“Faithful Investing: The Power of Decisive Action and Incremental Change,” edited by James W. Murphy. Church Publishing (New York, 2019). 208 pp., $19.95.
By Daniel S. Mulhall
Investing is a very human behavior. We invest time in a hobby with the hope of being paid back with enjoyment. We invest in an education with the hope that we will benefit from what we learn. We invest money in a bank account or in the stock of a publicly traded company with the hope that we will be rewarded monetarily.
There are, thus, many ways to invest our assets. In “Faithful Investing,” an interdenominational writing team of financial leaders representing many Christian churches presents an argument and steps for successfully investing church assets in such a way that they not only create a financial gain on one’s investment but also a moral and ethical gain as well.
This short book offers 11 chapters and six case studies — each written by a different member of the team — that will help any church community (whether an individual church or a group of churches) examine how it uses the funds given to its care to promote the Gospel.
The book begins with a presentation on the basic terms and concepts for investing in general and for investing in a way that promotes the church’s beliefs and values: what is known as socially responsible investing. The following chapters then look at specific approaches to investing such as investing in publicly traded companies in order to advocate that the company behave according to Gospel values (shareholder advocacy) or to take a stand on human rights and dignity or on climate change, for example.
In addition to socially responsible investing, the book also provides a chapter on investing one’s assets for the benefit of others and not specifically for financial returns, such as investing in credit unions that allow the poor to borrow at better rates.
While written primarily for church investment committees, the book is a beneficial read for all Christians, even those whose national or diocesan church bodies are responsible for investing church funds for the individual parishes, as is the practice in Catholic churches in the United States. Understanding how I, as a faithful Christian, can invest to promote the Gospel, makes the book well worth reading.
Thankfully, the book is free of any self-promotion or investment advice: there is a declaimer footnote at the beginning of each chapter warning the reader to take what is written as information and not investment advice or endorsement. While each chapter is relatively short, some were very dense with investment information, making the reading, at times, sluggish. Stick with it. Your investment of time and effort will pay off handsomely for you.
Daniel Mulhall is a lifelong catechist and an active investor.