General Assembly Reflections from Delegates to Iraqi Kurdistan

Ashley Bair is an MDiv student at Princeton Theological Seminary. She participated in the PC(USA) Young Adult Volunteer Program before attending seminary, and was one of nine delegates to go to Iraqi Kurdistan in May 2016 with PPF and CPT.

I am disappointed that the overture for fossil fuel divestment did not pass through GA 222. We have an urgent call to stand alongside those struggling to survive the devastating ramifications of the oil and gas industries. I, along with my delegation team and others in the PCUSA, will work to continue the call for divestment. It’s difficult for me to not feel like we have failed our friends – family – who are impacted daily. Those whose livelihood, water, and life have been compromised by corporations invested in fossil fuel. Those who so vulnerably shared with me the hardships and death in their community revolving around oil excavation. But, this is still the beginning. The bureaucracy of the assembly does not adequately address the grassroots movements of the church. I am moved by those who continue to organize. I am committed to working with the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and Fossil Free PCUSA.


Timothy Wotring is an MDiv student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, a volunteer coordinator at a soup kitchen and shelter, and an Inquirer in the Presbyterian Church. He came to peacemaking and nonviolence through reading about the work of Dorothy Day and Oscar Romero and through his experiences living in a Catholic Worker community. He was one of nine delegates to go to Iraqi Kurdistan in May 2016 with PPF and CPT.

I am disappointed in the General Assembly for not divesting from fossil fuels. The overture was not an attack on those who work for oil companies, but was investing in a future vision of a less exploited Earth and people. Listening to the stories and seeing first hand those affected by oil companies in Iraqi-Kurdistan, our peace delegation were witnesses to their tragedies. As I said in my testimony, environmental rights are human rights and human rights are environmental rights. Until our next General Assembly, I will work with Presbyterian churches in my area to persuade them to divest. Hope is not lost. Another world is possible.