CEO Message

CEO Message

Now that the fun and busyness of the Christmas season is behind us, we look with hopeful expectation at the new year and, in this case, a new decade. As Christians it is natural to wonder: Is 2020 the year Jesus will return on the clouds of heaven to establish a new heaven and new earth? Living in hope helps us work through the brokenness in this world and reminds us to turn to our Saviour Jesus Christ when God allows us to experience challenges we can’t handle on our own.

For me the start of a New Year is a time for reflection. I thank God for the many ways we have been blessed over the past year and I think about how I can best serve the Lord in the coming year. I am feeling even more reflective this year now that I have completed 20 years of service at our Credit Union. In some ways it is hard to believe it has been 20 years already and I feel extremely privileged to work with such a great organization for so many years. I was hired as a Commercial Loans Officer in November 1999 to fill the void left by Etje Groenewold’s retirement and at that time our Credit Union had just under $39 million in assets. There have been a lot of changes over the past 20 years and today we are a $220 million Credit Union that is open to all Christians. I am thankful that despite my weaknesses God has allowed me to participate in the many ways He has blessed our Credit Union and its membership.

I am particularly thankful for all the great people that I have worked with at the Credit Union. I mentioned in the last newsletter that we have quite a few new faces and, for that reason, we decided to bring all of the staff together on November 26 to discuss our plans for 2020 and enjoy some fellowship. It was so helpful to have everyone face to face to build relationships and teamwork. Thank you to our members for understanding that to make this happen, our Lethbridge office was closed on November 26 and 27 and our Edmonton office was closed during the afternoon of November 26.

I also mentioned in the last newsletter that we are partnering with Emmanuel Home, Mission Thrift Store and Rehoboth Christian Ministries to increase our membership numbers. We have had a few successful events already and we look forward to continuing this partnership in 2020. To help people outside our historical groups of members hear about us, we have partnered with the Shine FM Christmas Miracles Campaign. Not only do we get to advertise on radio, but we also get to spread Christmas cheer and support a worthwhile charity. We are finding that when Christians hear about us, they are excited about the opportunity to join a financial organization that aligns with their Christian values. We are having great conversations with many “new to us” faith communities and we are confident that we are on track to add 500 new members.

In 2020 there will also be an opportunity for more member engagement since we will have an election of directors for the first time in several years. This year we have three vacancies: Bruce Adema, Ed Spronk and Mike Vos have each completed two three-year terms on the Board. We appreciate the contributions Bruce, Ed and Mike have made in representation of our members. Thank you also to Mary Lynn Huizinga, Eric Nederlof, Johan Vandenbrink and Andrew Wolthuis for your willingness to serve on the Board. Details on the election can be found elsewhere in this newsletter.

Finally, I am happy to report that our Credit Union was blessed with another profitable year in 2019. This means that we were also able to share over $248,000 in profit sharing with our members. Profit sharing with our members is an important difference between a Credit Union and a bank. Our profitability is down from the previous year but in line with our Return on Assets over the past several years. We spent much of the past year focused on building our knowledge on how to be financial ambassadors for Christ and we are excited to see what opportunities God will give us to use this knowledge for the benefit of our members.

When I look back on the past year (and my 20 years at the Credit Union) there is plenty of reasons to praise God and the Bible verse that comes to mind is Eph. 3: 20, 21:

"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

I am sure that the 15 people who started our Credit Union in 1952 could not have imagined where we are today and I am excited to see the amazing things God has in store for our Credit Union in the future.

May you and your family experience joy and peace from our faithful God and Saviour in 2020!

CEO Message

CEO Message

By the time you receive this newsletter, the relaxing summer days that give most of us a break from our regular routines are a distant memory. Once September starts, it does not take long for my family to get busy with school, sports, band, work and church activities. My wife and I are marveling at how our 5 boys are growing into young men as they transition from high school to finding God’s calling for them in this world. Even though we are excited for them, at times we can’t help longing for the days when our boys were younger and life was simpler. Despite our fears, we want to see them grow and spread their wings because it would not be good if our boys did not develop their God-given talents and experience the changes that come along with that.

I have written before how change is a constant in the life of a Christian as we prepare ourselves for the day of Jesus’ return. Just like it is natural for our boys to grow and change, it is normal for our Credit Union to experience change as well. During the past year or so, Michelle Manning, Anna Barber, Karen von Klitzing and Janeanne Duker have all been blessed with a new baby. Before the end of 2019 Justine Vanderveen and Lysa Van Herk will welcome new babies as well. As a result of these maternity leaves and other departures, there are a lot of new faces at the Credit Union – you can read about them on the next page. We pray that God will bless both these young families and the new employees that God has brought to us. Exciting times!

Technology is another area where significant changes are happening in the banking industry. Recently our members have experienced some relatively minor changes to improve the performance or security of our technology. There are even bigger changes on the way: the entire banking system is modernizing to provide real-time payments in 2021 (no more waiting for days for a wire transfer!). We are thankful for our partners in the Credit Union system who are helping us navigate through this change. In addition, our online banking platform will no longer be supported after 2021. In anticipation of this we are planning to change to a new and improved online banking platform in 2020. Although this change will have an impact on our members, the good news is that this new platform will make it possible to add better features for organization members and online account opening.

Now God does not expect that we merely react to change. We are called to make plans while we trust in God’s providence. At the Credit Union our planning is led by the Board, particularly during a strategic planning day with Management each May. At our meeting this year the Board set three strategic objectives for the Credit Union:

  • Implement a sustainable corporate culture that applies Christian values to financial services.
    Grow our active adult membership by 15% by October 2021.
    Modernize our technology to improve member service and risk management.

Management takes the direction from the Board and asks what is the most important for our Credit Union to focus on, right now. Since we are already making significant progress in making biblical stewardship an integral part of our culture, and since several technology changes are already in progress, we decided that we need to focus on adding 500 active adult members over the next year. As awareness of our Credit Union grows, we are already seeing a significant number of new membership but adding 500 in a year will be a challenge.

As you can see from the front page, we are planning to start working on this goal with a membership campaign. The exciting part of this campaign is that we are partnering with three growing organizations: Rehoboth Christian Ministries (supporting people with disabilities), Mission Thrift Stores (supporting people with affordable products and generating profits for the mission work of the Bible League around the world) and Emmanuel Home (providing Christian senior residences to people in Edmonton and area). Stay tuned for some special events at these partners and be sure to check them out. We are hoping that this campaign will be the start of a deeper partnership with these organizations where we help each other build up and support people in the Christian community. As it says in 1 Thessalonians 5:11: “Therefore encourage and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

Encouragement and building each other up will be so important as we work through the many changes that are happening at our Credit Union. Just like my wife and I as we see our boys grow and change and experience new things, we need to pray for God’s strength, guidance and blessing on our plans for our Credit Union and then hold these plans loosely in case God decides to take us in a different direction. Soli Deo Gloria!

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CEO Message

CEO Message

Welcome to the Spring edition of our Update Newsletter! As you can see on the front page, we recently had enjoyable annual meetings in both Lethbridge and Edmonton. It is always a pleasure to connect with the members we serve.

The theme of this year’s annual report and our annual meeting was to “Find Contentment with Your Finances.” We chose this theme and we are using this phrase in more of our communication because we believe “contentment” is what God desires for us with respect to our relationships with our money and possessions. In 1 Timothy 6:6 the Holy Spirit teaches us: “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”

In 1 Timothy 6:9-10 the Spirit goes on to explain, “Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.”
As you can tell from these verses, money can have a significant impact on our lives. Our encouragement comes from the promise that, if we can help people find contentment with their finances it will be “great gain.” We believe that if our Credit Union can help our members to find contentment it will go a long way towards achieving our vision “to be the recognized leader in applying Christian values to financial services.”

Is the “love of money” really a problem for our members? I wouldn’t say that I love money and yet I have to admit that I am not always content. At our annual meetings I shared an article written by Tim Challies that argues that the majority of us in North America suffer from a disease called “Affluenza.”  Affluenza is defined by three symptoms:

  • A Lack of Contentment
  • An Attitude of Self Dependence
  • A Lack of Gratitude

I think that we can agree that we all struggle with these symptoms in some way.

Now we are not suggesting that we only want members who have contentment all figured out. I know I struggle with each of these symptoms and I am reasonably certain this would also be the case for all of the Credit Union staff and Board. The point is not that we want to be better than others. The point is that when we join together as Christians we can help each other avoid the “griefs” described in 1 Timothy 6. We see the role of the Credit Union to be a guide for our members on the road to contentment.  To help guide our members we have started recommending a Map to Financial Contentment that we have obtained through Financial Discipleship Canada. When you are struggling to find contentment, sometimes it helps to start with some small steps to get you on the right path.

This approach is resonating with our existing and potential members. We are excited to report that, as awareness of our Credit Union grows in the broader Christian community, God is working in the hearts of people to move their banking to Christian Credit Union. Many people are thrilled to hear that there is a Christian option in the banking world.
Before I wrap up my comments, I need to mention a couple of things related to the people who serve you at the Credit Union. On June 3, Pete Peters will start his role as Director, Member Experience and his family will follow shortly after as they move here from Ontario. Welcome Pete! You will also notice that we are adding a few more new faces in Rebecca, Ryan, Mikayla and Coleen without any staff departing. The reason for this is that a number of our staff are expecting to be new moms for the first or second time. We realize that our members have seen a number of new staff faces over the past several years. A lot of that has been related to the fact that we have accommodated or are accommodating 9 maternity leaves over the last few years. We appreciate your patience and we hope you will join us in celebrating the gift of new life in many young families connected to our Credit Union.

Blessings to you all!

CEO Message

CEO Message

From my family to yours, I hope you all had a blessed Christmas season and you are excited for the plans God has in store for you in 2019. I realize that the Christmas season is not easy for everyone and that we will have our ups and downs in 2019. Whatever happens God has promised to be with us. Praise God that He is faithful and we can rely on Him!

In my last CEO message I shared with you our recently approved Vision, Mission and Values. In this message, I would like to share with you our plans (also known as strategic objectives) that we hope to achieve over the next three years. At our last strategic planning meeting our Board has defined our success as follows:

We will succeed by achieving the following strategic objectives by 2021:

  1. Intentionally define how we will apply Christian values to our employees and our services by January 2019;
  2. Create increasing awareness of Christian Credit Union resulting in achieving growth in active membership by a minimum of 15% by 2021 (growth rate to gradually increase over time);
  3. Develop and implement a technology plan that will enable our transition to a digital organization resulting in improved member services without negatively impacting profitability.

Given the timeliness of the first strategic objective, intentionally defining how we will apply Christian values to our employees and services has been given the most focus so far. We have deepened our partnership with Kingdom Advisors Canada and Financial Discipleship Canada to develop a training program that will enable our staff to understand what the Bible says about our relationship to our money and possessions. Once we build up our knowledge, we will look for creative ways that we can apply this to the services we offer to help our members find contentment with their finances.

In connection with this we have made it our current corporate focus to “Embrace Being a Financial Ambassador for Christ”. An ambassador is a person who represents someone or something and in 2 Corinthians 5:20a we are all called to be ambassadors:

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.

To be clear, Christian Credit Union is not a church and the church has the primary role to spread the gospel as ambassadors of Christ, not our Credit Union. This is why we used the term “financial” ambassadors. Our Credit Union’s purpose is to help people and organizations apply Christian values to financial services. We are excited to go on this stewardship journey together and we hope you are too!

One of the most rewarding parts of being a CEO is to provide training to our staff and see them grow and develop their talents and discover God’s plan for their life. During the past year this training and development has resulted in a few of our employees discovering that God’s plan is for them to move on to a new career path. This will lead to the need to hire some new people to serve at the Credit Union. Although changes in personnel always comes with some anxiety, there is a well known saying that “it is better to train employees and watch them leave than not to train them and have them stay!” We pray that God will bless the employees moving on to new careers and opportunities and we hope that the biblical stewardship principles learned at the Credit Union can be shared with others in their new places of employment.

One area where we will have some continuity is on the Board where both Henry Bosch and John Jagersma have agreed to be nominated to serve a second term on the Board. Thanks to the membership for the confidence that they have shown in these nominees. Since no additional nominees have been put forward by the membership, Henry and John will be declared elected by acclamation at our AGM in March.

Finally, I am pleased to report that we enjoyed another profitable year in 2018. Our return on average assets (“ROAA”) was 50 basis points in 2018. This is slightly below our results from last year but is equal to or better than the results over the past 5 years. Part of the reason for the decline is that the strains being experienced by our economy in Alberta is starting to have impacts on our activities. Our loan growth was lower than expected and, although we were able to grow our term deposits and registered deposits, our members’ cash balances were down significantly. Overall it was still a solid year and we will work hard to grow the Credit Union in the upcoming year.

One area where our growth trends remained steady was in our active memberships. We increased our active members by 3.3% in 2018. This result provides encouragement that we will be able to achieve the Board’s strategic objective of increasing our active membership by 15% in 3 years. Most of this growth happens by word of mouth so we thank you for your support and we encourage you to tell more Christians about our Credit Union.

We are very excited for the opportunity to share the biblical wisdom regarding the handling of our finances with more Christians all across Alberta! Please continue to pray that God will bless our efforts. A blessed New Year to you all!