Pastor Carmel Jones, founder of the Pentecostal Credit Union has died. He grew up in Jamaica, and came to England in 1955 as part of the Windrush generation.
He founded the PCU, one of the first black owned 'banks' in the UK, to provide financial services to black-owned businesses, churches and ministries. One of them was Ruach Church in Brixton, south London, which bought its first premises thanks to a PCU loan. The church now has multiple buildings and is attended by thousands. Other churches also followed suit.
The news was announced in a brief statement on the front page of their website: "With great sadness, the Pentecostal Credit Union announces the passing of our founder, Rev. Carmel Jones, on 22nd July at 17:45. He passed away peacefully, surrounded by his family. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints - Psalm 116:15."
Carmel Jones experienced many instances of racism in the UK. As a young 17yr old, new to British life he attended his local Anglican church service one Sunday morning in London, just as he had done in Jamaica. At the end of the service the vicar thanked him for coming, but asked him not to return. The moment led him to discover the Pentecostal movement, and thirty years later it was loans from the PCU that enabled many black churches to buy other Anglican church buildings that were up for sale.
Archbishop Justin Welby wrote a letter of endorsement to the PCU, and apologised in it for the many instances of institutional racism experienced by Revd Jones and others like him. The church he had tried to join also acknowledged their mistake and issued a public apology to Revd Jones, which was accepted in a moving ceremony by his daughter, Elaine Bowes, when the PCU was celebrating 40 years. In a statement she read to the congregation, he said he had forgiven the church years before, and had not lived his life in bitterness.
PCU is now one of the largest credit unions in the UK, and is run by Jones's daughter and son-in-law. The company has a focus towards the youth, and commands much respect among black church leaders, especially those from the Caribbean.
Paying tribute, Ade Omooba MBE & Dionne Gravesande, co-chairs of the National Church Leaders Forum said: "In memory of the late Revd Carmel Jones, we honour an exceptional soul whose indomitable spirit and unwavering faith blazed a trail of inspiration for countless lives. As the visionary founder of Pentecostal Credit Union and a distinguished black Christian Pioneer, he empowered a Black British community with financial inclusion and spiritual guidance. Revd Carmel Jones' legacy resonates through generations, symbolizing resilience, compassion, and an unyielding commitment to uplifting others. His profound impact on society and unwavering dedication to bridging the gap will forever remain etched in the hearts of those he touched. May his soul rest in perfect peace, and may his legacy continue to inspire.
Rt Rev Mike Royal, General Secretary of Churches Together in England said Rev Jones was a "trailblazer", telling Premier: “PCU was set up to provide credit union and financial services for the black community who because of the prevailing prejudice found it difficult to access those service in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. Today PCU and Giftbox provide these services to both adults and young people as well as lending to church building projects. Every person who accesses this service is indebted to him. His legacy is secure. A true Windrush pioneer!”