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Spring 2013

Did you attend an Annual Meeting this year?

It’s been another exciting year at Christian Credit Union and it was wonderful to celebrate the Lord’s blessings with our members! The Lethbridge Annual Meeting kicked off at Calvin Christian School with a beautiful performance by The University of Lethbridge Conservatory of Music. Performers included Timothy Verhoef, Evelyn Verhoef, and Arianna Neels who are students of Calvin Christian School.

 

An outstanding meal was provided by Calvin Christian School Auxiliary and presentations were made to staff celebrating milestones. It was also announced that Kathy Oord was appointed to the Lethbridge Advisory Committee. Thank you to Peter Schalk for serving 6 years (2 terms) on the committee and a total of 24 years with the Dutch Canadian Savings and Credit Union and Christian Credit Union.

The Annual General Meeting was held at The King’s University College in part to highlight our dedication to serving this institution and the needs of young adults. Guests enjoyed musical accompaniment by Witness, a Praise and Worship team from West End Christian Reformed Church. After a delicious meal, a presentation was made by John Veldkamp, CEO highlighting financial results, new products and services, and community involvement.

 

Proposed bylaws were approved and it was announced that Henrietta Wildeman and Peter Van Bostelen (2nd term) had been elected by acclamation to the Board. Thank you to Loretta Monsma for serving 6 years (2 terms) on the Board.

IN THIS
ISSUE
• C3 Calgary Church
• Staff Profiles: Darren Versteeg
• Hockey Challenge Winners
• Community Connections
  • Fraud Prevention: Mobile Phone Scams
  • Planner’s Corner: OAS changes
  • Federal and Provincial budget changes
Serving members of our Reformed Christian community since 1952
 

Message from the CEO

Welcome to our Spring newsletter!
Spring is a wonderful time to remember God’s promises. Recently we could celebrate Easter where God kept His promise to redeem us from our sins. After a long winter, spring also reminds us of God’s promise to Noah: "as long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease" (Genesis 8:22). What a comfort to have such a loving Father!

 

Trusting in God’s promises helps to keep us grounded as we face various challenges in our lives. The current interest rate environment certainly is challenging for our financial cooperative and our members. Our profit margins remain tight but we are still profitable and are still able to return many benefits to the community we serve. We are a little behind our results from last year but we are ahead of our budget.

 

Spring is also a time when many people are looking for new homes and planning to move. As a result every spring financial organizations promote their mortgage options. This spring we have heard banks and even the Finance Minister of Canada speak about "mortgage wars". Unfortunately when you go to war, someone always loses. We are taking a different approach. At our Credit Union you can "get a mortgage that feels like home" meaning you will be served by friendly people who value your relationship with our Credit Union. They take the time to get to know your financial needs so that you get the mortgage that fits your situation and maximizes your savings. We don’t offer rock-bottom interest rates for a limited time that benefits only a few members. We offer consistently low rates so that all members can benefit and we offer our best rate up front so that you don’t have to haggle with us just to get a fair deal. This approach applies to deposits as well as mortgages, new members as well as renewals. We believe it is all part of practicing Biblical stewardship.

You can see from the "Staff Notables" section that there have been a number of staff changes lately. For those who have moved on, we are thankful for their contributions and we wish them all the best whether retiring, staying home to care for children or moving on to other opportunities. These departures have created some openings that we were able to fill by promoting existing staff members. Congratulations to Lysa, Justine and Karen on their new roles and welcome to our new Member Service Representatives Taryn Den Otter and Janeanne Aikema! We are still hoping to find a Loans Administrator to assist our lenders and Support Services department. If you know of someone who qualifies for this position, please encourage them to apply.

 

Before I sign off, I would like to share with you some comments from our President, Peter VanBostelen, that appeared in our most recent annual report. "We recognize that the Reformed Christian community has changed significantly since 1952. Although most members of our Credit Union originally attended a Reformed Church, today we have members from many different denominations – a change that has also been evident in many of the schools and other charitable organizations whom we serve. In 2009 our members approved a bylaw change that allowed Christians connected to the Reformed Christian community to join our Credit Union even if they were not a member of a Reformed Church. We found that this opportunity is not well known in our community so you will see elsewhere in this report that we are re-branding and promoting this option as "Community Connections". As guardians of the values of our Credit Union, the Board assures you that our focus on the Reformed Christian community as emphasized in our Mission and Vision remains the same. We simply want to encourage all people already involved in the Reformed organizations we serve to also join our Credit Union." A full copy of the Annual Report is available on our website and you can obtain a hard copy at either branch.

 

Thanks be to God for His blessings on our Credit Union. May all praise and glory be given to Him!

C3 Church Calgary

C3 Church Calgary is a growing, non-denominational church with a membership of over 200 families. A number of these families send their children to Calgary Christian School, a long-time member of Christian Credit Union. The church recently moved to a large commercial property near Callaway Park. They completed a large renovation and hope to complete a second phase in the future. Christian Credit Union is pleased to provide a mortgage of $4,740,000 through member deposits. For more information about C3 Church Calgary, visit www.myc3church.ca.

 

Staff Profile

Edmonton

Darren Versteeg

Darren began working as a Personal Banker on April 2, 2012. He has 5 years of accounting experience and an Accounting Diploma from NAIT.

 

Darren and his wife Carla have 2 children and attend
St. Albert Canadian Reformed Church. He volunteers on the Church Life Committee, organizes Men’s Bible Study, and is an Usher. He is also a volunteer soccer coach and Treasurer of his Condo Board.

 

Darren enjoys reading, economics, and playing sports, especially soccer. He appreciates his co-workers and loves working in a Christian environment that is dedicated to helping our members and the community as a whole. Darren hopes he can make a positive difference in our members’ lives.

 

Staff Notables

Lethbridge

Congratulations to Wanda Konynenbelt, Banking Assistant, who celebrated 5 years of service on February 11. Wanda is an RESP expert and assists with administrating loans and investments.

 

Barb Vanderwal, Member Service Representative, celebrated 10 years at Christian Credit Union on March 1. Prior to that she served for 10 years at Dutch Canadian Savings & Credit Union. Barb is referred to as a “Jill of many trades and master of much.” Congratulations!

 

We also say farewell to Jessica Scheurkogel who has decided not to return from maternity leave.

Edmonton

On February 19, Sharon Versluys, Compliance Officer, celebrated 5 years of service. Sharon works behind the scenes in loan compliance and payroll. Everyone loves her because she hands out the pay cheques!

 

We say farewell to Edie DeVries who is now enjoying retirement and Christina Balch who moved back to her family in Ontario. Wendy Vanderveen has moved on to other opportunities and Jennifer VanNiejenhuis has decided not to return from maternity leave. We will miss each of you and we wish you the Lord’s blessings.

 

As a result, there have been a number of changes in the Edmonton branch. Congratulations to Karen Struik who has been promoted to a full-time Member Service Supervisor. Lysa Nsebor has been promoted to a Personal Banker and Justine Lindemulder has been promoted to Accounts and Investment Specialist. Congratulations!

 

We also welcome a few new people to the Edmonton branch. Taryn Den Otter has joined us as a part-time Member Service Representative and Janeanne Aikema has joined us as a full-time Member Service Representative. Please be sure to welcome Taryn and Janeanne when you see them in the branch.

 

Career Opportunity

Loan Administrator – Full-Time

 

We are looking for a dynamic, service-oriented individual who will assist the branches with the preparation of loan documents and ensure that our security is properly registered. Someone who is a paralegal or who has similar experience would be well suited for this position. For more information, visit www.christiancu.ca.

 

Big Brothers Big Sisters Bowling

On Saturday, November 2, Lethbridge staff participated in the Annual Bowl for Kid’s sake, an event that supports Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs. The staff raised $800 and won top sponsor for the event! Way to go Orange!

 

The Community Connections program allows friends, family and acquaintances who do not attend a Reformed Christian church to become members of Christian Credit Union. New members will be asked to agree with our Statement of Faith and recommending members will be required to complete the Community Connections  Recommendation form. All membership applications are subject to approval by the Board of Directors.

 

For more information, visit
www.christiancu.ca/become-a-member

 

Emmanuel Home Visit

On Monday, April 1, the Edmonton branch hosted visitors from Emmanuel Home. After an opening word by John Veldkamp, CEO, the residents were treated to a hot lunch served by the management team. The seniors also had an opportunity to meet with the staff.

 

A presentation about Fraud Prevention was given by Phil Geusebroek, Marketing Manager. Current fraud practices including the Grandparent Scam, Phishing and Debit and Credit Card Skimming were highlighted. Best practices for preventing fraud were also reviewed.

 

The visit was wrapped up with a tour of the branch and a group picture.  As you can see, many of the seniors picked up some FREE Christian Credit Union hats and other goodies.  We hope to see them again next year!

Fraud Prevention

Mobile Phone Scams

Mobile phone scams can be difficult to recognize. Be wary of somebody who talks as if they know you. Do not re-dial a missed call from an unknown number—there may be hidden charges.

 

Ringtone scams might attract you with an offer of a free or low-cost ringtone. What you may not realize is that by accepting the offer, you may actually be subscribing to a service that will keep sending you ringtones—and charging you a premium rate for them. There are many legitimate companies selling ringtones, but there are also scammers who will try to hide the true cost of taking up the offer.

 

Scammers either don’t tell you that your request for the first ringtone is actually a subscription to a ringtone service, or it may be obscured in fine print related to the offer. They also make it difficult for you to stop the service. You have to actively “opt out” of the service to stop the ringtones and the associated charges.

 

Missed call scams start by scammers calling your phone and hanging up so quickly that you can’t answer the call in time. Your phone registers a missed call and you probably won’t recognize the number. You may be tempted to call the number to find out who called you. If it is a scam, you will be paying premium rates for the call without knowing.

 

Text message scams work in a similar way, but through a  Short Message Service (SMS) Scammers send you a text message from a number you may not recognize, but it sounds like it is from a friend—for instance, “Hi, it’s John.

I’m back! When are you free to catch up?” If you reply out of curiosity, you might be charged at premium rate for SMS messages (sometimes as much as $4 for each message sent and/or received).

 

An SMS contest or SMS trivia scam usually arrives as a text message or in an advertisement and encourages you to take part in a trivia contest for a great prize. All you need to do is answer a certain number of questions correctly. The scammers make money by charging extremely high rates for the messages you send and any further messages they send to you. With trivia scams, the first set of questions will be very easy. This is meant to encourage you to keep playing. However, the last one or two questions that you need to answer to claim your “prize” could be very difficult or impossible to answer correctly.

 

Protect Yourself

  • Text “STOP” to end unwanted text messages or to end unwanted subscriptions.
  • Never reply to text messages offering you free ringtones or missed calls from numbers that you do not recognize.
  • Don’t call or text phone numbers beginning with 1-900 unless you are aware of the cost involved, and carefully read any terms and conditions when texting short codes.
  • Read all the terms and conditions of an offer very carefully. Services offering
  • free or very cheap products often have hidden costs.
  • Ask yourself, do I know how
  • to stop any subscription service I want to sign up to?
 

Planner’s Corner

Changes to Old Age Security (OAS)    
 

What is OAS? It’s an income support program available to all Canadians over age 65. Benefits depend on how long you have lived in Canada after the age of 18. To qualify for the maximum you have to have lived in Canada 40 years after age 18; if you are a resident less than 10 years you do not qualify.  Applicants who have lived in Canada between 10 and 40 years receive a pro-rated benefit. Maximum OAS as of January 2013 is $546.07. OAS pensions, as well as companion programs Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Allowances available to low-income Canadians, are adjusted quarterly to reflect any increases in inflation. OAS payments are taxable.  Seniors who make over $69,562 (2012) are subject to a ‘claw-back’ of benefits.

 

Changes: In Budget 2012, the federal government introduced measures to gradually change the eligibility age for the Old Age Security (OAS) from 65 to 67 starting in April 2023. The eleven-year advance notification and subsequent six-year phase-in period will allow those affected by these changes time to make adjustments to their retirement plans.The phase-in period will begin by gradually raising the eligibility age by one month every three months, starting on April 1, 2023. By January 2029, the age of eligibility for the OAS and GIS will be 67 and the ages at which the Allowance and the Allowance for Survivor are provided will be ages 62-66. The changes to the age of eligibility for the OAS program introduced in Budget 2012 will not affect anyone currently receiving benefits.

 

Why the changes? The federal government cites the following reasons: 1) Canada’s population is aging; 2) the OAS program, in its current form, is unsustainable; 3) changes are required to ensure fairness for taxpayers; 4) Canada’s labour market and economy needs to adapt to an aging society to remain strong. Of note is that today, there are four working-age Canadians for every senior, by 2030, projections suggest that there will only be two.

 

Other changes. The federal government also introduced a voluntary deferral of the OAS pension, starting in July 2013, giving Canadian residents the option to defer take-up of their OAS pension by up to five years past the age of eligibility, and subsequently receive a higher, actuarially adjusted pension.

In addition, to improve services for seniors, the Government of Canada will start a proactive enrolment process that will remove the need for many seniors to apply for the OAS pension and the GIS.

 

My thoughts. I admire the federal government’s willingness to take this on now rather than burying their heads in the sand as many European countries have done. This change to OAS, combined with changes to Canada Pension Plan in 2011 (refer CPP changes www.christiancu.ca/financial-planning/retirement-planning/) will help make these programs more sustainable in the long term. As a result, over the next 10-15 years, ‘normal’ retirement date will change from age 65 to age 67.

 

Federal & Provincial Budget Changes

Both the federal and Alberta government recently introduced their 2013 budgets. Below are a few changes which may impact you.

  • Safety Deposit Box rental fees will no longer be tax deductible in 2013.
  • Adoption Expense Credit – for adoptions finalized after 2012, a 15% non-refundable tax credit for qualified expenses is available to parents.
  • Dividend Tax Credit – adjustments are being made to increase the tax cost of non-eligible dividends paid effective taxation year 2014.
  • If you own a small business or farm, the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption will increase from $750,000 to $800,000 effective taxation year 2014. Thereafter it will be indexed to inflation.
  • The Alberta Centennial Education Savings Plan (ACES) grants will be eliminated by the end of 2014. For parents or guardians who open a Registered Education Savings Plan, the ACES program provides a $500 grant to children who are born in Alberta and $100 at age 8, 11, 14.

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