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Suburban Megachurch's Inner-City Bank Goes Bust

Chicago church preaches prosperity, but attempt to aid Lawndale fails to follow suit.

Living Word Christian Center in Forest Park, Illinois, is known for preaching prosperity, but the suburban megachurch's inner-city bank has failed to become an example.

Federal officials recently shut down Living Word-owned Covenant Bank after it failed to raise $3 million in capital to continue operating. Covenant's account holders are now customers of Liberty Bank and Trust, and their funds are insured up to the $250,000 Federal Deposit Insurance Commission (FDIC) maximum. However, the move will wipe out the holdings of the bank's owners, including Living Word pastor Bill Winston.

Winston purchased the bank for $3 million "as a means to foster economic development in hard-hit African-American neighborhoods like the bank's home in Lawndale on [Chicago's] West Side." However, FDIC estimates suggest the bank has lost $6.2 million since his purchase.

In a statement, Winston blamed the bank's failure on "troubled economic times [that] made it difficult for people to invest. As I have shared many times, my vision for the bank was to provide an economic engine to help revitalize urban communities, such as Lawndale, by providing lending for small businesses, commercial development, and affordable housing, as well as education and financial literacy to local residents."

CT has previously reported on Christian banking efforts, including diversifying approaches to micro-finance and the Christian Community Development Association.

CT has also reported on prosperity-gospel theology and debt, including the moral case for debt.

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Posted:February 25, 2013 at 9:47AM
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