History

The LORD says, “Do not remember past events; do not ponder ancient history. See, I’m doing something new; now it sprouts up—don’t you notice it? I’m making a way in the desert, streams in the wilderness.”  Isa 43:16-19 (photo by David Kepley)
The LORD says, “Do not remember past events; do not ponder ancient history. See, I’m doing something new; now it sprouts up—don’t you notice it? I’m making a way in the desert, streams in the wilderness.” Isa 43:16-19 (photo by David Kepley)

“The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) believes that church investment, as well as personal investment, are more than practical questions. We believe that the Lordship of Jesus Christ is at the heart of all that we do and therefore, directs all aspects of our lives, including how we earn, use and invest our money.”

Our denomination has over 40 years of history recognizing the importance of our investments to our church’s mission.

The earliest experience of the Presbyterian Church is the traditional bar to investment in tobacco, liquor and gambling stocks, which probably originated in the days of the temperance and moral welfare movement. This is generally referred to as categorical divestment, since it removes funding from an entire business category.

In 1971, the 183rd General Assembly reported that “Church investment is an instrument of mission and includes theological social and economic considerations.” The divestment strategy was employed by the United Presbyterian Church to a specific corporation regarding mine safety in the mid 1970s. This was the first divestment action taken in the context of the formal mission responsibility through investment policy. This was followed by adoption of military-related production divestment in 1980.

In 1981 the importance of divestment was brought into sharp focus by the 193rd General Assembly, which directed the General Assembly Mission Council to “study the possibility of divestment of stock in corporations that do business in the Republic of South Africa…”

In 1984, the 196th General Assembly after considering an analysis of divestment as a general strategy in the socially responsible management of the church’s funds, approved, “The Divestment Strategy: Principles and Criteria”.

In 1986 an office, Mission Responsibility through Investment was established from both predecessor denominations established committees on corporate social responsibility. This office was established in recognition of the church’s unique opportunity to advance its mission faithfully and creatively through the financial resources entrusted it.

In conclusion, our denomination has a long history of tying its investments to its mission which has culminated in the formation of a committee and an office to implement the General Assembly's policies on socially responsible investing (also called faith-based investing) by engaging corporations in which the church owns stock. This is accomplished through correspondence, dialogues, voting shareholder proxies and recommending similar action to others, and occasionally filing shareholder resolutions.