New York diocese, California church choose fossil fuel-free investment portfolio

Posted Feb 7, 2017

[Canticle Communications] Episcopal dioceses, parishes and institutions take pains to invest their money in ways that advance their gospel-centered values, and two major church organizations are doing so through recently-launched fossil fuel-free portfolio options from Church Investment Group (CIG).

The Diocese of New York and All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California, are among the investors in portfolios that, like all CIG’s offerings, are guided by the ethical principles of “Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) investing.” Stocks and bonds in the portfolio meet ethical criteria including responsible employment, corporate governance and environmental practices and conscientious human rights policies.

“The financial world is morally complex, and it is essential to work with people who understand our beliefs,” said the Rt. Rev. Andrew M. L. Dietsche, bishop of New York. “CIG’s fossil fuel-free investment approach allows us to earn a good return on our money while being good stewards of God’s creation.

“The Episcopal Church should be a vigorous proponent of ethical investment practices, and CIG can help us to practice what we preach.”

CIG manages portfolios of more than $64 million for  Episcopal endowments, said managing director JoAnn Hanson. The group offers an Environmental, Social and Governance multi-asset fund which includes all industries; an Environmental, Social and Governance multi-asset fund with fossil fuel exclusions and separate accounts for endowments of more than $7 million.

“It isn’t easy to find a partner who can offer both sophisticated investment expertise and an understanding of the values and commitments central to our life as a peace and justice church,” said Christina Honchell, administrator at All Saints. “The fossil fuels exclusion was essential to us, but the ESG standards also promote other progressive values. We care about things like,  ‘Are the boards of these companies diverse? What are their hiring practices?’ Thanks to CIG, we didn’t feel like we had to compromise on that.” 

CIG’s board includes Bishops Gayle Harris of Massachusetts and Mike Klusmeyer of West Virginia, Bishop Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology at the University of the South, CIG’s secretary-treasurer W. Allen Barnett and several other Episcopalians with extensive investment experience. 

The group uses the investment firm Hirtle Callaghan as its chief investment officer. “Our relationship with Hirtle Callaghan allows us bring the strength of multi-billion-dollar purchasing power and investment experience to work for church organizations,” said David Pitts, chair of CIG’s board.

 “Fossil fuel-free investing is gathering momentum,” Hanson said, “and it has given us an opportunity to introduce the church to ESG principles. Episcopal organizations can help to finance positive change while earning a good return on their investments.”

 Episcopal organizations interested in ESG and fossil fuel-free investing should contact Hanson at