avoid being complicit in human rights violations and injustice in the Holy Land.
EPF PIN hopes the passage of B016 will help contribute towards a peaceful and just resolution of the conflict in Israel/Palestine, and towards a future where Israelis and Palestinians can live together in peace and as equals.
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship (EPF) – called to do justice, oppose violence, and be peacemakers – is a national organization connecting all who seek a deliberate response to injustice and violence and want to pray, study and take action for justice and peace in our communities, our church, and our world. EPF PIN’s goal is to create a network which strengthens the voice of the Episcopal Church in advocating for a just peace in Palestine/Israel.
The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights has hailed the news. Organizer Anna Baltzer says the Episcopal Church’s vote is a sign of changing times:
Big news! The General Convention of the Episcopal Church, with more than 3 million members, just voted to divest from companies involved in Israel’s violations of Palestinian human rights!
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network (EPF PIN) put in amazing work over many years to make the Episcopal Church the 10th Christian denomination in the US to take economic action for justice in Palestine. Thanks in large part to their mobilization, the church also passed ground-breaking resolutions:
Asserting the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination
Condemning Israel’s violence against protesters in Gaza
Calling on the US government to reinstate funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA)
Supporting the rights of Palestinian children
Demanding equal access to Jerusalem and opposing Trump’s move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
I was proud to be on the ground with USCPR at the General Convention supporting EPF PIN. So many other Palestine solidarity groups were there, too!
We were all working together to organize powerful testimonies (like this one from FOSNA’s Tarek Abuata) from Palestinian refugees, students, elders, clergy, and others, strategize outreach, and share why the church taking economic action is so important.
We’ve come a long way. In 2014, the Presbyterian Church (USA) became the first mainline church to divest from companies profiting from the occupation and just last month, they voted in ten pro-Palestine resolutions.
Now, divesting from Israel’s abuses of Palestinians’ rights is the norm – even in institutions like the Episcopal Church, which had previously voted down such measures more than once.
As icing on the cake, we recently learned that the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation – which has more than $400 million in holdings and has already divested from Hewlett Packard, Veolia, and Caterpillar – will now screen out all companies contributing to the occupation of Palestine and other occupations around the world.
These institutional shifts are a sign of changing times, and confirmation that years of hard work are producing results. The movement’s strategy to mainstream the struggle for Palestinian rights is paying off. Folks are understanding that being progressive means standing with Palestine!
We put a lot into supporting church divestment efforts for justice in Palestine, including sending staff to big annual meetings like this year’s Presbyterian and Episcopalian assemblies, sharing lessons learned, supporting church groups, and putting together delegations of Palestinians and allies to give powerful testimonies at assemblies.
As we celebrate, we are mindful of the reason these milestones matter: Israel’s continued violence, oppression, discrimination, and exile of the Palestinian people everywhere, every day. This win reminds us of our power, and the necessity to continue working until the Palestinian people achieve full freedom, justice, and equality.
Director of Organizing & Advocacy