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“Stretch out your hand over the sea.” —Exod. 14:26

Mission Responsibility Through Investment
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Bill Somplatsky Jarman
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100 Witherspoon Street
Louisville, KY 40202

What is MRTI?

Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI), is a committee of the Presbyterian General Assembly. More than that, it's a way for the wider church to act as faithful stewards.

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.

Church investment is "an instrument of mission and includes theological, social and economic considerations." (183rd General Assembly, United Presbyterian Church USA, 1971)

Presbyterians believe that the stewardship of God's resources is entrusted to the church. Thus, "we confess that the Lord is really the acknowledged Master of our entire life — moral, physical and material." (116th General Assembly, Presbyterian Church in the United States, 1976)

In recognition of the church's unique opportunity to advance its mission faithfully and creatively through the financial resources entrusted it, both predecessor denominations established committees on corporate social responsibility that became the Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 1986.


What does MRTI do?

MRTI implements 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.

Priorities are selected each year upon referral from the General Assembly and in consultation with ecumenical partners. The Mission Work Plan of the Presbyterian Mission Agency also guides the work of MRTI. Consistent with its mandate to promote the mission goals of the General Assembly, MRTI adopts an annual Priority Issues Work Plan.

MRTI enjoys the full participation of the Board of Pensions and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Foundation. Their assets, including those of the Foundation's family of New Covenant mutual funds, are managed according to General Assembly guidelines.

Recent Advocacy Success

In response to our involvement, United Airlines has just published a new human rights policy statement focused on trafficking of minors. The policy focuses on eliminating bribery within United and denouncing potential trafficking on United Airlines. This statement is the result of a shareholders' motion written by Sr. Kathleen Coll of Catholic Health Care East, which was then endorsed by the PC(USA) as well as ELCA and other Catholic investment organizations. View the policy here on page 13.

The policy change is just the latest example of how MRTI uses PC(USA) funds to promote social justice. To get involved, contact MRTI for more information about upcoming shareholder motions. 


Who serves on MRTI?

MRTl's 12 members include representatives chosen by the relevant investing and finance agencies and the related bodies and units responsible for mission policy and program in the implementation of the General Assembly policies and decisions. The Presbyterian Mission Agency nominating committee appoints three Presbyterians from the church-at-large who possess particular skills and expertise or represent important constituencies.


Why does the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) do this work?

God calls us to live as stewards, using the resources entrusted to us to provide for the economic needs of our families and to seek peace and justice, to care for the poor and oppressed, and to live in harmony with creation.

That's why for more than 30 years the General Assembly, the church's highest governing body, has continued its public witness to connect financial investment with its commitment to peace and justice.

Read the General Assembly policies of 1971 and 1976 that describe the church's theology and guidelines for socially responsible investing.

Read about the 1985 policy on phased, selective investment.


Does MRTI work with other socially responsible investors?

MRTI partners with a number of organizations to pursue peace and justice. Ecumenical partners include the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), Ceres, the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, CANICCOR, the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras, Interfaith Worker Justice, and the Social Investment Forum.


How does MRTI do its work?

MRTI carries out its mission as directed by the General Assembly through screening, shareholder advocacy and community investing.

Screening involves making investments based on criteria rooted in our faith. Positive screens may include environmental responsibility, fair-hiring practices and efforts to support human rights standards. Negative screens may include gambling and the production of alcohol, tobacco, or war materials. Research enables concerned investors to make informed choices so they can invest in companies that come closest to their values.

  • The 2014 General Assembly Divestment List: Download
 

Shareholder advocacy, also called corporate engagement, involves seeking to influence the behavior of a company in which stock is held. This may include talking and meeting with company management to encourage more responsible corporate citizenship, voting on issues at the company's annual meetings and filing shareholder resolutions, often with other concerned individuals or institutions. As a last resort, corporate engagement may lead to a recommendation to the General Assembly of divestment.

Community investing provides money for economic development in communities that are overlooked or excluded by traditional financial structures. Such investments help provide access to jobs, housing, and local services and to offer economic opportunities for a sustainable future.

Learn more and teach others with this printable resource about the church's theology regarding socially responsible investing  and the successful efforts of MRTI to help the church connect ministry financial investment with its commitment to peace and justice.

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  • Question: Re the recent decision of Gen. Assembly to divest from 3 corporations, does this mandate the Board of Pensions to do so, or does the BofP consider doing so? Thanks. by Barbara Roche on 06/23/2014 at 11:14 p.m.