As a former church missionary in Africa, NCUA Chairman Rodney Hood imagined his life’s path would follow the ministry.
While his professional course veered from the church, he eventually found his true calling as a credit union evangelist.
“I never lost my urge for service, and that led me to banking and becoming the first African American to lead a federal banking agency,” says Hood, who addressed a virtual event last week celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Faith Based Credit Union Alliance. “There’s a clear connection between missionary work and community finance. Both are about building up communities and serving others.”
The Faith Based Credit Union Alliance provides training and other support for faith-based, low income-designated credit unions. The virtual event featured presentations by Hood, Illinois Credit Union System President/CEO Tom Kane, and Tom Sakash, CUNA’s manager of small credit union initiatives.
Drs. Hiram and Joronda Crawford, board members at $1.3 million asset Israel Methcomm Federal Credit Union in Chicago, emceed the event and presided over awards to multiple organizations and individuals.
Hood lauded attendees for their service to society’s most vulnerable by promoting financial literacy, assisting low-income families with affordable services, combating predatory lenders, and investing in their communities.
“Your work is essential,” he says. “You truly are doing God’s work.”
The founders of the alliance understand the power of cooperation among cooperatives, especially for small credit unions, says Kane.
Eighty-percent of Illinois credit unions have less than $100 million in assets and 40% have less than $10 million, “including all of the credit unions here tonight,” Kane says.
“Your institutions endure because of the passion of many volunteers,” he says. “You have to operate under the same laws as other credit unions. But through your collaboration with credit unions and leagues, you get it done on behalf of your members.
“In a time of such discontent, it’s wonderful to recognize the goodness that can occur when people come together to improve the lives of members and communities.”
Faith-based credit unions are a model for all small credit unions, which face challenges including compliance, technology, leadership, and succession, Sakash says.
“It’s so important to collaborate and share resources, and that’s the power of what you do,” he says. “Over the past 10 years we’ve lost hundreds of small credit unions. But you’re still here because of the work you do together. Thank you for inspiring me and setting the right example for the future.”