At General Convention in 2015, there was a lot of discussion about divesting from certain types of investments – particularly fossil fuels. This spurred additional discussion by the Finance Committee. In the fall, in our regular meeting with our investment advisors, we discussed the funds that St Mary’s holds and what investments they might make that we might find problematic. This included tobacco, weapons/military, and fossil fuels.
Although our investment policy has always said that St Mary’s would aim to hold funds deemed responsible by the Finance Committee, the socially responsible investment field remains relatively young. It can be hard to define problematic investments. For instance, many of us may feel very attached to the local company, 3M, but they do make products for the military. Is that a concern?
We decided to look carefully at what was available to use when opportunities for new investment arose. At the end of the year, due to some regulatory changes, we were unable to continue to purchase the funds we had been buying monthly with our repayment to the Holden Fund. Our investment advisors looked at a lot of funds very carefully to find us an alternative.
Ultimately, the Finance Committee decided to direct our monthly Holden Fund repayment o purchase a fund that includes “stewardship investment criteria”. The fund is faith-based, incorporating Mennonite principles. The principles really spoke to us as they seem to stem from the baptismal covenant, looking for companies that respect the dignity of all people, build a world free from violence, demonstrate a concern for justice, have responsible management practices, support communities, and environmental stewardship.
Here are their six principles: