By: Gene Walden, Senior Finance Editor May 12, 2020
Many churches have found ways to continue to connect with their followers and serve their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic in spite of social-distancing challenges that prevent congregating in person. In some cases, churches are even finding that reaching out in new and virtual ways is expanding their outreach in positive ways.
In Timonium, Maryland, Pastor Shea Strickland of Grace Fellowship Church has been reaching followers through an online service, while the church has been ramping up efforts in the community to help those who are facing difficult times during this global crisis.
In 2019, Grace Fellowship worked with Thrivent to finance a loan to support serving its existing congregation through the Thrivent Church Loan and Income Fund1. The Church had set its focus on a next phase to expand its ministry around Baltimore. The church’s outreach efforts during the pandemic have actually helped them advance more quickly toward their goal of expanding into the community.
“Through technology, we were able to get the word out to our members to not only watch online, but to tell a friend to watch who may be isolated, struggling or searching for hope,” explained Pastor Strickland. "On a typical Sunday we would have 2,500 come to our church building, but now we have more than 6,000 who have streamed the service online."
"On a typical Sunday we would have 2,500 come to our church building, but now we have more than 6,000 who have streamed the service online."
But the mission of the church has gone well beyond Sunday services. Grace Fellowship has made a concerted effort to expand its community service in this heightened time of need.
“Not only did we share the message of hope in knowing and following Jesus,” explained Pastor Strickland, “but we promoted our online giving with a special emphasis on putting more into our Grace Care community outreach programs that focus on filling in the gaps, helping people at risk, those who are affected by disabilities, and children in need by delivering food and paper products, and supporting those who have lost their jobs – whether they be members of the church or members of our Timonium community.”
The church is planning to continue to expand both its following and its outreach in the challenging months ahead. “We are praying boldly that God is leading us to reach 20,000 across Maryland and beyond, many of whom are not current church-goers or believers in Christ,” said Pastor Strickland.
“God is on the move and we are multiplying the hope that Christ brings in different ways than originally imagined,” he added. “There are going to be some tough days ahead, but I believe that we are all going to be better for it, and more people will have had the chance to hear the Gospel message.”
To learn more about how the Thrivent Church Loan and Income Fund is providing financing opportunities to churches and other Christian organizations, visit ThriventIntervalFunds.com.
1 Thrivent Church Loan and Income Fund portfolio management team works with Thrivent Church Finance group to source and structure the loans in the portfolio.
Thrivent Church Loan and Income Fund is a closed-end “interval fund” which is different from a mutual fund in specific ways. The Fund is only available to purchase through a financial professional. As an interval fund, the Fund can be purchased daily but redeeming money from the Fund is only offered at specific times. Limited liquidity is provided to shareholders only through the Fund’s quarterly offers to repurchase between 5% to 25% of its outstanding shares at net asset value (subject to applicable laws and approval of the Board of Trustees). There is no secondary market for the Fund’s shares and none is expected to develop. Investors should consider shares of the Fund to be an illiquid investment. If a repurchase offer is oversubscribed, your redemption request may be prorated. There is no assurance that investors will be able to redeem shares when and in the amount desired.
Investing in an interval fund involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. The prospectus contains more complete information on the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the Fund, and other information, which investors should read and consider carefully before investing. Prospectuses are available at ThriventIntervalFunds.com or by calling 1-800-847-4836.
Grace Fellowship Church is a recipient of a loan issued by Thrivent Church Loan and Income Fund. They have not been compensated for their participation.
This information should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or product. Investment decisions should always be made based on an investor’s specific financial needs, objectives, goals, time horizon, and risk tolerance.
Thrivent Interval Funds, the marketing name for Thrivent Church Loan and Income Fund, is managed by Thrivent Asset Management, LLC, a SEC-registered investment adviser. The Fund’s principal underwriter and distributor is Thrivent Distributors, LLC, a registered broker/dealer and member of FINRA and SIPC. Both are subsidiaries of Thrivent, the marketing name for Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
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