MC USA Consultation on Investment and Israel/Palestine

(Mennonite Church USA logoMennonite Church USA) Nineteen representatives of Mennonite agencies and associated organizations met in the Everence offices in Goshen on Nov. 20, 2017 for a consultation on investments and Israel/Palestine. The consultation was a step in implementing the “Seeking Peace in Israel and Palestine” resolution adopted by delegates at the Orlando convention in July 2017, which included a commitment to “avoiding economic support for occupation.”

The day-long consultation included reports from Mennonite Mission Network (MMN), Mennonite Education Agency (MEA) and Everence, as well as Christian Peacemaker Teams, Mennonite Palestine Israel Network (MennoPIN) and Mennonite Central Committee U.S. (MCC U.S.).

“Each group comes at the issue from its own vantage point and with its particular calling and mandate,” said Andre Gingerich Stoner, who helped convene the consultation and served as pastoral consultant on Israel/Palestine for MC USA until the end of 2017. “The roles are different. This can lead to tension, but as the groups work together they also discover that their work is often complementary.”

Everence representatives reported to the group that because of its existing military and human rights screens, many of the companies of greatest concern for their complicity in the occupation have long been screened out in Everence-managed portfolios. Over the years, as concerns about military occupation around the world has grown, Everence has augmented its screening processes, invested in new research and developed tailored products for investors concerned about military occupation.

MCC U.S., MMN and MEA reported on how they have integrated concerns about military occupation of Palestinian territory into their own investment portfolios, working with Everence to find solutions that respond to the needs of their own constituencies and within the limitations they face as investors.

“This was an important opportunity for sharing, listening and learning,” said Tom Harder, chair of MennoPIN and pastor of Lorraine Ave. Mennonite Church in Wichita, Kansas, noting a remarkable convergence between those applying socially responsible screening tools on the one hand, and those organizing campaigns to end the occupation on the other.

MC USA anticipates holding a follow-up to this consultation in fall 2018 to prepare for MennoCon19, the denominational convention in Kansas City.