Lutherans in Minnesota

Bethesda Lutheran Communities elects new board chair

Minnesota businessman and philanthropist Arvid Schwartz was recently elected board chairman of Bethesda Lutheran Communities, a faith-based nonprofit serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the U.S. and around the world. He has served on Bethesda’s Board for seven years and is a long-time supporter and champion of disability ministries.

Schwartz has been active in the Minnesota business and philanthropic communities for more than 50 years. Early in his professional career, Schwartz served as CFO of Group Health Plan (now HealthPartners) in the Twin Cities. After 26 years, he left the health care industry to become an independent entrepreneur of business.

Arvid Schwartz. Photo provided by Bethesda Lutheran Communities

Schwartz was first introduced to Bethesda Lutheran Communities when, as a young man, he visited Bethesda’s main campus in Watertown, Wisconsin. As a high school student, Schwartz connected with Bethesda’s mission and the people it serves because, only a few years earlier, he had survived polio and was living with physical disabilities as a result of the illness. “I guess I really connected with the place,” Schwartz told Metro Lutheran. “That’s why I have always had an interest in ministry to developmentally disabled or physically challenged people.

“The focus of Bethesda Homes has been and always will be spreading the wonderful message of God’s salvation to people who many times can’t avail themselves to a regular congregation,” said Schwartz. “We can help congregations to become comfortable with involving people with developmental disabilities.”

Committed to highest quality of care

Schwartz and his wife Judy are members of St. John’s Lutheran Church in Glencoe, Minnesota, a Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod (WELS) congregation. He has served as a member of WELS Board of Trustees for 12 years and its Synodical Council for a number of years. Schwartz has served as chairman of the WELS Kingdom Workers, and is currently chairman of the Board of The Lutheran Home Association of Minnesota and Wisconsin. He was a founding member of Time of Grace ministries of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and has served as treasurer since its founding 10 years ago.

“We are very fortunate to have the strong leadership of Arvid Schwartz as chairman of our Board of Directors,” says John Bauer, president and CEO of Bethesda Lutheran Communities. “He brings to Bethesda his extraordinary talents and expertise as a successful business leader as well as his remarkable insight and vision for disability ministry.”

As Bethesda’s new chairman of the Board of Directors, Schwartz says, “My vision for the organization is three-fold. First, we must remain true to our mission, the ministry of God’s word to the people we serve is what makes us unique. Second, we must always stay focused on providing the highest quality of care. And third, in the face of declining revenue for the care of the people we support, we must keep financially strong.”

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