Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Expands Occupation-Free Endowment

For Immediate Release
Stony Point, NY

CONTACT: Rick Ufford-Chase  (845) 608-4056
Jan Orr-Harter  (817) 291-3952

Fund Returns to the Presbyterian Foundation in Support of General Assembly Divestment

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will start 2015 with a new commitment to peace and justice through investment. And it will do it through the New Covenant Trust Company, a subsidiary of the venerable Presbyterian Foundation which has supported Presbyterian mission for over 200 years. At a mere 70 years old, the Peace Fellowship is an independent nation-wide community of Presbyterians who follow the nonviolence of Jesus Christ by working to reduce war and violence in the world. 

Some history: Starting in 2007, the Peace Fellowship (PPF) invested its endowment fund in the New Covenant Funds, sponsored by the Presbyterian Foundation. In 2013 the Fellowship launched an Occupation-Free endowment option at the request of a donor who believed strongly in the long-standing Presbyterian commitment to ending the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories by the nation of Israel. Because the Presbyterian Church (USA) was still in the process of debating a more limited divestment from three corporations that profit from the Occupation, the new Occupation-Free portion of the Fellowship’s endowment was invested separately with a Louisville, KY firm specializing in socially-responsible investment. The balance of the endowment remained at the Foundation’s New Covenant Funds. The Occupation-Free Fund grew to over $150,000 in six months.

Support for denominational action: “The Presbyterian Church took a courageous and necessary stand in voting to no longer profit from the Occupation,” said PPF Executive Director Rick Ufford-Chase, referring to the June 2014 vote by the PC(USA) General Assembly to divest from Presbyterian investments in Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions, three corporations that strategically support and benefit from the Occupation. “The followers of Jesus should not make money off of the misery of this illegal Occupation or the abuse of anyone’s human rights. We are grateful that our full fund can now be managed through the Presbyterian Foundation’s New Covenant Trust Company (NCTC) without profiting from an ever-expanding Occupation.” Ufford-Chase cites a report in the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 27, 2014: “Israel plans to build some 1,000 new housing units in areas of Jerusalem claimed by Palestinians as part of a future state, further stoking tensions in the city after months of violence."

The now-united PPF endowment fund, with almost $600,000 dollars invested, will be maintained by the NCTC as an Investment Management Account, which gives more control over ethical investment decisions by the fund owner. Each year the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will provide the NCTC with a “Proscription List” to exclude investments in corporations that profit from the Occupation of the Palestinians. This goes beyond the three corporations previously divested from by the PC(USA), Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions, and includes the possibility of future prophetic witness with investments in other areas.

“We hope that our witness,” says PPF Endowment Investment Committee member Benjamin Snipes, “will inspire other groups, churches and individuals to develop ethical restrictions for their financial investments in support of Palestinian human rights and oppressed communities around the world.  Together, we can testify that profiting from the oppression of others is not acceptable in our churches and our business practices.”

For more information on setting up an Occupation-Free Fund, as a group or as an individual investor, or to contribute to the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s Occupation-Free Endowment, contact Jan Orr-Harter, Chair, Endowment Fund Committee, at 817-291-3952 or visit this page.