The Executive Council of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA) has directed its Social Responsibility in Investments (SRI) committee to use the church’s investments to encourage positive change in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
The action, which affirms “positive investment” and “corporate engagement,” came during the council’s fall meeting in Las Vegas.
“Our recommendation is not divestment, which I think some people were anticipating,” Rev. Canon Kate J. Cullinane, SRI committee chair, told the council.
Ms. Cullinane said that to divest would mean to walk away. “We’re going to stay involved,” she told the council.
The council based its resolution on the recommendations in a report from the SRI committee. The report did not recommend divestment because “the goal is for selected companies to change behavior resulting in a more hopeful climate for peace. If the church simply divests, nothing positive has happened.”
The council’s resolution fits into ECUSA’s long-standing policy of supporting a two-state solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, said committee member Kim Byham.
The report followed a year’s deliberations during which the committee engaged in research and study, dialogue with many groups and individuals, visited Israel and the Palestinian territories, and observed actions from other churches and denominations dealing with similar issues.
The committee said its responsibility was “not to create new policy,” but to make recommendations that “advance the existing social policies of the church on Israel and Palestine,” its main purpose being to promote peace and justice.
With “positive investment,” ECUSA would join with other religious organizations, denominations and institutions in investing in the economic infrastructure of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as “a stable Palestinian state will make for a more secure Israel,” said the report.