Original post on Disciples News Service on April 17, 2017 by Rev. Aaron Todd, special correspondent

Fresh off a year that brought a sense of financial comfort and security,  the people of Chalice Christian Church in Gilbert, AZ, began asking a question of themselves: “How can we leverage our resources to benefit our neighbors?”

Chalice Christian Church has long been a congregation dedicated the cause of social justice and tending to the broken and downtrodden in their community. Under the leadership of Rev. Abigail Conley, the people of CCC are seeking to do more by standing up against unjust lenders who prey on those who find that they have nowhere else to turn.

“If you are a refugee, or if you are an LGBT youth who has been kicked out of your home, or if you are a victim of domestic violence, you may have bad credit or no credit,” says Rev. Conley, “we want to help people find a sense of financial security.”

While “payday loans” were banned by Arizona voters in 2010, this has not quelled the intrusion of other predatory lenders into predominantly low-income areas. This is true for the community in which Chalice Christian Church finds itself. Rev. Conley describes the church as being flanked on one side by one of the “fastest growing suburbs” in the Phoenix area and on the other by a predominantly low-income Hispanic community that is saturated with “title loan” shops. Equipped with a firm understanding of their place in the community, the congregation began to ask of themselves, “What can we do when people are really struggling financially?”

Recently, Chalice Christian Church began to perceive a new sense of call as they continue to stay true to their mission of social justice and advocacy. This call was strengthened by the recent advancement of a bill in the Arizona State Senate that would allow for loans that carry an interest rate of up to 164 percent to be issued. Upon embracing this new call to stand on the side of the financially vulnerable, the congregation began looking for a path to help guide this new ministry.

As this new ministry continues to develop, Chalice Christian Church made a connection with a credit union with the hope of being able to determine how loans with a zero percent interest rate as well as no origination fee could be offered. They have also connected with a local community center in order to be able to identify those in their community who could benefit from such a ministry.

“If you are a refugee, or if you are an LGBT youth who has been kicked out of your home, or if you are a victim of domestic violence, you may have bad credit or no credit,” says Rev. Conley, “we want to help people find a sense of financial security.”

 

Subscribe to receive Disciples News Service here.