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Ethical investment – talk about a meaty topic for an edition of The Lutheran! And isn’t it awkward to have money and ethics in one package? Most people don’t like to be told the ‘right way’ to spend, save, invest, or give away ‘their’ money.

But, for a Christian, are investment and ethics really such odd bedfellows? Haven’t we all explored the concept of good stewardship being a responsibility that goes hand-in-hand with whatever financial gifts God has given us?

Haven’t we read the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30) and half a dozen chapters earlier (19:24), learnt that it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter heaven? (Now, I don’t know about you, but earlier this week I couldn’t even get a thin strand of cotton through the eye of a needle to reattach a button on my coat, so the camel metaphor makes me wince.)

As people of faith, if we are blessed to receive compulsory superannuation payments or have funds beyond our daily needs, we can take the concept of ‘ethical investing’ even further than its standard meaning. Under the secular definition, ethical investors may choose to put ‘their’ money into projects, products and companies with sound credentials in terms of environmental, social and governance practices, or ‘ESG’ as they are known.

Indeed, these are worthy – and biblically backed – criteria. In Scripture God calls on us to care for creation and our fellow citizens, and expects us to act with integrity, accountability, honesty and justice in our dealings in business and finance.

But whether we have ‘investments’ in the common understanding of the word, we can endeavour to do good through all of ‘our’ financial dealings. We may choose to ‘invest’ directly in people, from showing generosity to someone in need, to giving to overseas aid and development efforts, or donating to local charities working in such areas as youth unemployment, mental health, homelessness, domestic violence, or refugee support. We might make a regular gift or leave a bequest to a ministry of the church, or even give someone a gift subscription to The Lutheran!


In the following pages, I pray you’ll be encouraged – and challenged – as you read stories from members of our Lutheran family about this topic. Along with our regular columns and faith-life materials, this edition is packed with news and views from around the church and resources offered by LCANZ ministries.

God bless,

PS – We are currently switching over our subscriber database management system which has led to some delays with annual invoicing, both for congregational groups and some individual subscribers. We apologise for any inconvenience and appreciate your patience and ongoing support.

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Bishop Paul’s letter

Rev Paul Smith
Bishop, Lutheran Church of Australia and New Zealand

Mowing the footpath … and caring for the home that the Lord has given to us all.

Growing up in Australia’s tropical far north means I learnt a lot about mowing. In my home country, you can watch the grass grow almost daily throughout the whole year. Tending our own yard is a common way that we live out the call to care for God’s creation. Mowing the footpath is a sign of not just tending our own space, but of tending the spaces that we share with others.

In Genesis chapter one we read of the creation of humankind in the image of God. Straight after that creation, we find the command and commissioning from the Lord God to you and me regarding caring for God’s creation: ‘God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”’.

Our Lutheran Church’s Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions is currently working on a statement with the title ‘Caring for God’s Creation’. In the opening section, the statement says, ‘we are called to live our daily lives as children of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5) and guided by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 1:14). As people who live under God’s saving rule here on earth through faith in Christ, we are called to be caretakers of his creation and witnesses to God’s ongoing redemption of all creation’.

It is profound that the Roman Catholic Pope Francis chose the topic ‘The Care for our Common Home’ for his very first public papal statement in 2015. Quoting work by Pope John Paul II, he extended a challenge for Christians of all denominations to become more active in tenderly caring for the earth our God has gifted us. Francis wrote, ‘Christians in their turn “realise that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith”’.

I have recently become the owner of an electric car. Electric cars are not a quick solution to environmental issues, but they are a step towards reducing our dependency on fossil fuels and the waste produced by internal-combustion engines. I find people from all walks of life eager to talk about the future and care for creation. People often tell me that they are interested in finding ways to have an electric car themselves, once they can figure out the issues of range and charging. A recent survey in New Zealand revealed that 45 per cent of residents in Aotearoa would consider making their next car purchase an electric car. It is about the same statistic in Australia, but the number increases to much more than 60 per cent when speaking with young adults.

Young people are drawing our attention to another side of caring for God’s creation, as they ask governments to ensure that future generations receive a planet that has been tenderly cared for. Pope Francis also considered this in his 2015 work on care. He said, ‘Today, however, we have to realise that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’.

So, we also ‘mow the footpath’. By that phrase, I mean that, as followers of Jesus Christ, we are led by the Spirit to serve our neighbour, asking, ‘How can we look after the earth and also care for our neighbour by ensuring that we leave the world in better condition than it was when we entered it?’

For the times we have failed in our call to care for the creation, Lord, have mercy on us.

For the times we have exploited our neighbour, Lord, have mercy on us.

Lord, give us eyes to see opportunities to work together for the care of the world and our neighbour.

Lord, grant us grace to walk by faith active in love. Amen.

In Christ,


Lord Jesus, we belong to you,
you live in us, we live in you;
we live and work for you –
because we bear your name.

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Whether you are an employee with superannuation contributions or a private or corporate shareholder, you probably have heard of ethical investment, along with considerations of environmental sustainability, social benefit, integrity and good governance. But what does it mean to be an ethical investor and is it an imperative for Christians? We asked Nick Schwarz to explain.

In 1992 the Australian government decided that working Australians needed to better prepare financially for their retirement so they would be less reliant on the aged pension. While payments into superannuation funds had been voluntary for workers before that time, from that year employers became required by law to take out a percentage of their employees’ pay and put it into a fund.

The job of superannuation fund managers is to invest workers’ money in assets they believe will deliver a return on that investment. These may include company shares, property, infrastructure and cash. Because ‘super’ is intended to provide income during retirement, access to it is usually blocked until then.

Superannuation and investment firms compete to grow their clients’ wealth quickly but without taking foolish risks or doing anything illegal. They offer funds with different mixes of investments and risk profiles, such as ‘balanced funds’, ‘high-growth funds’, ‘socially-aware funds’, ‘diversified funds’ and ‘conservative funds’. These cater for people who are more or less risk-averse, and those who have special interests or ethical concerns about the activities their money is supporting.

Interest in ‘responsible’ or ‘ethical’ investing has grown rapidly in recent years as investors have become more aware of the human and environmental costs of business. Christians have been among the keenest to embrace the concept because of their concern for the wellbeing of others and for the world God gave us to care for.

Many turn to specialist investment firms to do the difficult, time-consuming work of investigating companies’ ethical track records.

Funds that use ethical criteria to guide their purchase of company shares typically investigate three aspects of company operations:

  1. Their Environmental responsibility: Does the company use natural resources sustainably and minimise harmful wastes and emissions?
  2. Their Social responsibility: Do the company’s activities benefit employees, local people and society more broadly?
  3. Their Governance: Is the company law-abiding, honest and accountable? Does it treat workers fairly? Is its management transparent?

Funds that select investments based on these ethical criteria are given names such as ‘ESG funds’, ‘ethical funds’ and ‘socially responsible funds’. At the bottom of this story is an example of one ethical investment firm’s company selection guidelines.

Some investors draw up their own ethical criteria and research company products and practices. This is far from easy. Questions such as the following need to be considered:

  • Do you and the companies you are thinking of investing in agree on what it means to be ‘ethical’?
  • Can you distinguish between ‘genuine corporate responsibility’ and ‘corporate image-washing’?
  • How trustworthy are companies’ social and environmental impact reports? Are they written by independent assessors or company employees?
  • What is the right policy to take towards companies that have a mixed track record, e.g. which are well-run and benefit local and regional communities, but which raise environmental concerns?
  • Where a company has divisions doing business in more than one country, does its level of corporate responsibility vary between countries, e.g. does it take advantage of permissive labour and environmental standards in poor or corrupt countries? Is it good enough for a company merely to satisfy minimum legal requirements or should we expect it to aim higher?

The higher the standard of corporate responsibility that investors demand, the fewer investment options they will have. If you look very thoroughly into all aspects of a company’s operations, you will almost certainly find something to criticise.

Some investment funds use faith-based ethical criteria. For example, Muslims can invest in Sharia-compliant funds, which invest only in halal companies, i.e. those acceptable under Islamic law. Catholic funds tend to avoid companies that are involved either directly or indirectly in contraception and abortion, the endorsement of homosexuality and ‘anti-family’ activities. But generally, faith-based funds and non-faith-based ethical funds have much in common, such as commitment to fair trade, poverty reduction and environmental sustainability.

Studies comparing the performance of ESG/responsible/ethical investment funds and conventional funds show that ethical funds can grow in value at the same rate as conventional funds. Investors who choose a well-managed, strongly performing ethical fund need not worry that they are ‘sacrificing’ by investing ethically.

The other side to investment is divestment or disinvestment – that is withdrawing financial support from a company. Advocates for greater corporate responsibility often appeal to investors to divest from companies that engage in unethical practices.

But divesting of shares we regard as morally tainted means selling them and this means potentially making a capital gain. But isn’t the aim of ethical investment to profit from virtue? If we consider such a capital gain to be morally contaminated, what should we do with the money? Can we purify it by putting it to good use?

Divestment campaigns are usually more about shaming companies than shutting them down and many shareholders overlook unethical practices if the value of their investment is increasing. Greed has a habit of winning over ethics. Even if a divestment campaign convinces many shareholders to sell their shares and the share price goes down, bargain hunters usually buy them up, sending the price up.

Another consideration is that if a divestment campaign was very successful, and the offending company collapsed, its employees, their families, and other people and entities that relied financially on that company would be harmed. The campaigners and divestors would seem to bear responsibility for the plight of the ordinary people employed by that company – people who in the course of earning their living were probably not trying to foster evil in the world. Do the campaigners and divestors then have a duty to help people who have lost their livelihoods to transition into another more ethically acceptable livelihood? How might they do that?

You are more likely to make God-pleasing decisions about how you use your money if you think of your money as God’s gift to you, and that God wants you to be a good steward of that gift. Being a good steward of money means budgeting, setting aside portions for essential and non-essential expenses, giving away and saving or investing.

If you decide that ethical investing is for you, will you set your own ethical criteria and choose your investments based on them, or will you delegate the task of managing your money to an ethical investment company?

Remember, not all ethical investment companies are equally ethical or equally well-performing, so it’s a good idea to investigate them before choosing one. Some ways you can review an ethical investment decision include reading reports provided to you by your ethical investment firm; reading company reports that deal with matters such as governance, social impact and environmental impact, and independent reports (if available) that address the same matters.

Nick Schwarz is the LCANZ’s Assistant to the Bishop – Public Theology and a consultant to the church’s Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions (CSBQ). His Christian ethical decision-making guides are available at



  • the development of workers’ participation in the ownership and control of their work organisations and places
  • the production of high-quality and properly presented products and services
  • the development of locally based ventures
  • the development of appropriate technological systems, e.g. renewable energy
  • the amelioration of wasteful or polluting practices
  • the development of sustainable land use and food production
  • the preservation of endangered ecosystems
  • activities that contribute to human happiness, dignity and education
  • the dignity and wellbeing of animals
  • the efficient use of human waste
  • the alleviation of poverty
  • the development and preservation of appropriate human buildings and landscapes.


  • pollute land, air or water
  • destroy or waste non-recurring resources
  • extract, create, manufacture or market materials, products or services which harm humans, animals or the environment
  • market, promote or advertise products or services in a misleading or deceitful manner
  • create markets by the promotion or advertising of unwanted products or services
  • acquire land or commodities primarily for speculative gain
  • create, encourage or perpetuate militarism or engage in the manufacture of armaments
  • entice people into financial over-commitment
  • exploit people through the payment of low wages or poor working conditions
  • discriminate by way of race, religion or sex in employment, marketing or advertising practices
  • contribute to the inhibition of human rights generally.


Paul Mills, ‘Investing as a Christian: Reaping where you have not sown?’, Cambridge Papers, June 1996, vol. 5, no. 2.

Choice Ethical Investing Guide,

Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group policies:

Catholic Super approach to responsible investment:

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Rather than just being motivated by making the biggest profit, many investors are now keen to invest in companies that share their values, says long-term financial adviser John Grocke. We asked John, who is also chair of Lutheran Super’s Board of Trustees, to answer some of the big questions about ethical investment.

What is meant by ethical investment?

Investments comprising companies selected based on screening for their environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies and behaviours. There has been a material shift in company boardrooms as directors are now on notice that their behaviours and policies regarding the environment, social outlook and governance need to better reflect Institutions’ and Individuals’ values. For many of us who have a super balance, this means the funds we are part of are already providing a level of screening to ensure the investments we are exposed to demonstrate ESG behaviour.

Why are some people interested in investing their money ethically?

Investors are increasingly concerned about the sustainability of our planet and companies’ efforts to leave a planet healthy for future generations. Historically often the pursuit of short-term financial outcomes took priority over responsible outcomes for our planet. Investors are now seeking to invest in companies that share their personal values.

Do you think Christians who engage in this space do so for the same reasons?

As Christians, we have a responsibility to care for our environment, the world we live in and the people and creatures who share our planet. The planet is a finely balanced ecosystem which we need to consider in all our activities and how we use the resources we are given.

Is ethical investment only something that’s accessible to ‘wealthy’ people?

Ethical investing is available to most of us, with the most obvious access through our superannuation investments.

What would be your general advice for anyone interested in ethical investment?

Superannuation funds provide a simple way for members to demonstrate their support for companies engaged in ESG policies. The majority of funds are actively engaging with companies to encourage these behaviours. Alternately, most major funds offer a range of specific ESG investment options. Talking to your super fund, a financial adviser or both is a great way to become better informed.

Is there only one ‘right way’ to invest ethically or are there many ways?

There are different ways to go about ethical investing, depending on an individual’s preferred emphasis. This can be in the form of an ESG balanced investment which broadly covers all different types of investments, or an investor can select an ESG fund covering a particular segment of the market – for example, renewable energy.

John Grocke has been a financial adviser/planner for more than 35 years and has been a Director at Johnston Grocke for 32 years. He is also chair of Lutheran Super’s Board of Trustees, served as a Director on the LLL Board, retiring after 12 years in 2020, and is a member at Immanuel Lutheran Church North Adelaide.

*The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser.

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by Lisa McIntosh

The standard current definition of ‘ethical investment’ involves investing in companies that meet certain standards in the environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspects of their operations.

But investing ethically can mean far more than this – especially when we consider the wide-ranging opportunities available to use for good the money with which God has entrusted us. For many people of faith, matching what they invest in with their values is an important aim.

Indeed, investing funds to ‘contribute to meaningful outcomes’ and having social responsibility at the heart of financial decisions are among the core values of LLL Australia’s operations, says Chief Executive Officer Ross Smith.

‘All that we have is a gift from God – including our wealth’, Ross says. ‘If we are to be good stewards of that wealth, we need to be thoughtful about where we invest.

‘As companies become more transparent about their ESG operations, each of us is able to make more informed decisions about how we can be good stewards with our wealth – investing to bring blessings to God’s world and God’s people.

‘Further, investing our funds to contribute to meaningful outcomes can create greater connection, community and purpose. LLL has social responsibility at its core. We aim to support the Lutheran Church by meeting the capital needs of organisations that proclaim Christ as Lord and Saviour and seek to show his love to all people. We do this by providing missional grants, sponsorships and financial allocations to Lutheran organisations.’

Thoughtfully considering and selecting where and how to invest is ‘both a privilege and a humble response to God’s abundant provision for us’, Ross says. ‘Each of us needs to do our research and be mindful that we are selecting an investment that is secure, viable and will serve your individual vision’, he says.

While what each person considers ‘ethical’ can vary according to their values and beliefs, Lutheran Super CEO Stella Thredgold says Australians are ‘increasingly considering’ ESG factors in their investment decisions ‘to ensure alignment with the issues most important to them’.

‘There’s a variety of ways this can be achieved, based on what’s most important to you’, she says.

‘When assessing your super, considering how your money is invested by the super fund will help you assess whether it aligns to your values and views on ethical and sustainable investing.’

Stella says Lutheran Super’s investment manager Mercer Australia has long put sustainability at the forefront of its investment philosophy, with the organisation’s sustainable and ethical super policy stating that ‘taking a holistic approach to investing is paramount’.

*The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser.

With the support of LCA members, the LLL backs Lutheran ‘organisations that proclaim Christ … and seek to show his love to all people’, says CEO Ross Smith. These entities include ALWS, which invests in people through aid and development projects, such as that pictured above.

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 by Jonathan Krause

It’s a long way from the Grade 4 classroom of a Lutheran school in Queensland to the frontline of the war in Ukraine. And it feels a long way from the comfort of a cosy bed to sleeping on the floor.

Yet 9-year-old Chloe, inspired by a class project on ‘Why experiencing God’s love can inspire someone to make a sacrifice to help others’, is doing exactly that.

‘I was motivated to give up my bed for five nights’, she says. ‘People from Ukraine have been sleeping on the floor for weeks and sometimes even months.

‘I am hoping my campaign can raise $500 or more in four weeks. I want to raise money for Ukrainian people because they have nothing while we have everything – which makes me think we can spare money for them because we have so much.’

Chloe’s teacher, David, says his students spent the first semester of their Christian Studies lessons reflecting on how God’s grace can change the world. Students explored the concept of sacrifice, and now are helping others through Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS).

‘We used a planning template to develop an action plan, which led students to create a simple website that showcases what they are sacrificing for their chosen cause’, David says. ‘Some examples of the ALWS initiatives that students have chosen to support are the Ukraine Crisis, the Tonga Crisis, Children of War and The Grace Project.’

This class project is an example of how ALWS and Lutheran schools work together. ALWS school resources include curriculum-linked educational materials, devotions and chapel presentations. Guest speakers share stories of the Lutheran Church’s support for sustainable development for families in places like South Sudan and Burundi, and emergency response to disasters like the war in Ukraine and the Tonga tsunami.

Once students are inspired and equipped, they take action through ALWS activities like Gifts of Grace and Walk My Way, and the initiative of Chloe’s class.

Classmate Chayse is giving up his bed to help the people of Tonga. ‘I am motivated to sacrifice because God sacrificed his life for us’, he says. ‘That got me really motivated to help Tonga because of the big tsunami and that is why I am sacrificing my bed and my goal is $2000. If we work together, we can make Tonga a different place.’

Fellow Grade 4 student Megan also understands the power of bringing love to life for people hurt by poverty, injustice and crisis: ‘I am motivated to make a sacrifice for others because that shows that we love everyone even though we haven’t met them’, she says.

Jonathan Krause is ALWS Community Action Manager.

You can support the people of Ukraine or Tonga, along with other ALWS projects at or by phoning 1300 763 407. You can also support and participate in the South Australian Lutheran schools Walk My Way to be held at Victor Harbor SA on Friday 21 October. See for more information.

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by Neil Bergmann

Through baptism into Jesus’ death and resurrection, we are adopted into the kingdom of heaven. During his earthly ministry, Jesus teaches about what it means to live, here and now, in that new kingdom. And a lot of that teaching is about money.

Our congregations are full of generous people. We gladly give of our time, talents and possessions towards God’s mission through his church. But we also like to think that what is left is ours to do with as we wish. Jesus will have none of that. Jesus is Lord of all that we have.

In Matthew’s gospel (19:21), Jesus knows that money is an obstacle to the rich young man’s life in the new kingdom: ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ Then in Luke, using the parable of the dishonest steward, Jesus teaches: ‘You cannot serve both God and money’ (16:13).

Elsewhere in this edition, the notion of ethical Investing is explained. As we are called to care for God’s good creation, we can make financial choices that are better for the environment, by promoting moves to renewable energy and sustainable farming, fishing and forestry.

Three areas in which our everyday financial decisions can support more sustainable communities are superannuation, banking and insurance.

Many of us have funds invested in superannuation, often in default investment plans. We generally can choose our super provider and different investment plans. Almost every provider has socially responsible investment choices, but these are rarely the default fund. It takes just a few minutes to change from the default fund to the equivalent socially responsible fund.

We make choices about which banks we use, both as individuals and as congregations, but care for creation is rarely part of the decision. We could choose a bank that, for example, doesn’t lend to new fossil fuel projects. Similarly, most of us have insurance policies, and we could choose providers that are not insuring new fossil fuel projects. Climate advocacy group has asked different insurance and banking providers about their climate credentials, so you don’t need to do the difficult research yourself. If you are reluctant to change your provider, then you could write to your bank or insurer requesting that their business policies promote socially responsible and environmentally sustainable practices.

In the recent Australian federal election, an important issue for many voters and candidates was action on climate change. Climate change most severely affects those who are least able to adapt to a changing climate – the poor and vulnerable in developing countries. These are exactly the ones Jesus asks us to care for in his new kingdom, and our everyday financial decisions can be part of that care.

Neil Bergmann is chair of Lutheran Earth Care, Australia and New Zealand (LECANZ).

Learn more about LECANZ, which reports to the LCANZ’s Commission on Social and Bioethical Questions, and access resources and information on its website at

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Finke River Mission (FRM) is arranging commemorative activities in Central Australia this year to mark the centenary of the death of Lutheran missionary Carl Strehlow.

Pastor Strehlow, who died on 20 October 1922 at Horseshoe Bend Station on the Finke River, aged 50, is most remembered for his service among the Western Arrarnta people at Hermannsburg (Ntaria). His legacy includes extensive Bible translation work and research and writings on First Nations languages and cultures.

Most of the 100th-anniversary events will be held from 24 to 31 July at Hermannsburg, 125 kilometres southwest of Alice Springs.

FRM Ministry Support Worker Pastor Neville Doecke says the key focus of the events will be on ‘giving praise and thanks to God’ for Carl Strehlow’s outstanding service, as well as that of his wife Frieda. ‘In addition, nothing could have been achieved without the support of the many Western Arrarnta Aboriginal people who dearly loved and worked tirelessly with Carl and Frieda’, Pastor Neville says.


Carl Strehlow was born on 23 December 1871 in Fredersdorf, in northern Germany. His early education was at his schoolteacher father’s Lutheran school. He entered the Lutheran seminary at Neuendettelsau in Germany’s south in 1888.

Pastor Strehlow graduated in 1891 and the following year was sent to Australia. His first posting was to the Bethesda Mission at South Australia’s Lake Eyre, where he learnt to speak the local Diyari (Dieri) language within six months. By the end of 1894, he had translated the New Testament into Diyari with Reverend J G Reuther.

In October 1894, Missionary Strehlow was transferred to Hermannsburg. He ran the mission also as a cattle and sheep station and provided pastoral care for more than 100 Aboriginal people. His soon-to-be wife Frieda Keysser joined Carl from Germany in 1895. They had six children and her service among the community members at Hermannsburg is fondly remembered by their descendants. Carl began the translation of the New Testament into Arrarnta with Moses Tjalkabota, Nathaniel Rauwirarka and Jacobus in 1913, completing it in 1919.


  • Sun 24 July, 11am: Worship service at Hermannsburg; followed by lunch
  • 25 to 29 July: Walk down Finke Gorge to Running Waters. The full walk is 70 kilometres, but shorter walks are possible.
  • Sun 31 July, 11am: Memorial service at Strehlow’s grave at Horseshoe Bend Station.

More information and registration, contact: Pastor Neville Doecke (0498 583 808 or or David Hewitt (0439 803 685;

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