Full of Faith in Faith-Based Credit Unions and Collaboration

team with laptop at table
Dr. Joronda Crawford Photo
Faith Based Credit Union Alliance

3 minutes

Credit union director also leads Faith Based Credit Union Alliance and serves on a key Inclusiv committee.

The Faith Based Credit Union Alliance that I co-chair has 23 credit union members, mainly in the Chicago area, but now also in Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, New York and Texas. Besides having a collaborative contract for a common core, online loanliner forms and credit checks, the alliance has assisted several of our credit unions in getting community development financial institution certification and obtaining grants.

It has been a blessing to help our FBCUA credit unions survive and thrive. In addition to collaborating on the vendor contract negotiations described above, we provide regulatory training for all our CUs, including sessions on the CAMELS rating system from the National Credit Union Administration.

Our 10-year virtual anniversary where many of the greats in the credit union movement were in attendance really stands out as a high point in my work. Those greats included Cliff Rosenthal, who was instrumental in starting the CDFI Fund; Tom Kane, president of the Illinois Credit Union League, Tom Sakash, CUDE, manager of CUNA’s Small Credit Union Initiative; The Honorable Rodney E. Hood, who at the time was chair of the NCUA board; and much of the staff from Inclusiv, including Pam Owens, CUDE, Monica Copeland, Jules Hebert, among others. 

Getting Involved With Faith-Based Credit Unions

I married into a strong credit union family. My husband’s father started a credit union in each church that he was sent to. At first, I remained pretty much on the sidelines but after a controversial audit, I became much more involved.

These days I’m a board member of $1.7 million Israel Methcomm Federal Credit Union. My experience has shown me that a church organization and a credit union organization are integrally related. As the church goes, so goes the credit union. Growth for the credit union could mean growth for the church and vice versa.

Today, the most important products Israel Methcomm FCU offers its members are short-term and auto loans. These seem to be needed most by our members in a crunch. The credit union’s strength lies in helping people who otherwise would not be able to obtain loans and would therefore be prey to predatory lenders. Our top challenge is obtaining volunteers and continuing to grow in an aging church population.

At Israel Methcomm FCU, we have received a minority depository institution grant as well as several CDFI grants. These have helped us better reach our target market by allowing us to manage risk differently.

The most rewarding thing I’ve been part of as a credit union director has been helping members through the pandemic by way of the CDFI Rapid Response Program and NCUA’s COVID-19 response program. These people lost jobs that they thought they would retire from. Helping them save their homes and pay bills was definitely rewarding.

Leading Even More Broadly

After Inclusiv was so supportive of Israel Methcomm FCU and the Faith Based Credit Union Alliance, I wanted to assist. So, I joined the small credit union and MDI committee related to the Inclusiv board.

Serving on the board of Inclusiv truly mimics what we are dealing with in FBCUA. We are seeing that we are all going through some of the same things. And getting together, we can resolve some of our common issues. We also can help larger credit unions reach out to communities they’re not currently serving successfully.

Dr. Joronda Crawford is a board member of $1.7 million Israel Methcomm Federal Credit Union, Chicago, and co-chairs the Faith Based Credit Union Alliance, which was honored with a prestigious Herb Wegner award in 2022.

Compass Subscription