By Katie Tolles, Peacebuilders Ministry Team
First Congregational Church in Amherst, UCC
By unanimous vote of the congregation, The First Congregational Church in Amherst UCC has decided to move all its money and financial transactions from the Bank of America to a local bank. The vote represents a concern of the members of the church that Bank of America and other big banks do not operate in a way that is consistent with the church’s faith values.
In particular, individuals and groups within the church, such as the Anti-Racism Ministry Team and the Peacebuilders Ministry Team, felt that Bank of America’s policies on foreclosures, mortgages and loans were unfair and did not support the common good. The church is in the process of choosing a new bank whose policies and practices reflect fairness and concern for the well-being of the local community.
The congregation was cognizant of the fact that its national church body, The United Church of Christ, had just this past summer passed a resolution asking “all settings of the United Church of Christ… to use our money to provoke change…or move our money to financial institutions that represent our faith values.” In addition, the members of First Church in Amherst have adopted, over the past several decades, principles which they believe represent the working out of the teachings of Jesus and which are stated in its weekly bulletin. These include being “an Open and Affirming church that welcomes all persons regardless of race, gender, socio-economic status, ethnic background, age, sexual orientation, nationality, marital status or physical or mental ability…a Just Peace Church, committed to peaceful and just relations in all segments of our society and world; an Earth Covenant Congregation, committing ourselves with integrity to care for God’s Creation; and a congregation committed to pro-active anti-racism—seeking with God’s help to be a force for the elimination of racism and white privilege. This vote to move the money of the church was an effort to bring the church’s operations in line with its own stated principles.
It was also noted before the vote was taken that First Church in Amherst had not actively chosen to do its banking with the Bank of America. At one time, the church did its banking with a local bank which was eventually bought out by Bank of America through a series of mergers.
The treasurer and assistant treasurers of the church will begin working on the process of moving the money in the near future.
Contacts for further information:
Russ Vernon-Jones, Anti-Racism Ministry Team, 413-687-4080, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Tolles, Peacebuilders Ministry Team
Vicki Kemper, pastor