Written by Michelle May
Local churches and all settings of the UCC are requested to examine faithfully the business, lending and investing practices of the financial institutions they do business with, as a result of a resolution passed unanimously Tuesday morning by General Synod 28.
Putting Our Money Where Our Values Are: Evaluating Church Financial Relationships was sent to the floor with a unanimous vote of the committee. That panel made some strategic changes in the resolution, shifting the original focus away from urging greater dealings with local, community banks, and diluting the description of questionable financial practices by deleting the adjective “abusive.”
The resolution, brought by the Central Atlantic Conference, grew out of a single church member asking his pastor if the church had explored the practices of the bank it was using, based on the church’s faith values.
“If you go home and evaluate your banking relationships, we’ll be happy,” one of the promoters said in committee.
William Fields of Central Atlantic Conference noted that “several of our churches saved a lot of money when they looked at those financial relationships.”
“While I was a pastor in Maryland, we observed that redlining and predatory behavior was affecting many African-American churches,” the Rev. Joaquin Willis, a Florida pastor, said from the plenary floor. “We were not getting fair treatment. We found tremendous disparities between where our banks invested our money. We created the Collective Banking Group which was hugely successful.”
A delegate who works in banking added, ”It matters. If you decide to move your accounts, let them know why. Write a letter. Tell the institution you are moving to why you moved.”