The National Church Leaders Forum (NCLF) has expressed support for the Reverend Carmel Jones and The Pentecostal Credit Union (TPCU) after the Financial Services Authority (FSA) publically censured them for issuing loans worth £1.2 million under its members’ names but channeling the money to a Church Organisation. Rev Jones founded TPCU from his home in 1979 and chaired it until recently; providing a valued service to disadvantaged communities.
The NCLF understands the rationale behind the FSA’s decision to censure Rev Jones for breaches of procedural protocol, but says when a phrase like ‘disgraceful behaviour’ is used in the current toxic economic climate; the impression may be given that here goes another greedy banker. This is far from the case with Rev Jones and the FSA report does not accuse him of benefiting personally from his actions.
The TPCU began lending to churches before the FSA was established in 2002, at a time when black individuals and organisations experienced significant difficulty in accessing funding from high street banks. After joining the FSA, TPCU were warned that the practice of lending to corporate bodies must cease; however, because of his determination to assist Black Churches serving poor and disadvantaged communities, Rev Jones suggested ways that would allow TPCU to continue to do so. When those were rejected by the FSA and TPCU continued to make such loans, this was clearly in breach of guidelines and Rev Jones has accepted responsibility for flouting FSA and TPCU protocols, which are there to protect the interests of members.
Bishop John Francis of Ruach Ministries says, ‘Rev Jones and the Pentecostal Credit Union have been an asset to our church because when our bank said ‘no’ it was the credit union that provided us with a loan to purchase our building. The banks were simply not lending to black churches. I am sorry that the creative ways by which Rev Jones was able to assist us and others has landed him in trouble with the Financial Services Authority. Rev Jones is a good man.’
The NCLF believes censuring Rev Jones is appropriate, but says the context of disadvantage and discrimination in which the breaches occurred should not be ignored. Access to mainstream funding continues to be a challenge for minority ethnic communities. TPCU has been a lifeline for several Black churches that have procured buildings over the past three decades; and the NCLF welcomes the change in FSA regulations since January 2012 that now allows corporate bodies to access loans from Credit Unions.
Rev Delroy Powell of the New Testament Assembly says, ‘I am deeply saddened to learn of the FSA’s action against Rev Jones and even more so by the skewed way that the press has portrayed him. I know first-hand of the three decades of relentless efforts and personal sacrifice that Rev Jones has given to servicing the needs of our people, including retired individuals, single parents and organisations, when no other help was there. I am pleased that now the FSA rules have been changed the PCU is no longer restricted and forced to use ‘creative’ ways to assist our community. Sadly this legacy has come at a personal cost to Rev Jones who many of us will hail as the champion behind one of the UK’s most successful financial co-operative.’
Rev Ade Omooba of Christian Victory Group adds, ‘Rev Jones and the PCU provide a service that is relevant, essential, and practical to the community. We stand by him even while recognising the need to adhere to governing protocols.’
The NCLF understands the FSA code of practice has members’ interests at heart, but recognises also that Rev Jones has above all sought to address the needs of the poor and disadvantaged through TPCU since 1979. It is this commitment to providing help and assistance that the NCLF feels is a fitting legacy that should drive the public narrative concerning Rev Carmel Jones and the Pentecostal Credit Union.
The National Church Leaders Forum – A Black Christian Voice speaks on behalf of the Black Church Movement in the UK
See ‘FSA publicly censures London credit union’ http://www.fsa.gov.uk/library/communication/pr/2012/100.shtml
See FSA Final Notice: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/static/pubs/final/reverend-jones.pdf