Do you know where your money goes? That might seem like a very odd question with which to begin this week’s blog but I have a reason for asking. For some in our Household, budgets may be very tight and investing seem out of the question but many of us might be investing in ways we don’t think about often. While I don’t have enough discretionary funds right now in my early retirement to open any investment accounts, I do have a retirement fund in which my employer contributes each month. Since it’s an index fund, I don’t often think about the companies it’s supporting. But, I really need to reconsider my hands-off approach to this tiny investment. I know I would feel just terrible if I thought my money was supporting businesses that do not promote justice and equity for all!
Last summer at General Convention, we approved a resolution relating to this topic, C045: Environmentally Responsible Investing:
C045: Environmentally Responsible Investing
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention of the Episcopal Church welcomes the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon rule for existing power plants; and be it further
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention calls upon the Investment Committee of the Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, and the Episcopal Church Foundation to divest from fossil fuel companies and reinvest in clean renewable energy in a fiscally responsible manner, and be it further
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention calls on the Investment Committee of the Executive Council, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, and the Episcopal Church Foundation to refrain from purchasing any new holdings of public equities and corporate bonds of fossil fuel companies, and be it further
Resolved, That the 78th General Convention urges all dioceses and parishes of the Episcopal Church to engage the topic of divestment from fossil fuels and reinvestment in clean energy within the coming year.
The Rev. Deacon Paul Castelli, one of our Household’s own deputies, served on the committee that brought this resolution to the floor. I asked Paul to share his insights with us for this week’s blog:
At the 2015 General Convention, Deputies and Bishops of the Episcopal Church passed resolution C045, calling for environmentally responsible and sustainable investing and urging the Church to divest from fossil fuels and reinvest in clean energy. C045 came out of the new Legislative Committee on Environmental Stewardship and Care of Creation, on which I served as a committee officer.
C045 specifically calls upon the Executive Council’s Investment Committee, the Episcopal Church Endowment Fund, and the Episcopal Church Foundation to divest stock in fossil fuel companies and reinvest in clean energy. This effort is to be done in a timely, yet fiscally responsible manner. Much discussion in committee revolved around the possibility of this meaning that some investment dollars could end up in some of the same places (i.e., traditional energy companies who are engaged in clean and renewable energy research and development).
It was also made clear in committee that this was not the Episcopal Church making an ethical indictment against companies, but rather making such an indictment against itself as a Church. Scripture reveals God’s love of creation and God’s instruction for us, made in the image and likeness of God, to be good stewards of the world that has been given to us (Genesis 2:15). For the Church to profit from the Earth’s degradation is a violation of God’s command to care for creation.
Another resolution seeking to add a clause about environmental stewardship and care of creation to our Baptismal Covenant (C015) was referred to committee and is expected to be revisited in 2018.
I know that this is a multi-faceted issue. There are some that are still not convinced that humans are causing irreparable damage to the planet. There are also communities whose livelihood comes directly from the mining and processing of non-renewable fuels. We’ve already seen the impact of decreasing demand for oil on some of these communities – and we do have a responsibility to these people as well. At the recent Paris climate talks, we learned about the necessity of reducing the rise of our planet’s temperature to safeguard the future of life as we know it (Check out the blog archives for discussions of these concerns). Some of us might be stunned to even read this very “first world” issue knowing that financial investment is a luxury that many people in the US and other nations can’t even consider. All of these matters need to be addressed as we each make decisions for our own investments. But, they are also topics for conversations within your congregations as you determine where the congregation’s endowment money might be invested.
So, where to begin. I’ll be the first to admit that am no expert on this so I began with an internet search. One of the most interesting results was a site called US SIF Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment – http://www.ussif.org/ There were many other options in my Google search so the material is there. Let me invite any of you who have background and knowledge on this topic to join in the conversation so that those of us who are new to this question might learn from your expertise. Please feel free to contact me by sending a comment along to this blog post or leave a message on our Facebook page.
Let us pray…
Maker of all things, Creator of heaven and earth, we thank you for the wonder and beauty of nature. May we be ever vigilant and responsible with the world that you have given us, keeping mindful not only that we are your stewards, but also that your creation is a gift for all generations. Amen.
~ The Rev. Deacon Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee