Pension Board offers new funds honoring BDS requests


In 2015 the Oregon-Idaho Conference voted to divest its investment funds from three companies involved in supporting the Israel’s military occupation of Palestine: Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions. Despite opposing the vote for divestment, Wespath, the pension and health agency for The United Methodist Church, eventually made changes to allow for this choice.

Wespath had various screening criteria to make investments conform to the values of the church but argued against this particular move that is part of a larger effort referred to as boycott, divest and sanctions (BDS).  In light of several annual conferences voting to divest from these companies, Wespath made investment options available to conferences that excluded the three named companies.  As of the fall of 2017, all equity and fixed asset investments from the Oregon-Idaho Conference have been moved to these funds.

In the January 2018 edition of Wespath’s "Hark" newsletter they announced a new “Social Values Choice” suite of funds available to individual investors. This new option allows clergy and lay participants in the retirement program to direct their investments into funds that match their values regarding the Palestinian occupation. Previously only institutional investors had the option.

In the article, Wespath General Secretary, Barbara Boigegrain shares, “We recognize that a number of our participants have a deep desire to align their investments with their personal beliefs, we have worked closely with key stakeholders to provide a prudent diversifying option for these investors.”

These funds also respond to requests by Fossil Free UMCs to avoid investment in fossil fuels.
Wespath has a program to actively avoid investments related to The United Methodist Church’s ethical exclusion policy and actively engages with companies and policymakers to urge them to adopt sustainable practices and policies. In addition, the agency actively votes its proxies to support church values.

Learn more at https://www.wespath.org/si/