Aid Association of Lutherans,

Thrivent Financial

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Thrivent Financial
Thrivent Financial logo.gif
Predecessor Aid Association for Lutherans, Lutheran Brotherhood
Type Not-for-profit membership organization
Legal status Fraternal Benefit Society, Not-for-profit organization (NPO)
Approx 2.4 Million (Dec. 31, 2011);

1,309 Chapters (Dec. 31, 2013)

Key people
Brad Hewitt, President & CEO
Frank H. Moeller, Chairman of the Board
Approx. 3,000
Financial representatives: Approx. 2,300

The entrance sign in Appleton shows the corporate logo

Appleton entrance

Thrivent Financial (/ˈθrvɨnt/ thryv-int) is a Fortune 500 financial services non-profit organization headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and Appleton, Wisconsin. As a member-owned fraternal benefit society, it operates under a chapter system, serving approximately 2.4 million members.[1]

Operating through its local chapters nationwide, Thrivent Financial and its subsidiaries offer financial products and services including life insurance, annuities, mutual funds, disability income insurance, credit union products and more.

In 2013, the organization and its members provided volunteer services to charitable organizations, schools, congregations and individuals in need, and contributed $182.7 million to organizations and activities that aim to strengthen families and communities. Thrivent members volunteered more than 8.6 million volunteer hours in 2013.[2]

In June 2013, members voted to allow non-Lutheran Christians to join and in March 2014 the marketing name was shortened to Thrivent Financial.[3]

Predecessor groups[edit]

Thrivent Financial was officially formed on January 1, 2002, with the merger of Aid Association for Lutherans (AAL) and Lutheran Brotherhood (LB), which had been established in 1902 and 1917 respectively. The merger formed the largest fraternal benefit society in the United States.[4]

Aid Association for Lutherans[edit]

Head Office of the Aid Association for Lutherans, circa 1930-1945.


In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod forbade its members to join fraternal societies because these required initiation rites and secret oaths. Life insurance was also frowned upon in some quarters because Martin Luther had written against similar enterprises in his day, the practice could be considered a form of usury, and it reflected a distrust in God.[5]

In 1899, Albert Voecks, a member of St. Paul Lutheran Church in Appleton, Wisconsin broached the idea of creating an insurance society for Lutherans to fellow church members Gottlieb Ziegler and William Zuehlke.[6] They each gave $13 to the fund, and found several hundred others willing to contribute $5 each.[5] In 1902 the founders of the society recruited the 500 applicants necessary to receive a charter from the State of Wisconsin for their group.[6] It was chartered on November 24, 1902 as the Aid Association for Lutherans in Wisconsin and Other States.[5]

Like most fraternal benefit societies of the time, the AAL operated on the actuarially unsound graded assessment system. In 1905, it began a move to the legal reserve system, a transformation that was completed in 1911.[7] 1905 was also the year women were admitted as members.[6] Most of the early business was conducted in German, until this was discontinued in 1927.[7]

Membership was open only to members of the Missouri Synod and other Lutherans who were in fellowship with it until the mid-1960s, when it became open to Lutherans of all denominations. In the late 1960s, the Association had 792,000 members; this increased to about 1,200,000 members in 5,019 branches in 1978.[8] By 1979, it was the largest member of the National Fraternal Congress of America and ranked 13th among the 1,800 insurance firms in the country.[7][clarification needed]


The AAL had no initiation rites, oaths, or other rituals.[7]

Non-profit Organization[edit]

The Association was organized on two levels: the local branches attached to Lutheran congregations, and the national level, which consisted only of a board of directors that met four times a year. The AAL was particular about it locals not being called “lodges” because that was too similar to the nomenclature of oath-bound, ritualistic groups such as theFreemasons or the Oddfellows. The AAL was headquartered in Appleton, Wisconsin[9]


The AAL was also involved philanthropically, giving money to scholarships, support for educational institutions and training for church workers. Grants were made to agencies, boards and homes for the aged, disabled and to minorities. The Association was also had its own family health program, and sponsored blood drives and family health workshops. It also joined the National Center for Voluntary Action.[7]

Lutheran Brotherhood[edit]


The roots of the Lutheran Brotherhood go back to the founding convention of the Norwegian Lutheran Church of America when Jacob Preus, the state insurance commissionerof Minnesota, proposed launching a not-for-profit aid society.[6] As with other Lutheran denominations, this move proved controversial, with some saying it indicated a lack of faith in God. Those who favored the society prevailed by arguing that the new aid society would prevent Norwegian Lutherans from joining unacceptable secret beneficial societies or “lodges” which was forbidden by conservative Lutheran doctrine.[10]

The organization authorized by the convention was called the Luther Union, and was incorporated in the State of Minnesota on September 18, 1918. That month the Luther Union entered into negotiations with Lutheran Brotherhood of America of Des Moines, Iowa. These two organizations merged in the Lutheran Brotherhood in 1920.[10]

The articles of incorporation of Lutheran Brotherhood stated its purpose:
“To aid the Lutheran Church in extending the Lutheran Faith, to foster patriotism, loyalty, justice, charity and benevolence, to provide education, instruction, proper entertainment and amusements, to encourage industry, saving, thrift and development on the part of its members, to give aid in the case of poverty, sickness, accident or old age, and otherwise promote the spiritual, intellectual and physical welfare of its members.”[11] Membership was open only to Lutherans. There were 550,000 members in 1965 and 900,000 in 1979.[10]


Like the AAL, the LB had no rituals, secrets, or oaths.[10]

Non-profit Organization[edit]

Local units were called “branches”, which were divided into three categories: A-1, affiliated to Lutheran congregations; A-2, usually sponsored by a group within a Lutheran parish; and A-3, geographic branches. The Lutheran Brotherhood had a quadrennial convention and a board of directors who managed its business. It was headquartered inMinneapolis.[12]


The LB helped establish new Lutheran congregations through the Church Extension Fund, sponsored scholarships for Lutheran clergy, and arranged seminars on Christian topics.[10]


Lutheran Life Insurance Society of Canada[edit]

In 1972 the Canadian branches of the Lutheran Brotherhood and the Aid Association for Lutherans merged, as a result of the desire to have an indigenous Canadian fraternal benefit society. They formed a new fraternal order called the Faith Life.[12]

Like the AAL and LB, the LLISC was organized into branches and run by a board of directors. There were 120 branches in 1979. The society was based in Kitchener, Ontario.[12]

The LLISC provided scholarships to Lutheran educational institutions, gave grants to churches and church-related organizations and projects, and gave reduced rate mortgages for Lutheran churches.[12]

Thrivent Financial for Lutherans[edit]

The AAL and LB functioned independently throughout the 20th century. In June 2001, after close consideration of how combining the two organizations would be of benefit to members, the AAL and LB merged, with the merger completed by the end of that year. Following the merger, in 2002 a new name was voted upon and approved by the members of the merged organization: Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.

Financial services[edit]

Financial standing[edit]

In 2014 Thrivent Financial ranked 335th on the Fortune 500, with 2013 revenue of $8.1 billion.[13] It has received an A.M. Best rating of A++ (Superior)[14] and a Fitch rating of AA (Very Strong).[15]


Thrivent Financial members made donations to Haiti relief following the 2010 Haiti earthquake through Lutheran World Relief, ELCA Domestic Disaster Response, LCMS World Relief/Human Care, and WELS Committee on Relief.[16] Thrivent Financial provided funding for the 2003 film Luther.[citation needed]


Thrivent Financial’s membership is organized into individual chapters (legally called lodges), where members decide how to best support local communities and carry out charitable, social, educational, religious and patriotic activities. It maintains a network of nearly 1,400 local chapters, each led by a board consisting of Thrivent members elected by their chapter peers. The board is in charge of choosing activities and programs and then developing promotion and support for their decisions. The chapters also manage service teams that help individuals, families in need, or not-for-profit organizations.

Thrivent Choice[edit]

Thrivent Choice is a program that offers members the opportunity to make recommendations for where some of Thrivent Financial’s charitable outreach funds are directed.[17]

Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity[edit]

Thrivent has formed an alliance with Habitat for Humanity called Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity through which it contributes financial assistance for building afordable homes. The initiative also sposors homebuilding trips by Thrivent members throughout the world.[18]


The Aid Association for Lutherans maintained a library of over 12,000 books on business management, fraternalism, and life and health insurance.[19]


In 2013 and 2014, Thrivent Financial was listed by Ethisphere Magazine as one of its “world’s most ethical companies”.[20]