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Erin IampenSatisfied Member

The Challenge

To be a member of Christian Credit Union today, you must establish some connection to the Reformed Christian community.  This has become a challenge for us because many of our existing members no longer attend a Reformed church and we are also getting more opportunities to serve Christians who are not a member of a Reformed church but it is not clear what it means to be “connected” to the Reformed Christian community.  This lack of clarity makes it difficult for employees to handle requests for membership and leads to inconsistencies in how Christians from the same non-Reformed denomination are treated depending on their “connection” to the Reformed Christian community.

The Research

To understand how we could address this challenge we reviewed the history of our Credit Union, particularly around the time that our founders changed our name from “Christian Reformed Savings and Credit Union” to “Christian Credit Union”.  From our research it became clear that the intention of our founders was to grow the Credit Union to serve the entire Christian community, not just the Reformed Christian community. 

In the years after our name changed to “Christian Credit Union” it was understandable that our primary focus remained on the Reformed Christian community.  This community represented the majority of our members at the time and there was much growth and building of churches, schools, farms and businesses.

We also analyzed our existing membership to try to understand which denominations are represented today.  We don’t keep records on what church each member attends and we certainly don’t ask people to close their account if they leave a Reformed church.  From individual interactions we know that we have many members who formerly attended a Reformed church but now attend a non-Reformed denomination.  We know more about the denominations represented by our non-profit members, such as schools.  We discovered that 75% of the schools we serve are multi-denominational.  Examples of other multi-denominational organizations we serve that have connection to the Reformed community are Rehoboth Christian Ministries, Mission Thrift Stores, The King’s University and Alberta Pro-Life.

The multi-denominational nature of our membership explains why more non-Reformed people are interested in joining our Credit Union.  This represents an opportunity for our Credit Union to play a broader role in our society but our bylaws currently restrict our focus to the Reformed Christian community.  We believe that we can take on this role provided that we maintain our Reformed worldview that all wealth belongs to God and we must be faithful stewards of that wealth to God’s glory.

Our Solution

When we reviewed our Mission, Vision, Values and our Basis and Purpose, it became clear that the reason our CU exists is:

To give glory to God through the use of a cooperative enterprise which provides competitive financial services that show love to our neighbour and promote good stewardship of the financial resources God has given to our members.

We believe the best way to resolve our challenge is to open up our membership to anyone in agreement with our Basis and Purpose and our Statement of Faith.  Our proposed Basis and Purpose and our Statement of Faith read as follows:

Basis and Purpose (Proposed)

(1)   The basis and norm for the activities of the Credit Union is the Bible, the written Word of God.

(2)   The object of the Credit Union shall be the promotion of cooperative enterprise in the Reformed Christian community among its members, for the purpose of providing financial services at equitable rates and providing mutual aid as a concrete expression of our God-given obligation to love our neighbour.

(3)   We believe that all wealth belongs to God; that we must be faithful stewards, using wealth for the building and coming of God’s Kingdom in Jesus Christ.

Statement of Faith (Existing)

(1)   We believe the Bible, consisting of all of the books of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.

(2)   We believe that there is one God, eternally existent in three persons:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

(3)   We believe in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, His virgin birth, His sinless life, His miracles, His vicarious and atoning death through His shed blood, His bodily resurrection, His ascension to the right hand of the Father, and His personal return in power and glory to judge all people.

(4)   We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential.

(5)   We believe in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life.

(6)   We believe in the bodily resurrection of the dead and that those who believe in Jesus Christ as their Saviour will be blessed with eternal life.

This change is not about growth for growth’s sake – for a Christian growth does not necessarily equal success.  For Christians, as well as a Christian organization, success equals faithfulness.  We believe that the proposed change to our membership requirements is the best way we can stay faithful to God’s calling to Christians in the area of financial services.

Our hope is to become Canada’s recognized leader for promoting biblical stewardship of the financial resources we receive from God.  We pray that God will bless our endeavours to serve Him.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will this change lead to a loss of the purpose of Christian Credit Union?

No. We plan to remain a distinctly Christian organization that promotes Biblical Stewardship. We intend to maintain our Reformed worldview that all wealth ultimately belongs to God and we must be faithful stewards of that wealth to God’s glory.

The promotion of biblical stewardship has always been the purpose of Christian Credit Union. Promoting biblical stewardship in a broader Christian community is simply a natural progression of our development.

Will the change affect the atmosphere at Christian Credit Union?  What will distinguish Christian Credit Union from Servus Credit Union, ATB Financial or any other bank or credit union?

As we have grown as an organization, the atmosphere at the Credit Union has and will continue to change.  Some of these changes are a result of government regulation. Other changes are a result of becoming a larger organization. Whatever the reason, our atmosphere is different from the days when people could call the Credit Union about a loan and the money would be in their account that same day with the paperwork to be signed the next time you came into the branch.

The atmosphere at the Credit Union has changed because, as we have grown to two branches and 6,000 members, we are not as familiar with each individual member anymore. This change will likely continue as we grow and add more members from a broader Christian community.

What has not changed is the caring, dedicated service you get from the employees of Christian Credit Union. Our people value each member as made in the image of God and help our members find financial products and services that are in their best interest and that help them glorify God. Personal service and advice from fellow Christians who care about you is what distinguishes us from Servus Credit Union, ATB Financial and the banks.

Would it be better to just include some more non-Reformed Christians who follow “a general, protestant reformed tradition” rather than open up our membership to anyone who agrees with both our Basis and Purpose and our Statement of Faith?

We explored several other ideas for membership. We rejected the idea of approving a specific subset of denominations because it is extremely difficult to define what we mean by a “general protestant reformed tradition.” It would be equally difficult to determine which specific denominations fit within this definition and which do not. We believe our proposed change will be the simplest to implement and the Basis and Purpose and Statement of Faith will ensure we maintain our Christian principles.

Will this change affect how we support the Reformed community?

The primary way we provide financial support is by giving rate discounts to charitable organizations. This level of support will continue. When deciding where and how much to donate we already take into consideration the proportion of our members represented by the request and adjust the amount accordingly. Support to the Reformed community will not change provided that the Credit Union continues to receive support from the Reformed community.

Should the Board of Directors be restricted to eligible Reformed Christian members of the Credit Union?

No. We have not restricted our Directors to Reformed Christians in the past and have been served by at least one director who was not attending a Reformed Church. The Directors are representative of the membership of the Credit Union.

Today we already have members from many different denominations. The Directors will continue to be required to abide by our bylaws which require them to govern the Credit Union in a way that gives glory to God and shows Christian love to our members.

Do we run the risk of losing our Christian identity over time?

There will always be a risk that we could lose our Christian identity over time. We believe that this risk has been minimized by the fact that both our Basis and Purpose and our Statement of Faith are included in our Bylaws. The members of our Credit Union would have to agree to remove these two statements from our Bylaws for Christian Credit Union to no longer have a Christian identity.

Of course, if the majority of our members no longer agree with our Basis and Purpose and our Statement of Faith, they could change our Bylaws. This is why the Board is proposing that membership in our Credit Union be restricted to people who agree with these two statements. Since the members joining our Credit Union will be required to agree with our Basis and Purpose and our Statement of Faith, it is unlikely that the majority of members would agree to remove these statements from our Bylaws.

The Board and staff of Christian Credit Union have every intention of maintaining our role as a distinctly Christian financial services organization.

If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback, please contact:

John Veldkamp, CEO
jveldkamp@christiancu.ca
P. 780.784.3170


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