Credit: Gryffindor, WIkimedia Commons

By Richard Brooks, Iconic Divestment Coordinator at

Riverside Church, founded by the Rockefellers, and the tallest church in the United States, has announced that it intends to divest its $140 million endowment from all fossil fuels within 5 years. It has already divested from coal and this builds on that action in the lead up to the Peoples Climate March and Global Divestment Mobilization.

Credit: Robin Stevens

Credit: Robin Stevens

Senior Minister Rev. Dr. Amy Butler of the church said, in making the announcement, “Riverside’s decision to strategically divest from the Carbon Underground 200 underscores our shared commitment to be a faithful witness to God’s reconciling grace in the world.” And Beth Ackerman, chair of the Beloved Earth Community at the church, noted: “we are committed to raising awareness on a global level that fossil fuels need to be rapidly phased out.  It is just wrong to ruin our one beautiful planet, the place where everything we’ve ever known exists.”

The church has welcomed the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, President Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama and 350’s own Bill McKibben to address the congregation over the decades.

“We are committed to raising awareness on a global level that fossil fuels need to be rapidly phased out” – Beth Ackerman, Riverside Church

Interestingly, the church was founded by John D. Rockefeller Jr. who’s father became one of the wealthiest men in the United States in the late 1800s as owner of Standard Oil, the largest oil production company of its time. The church was literally built with oil money which makes this announcement even more impactful. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund, established by grandchildren of Rockefeller Sr., announced its intention to divest from fossil fuels in 2014.

Divestment momentum in New York continues to build, increasing pressure on New York state and city comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Scott Stringer to move the $350 billion state and city pension funds to freeze new investments in fossil fuel companies and commit to full divestment.

Get inspired and join DivestNY activities and events during May 5-16 during Global Divestment Mobilization!

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