By Micha Green, AFRO Washington, D.C.

The African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church launched a partnership with Black-owned banks across the country in order to promote business development, homeownership and overall prosperity within the African American community.

Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, president of the Council of AME Bishops, originally announced the partnership June 26 during the 2018 Council of Bishops and General Meeting in Atlanta.

“We are now pleased to announce a partnership with the presidents of the 19 Black banks in the United States, with the goal of increasing Black wealth,” said Jackson.

The African Methodist Episcopal Church is working with Black-owned banks across the country in order to encourage African American economic development. (Courtesy photo)

“This initiative will strengthen Black banks across the United States and increase their capacity to lend to small businesses, to secure mortgages, to provide personal lines of credit, and to offer other forms of credit to AME churches and our members. This, of course, includes enabling members and their families to become homeowners.”

According to Trice Edney Wire, some of the larger goals in the partnership are to increase deposits and loans with Black banks; increase Black homeownership to over 50 percent nationwide; and grow the number of Black businesses from 2.6 million to 4 million and increasing the total gross receipts from an average of  $72, 500 to $150,000.

“In the next decade in the global church and in the AME church and in Black banking, we will see both evolution and revolution. Banks must reinvent themselves, not just to respond to the pressures of the day but to be flexible enough to adapt to the world of tomorrow,” said Bishop Vashti Murphy Mckenzie, general board chair.

According to Jackson, the partnership grew from a 2015 initiative formed in Washington, D.C. called Black Wealth 2020.

“We hear about Black folks have a trillion dollars in spending power,” said Ron Busby, president and CEO of the U. S. Black Chamber and co-founder of Black Wealth 2020. “But that’s usually White folk talking about our dollars and how can they get their share of it.

“We came together to say how can we deal with the Black wealth, the gap of it and really to move our agenda forward inside our own community,” Busby said.

The day before the official announcement of the partnership, Her Excellency Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, ambassador for the African Union, spoke with the Bishops about the importance of Black institutions unifying.  She also promised to encourage Africans living in the United States to put their deposits in Black banks.

“I hope we will all come together and support the idea of putting all of our money in Black banks,” Chihombori-Quao said. “I’m already encouraging all Black people when I do presentations to say we’ve been stupid for too long. We drive past Black banks to give our money to people who don’t give a hoot about us. And they take our money so they can get rich; not only here, but in Africa. We’ve got to change this.”