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ELGIN, Ill. – With a new name, logo and an expanded charter, The Church of the Brethren Credit Union is now open to the more than 135,000 denominational members nationwide. The credit union changed its charter on Feb.23 to allow members of the Church of the Brethren to join. Previously, the credit union was open to church members and in Illinois and Wisconsin, Brethren pastors, staff of denominational agencies and aorganizations and all their family members. Chartered in 1938 and formerly known as Brethren Employees CU, the newly structured credit union also has ties to the Brethren Parish Credit Union, organized in 1941 by the members of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill. “We have been wanting to expand for quite some time,” said Dennis Kingery, CBCU director of credit union operations. “When we did our marketing survey (to gauge the interest of members), we received positive feedback but they also told us the rates would have to be the best (for them to join).” Brethren Benefit Trust (BBT), a 60-year old nonprofit agency that reports directly to the Church will assume staffing and administrative functions of the new credit union on Apr. 1. BBT provides pension; insurance; asset and gift plan management, financial assistance for retired church workers in need; Web site, e-mail, and e-commerce development and hosting. With 1,200 members and $4 million in assets, Kingery said the logistics of expanding to a national charter will be tackled in stages. The credit union currently offers savings accounts, certificates of deposits, individual retirement accounts, insurance and various loans with plans to include checking accounts, credit cards, home equity lines of credit and access to ATMs in the future. A new Web site will go live on April 1 with plans to offer online loan applications and other transactions. With only one branch, Kingery said discussions are underway to align with church-affiliated colleges and retirement communities to set up in-house branches. “Quite frankly, we don’t want a rush of members on April 1 because we have to keep our capital and assets in balance,” Kingery said. Brethren Benefit Trust has put up $250,000 in capital to aid the newly-structured credit union, he added. The credit union also recently approved a 12-member national board. In late March, 5,000 introductory packets will be mailed to members of the Church and brochures and other marketing materials will be posted on church bulletin boards and in administrative buildings. An extensive presentation will take place at the Church of the Brethren’s annual conference in July with more than 3,000 scheduled to attend. Through BBT, members have access to investments that are deemed “socially responsible,” Kingery said. In concordance with the Church’s views, no investments are made with companies tied to tobacco, gambling and other vices. “We’ve found that we’re not sacrificing anything by doing it this way and we’re getting great returns,” Kingery said. A vote by the membership was the last step in a process that started two years ago when the credit union began exploring partnership with BBT, said Wil Nolen, BBT president. “The approval of these changes voted on by the credit union’s owners-its members-sets in place the foundation on which new services to more people within the Church of the Brethren can be built,” Nolen said. Founded by a group of villagers in Schwarzenau, Germany in 1708, the Church of the Brethren has 1,000 congregations in the United States and Puerto Rico and more than 170,000 members in Nigeria, the Dominican Republic and Brazil. [email protected]

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