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Michigan Credit Union League Home » Information Services » Publications » News Articles  

Churches Promote Campaign to Move Money from Big Banks   (Misc News: November 28, 2011)

A coalition of churches across the country has pulled their money out of big banks and hopes to lead a shift of as much as $1 billion to community banks and credit unions.

According to the Christian Century, the New Bottom Line coalition of church congregations, community organizations, labor unions and individuals promoting a “Move Our Money” campaign against Wall Street banks because of what they see as unfair mortgage foreclosures and an unwillingness to lend to small businesses.

"In a way, the banks have divested from our communities, especially communities of color," the Rev. Ryan Bell, a Seventh-day Adventist pastor in Los Angeles told Christian Century. "So we're basically telling Bank of America that we want them to invest in our communities, and until they do that we're not going to give our money to them."

Bell's church was one of six Los Angeles Christian congregations that announced they would divest a collective $2 million from Bank of America and Wells Fargo as part of the campaign.

At a recent national convocation of clergy in New Orleans, about 100 leaders from a broad cross section of Christian, Jewish and Muslim congregations pledged to move $100 million.

Christian Century has posted other stories about how churches can make sure that they are using their banking to do the most public good. A 2010 story titled “Where’s Your Church’s Money” suggested that at best, big banks often support far-off shareholders, while many financial institutions, particularly credit unions, support their local communities.

After examining the history of lending and the church, the article suggests that churches might want to consider investing in community development institutions. It cites Self-Help CU in North Carolina as an institution that uses its banked capital for community development.

“Unfortunately, very few banking institutions combine deposit accounts and intentional community development,” the article says.

“… Churches might begin by seeking out financial institutions that are nonprofit (credit unions are a good place to start), invested in the good of the local community (many of their loans go to local individuals and businesses) and committed to holding—and thus bearing the consequences of—the loans they make (a low percentage of their loans are sold off to larger banks).”

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