On October 15, 2015, credit unions around the world will celebrate International Credit Union Day (ICU Day).
Since 1948, on the third Thursday of every October, credit unions have celebrated a simple but radical idea—that by working together, people can improve their financial well-being. “People helping people,” this year’s ICU Day theme, is the foundational philosophy of the credit union movement, going back to the very beginning.
In 1850s Germany, a group of weary workers formed the world’s first credit union. Suffering through an economic downturn and tired of loan sharks exploiting them, they banded together to provide affordable credit to each other.
Not-for-profit and governed by and for the people who created them, credit unions not only gave working-class people a way to break a cycle of debt that had bled them of any financial gains. It showed them, for the first time, a path to prosperity.
It’s no wonder then that when economic times are hard, credit unions flourish. Credit union membership swelled during the Great Depression and again during the recent Great Recession. Today, there are more than 200 million credit union members worldwide— Over 300,000 in Scotland.
As not-for-profit financial cooperatives, credit unions are governed by their members—one member, one vote. In many countries, credit unions offer people their first true taste of democracy.
At its most basic level, a credit union is people pooling their money to provide each other with affordable loans—a credit union is literally people helping people. This simple idea empowers people, wherever they are in the world or life, to take control of their own financial future.
The Church of Scotland is committed to supporting the work of Credit Unions and encourages you and your Church can engage with your local credit union. See our leaflets for more information:
The Churches’ Mutual Credit Union (CMCU) was launched in February and is an alliance between the Church of Scotland, the Anglican Churches in Britain and the Methodist Church in Britain.
Membership is open to lay or ordained ministers, elders and anyone in a recognised position within the Church such as Church officers or organists on contract. It is also open to anyone in paid employment with the partner Churches or a Church based charity.