Churches launch Mutual Credit Union

20 February 2015

lambeth palace

Wielding the scissors: Archbishop Welby opened a new outdoor prayer-space at St Stephen's School in Stockwell, south London, on Monday

Wielding the scissors: Archbishop Welby opened a new outdoor prayer-space at St Stephen's School in Stockwell, south London, on Monday

THE Archbishop of Canterbury's push for an ethical financial sector gained momentum on Wednesday of last week as four Churches joined with the Church of England to launch their own credit union.

The Churches' Mutual Credit Union (CMCU) is a collaboration between the C of E, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotland, and the Methodist Church. Any cleric, lay minister, or employee of a church or church charity is eligible to join.

Archbishop Welby was joined by the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Revd John Chalmers, and the President of the Methodist Conference, the Revd Ken Howcroft, at an event at Church House during the General Synod to unveil the CMCU formally.

After a short slide show explaining the new financial co-operative, the church leaders gathered around a computer to click collectively through to the next slide. A video of the launch of an ocean liner was played, with a bottle of champagne smashed on its hull, above the words "May God bless the CMCU and all who save with her - and the borrowers, too."

Archbishop Welby said that the CMCU was about the Church putting its money where its mouth is. "It's not just saying 'Such and such ought to happen,' but that, 'It ought to happen, and we are going to be part of it,'" he said.

"I am looking forward to being one of the first to sign up as a member when registration opens tomorrow. We are trying to build a new financial sector, and credit unions are essential, but it is going to take a long time."

The President of the CMCU, Canon Antony MacRow-Wood, said that the new institution would be a "flagship" for the industry, to raise the profile of credit unions and prove that they can meet the needs of rich and poor alike.

From March, members of the CMCU will be able to place their savings with the credit union, and will receive a dividend of one per cent if they deposit at least £20 a month. Small loans of up to £3500 can be taken out for 24 months, and will have a typical annual interest rate of 12.68 per cent.

Smaller and more short-term loans will also be available at "competitive" interest rates, a CMCU brochure said. In the future, the CMCU wants to open up membership to anyone who is a church member, and to become their primary financial-services provider. They also intend to involve more denominations as soon as possible, starting with the United Reformed Church.

The launch of CMCU had been delayed by wrangles with the regulators, Archbishop Welby said. "At one point, it appeared that the CMCU had to be up and running before it could registered, but could not get up and running until it was registered." Now, those barriers had been overcome, he said.

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