Quebec Anglican diocese looks to secure future through ethical investing

MONTREAL -- There are a lot of empty pews in the Anglican Diocese of Quebec's churches, but the treasury is fuller than it has been in years.

See Full Article

As shrewd investing is replacing weekly parishioner offerings as a main revenue source, the diocese is looking to ethical investment to build its portfolio in a socially responsible way that better reflects its values.

In December, the diocese completed the process of selling off its $1.72 million in fossil fuel investments and the $525,000 it had invested in gold and copper mining. In doing so, it added its name to the growing list of organizations that have chosen to divest from oil and gas over climate change concerns.

Bishop Dennis Drainville says the next step for the Quebec Anglicans is an investing shift to renewable energy.

"It's not just an issue of taking money out and divesting, its also a question of using our money in a way that will help us to build a better world," he told The Canadian Press.

The origins of so-called "ethical" investing among churches date back to the 1970s, when many opted against investing in companies with questionable human rights records or those dealing with guns, tobacco, or gambling.

These days, faith-based organizations like Drainville's are looking even more closely at investment choices.

Drainville said the church decided to pull its money out of the mining sector about four years ago over concerns of environmental degradation and poor working conditions on Canadian-owned mining sites in the developing world. A couple of years later, they decided to join the fossil fuel divestment movement.

They aren't alone. The United Church of Canada voted in August to divest the $5.9 million it had invested in the large "Carbon 200" companies, and completed the process at the end of 2015, according to chief financial officer Erik Mathiesen.

"This was not an investment decision but rather a church decision intended to bring attention to the issue of climate justice in solidarity with other faith communities around the world," he wrote in an email.

Mathiesen said the church has also signed a United Nations pact for responsible investing and the Montreal Carbon pledge, which both commit to measuring and reducing carbon intensity.

The Anglican dioceses of Ottawa and Montreal have also voted to end their own fossil fuel investments, as have several Unitarian churches, and other faith-based organizations.

As church congregations dwindle, Drainville's diocese is depending on its portfolio to not only build a better world, but also to save it from extinction.

Drainville says the diocese decided to begin closing churches, selling off properties and reinvesting the proceeds about eight years ago at a time it was "hemorrhaging money" and losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

While by no means on safe financial footing, there is reason for optimism a decade later.

The diocese's treasurer said in a November report to the governing body that while cash flow and debt problems remain, the church's pooled funds have grown from $8.6 million in 2008 to $17 million last year.

The diocese hopes to break even by 2017, an impressive feat given dwindling numbers in the pews.

In 2014, Drainville's territory -- an area including Quebec City, Trois-Rivieres and Sherbrooke -- had only about 4,000 active parishioners, with 80 per cent boasting a regular attendance of less than 25 people.

Drainville chalks it up largely to shifting demographics: the church's traditional base of English-speakers now make up less than five per cent of the population in many of those towns.

Without investments, Drainville says the Diocese of Quebec, founded in 1793, would have disappeared.

"I see the church as a community of people who care deeply about how we live and how we share our resources with people, and investments have to be a part of all those considerations," he said.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Searchers looking for overdue hiker in Whiteshell area of eastern Manitoba

    Canada News CTV News
    LAC DU BONNET, Man. -- Search and rescue crews are looking for an overdue hiker in the Whiteshell area in eastern Manitoba. A 33-year-old Winnipeg woman planned to hike the Mantario Trail to Mantario Lake, camp overnight and return by Thursday afternoon. Source
  • Philippines President Duterte phones Trump

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte telephoned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump late Friday and had a brief but "very engaging, animated conversation" in which both leaders invited each other to visit his country. In a video released by Duterte's close aide, Bong Go, the Philippine leader is seen smiling while talking to Trump and saying: "We will maintain . Source
  • British couple, married 50 years, spend finals hours together holding hands

    World News Toronto Sun
    A British couple married for more than 50 years have died holding each other’s hands, according to their family. Audrey Fleetwood, 77, was in palliative care suffering from dementia said the Sun U.K., and had been in hospital for 23 weeks when her husband Dennis Fleetwood, 85, was admitted as well. Source
  • 2 trapped after building collapses in South Dakota city

    World News CTV News
    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. -- Rescue workers picked through the rubble of a collapsed building in a South Dakota city Friday in search of two people who were thought to be trapped in the debris. Crews were concerned about rubble shifting as they carefully worked to free the two. Source
  • Ban on diesel planned in 4 of world's biggest cities

    World News CBC News
    Four of the world's largest and most polluted cities have decided to ban diesel cars and trucks from their streets by 2025. The mayors of Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and Athens announced the commitment in Mexico City on Friday at the C40 Mayors' Summit, a meeting of city leaders. Source
  • Not rocket science why you're fat: Stephen Hawking

    World News Toronto Sun
    Brilliant scientist Stephen Hawking says it is easy to figure out why people around the world are fat. “We eat too much and move too little,” Hawking said in a public-service announcement for non-profit Swedish health organization GEN-PEP. Source
  • Raul Castro: Ruthless and brutal like his late brother Fidel

    World News Toronto Sun
    Raul Castro was hitting the booze hard. Mostly vodka. His favourite. He had just taken part in the assassination of his longtime friend and comrade, General Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez. The general -- with Raul and his brother, Cuban strongman Fidel Castro -- had been an integral part of the cabal that ran the country since the early 1960s. Source
  • 950-lb. manatee rescued from Fla. storm drain

    World News Toronto Sun
    According to News4 Jacksonville, the 9.5-foot female manatee probably got into the drain after feeding in the area and getting a little too ambitious, going out of bounds and getting stuck in the city’s storm system. The Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission worked together for seven hours to cut pipes away so that the manatee could be pulled from the drain unharmed, reports said. Source
  • Canadian couple in their 70s among the dead in Tennessee wildfire [Video]

    Canada News Toronto Sun
    A Canadian couple is among the victims of a wildfire that ravaged the Smoky Mountains resort city of Gatlinburg, Tenn. John Tegler and Marilyn Tegler, both in their 70s, are among 13 people who have died as a result of the fires that broke out earlier this week. Source
  • Cyber-bullied teen committed suicide in front of her family: Reports

    World News Toronto Sun
    A Texas teen who was cyber-bullied for more than a year killed herself in front of her family because she couldn’t take the abuse anymore, according to reports. “I love you so much, please remember that, and I’m sorry for everything,” read Brandy Vela’s text to her family moments before she killed herself. Source