Riverview Community Bank billed itself as God's favored financial institution.
It attracted national attention for advocating prayer in the workplace. Among the decorations in its Otsego headquarters was this picture of Jesus closing a business deal. You can trust Jesus with your money, right?
One of the bank's founders, Chuck Ripka, once boasted to the Star Tribune that God had actually guaranteed success for investors. "Chuck, if you pastor the bank, I'll take care of the bottom line," he claimed God said.
Now federal regulators have shut it down.
On Friday, October 23, 2009, Riverview Community Bank, Otsego, MN was closed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Subsequently, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver. No advance notice is given to the public when a financial institution is closed.
The moral of the story: You can't trust Jesus after all.
You can read the New York Times Magazine story here. Here's an excerpt of the section about Chuck Ripka:
Chuck Ripka is a moneylender -- that is to say, a mortgage banker -- and his institution, the Riverview Community Bank in Otsego, Minn., is a way station for Christ. When he's not approving mortgages, or rather especially when he is, Ripka lays his hands on customers and colleagues, bows his head and prays: ''Lord, I pray that you will bring Matt and Jaimie the best buyer for their house so that they have the money to purchase the new home they feel called to. And I pray, Lord, that you grant me the wisdom to give them the best advice to meet their financial needs.''
The bank is F.D.I.C. approved. It has a drop ceiling and fluorescent lighting. Current yield on a 30-year mortgage is 5.75 percent. The view out Ripka's office window is of an Embers chain restaurant. Yet for all the modern normalcy, the sensibility that permeates the place comes straight out of the first century A.D., when Christianity was not a churchbound institution but an ecstatic Jewish cult traveling humanity's byways.
The bank opened 18 months ago as a ''Christian financial institution,'' with a Bible buried in the foundation and the words ''In God We Trust'' engraved in the cornerstone. In that time, deposits have jumped from $5 million to more than $75 million. The phone rings; it's a woman from Minneapolis who has $1.5 million in savings and wants to transfer it here. ''I heard about the Christian bank,'' she tells Ripka, ''and I said, 'That's where I want my money.'''
Chuck Ripka also authored a book about how to make money with Jesus.
The book, God Out of the Box, is currently for sale on Amazon:
Deposits and assets jumped from $5 million to $132 million in the first 3 years as Chuck Ripka, a Minnesota banker, started a faith-at-work movement in his hometown. What happens when we take God out of the box? In the marketplace, that answer is incomprehensible and the boundaries are limitless! When Chuck Ripka read the scripture that promised believers would do even greater things than Jesus, he signed on. And today it's happening. By simply doing faithfully what God tells him to do, he has experienced a stream of miracles that are transforming his hometown, Elk River, Minnesota and surrounding area. He has been interviewed in countries all around the world, and his story was on the cover of the New York Times Magazine in 2004. God Out of the Box persuades readers that miracles still happen and teaches them truths that will help them grow in faith and expect miracles in their own lives!
Chuck Ripka's book on how to make money through Jesus
From the Inside Flap
Miracles still happen when you do what He says!
Chuck Ripka says, "Anything is possible when you obey God!"
These stories are incredible. The principles are saturated with wisdom for the ages. So sit back, put your feet up, and get ready to settle in for some old-fashioned storytelling.
Here are a few of the fifteen principles that he has intricately woven into his message: -Above all else, God desires your obedience. -When you obey God, He takes care of the bottom line. -Stop praying only for others. Start praying with them. -Don't try to keep God in a box. He has no limits.
Chuck Ripka has learned how to hear God's voice and to get out of His way.
In 2003, the Lord gave Chuck a message: The secular world will call. Early the next year, he received a phone call from the New York Times Magazine.
The faith-at-work story received national and international attention. Chuck has been granting interviews about God and faith in the marketplace to media outlets around the world, including CBS, CNBC, the London Times, Good Housekeeping, and many more.
Apparently Ripka speaks to God more often than I call my mom. Seriously, like every other second he's saying, "And then God told me ..." Just try to count how many conversations he has with God in this 1:18 clip: