WGN-TV Show Notes – May 19, 2005

When you go to church, you’re already expecting to hear a message about faith. But what about finance?

More churches are taking on the role of credit counselor, and preaching to their congregants about money.

For many, church provides a healing experience. But when you’re drowning in debt, words alone don’t seem to be enough. At Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, teaching members how to solve their financial problems seem to be just as important as saving their souls.

“I believe that a role of a pastor, or the role of the church, is to empower the people. Both to live here, on earth, and to prepare them for eternal life in heaven,” says Rev. Tyrone Crider, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church.

With so many souls to save, it seems like church would be the last place you’d expect to hear a lesson about money.

“We ran out of money. We ran out of money. I thank God for the friends and family who have come through for us.”

Where do you go when your soul is burdened by a mountain of debt?

“Faith and finance definitely can go hand and hand. So many of us as African Americans are very religious, very spiritual. We actually grew up in a spiritual background. What better way to start enhanced living, but to start in the church?” says Melissa Pleasant, Enhanced Living, Inc.

Ministers say that the basis for those money lessons comes directly from scripture.

“If you look at the promised land, promised land in the old testament. It’s about land. It’s about real estate. It’s about things of that nature. So we have to teach our people about purchasing, about land, about real estate, about investments, about stocks and bonds and all of the types of things that will empower our people,” says Rev. Tyrone Crider.

In some congregations, if the pastor had a little extra cash, the church members wondered whether it was coming from the church plate. But today, raising the financial awareness for all church members, pastor included, has become a top priority for congregations citywide.

“Fear is a major problem in the African community. When it comes to finances, when it comes to homeownership, when it comes to cleaning credit, when it comes to buying income property, when it comes to being focused on wealth-building. What we have to do is get over that fear,” says Michael Pleasant, Enhanced Living, Inc.

Church member Kathie Witherspoon remembers being afraid that her credit wasn’t good enough for anything.

“I had gotten in this rut of saying I can’t possibly do this or I don’t have enough money to do this without even knowing,” says Kathie Witherspoon, church member.

Working with fellow church members and mortgage lenders Michael and Melissa Pleasant paid off in unexpected ways: she and her husband are starting a new business and will soon close on their new home.

“There were times we were worried. Where were we going to get the money for this? Where were we going to get the money for that? And God said, just step aside. I got your back.”

But cleaning up their credit and buying a home is just the beginning.

“The next seminars we’ll be attending is trying to invest. That way, we’ll have the mortgage on our home and additional money coming in from investments, from investment properties,” Kathie says.

“Scripture also talks about in Deuteronomy, that God gives us the power to get wealth. And we teach in our sermons and in our classes, through Michael and Melissa Pleasant and others and enhanced living, about being good stewards, about budgeting, about credit repair, about empowerment,” Crider says.

Having a financially savvy congregation that is focused on staying out of debt and building wealth isn’t just good for the congregants. It can pay off for the church as well.

Ilyce: How does it help you to have a financially strong congregation?

Rev. Crider: “It helps us build the facilities we need to do ministry. It helps us finance students through our scholarship ministry. It helps us provide services in the community. Ministry costs money, and faith needs finance. We’re in the capitalistic society that functions on capital.”

And the message Kathie takes home on Sunday mornings?

“You don’t have to be suffering and poor, and to be the humble Christian. It’s okay to have finances and to better yourself. So when he preaches that, it just says okay, that’s what it’s supposed to be and it makes you want to go out and do it,” Kathie says.


Mt. Calvary Baptist Church
1257 W. 111th Street
Chicago, IL 60643

Michael and Melissa Pleasant

Need personal finance advice or real estate advice? Send your questions to Ilyce Glink: www.ThinkGlink.com

Copyright © 2005, WGN-TV

May 19, 2005.