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Environmental Stewardship Commission

Episcopal Church in Minnesota

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Resolution on the Spirituality of Food Production

Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Resolution on Creation Season


Environmental Stewardship Resolution

Here is how the Episcopal Diocese of Minnesota is Investing
by Len Freeman

1) prior to this year we relied essentially on the "socially responsible investing screens" of the national Episcopal Church, since most of our monies were invested through the DFMS Pooled Fund.

2) This year [2005, ed.], as we have moved back into managing the funds ourselves, we are looking at our investments from a number of standpoints, including that which is usually called "socially responsible investing." This is a style that, as you may know, involves a number of "screens" which look at companies for investment on a number of factors. Amongst these are environmental/ecological stewardship, others include employee fairness practices, issues around minority hiring and advancement, so called "sin" industries (alcohol, tobacco, gambling, etc), integrity issues re: financial records, etc. There are a number of pretty broadly used screen indexes, including the Domini and Calvert social indexes. Several mutual funds invest only in funds included in these indexes, as well as sometimes adding other screens. As a policy we invest only through mutual funds, rather than individual stocks.

3) With this in mind we have begun looking into specific "socially responsible" funds for their suitability for portions of our portfolio. Not all the screens are the same, nor the results, and you can get some interesting oddities (i.e., Starbucks ... which up to now reportedly had been a "darling" of socially responsible funds because of the way it buys coffees, and dealt with labor issues, and social issues ... recently got bounced from some of the funds that rule out "sin" industries, because it agreed to let Jim Beam, Inc., market a coffee liqueur under the Starbucks name. I have a hunch that would not bother most Episcopalians, but it says something about the complexities.) In any event, we have asked our advisor to specifically look as such funds for possible inclusion.

4) New data, that was shared at the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes in February 2005, indicates that "Socially Responsible" business practices are in fact good for business ... in the long run avoids law suits, regulation problems etc. So that most of the S&P 500 type companies, with some notable exceptions, in the long run tend to be those that in fact show up on the socially responsible investing lists. This means that doing pretty much "plain vanilla" investing through the larger index funds on the whole, ends us up in a pretty much good place re: being socially responsible. Not perfect, but good to know.

5) We have recently increased the percentage of our portfolio invested overseas. While that may not seem immediately connected, it in fact is investment that supports the development of emerging nations, moving them onto the world's economy track ... and raising up everyone's standards, including the environmental ones. This aids 3rd world development and, thinking about it specifically as investing Christians, Jesus loves them too.

6) The Consortium workshop this year on socially responsible investing (there is one) interestingly focused more on voting Proxies, rather than whom one invests in per se, as an increasingly used tactic. While we don't invest directly in individual stocks, and therefore don't have proxies to vote, it gives us an idea of how others are managing this.

I hope the above is helpful. At the least it attests that as diocesan trustees we are in fact aware of, and actively looking at, how our investments reflect our values.

Copyright Statement

To other resolutions of the
Environmental Stewardship Commission
To the Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds
To the Resolution on Church Buildings and Grounds

Len Freeman was Chair of the Trustees Investment Committee when he wrote the above in 2005. We welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to any MEESC member, or mail them to: 

c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.


This page last updated 2006-11-15.


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