What is this walk about?
This walk is a call for the PCUSA to do something radical in response to climate change. As a denomination, we have many policies, education resources, and worship resources to talk about climate change. But we do not have an investment policy that understands the urgency of climate change.
Presbyteries and Fossil Free PCUSA have spent the last five years asking the PCUSA to divest. We don’t have time to wait any longer. We must make a prophetic witness to the world that we are called to love God, creation, and each other with our whole selves. If the denomination as a whole won’t do it when a historic number of presbyteries concur with the overture to divest, we have to find other, out of the box ways to ask.
Why should the PC(USA) divest from fossil fuels?
Divestment is a powerful public statement removing moral license from big oil, gas and coal companies, which generate huge profits and overly influence public policy, even while the planet is quickly warming toward an uninhabitable state.
As a strategy, divestment communicates the urgent need to leave untapped 80% of the known carbon reserves and invest in renewable energies capable of meeting humanity’s needs. The divestment movement is growing internationally, including hundreds of universities, colleges, cities, counties, and religious organizations.
The underlying moral imperative for the church, in keeping with God’s covenant with all things alive and yet to be born (Genesis 9), is to withdraw its support from companies that profit from destroying creation.
Read the overture coming before June’s General Assembly that this walk supports.
When does the walk start?
June 1 in Louisville where the PCUSA is headquartered. We will end on June 16 in St. Louis at the beginning of the General Assembly.
What’s the route?
The route will go from Louisville, KY, to St. Louis, MO. We will mostly be walking on side roads and through small towns. Here are the specifics:
Why is the action about walking?
We need to take radical action to get the PCUSA’s attention about the urgency of climate change. Already people around the world are having to walk away from their homes, migrating to new lands because of climate change. Our voluntary walk is in solidarity with their obligatory walk.
What is this walk’s exact call for divestment at GA?
The overture to General Assembly for categorical divestment (that is, the end of investments in all companies in the fossil fuel industry) has five parts:
- Commend the Board of Pensions and Foundation for their fossil free options. Commend Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) for their hard work in shareholder engagement.
- Assert that by holding investments in the companies most to blame for climate change, we are complicit in the devastation of climate change which affects all people but the most vulnerable parts of humanity/creation first and worst.
- Direct Board of Pensions and Foundation to fully divest from the fossil fuel industry.
- Direct Board of Pensions and Foundation to reinvest in renewable energy.
- Report back to the 2020 General Assembly.
In total, the overture asks for the Board of Pensions and the Foundation to start the divestment process now, not to give the industry more time to drag its feet in response to climate change. The problem is not with MRTI but with the industry.
Can I walk with you?
Yes! We welcome Presbyterians and non-Presbyterians to join us. Registration is now open, so sign up and we’ll be in touch. Make sure you mark “going” on the Facebook event too! Everyone is invited and welcome to join us for the last mile in St. Louis — you do not need to register for it.
Can I walk just part of the way?
We’d be very happy to have you join us for a leg of the walk that is possible for you. We will do our best to accommodate your availability, though limited transportation support will be available between Louisville and St. Louis.
When you register, you can indicate which days of the walk you want to participate in. We will provide shuttles from Louisville to the Walk (or from the Walk back to Louisville) on Sunday 6/3, Friday 6/8, Sunday 6/10. Make sure you mark “going” on the Facebook event too!
Everyone is invited and welcome to join us for the last mile in St. Louis — you do not need to register for it.
How can I participate without walking?
You can sign up as a virtual walker, which means you would contribute to the cost of the walk. More info on the Register page.
You can also follow the event via Facebook Live streams free of charge.
Can someone sponsor a person to walk?
Yes! If you would like to sponsor a particular walker, please get their personalized fundraising link from them or donate here and type their name in the comment box. You can also click on that link to donate to the walkers in general. Thank you for your generosity.
What about the cost?
Doesn’t walking to GA have a carbon footprint?
Yes! We’re making our carbon footprint smaller by walking and traveling by hybrid vehicles (instead of flying) but our journey will still have a carbon footprint. We will be offsetting our journey by contributing to Universidad Biblicana Latinamericana’s Solar Panel fund. If you want to learn more about this project–supported by PCUSA Mission Co-Worker Karla Koll— visit this link. We also know that carbon offsets are not perfect, so while we’re journeying, we’re minimizing our waste, eating low on the food chain, and using a composting toilet.
How can I volunteer?
Choose one and email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Leading music
- Leading liturgy
- Raising funds
- Communications/social media
- Website stuff
- Organizing at GA
- Writing prayers
I’d like my organization to support this effort.
Wonderful! Please use the contact form to get in touch about endorsing or sponsoring the walk.
I have another question. How can I get in touch?
Logistics and FAQ for Walkers
What’s the daily schedule?
We will get up early (around 7am) and eat breakfast (prepared by either the host church or by our support vehicle drivers). We will then walk approximately 10 miles (which will take about 4 hours). In the middle heat of the day, we will arrive at our location for the night and have some time to rest, eat lunch, do laundry, and/or explore depending on the day. In the late afternoon, we’ll have a teach-in, eat dinner, worship, and go to bed at a reasonable hour to get good rest.
What does it cost to participate in the walk?
We are asking each participant to raise $30/day for each day they walk. That money will cover things like food, insurance, any permits we need, first aid, and scholarships for whom fundraising is impossible.
Why do I need to register?
We need to know ahead of time how many people to expect (we’re buying food, finding space for us to sleep, negotiating support vehicles). We also need participants to sign release forms ahead of time.
What about my carbon footprint of getting to the start point of the walk?
We have a donor who is covering a carbon offset for the whole walk! When you arrive, you’ll tell that donor (who will be present on the whole walk) the mileage of your flight or train or bus ride.
What should I wear?
Sooner rather than later, get good walking shoes. We recommend that you get fitted for a pair at a local running shoe store but you can also invest in a pair of walking-specific shoes from a less expensive store. You’ll want to break the shoes in before the long walk (get about 100 miles into them).
The weather will likely be very warm. Please plan for sun and heat. After you register, you’ll get a more comprehensive packing list.
Can I bring my… (guitar/pet/bike/laptop/mother-in-law/weapon/coal-powered-generator/drugs/beer/etc)?
Whatever you bring, you are responsible for it (or her, if you’re bringing your mother-in-law). Please leave behavior-altering substances (including alcohol) and weapons at home at home; you will be removed from the walk if either are discovered on your possession Please DO bring your own water bottle.
Where are we sleeping?
We are mostly sleeping in churches along the route, sometimes on the floor, and sometimes with other arrangements.
Should I bring a mat/air mattress/sleeping bag?
We recommend bringing a small camping sleeping pad. Please do not bring large air mattresses as we need to ensure that there is space for everyone’s gear in the support vehicles. When you register, you’ll get more detailed information about what gear to bring.
Will I need to carry my luggage while I’m walking?
We will have support vehicles that will carry all of our supplies. You will carry only what you want on you (and definitely some water.)
I am not a runner. Am I going to hate this?
We’re not going to lie. There are going to be some really hard days when you will hate it. But if you start walking/training now, you will be ready. You don’t have to be a runner or an Olympic athlete. Walk some every day and practice walking ten miles in a row if you can. If for some reason you get on the walk and it turns out you’re not ready, we will happily use your support in the vehicles. There will be grace.
What are we eating? What about my dietary needs?
We will accommodate your dietary needs (allergies, vegetarian, vegan, etc), but we are relying on the hospitality of others and are trying to prepare food for a large group, so not all preferences can be accommodated. There will be grocery stores along the way and you are welcome to buy your own snacks.
What about laundry?
There will be ways to periodically do laundry along the way. Some of these opportunities may be handwashing in a sink. We will bring laundry soap.
Is everyone going to walk together? What if I’m really slow? Or really fast?
This is not a race. We will pace walkers at a pace that will keep almost everyone together. No one will get left behind.
We are taking speakers to places we walk through? Or what is happening?
Each night, we will gather for teach-ins and worship. Sometimes the teach-ins will be with in-person speakers and sometimes it will be over Skype. Speakers will touch on the reality of climate change, frontline communities, investment policies, biblical and theological foundations for earth care and divestment, and more. Worship will be led by a team and will be live-streamed via Facebook whenever possible.
Are we walking on the highway?
Much of the route is in suburbia. We’ve had a driver drive the entire route so we know ahead of times when/where it is safe to walk and when we will need to carpool for safety reasons.
What if something goes horribly wrong during the walk?
We will have adequate first aid equipment for minor scrapes, sunburn, and blisters. We will have a wifi hot spot for internet connectivity. We will have a satellite phone in case of emergencies, and walkers will be accompanied by support vehicles. In the event of an emergency, the safety of walkers will be the first priority.
WHERE WILL WE PEE?
Most of the time we will have access to public bathrooms along the route and in the churches where we are staying. But there will be stretches when we won’t have access. In those times, we’ll use a portable composting toilet. (Donate here to have the chance to name our composting toilet!)