ONE church that has taken Archbishop Welby's credit-union plea
to heart is All Saints', Murston, in Kent. The church opened a
branch of the local credit union, Kent Savers, on Monday, and the
Assistant Curate, the Revd Lesley Jones, said that the need for
such a scheme in the parish was obvious.
"We are into the seventh year of the recession, and people say
'Nobody is listening and we are drowning in debt,'" she said. It
has taken All Saints' less than four months to establish its credit
union since agreeing the partnership with Kent Savers.
Mrs Jones said that hearing Archbishop Welby champion local
finance initiatives six months ago had been encouraging. She said:
"It was great to have the Archbishop speak out about payday
lenders, having worked for many years with families who are facing
issues of debt.
"People were saying: Why on earth is the Church doing this?
Jesus did not shy away from the tough issues, he embraced them. He
came to bring life in all its fullness, and, if you're in debt,
that's not life to the full."
As well as being a place for parishioners to put their savings,
the Murston Community Bank, as the scheme is known, will offer
loans at reasonable rates. As with all credit unions, it is owned
and run by its members as a not-for-profit enterprise.
Alongside financial services, Mrs Jones said that the credit
union could become a hub for the church's outreach.
She said: "If people can't afford to heat their home each day,
and want to come in for a few hours, or if they want a bit of
company, they are welcome to come. We have got stacks of volunteers
The next step for the church is to begin using the bank in maths
lessons in the local primary school, with the eventual aim of
establishing a branch of the credit union within the school.
The director of the diocese of Canterbury's communities and
partnerships framework, Canon Caroline Pinchbeck, said: "We hope
that Murston Community Bank will become a model to replicate."