EVANSTON, Ill. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefits, based in Evanston, Ill., has divested its 67,350 shares in the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. of Dehradun, India, because the company is engaged in Sudanese oil exploration and production through its foreign exploration arm, ONGC Videsh Ltd. The company also owns shares in several Sudanese oil-producing ventures and helped build a pipeline in that African country.

The 2008 General Conference, the denomination's top legislative body, called upon United Methodist investors to consider divesting from any company doing business with the government of Sudan because of the humanitarian crisis there. Pension board directors voted to do so in November.

The company had not responded to the board's request for information about its business operations in Sudan. Indiana Area church leaders actively pursued this divestment with the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits more than a year ago.

Hoosier United Methodists joined with Indiana Roman Catholic and Jewish leaders in helping pass legislation two years ago to divest state pension funds in Sudanese companies involved with the military as a protest against the genocide in Darfur.