Profits are tithed; no bargain loans, though.

The well-known saying, “There’s nothing so powerful as an idea whose time has come,” expresses the enthusiasm that has greeted this country’s first Christian bank, located just east of Portland, Oregon.

Stewardship Bank of Oregon, a state-chartered, full-service commercial bank whose stockholders all confess Jesus Christ as Lord, is nearing its first anniversary. It opened Friday, March 13, 1981, with a capitalization of $1.6 million. Although banks take up to three years to break even and start making a profit, Stewardship Bank is breaking even now, according to its president, Richard Wells.

What separates this bank from the rest of the crowd is that it gives 10 percent of its profits to Christian schools and organizations. Furthermore, its 350 stockholders tithe their dividends, sending more money into Christian work. The idea has caught on, say bank officials, and not only has the bank attracted depositors from around the world, it has received a shower of press coverage from the Los Angeles Times and Time magazine to the Sidney (Australia) Morning Herald.

When the bank organized, the first $10 share of stock was set aside in the name of Jesus Christ. It took some time for the bank to grow from an idea among Christian businessmen to a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) member with one thousand accounts. “A lot of groups think we just got together, formed a bank and away we went,” says Wells, “but there were a lot of organizing necessities.”

The incentive for the bank began in August 1977. Bob Laughlin, the owner of Western Food Equipment Company in Portland, was in serious trouble when a major Portland bank that had extended $300,000 in credit to his company told him ...

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