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Reform Magazine | September 24, 2020

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Where does the money go?

Finances may be stretched for many of us at the moment. But being careful with your money doesn’t just benefit you, says Roo Stewart

“Mummy, where does the money go?” I asked one day, standing at the checkouts in our local supermarket. The supervisor had just placed a capsule full of cash into a great tube extending to the ceiling, and with a mighty whoosh it was gone. When you’re approaching four years old, this kind of thing is a delight. When you’re approaching 40, it’s distressing when money ‘whooshes’ anywhere.

We can all testify that money in our purses and wallets doesn’t tend to sit around for long. As soon as it reaches a savings account or our pension pot, it’s tempting to imagine that it’s just hovering somewhere, waiting for us to cash it in. But if the analogy of the cash pneumatic tubes can be teased a little longer, as soon as we put our money into the system, it is immediately sucked away and put to use elsewhere. Where it ends up is in the hands of our financial institutions. And, for good or for ill, we are part of the system.

In the early days of the Church in Jerusalem, recorded in Acts 4, we find the believers laying down money at the feet of the apostles for them to distribute as people had need. The ‘reward’ for those investors was helping others, and the apostles had the trust of the congregation to make sure the money was well used. This wasn’t so much a financial system as a way to offer compassion, but it reminds us that money well placed has the power to change the lives of others in profound ways.

Money placed badly also has the power to destroy lives. To guard against this, the United Reformed Church recommends church investments avoid a number of areas such as weapons of destruction and, most recently, fossil fuels (the URC’s ethical investment policy is online here). As a denomination, we agree that we should use our influence to promote positive, life-giving change, and synods and local congregations have been carefully assessing their policies. But what about each of us as individuals? Can we be sure where the money we place in bank accounts, pension funds and other investments is going?…

Roo Stewart is the United Reformed Church’s Programme Support Officer for Church and Society, and is part of the Joint Public Issues Team

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This is an extract from an article published in the July/August 2020 edition of Reform

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