SEATTLE -- The United Methodist Church has decided to sell about $25 million worth of stocks of companies doing business in South Africa from its $2.75 billion pension fund.

The Methodists' General Board of Pensions voted last week to divest its portfolio of companies that have failed to sign or comply with the Sullivan Principles, a code of conduct for firms in South Africa.

The pension fund is estimated to be the 30th largest in the United States and the nation's largest operated by a church.

About 12 percent, or $330 million, of the fund is invested in firms still doing business in South Africa.

The pension board trustees also approved the filing of shareholder resolutions to force corporations to leave South Africa, particularly those providing materials to the military and police.

The trustees stopped short of promising to divest the portfolio of military and police suppliers that refuse to cease their sales and service contracts with the South African government.

Full divestment was defeated by a vote of 12 to 11 and further action on the issue was postponed until its November meeting.

Los Angeles Bishop Tack Tuell, board president, called the trustees' action important steps in the right direction. "But I believe the board may need to consider further action."