Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Reaches $150,000 with Occupation-Free Endowment Fund

Young Adult Delegation to Israel-Palestine Confirms Call for GA Divestment

As part of its larger Endowment Campaign, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has launched an Occupation-Free Fund for donors who do not want to invest in companies that enable or benefit from the Occupation of Palestinian Territories by the State of Israel. On May 28, 2014, the Fellowship’s new Occupation-Free Fund reached $150,000. Celebrating its 70th year in 2014, the Peace Fellowship is a national community of Presbyterians who follow the nonviolence of Jesus Christ by working to reduce war and violence in the world.  

“The Occupation-Free Fund takes our social investment screen to a new level,” said Rick Ufford-Chase, Executive Director for the Peace Fellowship. “In addition to non-investment in Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions, which are under consideration for General Assembly divestment, we worked hard to identify a partner who could assure our donors that our screen would also limit a larger range of other companies that support and profit from the Occupation.”

The new Occupation-Free Fund is managed by Just Money Advisors of Louisville, KY. The majority of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s Endowment Fund is managed by the New Covenant Trust Company at the Presbyterian Foundation. Total funds under investment have surpassed $550,000, with a goal of $700,000 by 12/31/14, in celebration of the Peace Fellowship’s 70th anniversary. An additional goal of 70 legacy gift commitments currently stands at 45 planned gifts through wills, bequests or other vehicles for long-term giving through the Presbyterian Foundation.

In January 2014, the Peace Fellowship’s first Young Adult Delegation to Israel-Palestine met with Palestinian American businessman Sam Bahour, who talked about the importance of a dual strategy for investors who are concerned about peace with justice in Israel and Palestine. A strategy of investment in Palestinian-owned businesses provides potential jobs to Palestinians, and supports them to resist the Occupation simply by helping them to remain rooted in their communities.

Then Bahour firmly lauded Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a powerful, nonviolent strategy to pressure the State of Israel to actively dismantle the Occupation.  The group also met Israeli citizens working to end the Occupation and with Omar Barghouti, a leader in the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement, who called on the Presbyterian Church to divest itself of stock in companies that support or benefit from the Occupation. “What we are asking for is hardly heroic,” Barghouti said. “We just want your church to stop paying our oppressors to oppress us.”

After meetings and reflection experiences with Israeli Jews, Palestinians Christians, Israeli Palestinians and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, the 28 member PPF delegation voted unanimously to support the Mission Responsibility through Investment call for General Assembly divestment from three corporations that strategically enable the Occupation.

“This plea from our inter-faith partners in the Middle East is what we are responding to with the Occupation-Free Fund,” said Ufford-Chase. “At the same time, the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship will do everything that we can to encourage the upcoming General Assembly to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions so that the witness of the whole Presbyterian Church stands for an end to the Occupation.”

The Occupation-Free Fund brought renewed enthusiasm to the endowment campaign which was suspended during the recession years and re-started in 2013. “This fulfills a long-held dream,” said PPF National Committee member Jan Orr-Harter, Chair of the Endowment Fund Investment Committee. “This is a way that Presbyterians who are committed to nonviolence can leave a legacy to continue the work of peacemaking in future generations.” Noted Presbyterian poets J. Barrie Shepherd and Ann Weems serve as PPF Endowment Campaign Honorary Co-Chairs.

At the June 18, 2014 Peace Breakfast, held in conjunction with the 221st meeting of the PC(USA) General Assembly in Detroit, MI, Barrie Shepherd will lead the presentation of an oversize check for approximately $25,000 from an older generation of Peace Fellowship members to the emerging young adult constituency who will carry the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship witness into the future. The check represents the first use of endowment income for the 2014 operating budget of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. These funds will help support the Colombia Accompaniment Program, education and action to reduce gun violence and other work of the PPF, including efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear and conventional war.

For more information on the Occupation-Free Fund or the Young Adult Delegation to Israel-Palestine, contact Rick Ufford-Chase at rickuffordchase@gmail.com. For information on making a cash or stock gift or a planned legacy gift to the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship Endowment/Occupation-Free Fund, contact Jan Orr-Harter, 817-291-3952 or JanOH4@aol.com. Donate here.

Source: http://www.presbypeacefellowship.org/content/presbyterian-peace-fellowship-reaches-150000-occupation-free-endowment-fund

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