Churches across the Diocese of Liverpool will be included in the scheme launched in London yesterday, along with churches from the Dioceses of Southwark and London.
The network is a response to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s comments urging the church to compete firms such as Wonga out of business.
The network aims to find ways for churches to connect with, support or even create credit unions. It is also about encouraging Christians to invest in credit unions so they can increase their opportunities to lend to more people. Our diocese has a strong tradition in this area and is a natural choice for Credit Unions. We aim to start our pilot later in the year.
Bishop Richard Blackburn, the Bishop of Warrington who joined a credit union last year to highlight these issues said "We all know the debt crisis that blights the lives of so many vulnerable people in society. We daily hear the stories of those forced into desperate choices between food, rent and clothing. We worry about Wonga and the pay day loan culture which seems to push more people into a cycle of debt. There has to be an alternative.
"In a different era in a different world I worked in banking. It was a time when we had to have a personal relationship with our customers, when our judgement of a person’s character and ability to pay carried much weight in prudent financial decisions. A time when we weren’t looking to tempt people with what seems like easy money but results in the stress of crippling high interest loan repayments.
"I don’t want to look at the world through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia but I support the Archbishop of Canterbury and the national church in trying to find an alternative, ethical and non-exploitative method to support the poor and marginalised.”
Speaking about this launch Bishop Richard added: “I know the effect that unscrupulous lending has on vulnerable people in communities around our diocese. I am a keen supporter of the Credit Union movement and welcome this initiative which will help us build on work already started in the Diocese of Liverpool to make sure that people have proper access to affordable finance.”
The Church Credit Champions Network is a joint project of the Contextual Theology Centre and the Church Urban Fund and is being delivered with the assistance of the Church Urban Fund’s Joint Ventures network.
More details will be announced as to how this initiative will be implemented locally.