Banking for the Kingdom
Banks don’t always have a good reputation. They have been seen as greedy organisations that are sometimes accused of mis-selling products.
So, isn’t it rather dangerous for a bank to say that it is Christian? It is a risk that Kingdom Bank willingly accepts. But just how different is a Christian bank?
Established over 60 years ago, the driving force behind Kingdom Bank is to make a difference for good in people’s lives. In part this is evidenced in the way that they deal with people, whether customers or suppliers. Both seem to genuinely enjoy dealing with the Bank’s staff, and the customers have proved to be very loyal. But it is in how the Bank use the money entrusted to it that the biggest difference can be found.
First of all Kingdom Bank offer a wide range of different savings products, including several different types of cash ISAs. The important principle here is that new and existing customers are treated the same. No marketing gimmicks just to bring in new customers.
Then there is the mortgage range. Most people reading with this will not qualify for a Kingdom Bank mortgage! This is because Kingdom Bank:
- Provide ‘buy-to-let’ mortgages for ministers, church workers and missionaries, so that they could have an investment for the future. You might find it hard to find these available on the high street;
- Provide mortgages for churches to buy, build or improve their buildings;
- Help individuals or churches to take out a ‘social return’ mortgage. This is where they buy a property that is then used to support vulnerable and needy people.
Each of these can make a real difference to people’s lives. Let’s look at a couple of real stories to show what a difference it can make.
Mike Willis, pastor of the New Life Christian Centre in Morpeth told us:
“What do you do when you have a late 19th-century church that looks and feels tired, where the paint is peeling, and there are cracks in the front wall? The starting point was to agree that something needed to be done and that we also needed a vision of what we might achieve.”
Our vision was to make our church an important part of the community. We wanted it used regularly, to be the best venue in town, to be the best for God; to combine the heritage of the 19th century with the best of the 21st century.
We started by raising £20,000, and undertaking a thorough analysis of what was needed and might be done. Perhaps inevitably, as we went along we discovered more things that needed doing. After all, it is an old building. We removed the false ceiling and discovered more cracks. It needed rewiring; we installed a state-of-the-art heating system, and a new PA system. There was complete redecoration and new doors to make it welcoming. We had to meet all the fire and health regulations, so that we could legally double the numbers that could use the building.
Ultimately we needed a total of £170,000, and Kingdom Bank was amazing. As well as providing the funds, they ensured that everything was planned and developed in the right way, and supported us through the whole process.
You wouldn’t believe that it was the same church; it was clean, modern, attractive, warm and welcoming. We recently had a curry evening in the church for 60, of which 20 were non-Christian guests, an evening with a Christian comedian attracted 150, with half of these being non-Christians, and there is now a Saturday morning cinema for children. It is a great place to both worship and invite friends.’
Supporting the vulnerable
Kingdom Bank is helping a north-east couple continue to give supported housing to more than 80 vulnerable young people, including young families. Dot and Derek Butler launched ROCSOLID, a registered charity, two years after buying a fostering agency in 2005.
“The local authority placed one of our care leavers in really inappropriate accommodation when she turned 18,” said Dot. “She committed a serious offence and ended up in a secure residential unit. Our social workers visited her and came back dismayed – we decided to launch the charity in a bid to improve outcomes for young people like her.”
The couple have developed a successful model whereby young people needing intensive support, such as pregnant teenagers or those with mental health issues, move into flats in two buildings which are staffed 24/7. They can progress to houses in the community with ongoing key worker support and regular drop-ins.
“Many of our young people have traumatic histories and have sofa surfed or lived in hostels alongside alcoholics and older people on drugs,” said Dot. “We make sure our flats and houses are of a good quality, as this speaks volumes about how much we value our young people. We have seen some great outcomes, including children in care being returned to young parents who have acquired the skills to care for them while at ROCSOLID.”
The role of Kingdom Bank
Some of the 30 plus housing stock is owned by private investors who want to put their houses to good use – Derek also runs a property investment and management company. The remainder is owned by the Butlers and a property business partner – the ending of this partnership means the portfolio is being split so refinancing is needed.
“Our solicitor recommended Kingdom Bank and we have been impressed with their can-do attitude,” said Dot. “The fact that they are remortgaging our share of the properties as a single portfolio has made the process much easier for us.
Chris Sheldon, Chief Executive of Kingdom Bank, said: “We were delighted to help support such a valuable and inspired project. I hope that this story will encourage other Christians and churches to do something similar. At Kingdom Bank we want to see lives changed through the mortgages we provide, which is clearly evident in this project."