The Episcopal Church has influence on society that is much broader than our physical numbers. The church has extensive financial assets – over $300 million in trust assets; $8 billion in clergy retirement funds; and another $3.6 billion among our parishes and dioceses. Importantly, the church endeavors to make a difference with its money – by investing in socially responsible ways.
Socially responsible investing dates back thousands of years. In biblical times, Jewish law laid down many directives about how to invest ethically. Jesus said more about money and its right use than about anything else except the Reign of God. In the 18th century, religious groups in the United States placed restrictions on their investments (including loans) in companies engaged in distilling, tobacco production, and gambling facilities.
The Episcopal Church has made socially responsible investments at least since the 1960s – and we continue, following a trinity of avoidance, affirmative action, and advocacy.
- Avoidance: Not investing in companies whose activities are contrary to our social and moral values.
- Affirmative Investing: Investing in institutions that can provide financial resources to underserved communities.
- Advocacy: Voting proxies and activism that focus on constructively influencing corporate behavior.
The tools for making money and making a difference with our money have never been more readily available. Wall Street did not develop products that reflect their clients’ social, ethical, and environmental values until the religious investing community asked for them. We ask for this because we want to ensure that our investments incorporate our social and moral values.
We invite you to learn about what the church does and how you and your parish might participate in this ministry.
Katharine Jefferts Schori