The Church of England has sold £250m of equities amid market slowdown fears
The Church’s investment fund saw average annual returns of 9.6% for the past 3 decades Reuters

While still quite a way away from 2016's best performing investment funds, the Church of England was able to generate a "stellar" return of 17.1% on its endowment fund in 2016, compared to 8.2% on the year prior.

A rally in global equities was acknowledged as the key proponent of the improved performance, which was partly driven by a depreciation of the sterling. Additional upticks in timberland and their private credit portfolio were also attributed to the robust increase, with the latter raking in a total return of 30.9% during the year.

Managed by the Church Commissioners for England, proceeds from the fund, worth £230.7m ($300m), constituted 15% of the Church's overall mission and ministry costs.

"Consistency has truly been a guiding principle for the fund", remarked First Church Estates Commissioner Sir Andreas Whittam Smith.

"Our historic performance over a 30 year period shows annual growth of 9.6% per annum, despite periods of turbulence in the financial markets and our own portfolio, an average of 6.0% per annum ahead of inflation."

Church Commissioners Secretary and Chief Executive Andrew Brown said that while "the extraordinary generosity of parishioners" formed most of the Church's funding, the group was "delighted" to contribute their part.

"Whether funding city centre churches, community projects in low income areas or research programmes to examine how the church can grow, these returns make a tangible difference to the lives of thousands across the country," he further added.

A report by the Financial Times noted that the Church of England fund's performance lifted it to join the world's highest ranking endowment funds of its kind.

Multipartner Konwave Global Equity and Investec Global Gold were the best performing investment funds of the year, each yielding returns over 80%, according to a separate report by the Financial Times.