Originally Posted Online: June 21, 2013, 2:20 am
Last Updated: June 21, 2013, 11:05 pm
A Lutheran common-bond stretches in Christian proportions
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By Leon Lagerstam, firstname.lastname@example.org
BETTENDORF -- Christians replaced the word Lutherans in newly approved by-law language of a nonprofit, faith-based, Fortune 500 financial-services organization.
"It represented more of an extension than a change," according to Thomas Brooke, a Bettendorf associate of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
The wording change will allow the 111-year old fraternal benefit society to serve more Christians, according to a news release Mr. Brooke shared.
Once upon a time, people had to be Lutheran, married to a Lutheran or worked for a Lutheran organization to be a member of Thrivent or of its earlier permutations -- Lutheran Brotherhood or Aid Association for Lutherans -- before merging, Mr. Brooke said.
Thrivent sells insurance, annuities and other financial products and services to 2.5 million members. More than 2,000 financial representatives such as Mr. Brooke work for Thrivent, which generates annual revenues of more than $8 billion, according to information he provided.
The possibility of serving more Christians is certainly exciting, Thrivent president and CEO Brad Hewitt said in a news release statement.
What was truly significant about the change was how it was overwhelmingly approved by Thrivent members, Mr. Brooke said.
Nearly 425,000 members participated, and 72 percent voted in favor of changing the "common-bond" language to say Christians instead of Lutheran, he said.
The change might not surprise a lot of people, Mr. Brooke said. "People will probably be most surprised by hearing anything about Thrivent at all," he said. "We don't market ourselves, and people tend to be surprised to hear about all the programs and perks we have."
As a not-for-profit organization, Thrivent and its members create and support local, national and global outreach programs that benefit congregations, schools, charitable organizations and needy individuals. For information about the company and its efforts, visit thrivent.com.
"We continue to do so many good works, that's what sets Thrivent apart from the others," he said. "Faith is a major component of our company's structure. We're not doing anything that revolutionary, but the one thing we do is keep the church in the center of everything we do."
Mr. Brooke compared Thrivent to actor Paul Newman's company, Newman's Own.
"People buy his line of products because they know they're high quality and because they know money will go to nonprofits," Mr. Brooke said. "We also sell a good product that's as high or more highly rated of any in the industry, and if you do business with us, you know your money will be headed to Habitat for Humanity, children in Haiti, something similar or to provide matching grants to individuals or organizations."
Among the programs is one called Thrivent Choice, which allows members to get small grants for a charity of their choosing, Mr. Brooke said. "It could be, say, a $50 grant, which might not sound like much, but if you get 50 people each getting a $50 grant to give to a church, school or favorite organization, it adds up significantly."
The recent common-bond vote will allow Thrivent to "strengthen our mission of helping more Christians be wise with money and live generously," Mr. Hewitt's statement continued. "Working together, we'll be able to serve more people, meet more needs and strengthen more Christian communities."
Mr. Brooke said that at the core of the company's philosophy is its belief that "the more financially secure people are, the more generous they can and will be."
Wording change in Thrivent Financial for Lutherans' Articles of Incorporation:
"The purpose of the society is to associate Christians and their families who support the mission of the society and thereby enable them through membership in the Society to aid themselves and others ... "
Previous language read:
"The purpose of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans is to associate Lutherans and their families and persons serving or associated with Lutherans or Lutheran organizations and their families ... "