Welcoming our new CEO
With our incumbent CEO, Chris Sheldon, retiring at the end of 2020 after 18 years with the Bank, we enlisted the assistance of a specialist search firm to help us find an ideal candidate who shares our passion for helping churches grow. The Bank’s Board of Directors was thrilled to be able to appoint Paul Houghton. Paul joined us as CEO Designate in July 2020, and has been working closely with Chris to become more familiar with the Bank and begin to shape its future. Paul comes to us with more than twenty years’ experience in financial services, leading teams and supporting clients. We sat down with him to find out more about his background and his vision for the Bank.
Tell us something about your Christian life
“I grew up in a Christian family and have trusted the Lord from an early age. I then went to a summer camp aged 13 where I heard the cross of Christ explained from the Bible in a way which just made sense: I knew that Jesus had died in my place – by his wounds I was healed – a gift of his grace so I could be free to live for him. In the years since then, God has continued to be gracious in teaching me from his Word and sustaining me by his Spirit. I grew as a Christian through being part of Bible-based local churches as a Durham University student, and then in the City of London. 17 years ago, with my wife and our new baby, we moved to Sheffield and bought a house two minutes’ walk from Christ Church Fulwood, a large evangelical Anglican church which has been our church family ever since.”
What led you to leave your previous role to work for Kingdom Bank?
“I knew nothing of Kingdom Bank previously, but I remember talking with my wife about the role over a weekend in February. I couldn’t get out of my mind the opportunity of growing an organisation which was focused on doing the financial ‘heavylifting’ to enable churches to get on with proclaiming the good news of Jesus. I wasn’t planning to leave my existing position, but at the same time this felt like the job I’d always wanted to do.It was all about leadership in growth and business development, which is my skill set. It was all about understanding church finances and risks, where I had two decades of experience. And it was all about serving the Lord Jesus by serving his church – what a privilege! So I applied. I didn’t expect to be successful!”
How do you see the Bank’s history and heritage?
“Kingdom Bank’s forerunner organisation was immensely innovative when it was set up in the 1950s by Assemblies of God (‘AoG’) pastor, George Oldershaw. Some congregations had money, whilst others did not. So, to facilitate gospel partnership and church growth within AoG, Oldershaw developed a fund which became known as Assemblies of God Property Trust (‘AoGPT’).This enabled established congregations to deposit and newer congregations to borrow. In 2005 that organisation became Kingdom Bank, and the service we provide today is essentially the same. In fact we are looking to rekindle that spirit of innovation in gospel partnership, but for the wider UK evangelical church.”
Tell us more about this gospel partnership
“It’s not new. The Apostle Paul introduced the concept as he wrote of the generous support provided for him by the first century Philippian church, through which he sees them as co-workers in his gospel ministry. On the back of this, we have just launched‘Gospel Partner’ accounts which will typically earn interest at a slightly lower rate than similar notice accounts, enabling the Bank to provide more support for church planting, church refurbishment and ministers’ housing. Our prayer is that churches and individualChristians will have their hearts captured by the opportunity to serve brothers and sisters in Christ across the UK by depositing funds with us...and, as a result, we will be able to provide the funding to help churches grow.”
What excites you most about leading Kingdom Bank into a new season of growth and development?
“The UK evangelical church has historically had limited options of Christian banks that would share their values. Behind the scenes, a small group of gospel-minded people, together with Stewardship, spotted the opportunity and bought Kingdom Bank from AoGPT earlier this year. They’ve provided it with the capital to enable it to grow, and now we’re wanting to wave the flag amongst UK evangelicals and say: “We’re your bank and we’re here to help!” It’s thrilling, every week, to have conversations with churches poised to press ahead with the purchase of a new building in which to meet, or a refurbishment of their meeting space, or a house for their minister. Amidst the gloom of the overall decline in certain mainstream denominations, it is wonderful to be bombarded with news of churches growing and pushing on with witnessing to the risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ...and a what a privilege that we’re able to come alongside and help!”
What does your life outside Kingdom Bank look like?
“With my wife, Debs, and our three children, we’re a family of five, plus our over-enthusiastic black Labrador, Bertie. We live in Fulwood, right on the western edge of Sheffield, so within a few minutes we can be out walking in the beautiful Peak District. I love DIY and being in the garden, but I’m not a good gardener – apparently it’s not appropriate to prune roses with a hedgecutter? I have a passion to see the UK taught the faithful Biblical gospel, so I’m on the Council of Oak Hill Theological College, I chair the Board of governors at a Christian independent school, and I’m a volunteer leader on summer camps in North Wales –the same ones where I heard the gospel back in 1983. I’m also involved in leadership within our church family – including serving as Treasurer, which ensures I keep my feet on the ground in understanding church finances.”