For some, it was always going to be a hope and a prayer. A bid to force church leaders to ditch their investments built on the backs of the oil and gas industry for a cleaner greener path in the name of saving “creation”.

But when the Church of Scotland refused six months ago to divest from oil and gas companies, it was never going to be the end.

Now the Kirk is facing renewed pressure – this time by Green MSP Ross Greer. Mr Greer has written to the Church’s house magazine claiming “the Kirk is on the verge of losing our moral credibility on the defining issue of the century”.

The call from the youngest ever MSP – and a member of the Church of Scotland – comes in the wake of other criticism, including from one of the Kirk’s own ministers, who is a leading advocate for swifter climate change action.

In July the Reverend Jenny Adams, of Duffus, Spynie and Hopeman Parish Church in Moray, said the disinvestment would send a clear signal to political and business leaders “who must take urgent action now.”

In May, the Church of Scotland voted against a bid to divest from oil and gas companies at its General Assembly.

The Church holds shares in BP, Shell and Total. More than 70 delegates, including the then outgoing moderator the Very Reverend Susan Brown, formally lodged their frustration at the decision not to divest from fossil fuels, with advocates describing the vote as “an embarrassing abdication of moral leadership”.

Now Mr Greer says in a letter to next month’s Life and Work that “with fires burning from the Amazon to Siberia and another summer of record temperatures, we are rightly asking congregations to lobby parliaments and governments, calling on them to do more to tackle the climate emergency.

“But despite years of ‘constructive engagement’ having unsurprisingly failed to persuade oil and gas companies to stop destroying the world, the Kirk is as yet unwilling to take the single most straightforward step we can to show the Church’s approach to saving creation amounts to more than just rhetoric?

“How can I persuade my fellow parliamentarians that ours is a voice worth listening to when we cannot get our own house in order?

“How can we call on others to do more whilst holding on to millions of pounds of investments in the very industries which are quite literally killing our friends and neighbours around the planet?

“While some $10 trillion has been divested from fossil fuels by other organisations – without the calamitous effects some have warned of –the Church of Scotland has repeated the same debate, year after year, failing to take action.

“If we strive to be a leader in the fight against the climate crisis and to be a voice worth listening to in Scottish society, we simply must finish this debate and divest from fossil fuels at next year’s Assembly.”

Although the last General Assembly voted to “recognise and affirm the declarations of the Scottish Government, UK Parliament and others that we are experiencing a climate and ecological emergency,” a counter-motion to disinvest from oil and gas companies by 2020 was narrowly defeated.

The divestment counter-motion, championed by Reverend Gordon Strang, a minister from Grantown-on-Spey, fell by 303 votes to 263. Rev Adams has said: “No major fossil fuel company spends more than 4.5 per cent of total capital expenditure on renewable or low-carbon solutions.”

She said oil firms had known the risks of burning fossil fuels for over 30 years but have spent $1 billion on lobbying and publicity since the Paris Agreement, to limit or delay action on climate change.

“The oil and gas industry is planning to spend $4.9 trillion on exploration and extraction from new fields over the next decade, with devastating consequences,” she said, adding that disinvestment would not be at odds with caring for the industry’s workers.

“Disinvestment is a practical, legal and responsible way for the Church of Scotland to respond to the climate emergency. It sends a clear signal to the companies most responsible, and to political and business leaders, who must take urgent action now.”

Catherine Alexander, chair of the CoS Investors Trust, claimed divesting was the “wrong way” to influence change.

“The trustees believe that working with like-minded Christian investors, and trusting in the redemptive power of the Christian message, more progress can be made to engage with companies positively to make the changes needed to transition to a just market economy and tackle climate change,” she said.