Banking and Our Values
Case of Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ
Why Evangelical Reformed United
Church of Christ (ERUCC) pursued this process
search for a banking institution that would better suit the church’s needs and
match its values was initiated by a simple question in a Sunday morning
inter-generational Christian education class on large banks. It was during the
time when there was extensive press coverage of the abuses of big banks, the
Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and bank bailouts, etc. The questioner asked
if ERUCC had examined its banking relationships to determine if they were
appropriate, that is, whether they were faithful to our values, given any other
constraints we faced.
pursue this question, the ERUCC member wrote a resolution asking for an
examination of the church’s banking relationships and the church consistory
approved the investigation. At that time, ERUCC used a bank considered by the
congregation to be a regional bank because it was the product of a string of
mergers that had occurred a few years earlier. Church members did not consider
it a “big bank” since there were numerous banks nearby that were much larger. However
ERUCC’s Finance Committee had noticed that the bank had repeated raised fees on
the “checking account” side of the business while the “wealth management” side
of the bank was becoming less responsive in answering questions and meeting
with them. It was time to take a new look.
The steps taken
Treasurer and Financial Secretary were tasked with evaluating financial
organizations that might better suit the church’s needs and match its values. They
first identified community banks that were in close proximity to the church so
that Sunday morning offerings could easily be deposited. (They also chose to focus on community-oriented, smaller
banks to avoid asking if the bank had paid back its government bail-out money.)
They developed a questionnaire and used it to obtain information needed
for the banks’ evaluations. Three community banks that had enthusiastically participated
in the process were interviewed (see a list of some of the topics discussed
just below). At the end of the process, they recommended one bank to the
Consistory, and their recommendation was approved. The transfer of funds was
finalized in 2011.
of the areas addressed during the interview with the banks:
- The fee structure and minimum
- The number of transactions permitted
per month without additional fees.
- The fee, per transaction, for
those that exceed the base number.
- The availability of on-line
banking and statements.
- The ease of transfers between
checking account was transferred to a community bank whose fees are
significantly less than those of the original banking institution. ERUCC estimates
that hundreds of dollars will be saved annually. The bank is also in close
proximity to the church, facilitating the timely deposit of receipts.
Approximately $100,000 was moved to this community bank.
bulk of the congregation’s financial assets were in the form of investments
including bequests and endowments from many years ago as well as quite
recently. Of those investments which the congregation has the right to
determine how they are invested, 100% were transferred to the United Church Funds
(UCF), a family of professionally managed, well-diversified and socially
responsible investment funds offered to churches and all settings of the
UCC. ERUCC and UCF have similar
interests and enjoy a good “fit.” Over $1,500,000 was moved to UCF.