Churches and the personal debt crisis

The Washington Post reports on how churches are addressing the debt crisis in the US:

With the country on the cusp of a recession and many people burdened by the mortgage foreclosure crisis, skyrocketing gas prices and rising grocery bills, religious leaders across the Washington region are increasingly ministering to their members about financial responsibility, encouraging them to control their spending.

“We tell our members, don’t buy dresses and shoes, take trips, all on credit,” Jenkins said in an interview. “It’s killing us.”

Churches are going a step further by providing financial counseling and pointing people to local and state programs that help with finances.

In Prince George’s County, the Rev. Kerry A. Hill, president of the Collective Banking Group, a consortium of pastors who help area church finance projects, says, “What we are trying to get over to people is that we have to teach about stewardship the same way we teach about forgiveness. A lot of pastors agree that we have talked about tithing, and we need to talk about the other 90 percent.”

In the Washington region, churches have recently partnered with the state and federal governments to host foreclosure prevention forums. Some have distributed brochures that suggest that people contact their bank to create a “workout” plan, find creative ways to save, and seek legal advice if they believe they have been a victim of predatory lending.

In Wyoming, St. John’s Episcopal Church, Jackson and Trinity Episcopal Church, Lander, support One Stop Community Resource Centers to assist all in their area to budget, restore finances to stability, get off credit financing, get debts into a manageable payment system, and assist people in ways that social services cannot. Other churches in the communities work through the centers as well.

Read the article here.

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