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Annuity Board approves 2000 budget; prepares for the 21st century

DALLAS (BP)–Trustees of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention adopted the operating budget for 2000 and approved plans to expand products and services in the 21st century, including an option for personal investments for ministers and denominational employees.
Meeting in Dallas Nov. 1-2 for their regular fall session, trustees received reports from President O. S. Hawkins, Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones, Treasurer Jeffrey P. Billinger, the executive officer for systems and technology services, Richard M. Hart, Jr., and each of the standing committees of the Board.
Hawkins praised the efforts of the staff for a unified effort in adding more individuals and churches to the retirement plans than ever before for the first nine months of a year. He also cited the team effort involved in helping to prepare the Board for its work into the 21st century.
Trustees unanimously approved a resolution to expand the Annuity Board’s mission statement and add three ministry assignments. The proposed expansions include making available personal investments for ministers and denominational employees and their spouses, working cooperatively with Baptist foundations to make available institutional investments for SBC churches and entities, and to make available employee benefit services and institutional investments to like-minded organizations. The proposed expansions will be presented to members of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee and, upon their approval, will be presented to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, Fla., in June 2000.
Richard M. Hart, Jr., provided an update for trustees concerning the Board’s preparations for Year 2000. Hart indicated all internal systems and equipment are prepared to process into the 21st century. Additionally, a systems freeze was implemented in September to ensure that all systems would remain stable through the end of the year. Hart also reported on a comprehensive study regarding the future use of information technology at the Board. The Gartner Group, an international information technology research and consulting firm, assisted in the study.
A presentation regarding the strategic plan for 2000 and beyond was given by John R. Jones. Jones outlined the integration of the Board’s vision statement and mission statement along with broad objectives, strategies and tactics.
Timothy E. Head, chairman of the Board, presided as trustees approved a 2000 budget of $45.5 million, a 2.58% increase over 1999. James W. Hixson, chairman of the administrative policy committee, presented the committee’s recommendation of approval after the treasurer had presented the budget. Hixson indicated the budget had passed through a trustee budget subcommittee before presentation to the administrative policy committee and the full Board. The proposed budget was mailed in advance to each trustee. The Annuity Board receives no Cooperative Program funds for operations, but pays all expenses from an advisory fee on each of the 13 investment funds available to participants in the various retirement plans offered by the Board.
Operating expense for the insurance program is paid from rates charged to participants. The relief ministry administration expense is funded by the Retired Ministers’ Support Fund of the Board. All Cooperative Program money received by the Board is paid as relief grants to needy retired ministers or denominational workers or their widows.
The administrative policy committee reported there would be no increase in benefits in the next year for annuitants receiving fixed benefits. A regularly scheduled analysis of the Fixed Benefit Plan, from which most retirement benefits are paid, revealed that the stock and bond markets’ performance during the past 12 months was not sufficient to permit an increase in benefits for 2000.
Upon recommendation of the administrative policy committee, trustees approved steps to implement the Ministers’ Annuity Plan, a retirement plan for eligible self-employed ministers and chaplains within the Southern Baptist Convention. This plan will be made available to participants early in 2000.
The third quarter report of the president included statistical evidence that enrollments of church and institutional retirement plan participants remain strong, as do contributions to retirement accounts. By the end of the third quarter, 5,348 new participants in the Church Annuity Plan had been enrolled. Contributions totaling $110.6 million to Church Annuity Plan accounts in the first nine months were an increase of 7.7% over the same period in 1998.
The institutional side of the retirement program, the Convention Annuity Plan and certain trusteed plans, enrolled 6,295 new participants in the first nine months. Total contributions to Convention Annuity Plan and trusteed plan participant accounts were $121.6 million, up 6.9% over the nine-month period in 1998.
Based on valuation of the Protection Benefit Fund of the Church Annuity Plan, trustees approved extending a special billing credit to state conventions through the year 2003. The program, established Jan. 1, 1995, waives state convention billing costs for the Protection Section of the Church Annuity Plan, a part of the plan that provides a survivor benefit and supplemental disability benefit to eligible participants. There is no cost to the participant or church for the benefits that range from $100,000 survivor benefits for participants age 35 and younger, to $10,000 benefits for participants age 71 and older. A supplemental disability benefit of $500 per month is paid to eligible participants at no additional cost to the participant or the church.
The relief committee of trustees approved 32 two-year monthly grants, 9 two-year expense grants, 1 one-year monthly grant, 1 one-time grant and declined 6 for being outside guidelines. Maximum supplemental assistance grants are $200 per month for single persons and $260 for couples. Twenty-three were added to the Adopt An Annuitant roll during the third quarter, and they receive an extra $75 each month.
Other actions by the relief committee included approving a $200 Christmas check for each relief recipient on the roll December 1.
The trustee insurance committee, chaired by George Tous van Nijkerk, reported on comprehensive medical plan enhancements to take effect Jan. 1, 2000. The million-dollar lifetime maximum on claims will be removed and selected wellness benefits will be added. Additionally, the committee announced that Jan. 1, 2000, the North American Mission Board will begin participating in the Board’s insurance programs.
The Board adopted responses to four motions referred from the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Atlanta last June. One motion asked the Board to extend its products to employees of church related schools and academies. The Board declined to take action on the motion because employees of church related schools and academies are already eligible to participate in retirement products offered by the Board. A motion related to the appointment of a committee to study how the Board might more efficiently serve Southern Baptists was also not acted upon because the Board preferred to work within existing SBC procedures. Board members also declined to act on two other motions referred by the Convention to all SBC entities. One motion asked that SBC entities not schedule any meetings that might conflict with CrossOver events preceding the annual SBC meeting. While the Board expressed its support for CrossOver events, it also recognizes that some meetings may be unavoidable. A second motion referred to all SBC entities asked that all entities take advantage of technology to improve services and reduce costs. The Board is already using technology through its Web site and automated telephone services. Additionally, the Board uses a national travel agency to help find lower priced airfares for necessary travel.
The full text of official responses to the motions will be printed in the 2000 SBC Book of Reports. The next scheduled meeting of Annuity Board trustees is Feb. 28-29, 2000, in Dallas.
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer for denominational and public relations for the Annuity Board.

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  • Curtis D. Sharp