Koinonia credit union to close; merge with Tennessee Valley

photo Ann Pierre, left, manager of the Church Koinonia Federal Credit Union on East Third Street, assists member Mozell Thaxton with a transaction Friday.

A 1,700-member credit union started by mostly black churches to serve low- to moderate-income families will merge with the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union.

The last business day for the Church Koinonia Federal Credit Union will be Friday, Sept. 27.

It was a credit union where blacks made the financial decisions, said the Rev. Paul McDaniel, the Koinonia's board chairman.

The credit union had $2.5 million in assets and specialized in helping low-to-moderate income residents get loans.

"I'm sorry we're losing that jewel," said Quenston Coleman, who has used the credit union's services.

In essence the Church Koinonia Credit Union will be dissolved, said McDaniel, who started the credit union in 2000. He eventually wanted to have a black-owned bank.

"There is a little sadness," he said.

McDaniel, pastor of Second Missionary Baptist Church, advised members this month approve a merger with the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union after announcing that the credit union did not have the staff needed to keep up with more stringent documentation required by the National Credit Union Association.

About 80 percent of Church Koinonia members who voted supported the merger.

Because of the economic downturn, failed loans and investments, the National Credit Union Administration has put more stringent requirements on loans that require more planning and paperwork, said Ann Jones Pierre, Koinonia Federal Credit Union manager.

County Attorney Rheubin Taylor said he shared his vision of having a credit union with McDaniel because he saw the need and wanted to see the black community have more control of its money.

"Every Monday black churches put a bunch of money in the bank and then the same membership has to turn around and beg the bank to loan us money for something that we want to do with it," said Taylor.

Taylor, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in LaFayette, Ga., assisted McDaniel in recruiting the initial 15 churches that started the Koinonia Credit Union. And the Maclellan Foundation provided the capital reserve necessary to start the credit union, McDaniel said.

Koinonia will merge with the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union as a credit union in good standing, said Pierre.

On Sept. 30, the Koinonia Federal Credit Union accounts will be available to Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union. And starting Oct. 1 former Koinonia members can conduct account transactions at any of the Tennessee Valley Federal Credit Union 14 locations.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6431.

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