At a conference on 3 October in St Andrews and St Georges West church in Edinburgh, participants heard about a variety of ways in which our money can be put to a positive use, benefitting not just ourselves, but our communities and the wider world.
Rev Sally Foster- Fulton, Convener of the Church of Scotland and Society Council, said: “This was an excellent opportunity to think about how we all have a responsibility to use the assets which we have, in order to have a positive effect on the world around us”.
Green investment pioneer Tessa Tennant, who gave the keynote address, encouraged people to realise the importance and long term influence of investment decisions made now.
Good money app :Where does money fit in with faith? When we check our bank statements, we can see where our priorities lie. Our spending and giving affect consumption and has an environmental impact. Giving has an element of risk and it can be worthwhile effecting due diligence on our charities to see what their costs of raising funds are. This useful little app has a range of tools to track spending, giving, price comparisons and goal planning.
Community Shares Scotland : the workshop session stressed the significance of social and community impact as a return for investment alongside or, in some cases, instead of monetary return. It cited community need as a starting point for a project and outlined the importance of community engagement both at a local level and with potential partnering organisations.
Ethical Money Churches : John Arnold from the Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility (ECCR) explained that ‘The Ethical Money Churches Project’ helps worshipping communities to explore challenging issues relating to Christian stewardship of financial resources and assets. It provides opportunities for sharing and learning about the ethical use of money and what it means to be an "Ethical Money Church" through the use of interactive study resources. The simple question “What does your church do with its money” generated debate, including Credit Unions, Legacies and using church resources in a positive way.
Financial capability skills for young people : Journalist and blogger Iona Bain led discussion around how we can encourage young people (and others!) to manage their money more responsibly. The easy availability of credit, the temptation to seek instant gratification, and a lack of trust in many financial institutions combine to mean that financial decisions made by young people can be very complex. The need for budgeting and financial responsibility to be taught at the primary school level was identified.
Divestment: Adrian Shaw, Climate Change officer for the Church of Scotland led discussion, in response to requests from member churches and decisions made at the General Assembly, to review the possibility of the Church of Scotland divesting its investments in shares in the oil & gas sector. The background to the issue, and the possible range of actions ranging from full divestment of shares in all oil & gas related stock, to active engagement with investee firms to improve performance, as ‘activist’ shareholders, was explored. Some participants favoured the impact of making a statement and ‘sending out a message’ by selling fossil fuel holdings, while others were more pragmatic and showed more interest in a more pragmatic engagement and a more positive emphasis on the Churches funds being invested for positive good, not just in relation to energy but to wider investment areas as well.
Good Money Week, 18-24 October 2015 is an opportunity to ensure that those you trust with your money are looking after it well and using it in ways which benefit society and protect the environment.
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