M001 Endorse "Back from the Brink: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War"

Proposed by

Central New York


152nd Diocesan Convention of the Diocese of Central New York

November 14-15, 2020



Subject: A Resolution to Endorse "Back from the Brink: A Call to Prevent Nuclear War," a grassroots initiative organized and sponsored by Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Union of Concerned Scientists

Submitted by: Dr. Frank Baldwin and Dr. Linda Gaither, for Ithaca Area Episcopal Peace Fellowship

RESOLVED, that the 152nd Convention of the Diocese of Central New York, following Jesus' commandment to love God with our whole heart, soul and mind, and to love our neighbors as ourselves, endorses the international grassroots initiative “Back from the Brink: the Call to Prevent Nuclear War.” Endorsing “Back from the Brink” supports the adoption of five common-sense steps:

  • Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first;
  • End the sole, unchecked authority of any U.S. President to launch a nuclear attack
  • Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair trigger alert;
  • Cancel the 1.7 trillion dollar plan to replace the entire U.S. nuclear arsenal with enhanced weapons;
  • Pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed nations to eliminate their arsenals as established in the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.  

Grassroots endorsements of these five steps will add pressure for change in U.S. nuclear weapons policy, calling on our national leaders to embrace the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and to make nuclear disarmament the center of our national security policy, seeking bilateral and multilateral agreements; and be it further

RESOLVED, that this Convention's endorsement will be communicated by diocesan authorities to our elected N.Y. Representatives, Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, and the President of the United States; and be it further

​RESOLVED, that this 152nd Convention of the Diocese of Central NY will submit this resolution to the 80th General Convention of The Episcopal Church. 

Resolution adopted.

Explanation: In January, the 2020 Doomsday Clock was re-set at 100 seconds to midnight, as announced in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. “Humanity continues to face two simultaneous existential dangers – nuclear war and climate change – that are compounded by a threat multiplier, cyber-enabled information warfare that undercuts society's ability to respond. The international security situation is dire, not just because these threats exist, but because world leaders have allowed the international political infrastructure for managing them to erode.” This is a terrifying reality to face but as followers of Jesus, we must have the courage to act. We have learned in the battle with COVID-19 that when public health infrastructure and preparedness, whether national or international, are underfunded or defunded, a terrible price is paid in human life. The price for nuclear war and nuclear winter is beyond calculation. The Ithaca Area Chapter of the Episcopal Peace Fellowship, working closely with the Nuclear Disarmament Group at Cornell, has sponsored several educational visits by Dr. Ira Helfand of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). In 2017 PSR collaborated with the Union of Concerned Scientists to launch ”Back from the Brink.” https://www.preventnuclearwar.org/. The vestries of St. John's Church in Ithaca and St. Thomas' Church in Slaterville Springs have responded to the unthinkable danger of nuclear war by endorsing “Back from the Brink.” Both the Ithaca Common Council and the Town Council of Lansing voted to endorse as well. To build momentum for this grass-roots citizens' movement, the Ithaca Area EPF Chapter invites the parishes of our diocese to engage with “Back from the Brink” through the resolution process at our diocesan convention. We call on parishes and our diocese as a body to say YES to endorsement. By sending our diocesan resolution forward to the 80th General Convention, the call for endorsement will be shared with The Episcopal Church. This call is in line with nearly 40 years of Episcopal Church policy, urging the U.S. and the other nuclear nations to block the spread of nuclear weapons and eliminate all nuclear weapons from the world (see Addendum). The Doomsday Clock is ticking. Both The Episcopal Church's long-held policy on the nuclear threat and our Baptismal vow “to strive for peace and justice among all people” require us to respond by endorsing “Back from the Brink.” Addendum: Episcopal Church Policy on Nuclear Disarmament - 1982 General Convention voted to endorse a bilateral nuclear freeze and nuclear disarmament for U.S. and the Soviet Russia. - 1988 G.C. voted to urge the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to continue disarmament and use saved funds for human needs. - 1994 G.C. voted to urge the U.S. to sign a Test Ban Treaty and to pursue elimination of nuclear weapons. - 1997 G.C. voted to support the goal of total nuclear disarmament by all the nuclear nations. - 2009 G.C. voted to call on all nuclear armed nations to determine a timely process for dismantling nuclear weapons. Financial impact to the diocesan budget: There is no funding required to endorse "Back from the Brink" and share that endorsement with elected officials and the wider Episcopal Church. Who would be responsible for carrying out the resolution? Dr. Baldwin and Dr. Gaither will post the endorsement on the “Back from the Brink” website.

Appropriate diocesan authorities will communicate the endorsement to our elected federal representatives and senators, as well as with the President of the United States. Secretary of Convention will forward this resolution to the Secretary of General Convention, for consideration at the 80th General Convention of the Episcopal Church.