by Julia Frisbie, Associate Director, Northwest United Methodist Foundation
If you’re a clergyperson with a pension, or if your church has long-term investments with the Northwest United Methodist Foundation, chances are that your investments are being managed by Wespath. That’s the investment arm of the United Methodist Church.
This is one of the perks of being part of a global denomination. Just like UMCOR allows us to do more in the mission field than any of our churches could do alone, Wespath allows us to pool our money and have a bigger positive impact in the markets. Here are three ways Wespath helps us use our money for good.
Avoid: Our money is not invested in alcohol, tobacco, pornography, gambling, weapons, or private prisons. These exclusions are in line with our United Methodist Social Principles. Wespath also avoids investing in coal, because of the financial risk it poses in the emerging low-carbon economy. Due in large part to pressure from our own annual conferences, Wespath now gives our account holders the option to divest from fossil fuels and the so-called Palestinian conflict companies.
Engage: Through formal requests, proxy voting, and shareholder resolutions, Wespath both encourages and, when required, puts pressure on companies and policymakers to do the right thing. Our pooled $23 Billion in assets give us more clout than any of us would have alone. Together, we advocate for: board independence and diversity; performance-based executive compensation; robust audit and control practices; appropriate shareholder rights and transparent reporting; the transition to a low-carbon economy; and identifying and mitigating human rights risks.
Invest: It’s not enough to avoid the bad stuff and question the questionable stuff. We also need to invest in the good stuff. Through Wespath, we have:
$1.5 Billion managed by women and/or minority-owned firms.
More than $2 Billion in our Positive Social Purpose Lending Program. This includes investments in renewable energy for developing nations, and the construction of 52,000 affordable housing units here in the US!
More than $700 Million in low-carbon energy solutions.