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Synod Staff Partners with New Bank

Special thanks to Director of Finance, Systems, and Administration Diana Barrios for writing the following piece.

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There is a lot one can say about where and what happens when choosing to invest money. When it comes to the much appreciated and generous support from our ministry partners within the synod, we take this topic more seriously.

Why did we need to change?

While at our first Synod Council meeting with newly elected Bishop Megan Rohrer, the topic of our primary banking institution was on the agenda. Not for taking a look into the institution itself, rather, to gain approval for new credit cards for newly appointed staffs. It was a Synod Council member who asked the question, “Does our current banking institution align with our values of the synod?” Thanks to the internet and quick research by a couple of Synod Council members, we discovered that the bank did not! One major value is contradicted—the bank’s core value belief that marriage is only recognized between a man and a woman. This was different information than what was communicated to me several years back by our corporate representative. So in my mind, things had to change and fast. The Synod Council did not approve the issuance of credit cards and tasked us with finding a bank that was more in alignment with our values.

What did we do about it?

I first called the most obvious choice, our ELCA Credit Union. After a wonderful conversation with them, they informed me that they were not yet fully able to provide us with the features we needed at this time. After weeks of research and calling around to several credit unions in the Bay Area, I couldn’t find a credit union that was able to handle a large business and our level of financial transactions AND who would be open about expressing their values—especially when it came to a faith-based business. So, using Google search, I found the top banks that were LGBTQ+ friendly and who were ethnically diverse at a corporate level. Of the handful that were listed, JP Morgan Chase was the viable bank who met the challenge. Not only do they support LGBTQ+ community, but they also support promoting ethnic diversity within their organizations worldwide and within the community. You can say they actually walk the walk and put their money where their mouth is. See this link to read more about their activities and actions within their companies both in the USA and worldwide: https://www.jpmorganchase.com/about/people-culture/diversity-and-inclusion

What do we get by switching banks?

I’ll begin with the prior bank. They were not as technologically advanced as we needed them to be. They had online bill pay, but it took too many days/weeks for the check to arrive. They didn’t have ACH payments for individuals and neither did they have a way for individuals to receive funds in a way similar to using Zelle or other bank sponsored quick money transfers. For simple transferring of funds from one of our own accounts to another, the process was extremely cumbersome. Even wire transfers involved way too much coordination to make happen. In short, we were limited in how we did business banking transactions with them— and we know our ministry needs to act as quickly as we can for those in need.

With our new bank, JP Morgan Chase, we have a variety of ways to make payments and they are quick and easy to use. We have the option to use ACH, Online Bill Pay and Zelle to get money in the hands of those who need it quickly. Online Bill Pay gets to the recipient within a few short days – not weeks. Zelle payments happen in minutes. Using their Online Bill Pay system, I have been able to schedule a recurring payment for one of our regular bills. So, with this switch we gain expediency in our business banking transactions, giving us the ability to act swiftly. The bonus is that by scheduling recurring payments, we also are streamlining some of the work that gets done by our financial staff.

What about JP Morgan Chase?

Is JP Morgan Chase bank perfect and flawless. No. Do they admit to their shortcomings? The answer is yes. In as recent as this summer, they recognized that some of their Political Action Committee (PAC) funds were going to lawmakers who have been supportive of overturning the recent election of President Joe Biden. So they acted upon this and have withdrawn their support to over 147 lawmakers and will continue to withhold PAC support from that point and throughout the mid-term elections. The Chairman of the Board, Jamie Dimon, who is a 2nd generation American born person of Greek descent, takes a stand to ensure that there is ethnic representation and voice. Even when faced with a very deeply personal challenge from his own daughter to refrain from engaging in a committee under the Trump Administration. In his response to his daughter, he explained that even Martin Luther King, Jr. would take an opportunity to show up at Trumps office and fight for his people.

Change is inevitable.

To summarize, with the election of a new Bishop and a new team, we not only needed a change, but we welcomed it. It is our hope you can support our decision in this switch too. We welcome your feedback and comments as we move forward. Please send your note to accounting@spselca.org

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