The Archbishop of Canterbury has used Instagram to send a message urging churches and communities to support their local credit union.
The message came as Anglican bishops throughout England and Scotland, plus members of the Church of Scotland and other Christian denominations, joined civic and secular groups in marking International Credit Union Day on 17 October 2013 by championing credit unions in their communities.
Speaking ahead of ICU Day, Archbishop Justin Welby said in his first Instagram message: "Let’s begin to make a difference to how families can finance themselves in this country – join and support a credit union".
The archbishop is an established user of Twitter and Facebook, too.
In a personal letter sent to all clergy, Archbishop Justin underlined this message by pointing out that the one million families who take out payday loans every month can end up in a crippling spiral of debt.
"Our faith in Christ calls us to love the poor and vulnerable with our actions. That is why the Church must be actively involved in supporting the development of real lending alternatives, such as credit unions," he declared.
Churches across the country have been supporting ICU Day, signing up to and supporting local credit unions.
The Rev Dr Malcolm Brown, director of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Division, commented: "The credit union sector is extremely well placed to offer real choice about how people manage their money. Credit unions aren’t just for hard pressed communities – all sorts of people could use credit unions to save and to take out loans at manageable interest rates. Archbishop Justin is calling on churches all over the country to work with their local credit unions – and the Church of England is working with the Church of Scotland so that our response runs, literally, from Lands End to John O’Groats."
"We welcome the continuing support of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England for credit unions. With the wide community reach of the organisation, and the skills within its congregations, the Church can help raise awareness of the benefits of credit unions and help them to grow."
Mark Lyonette, Chief Executive of the Association of British Credit Unions (ABCUL), added: "We welcome the continuing support of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Church of England for credit unions. With the wide community reach of the organisation, and the skills within its congregations, the Church can help raise awareness of the benefits of credit unions and help them to grow."
Barbara Hann, Chief Executive of ACE Credit Union Services, said: "Over the years credit unions have often been described as the best kept secret, since so few people seem to have heard of them. The Archbishop’s intervention has overturned this, focusing everyone’s attention on the important role of credit unions in society – they provide a caring financial service, with low charge, that benefits all levels of society. Churches can support local credit unions by encouraging people to open an account and to volunteer to help run one."