Methodist Conference commits to ‘deeper engagement’ with HSBC over human rights concerns
This year’s Methodist Conference saw the issue of Israel/Palestine raised again in 3 separate memorials to the conference. Of great importance to our Investing for Peace campaign was the concern expressed by the South Worcestershire Circuit regarding the Central Finance Board’s ongoing involvement with HSBC. The strength of this memorial in raising not one, but two issues regarding HSBCs dubious ethical investment portfolio is a strategy to be applauded, and perhaps played a key part in the Methodist Conference reply, which stated:
‘The Central Finance Board (CFB) continues to hear the concerns around HSBC, including its investment practices in Israel, its lending to the fossil fuel industry, and allegations of involvement in money laundering. In response to these concerns, the CFB, under the guidance of JACEI and related policies, has agreed to strengthening its engagement efforts with the bank, and to include any action in the JACEI report to the Conference. The Conference accepts the memorial.’
The other two memorials to conference raised the question about BDS as a response to the ongoing, deteriorating situation in Palestine, and the role the Methodist Church could play at the WCC meeting in Karlsruhe this coming August in raising the question of Palestine.
Interestingly the only one to be singled out, and initially declined by the memorials committee was the WCC one, which following some debate at the Conference itself, was later amended to read:
The Conference received Memorial M9 and adopted as its reply that recommended by the Memorials Committee, the Memorial and the reply appearing on pp 16-17 of the Agenda Supplement (https://www.methodist.org.uk/media/26074/conf-22-memorials-to-the-conference.pdf) replacing the final five words of the reply ‘and therefore declines the memorial’ with: The Conference therefore declines the memorial’s request in relation to the theological consultation, however it recognises the importance of giving a response from the Methodist Church to Palestinian Christians as soon as possible. In the light of the Church’s ongoing engagement with “Cry for Hope”, the Conference encourages our representatives to the WCC Assembly to promote the importance of the WCC recreating a forum to monitor the situation in Israel Palestine, for the reasons and purpose suggested in the memorial.”
The 3 memorials, M3, M8 and M9 and the replies can be read here: conf-22-memorials-to-the-conference.pdf (methodist.org.uk)
Thanks go to our Methodist campaigners who helped push these memorials forward. The challenge now remains to hold those making commitments such as the above to account and keep raising the voice of Palestinian Christians and the challenges they face in our churches.