The Association was launched within PM in 1890 to assist debt-ridden chapels by offering them long-term loans at 3.75% interest. A group of forward-looking ministers and laymen conceived the scheme, but its implementation and success were largely due to the business acumen, integrity and generosity of William P. Hartley, its first chairman (1890-1922). The Association raised its funds from personal deposits, so that it became in effect the PM savings bank, offering an attractive 3.5% Despite the tiny margin of profit, it enjoyed considerable success and did much to ease the burden of debt which had plagued PM in the later nineteenth century. No comparable organization existed in the other Methodist bodies and in 1932 at the time of Methodist Union the Association enlarged its scope by offering its services to Methodism as a whole, as it has continued to do. From the outset its offices have been in York, shared originally with the PM Insurance Company which predated it by 24 years and in some important respects provided a model for it.
Now known as Methodist Chapel Aid Ltd, it is a bank regulated by the usual financial regulators, holding as at 31st December 2012 total assets of £27.4 million, and assets (net of customer deposits) of £7.6 million. It now makes loans for property schemes beyond Methodism, to trustee bodies of other Christian Churches.