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New Zealand diocese buys shares in Christian investment fund

18 September 2020

A screenshot of the Christian Savings homepage

A screenshot of the Christian Savings homepage

A DIOCESE in New Zealand has invested $NZ1 million in a Christian investment fund as part of an effort to make its capital work towards its mission. The amount equates to about two per cent of the total capital held by the diocese of Wellington.

The money has been invested in Christian Savings, an ecumenical lender to churches and Christian charities in New Zealand, whose loans often ministry and buildings projects that would be unlikely to secure finance from mainstream banks.

John Whitehead, who chairs the diocese’s board of trustees, and was previously a civil servant in the country’s treasury department, said: “It represents movement towards more fruitful stewardship of our assets, making them work harder for us in favour of the purpose and mission of the church. We make this decision with confidence that we can be both financially prudent, and can deliver mission-aligned impact at the same time.”

Christian Savings, which began as a Baptist establishment in the 1960s when it lent money to a church to buy new pews, now controls about $NZ140 million (about £73 million) in lending.

Denominations such as the Vineyard movement, the Elim Church of New Zealand, and Lutheran parishes have invested some of their assets with Christian Savings, becoming shareholders.

The chief executive of Christian Savings, James Palmer, said: “This new $1 million of Anglican capital allows us to deliver another $20 million in loans for new housing developments to address the housing crisis, or another $8 million in loans for church property maintenance or developments.”

The diocese said that, besides investing in Christian Savings, it intended to take advantage of its loans as well.

At least six parishes have already identified developments and building projects that, they hope, could be funded by seed capital from Christian Savings.

The diocese’s decision was, in part, prompted by a report sent to the General Synod of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia earlier this year, which urged the Church to consider the social impact as well as financial returns when investing its money.

The report also noted that the Church’s total assets amounted to approximately $2.87 billion, together with $1.18 billion in property.

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