Reverend Ira Acree says his legacy is tied to the credit union
Ira Acree, pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church in Austin and co-chair of the Leaders Network, is candid about what made his organization want to start a credit union on the West Side.
“We don’t have community-oriented banks,” he said. “Black people have been unbanked and underbanked, have been criticized, have just been treated so unfairly by the banking industry. It’s literally criminal the way they treat us.
Acree said there was a need for a financial institution in the community that could “help small businesses, help people get loans for homes, and provide them with an alternative to payday loans and other loan sharks.”
The pastor said he had been in Austin since 1970, after his family moved here from Arkansas in 1967. He has been a pastor for 33 years.
“I consider myself a civil rights leader,” he said. “I have been a pastor for 33 years.”
A credit union, he said, is in line with the community development legacy he wants to leave behind.
“When I took over this church, it was only four years old and was in a basement of an apartment building in Oak Park,” Acree said.
“My legacy is when I see so many lives that have been changed because I’ve been a part of this ministry. It’s pretty amazing. When I look around me and see someone like Stacy Osidecko who grew up in this church, left, came back and now she teaches in a neighborhood she grew up in. And she comes here on Sunday as a beacon of hope for other young people to let them know they can do it It means a lot.
“Stacy Osidecko is a business owner, she can get loans to buy the things she needs to keep growing her business,” Acree said. “Others come to mind who are not yet homeowners, but would like to have their own brick and mortar. Ultimately, we wanted to do something tangible that could impact our community. »