His engagement in the financial world goes further still. A plan for the church to develop credit unions has been floated, with Welby proud that the church is “putting our money where our mouth is” in developing an alternative to payday money-lenders. The plan, he says, is to create “credit unions that are both engaged in their communities and are much more professional – and people have got to know about them.”
It will, he adds, be a “decade-long process”, but Welby is ready for the battle with the payday giants. “I’ve met the head of Wonga and I’ve had a very good conversation and I said to him quite bluntly we’re not in the business of trying to legislate you out of existence, we’re trying to compete you out of existence.” He flashes that smile again. “He’s a businessman; he took that well.”
It's quite something when an interview with the Archbishop of Canterbury is reported with headlines about a showdown with one of the UK's most toxic businesses (see also here and here), rather than about sex. Welby has already succeeded in changing the agenda. And if the Church can do something to dissolve the market for 6000% APR loans then maybe there are more worthwhile things to do than argue about bishops in dresses.
It's worth reading the interview in full, it covers a lot of ground, and has a lot of thought-provoking stuff, including about safeguarding, politics, the monarchy, and the future of the church:
“People still tend to turn to the Church in pretty large numbers when something important happens: birth of children, bereavement, or on other occasions. Just before I became archbishop I did what we call a prayer journey through five cities: in Norwich, Coventry, London, Truro, Chichester, and in total over those five days 12500 people came.
What that said to me was when we are actually very hospitable, when we do manage to give the impression of being signed up members of the human race, when we're not bossing people around too much there's a very strong response and all the churches I have been in, have been a member of, or for that matter have been involved in leading have grown, and I know an awful lot of rapidly growing churches. The Diocese of London numbers have grown 70 per cent over the last 15 years. You can do it. There's no reason.... my new adviser on evangelism, my old friend Chris Russell, is absolutely brilliant. What he says is they come in because it's community. When people find a community where they are loved and cared for they find that very attractive.”