Thrivent reps say expansion beyond Lutherans good for FFPublished 10:50am Monday, June 17, 2013
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans opened its doors this month to all Christian denominations, and local representatives say the move will have a great impact on the faith community in Fergus Falls.
Financial associate Steven Gundersen said he believes the local faith community will benefit greatly from the change.
“We’re community focused and do benefits for people in need,” Gundersen said. “Those opportunities are going to increase to more people.”
Thrivent is a fraternal benefits organization based in Minneapolis. The Fortune 500 company provides insurance, annuities and other financial services to 2.5 million Lutheran members. The decision reconstitutes the organization’s “common bond” around Lutheranism to the Apostle’s Creed, which allows for all denominations that confess belief in Christ to join.
“Our objective is to help people be wise with money. A lot of our planning is focused around families, instead of individuals looking for returns.” Gundersen said. “This is a unique place where faith based planning happens with money. Usually these two things keep separate.”
Faith-based planning allows for individuals and families to save for future generations and for charitable giving. Because the company is a member-owned non-profit, returns are given back to the community in the form of “Choice Dollars” that members help direct.
“It’s in most denominations’ interest to be part of this,” Gundersen said. “There is going to be a big demand for people to want to register their churches.”
The Otter Tail-Wilkin County Thrivent chapter currently holds around 3,500 members. In 2012, the group brought in $22,000 to the area. Charitable organizations and events like the Salvation Army and the Empty Bowls Project at M State received donated funds. Even more money was brought in by the program’s “Choice Dollars” program.
With the opportunity to reach new members, Gundersen said he hopes the charitable outreach grows to even higher numbers.
“I’d like to see us double the number of organizations that receive Choice Dollars,” Gundersen said. “That would be ideal for us to give back to the area.”