Faith community joins together for Prayer Walk to advocate for predatory lending protections

ST. PETERSBURG — Today faith leaders and impacted community members gathered in front of a payday lending storefront to join together for a Prayer Walk to call on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission to sponsor a proposal that would put a rate cap on predatory payday lending on the ballot.

“After much prayer, the African Methodist Episcopal Church has decided to increase its efforts to end payday lending abuses in Florida,” said Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Bishop of the 11th Episcopal District of the AME Church of Florida. “This is an economic assault on the poor by the payday lending industry and there is an absence of meaningful legislation protecting the most vulnerable among us. The faith community has been called to stem the tide of heartbreak, despair, and hopelessness caused by payday lending.”

John Turner, Prayer Walk, featuredThe Prayer Walk started with a press conference at ACE Cash Express on Central Avenue and concluded in prayer at the nearby AMSCOT—The Money Superstore.

“Payday loans carry average annual interest rates of more than 278 percent, and between 2005 and 2016, payday lenders stripped more than $2.5 billion in fees from Floridians,” said Rev. Phil Miller-Evans, Church of the Beatitudes. “In 2015 alone, these predatory practices cost families in our state more than $300 million. We see payday loans trap people in our congregations and communities. Faith leaders are calling for a ballot measure as a moral action to solve this problem in a way that is best for the people of Florida through a usury rate cap.”

Representatives from six churches across the Tampa Bay area attended the Prayer Walk. Bishop Richardson and Rev. Miller-Evans were joined by Rev. James Golden, 11th District of the AME Church, Rev. Tammy Snyder, Bayshore Baptist Church and impacted community members, such as John Turner.

“I ended up paying over $1,000 for a $200 loan,” said Turner.

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