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OKLAHOMA CITY (Free Press) — True Sky Credit Union is reaching into the historic but often neglected Eastside to provide services and a level of interest residents there have not seen from commercial banks for decades.

For the last 20 years, True Sky (one of our sponsors) has been carefully developing plans to collaborate with whoever they could on the Eastside to provide a range of services that residents there say they need, not just services that could bring the most profit to the bank.

Often those plans of a business or institution are not visible to the community at large as they are being developed.

But, in one week, Eastside residents are getting to see the results of those careful plans after untold hours of listening to those who would be served by two new branches.

One will be at N.E. 23rd Street and Missouri Avenue where a ground-breaking was held Tuesday.

The other large branch at N.E. 50th and Martin Luther King Avenue has been completed. The ribbon will be cut on that project Friday. See below for more details on that event.

Church collaboration

True Sky and the New Bethel Baptist Church broke ground on a unique collaboration in Oklahoma City banking.

New Bethel Baptist Church and True Sky Credit Union have made an agreement to build a self-service branch on the lot at N.E. 23rd Street and Missouri Avenue that will also have a large community room – actually bigger than the bank section – that will be used by the church for whatever ministry or community needs they consider to be important.

True Sky officials were present in the new Market at Eastpoint across the street earlier in the week buying groceries for those who came in as a goodwill gesture to reach out to the community and offer a helping hand.

“This is not just a groundbreaking, but a planting of seeds,” said True Sky CEO and President Sean Cahill to about 20 church members and an equal number of the True Sky staff and members of the board. “We are excited to be your neighbors and fellow members.”

New Bethel Pastor James Greenwood stood and said that the church voted “100% to be a part of this project.”

“You know, I’ve been through a lot of votes of church members and we don’t get 100% of nothin’,” Greenwood continued to laughter from the crowd. “But, we got 100% on this one, Sean.”

“God inspired”

New Bethel Baptist Church is situated on the lots just north of the 23rd-street-facing lot they own where ground was broken. The congregation has been waiting for what members considered to be the best opportunity to use that open parcel to both help the church’s ministry and do something that would help the community, too.

“They could have done anything with this land,” Cahill told Free Press after the ceremony. “They could have sold it for big profits – like a liquor store or a cannabis shop.”

“We got a lot of offers and we turned them down,” added Pastor Greenwood who has been the church’s pastor for 12 years. He said that this particular use of the land “is God-inspired” and that “everything here that’s happening is God bringing it all together.”

Greenwood told us that the congregation is not that big and doesn’t have a lot of money. “But we do the things that Jesus talks about like loving your neighbor,” said Greenwood. At Christmas time and all of holidays, we get out in our car. We go out under the bridges and take lunches. And they have a heart to serve.”

Community Credit Union

The development represents an expansion of the definition of True Sky’s mission. Originally, it was a credit union started by eight co-workers at what was then the Civil Aeronautics Administration in Oklahoma City, now the Federal Aviation Administration or FAA whose employees True Sky still serves.

Cahill talked extensively about what it meant to be a community credit union now as they expand.

A credit union has a unique not-for-profit structure that meets the credit needs of a broad spectrum of the community, especially one like the historic Eastside near N.E. 23rd and Martin Luther King, he said.

“Credit unions are always about the mantra of people helping people,” said Cahill. “So that’s, the place that we start from. And, you know, our board of directors is so important. It’s so important. Because we know that the needs of the community are great, and whether it’s a food desert, whether it’s a credit desert, there are services that are not for profit to deliver.”

Cahill continued explaining the advantage of a community credit union.

“Really, for us, it’s not about the profitability of a product or a person or a household, ” he said. “It’s about doing good work, it’s about educating people, about bringing technology may be where they haven’t had it before.”

“It’s about showing someone really helping them accomplish their dream.”

Ribbon to be cut

The ceremonial ribbon will be cut Friday morning on the completed Northeast branch of True Sky at N.E. 50th and Martin Luther King Ave.

The private ribbon-cutting and building dedication will be on Friday the 25th at 9 a.m.

A free public event will be at the location on Saturday, June 26th, from 9-4. Guests are encouraged to bring the whole family on Saturday to enjoy the day’s festivities, which range from live music, to free food & drink, hot air balloon rides and a chance to win $250,000.

Last Updated June 25, 2021, 6:53 AM by Brett Dickerson – Editor