Christians are called to be “salt and light” in this world. This reference to a passage in the book of Matthew chapter 5 (vs. 13-16) speaks to the dual role we all can have in impacting our world for the better.
To be salt is to be “in the world but not of it,” to participate while also influencing and affecting. We’re also challenged to care for and preserve the uniqueness of this influence, so our efforts won’t be diluted by the forces around us. To be light is to illuminate a path forward. It pushes back the darkness and distractions and calls us toward a brighter, more positive future.
Salt and Light: Religious Values
What then does “salt and light” have to do with the world of investing? The Bible contains more than 2,700 references to money, economics, and the use of resources – more than almost any other topic. So clearly this stuff is important.
First, we recognize that economics and investing play an incredibly important role in our lives and significantly shape the world we live in. While some faith-based investment managers focus primarily on screening out investments that don’t align with their values, there is so much more we can do. As a witness to the faith and values we hold, Christian investors have many ways that they can use their investments to impact individuals, communities, and the world for the better. This is the “light” we can offer.
Salt and Light: ESG Integration
The emergence of environmental, social, and governance risk data has helped us manage both the financial and global/community impact of our investments in new ways. The integration of ESG data has rapidly become part of the mainstream investment management processes. But exactly how this data is used and the values that are supported depend on the manager. Faith-based investors should take an active role in advocating and educating to promote a transparent business and reporting environment that benefits all stakeholders. We take this responsibility seriously and believe this information not only supports our prudent investment processes but informs our desire to productively manage the impact our funds have on Creation and communities.
Salt and Light: Proxy Voting
As faith-based investors, we have many strategies that can deepen the positive, transformative influence our investments have on the world around us. Through proxy voting and company engagement, investors can encourage companies to change their practices to align better with our faith values. Participating in values-based proxy voting provides investors an avenue to communicate their support for important values and ESG resolutions on hundreds of corporate ballots annually. Company engagement provides intentional dialogue with senior company leaders through both shareholder and bondholder relationships to promote positive change in corporate policy and practice.
Salt and Light: Impact Investing
Where we invest also matters. Investing in positive impact bonds can deliver targeted, real-world benefits to the climate and/or communities through market-rate investments. In addition, Christian investors might consider investing in funds that support community investing initiatives that promote the inclusion and development of underserved communities through potentially concessionary investments providing deep, real-world change where it is needed most.
There are many opportunities for your investments to make a real impact, whether it’s encouraging companies to become better corporate citizens through company engagement or supporting underserved communities through community investing. At Praxis Mutual Funds, we recognize there is so much that we can do and that Christian investors can – and should – remember to be the “salt and light” in the investing world.
About the Author and Praxis
Guest post by Mark A. Regier, Vice President of Stewardship Investing for Praxis Mutual Funds® and Everence Financial,® a leading provider of faith-based financial products in the United States and a ministry of Mennonite Church USA. Mark has been involved in the field of ethical and socially responsible investing at Everence for more than 25 years. He oversees the company’s work in socially responsible and impact investing (including investment screening, ESG integration, proxy voting, corporate engagement, and community investing). In 2015, Mark assumed leadership of the sales and marketing efforts for Praxis Mutual Funds.
Mark has served as a member of the Board of Directors for the US Social Investment Forum, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Partners for the Common Good, the International Working Group (USSIF), and The Isaiah Fund for Disaster Recovery Investing. In 2006, Mark received the SRI Service Award, the U.S. social investment industry’s highest honor. With over 30 years of service to the church and a background in ethics and theological studies, Mark is often a resource to national and international media and organizations on faith-based and community investing issues.
Praxis Mutual Funds is a leading faith-based, socially responsible family of mutual funds designed to help investors integrate their finances with their values. Praxis is the mutual fund family of Everence Financial,® a comprehensive faith-based financial services organization helping individuals, organizations, and congregations. To learn more, visit Praxis and Everence. The fund’s prospectus and summary prospectus contain this and other information. Call 800-977-2947 or visit Praxis for a prospectus, which you should read carefully before you invest. [Publisher’s Note: Praxis is one of a few funds that announces the proxy votes in advance of annual shareholder meetings. If you own stock directly and are wondering how to vote, check out our list of funds announcing their votes in advance.] The Praxis Real Impact 2022 report shares specific real-world impacts arising from the Praxis team’s work to fulfill its stewardship investing mission. Key themes include supporting the low-carbon transition, protecting human rights, and addressing inequality.
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