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Annuity Board personal investing plan clears Executive Committee for SBC vote

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention approved changes to the Annuity Board’s mission statement and expansion of its ministry assignments to include personal investing for Southern Baptist ministers and church employees.

The proposed changes must be approved by messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June in Orlando, Fla. Executive Committee approval, and other mostly routine business actions, came during its Feb. 21-22 meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Changes to the Annuity Board’s mission statement, which also include institutional investment management services for Southern Baptist organizations, clarifies the board’s responsibilities “to assist the churches and other denominational entities by making available retirement plan services, life and health coverage, risk management programs and personal and institutional investment programs.”

O.S. Hawkins, Annuity Board president and chief executive officer, said, “We appreciate the opportunity to expand our services for those we serve. Southern Baptists have always responded to the needs of those who serve our Lord.

“From the establishment of the Relief and Annuity Board [in 1918] to the addition of life and medical products, the Annuity Board has met the challenge to provide products and services that enhance the financial security of Baptist servants,” Hawkins said.

The board’s current ministry assignments include retirement plans, life and health coverage, risk management programs and relief programs. The two new ministry assignments would provide current participants with more opportunities to achieve an adequate retirement income, board officials said, and allow the board to work in cooperation with the Southern Baptist Foundation and Southern Baptist state foundations to meet investment needs of Southern Baptist organizations.

The vote by the Executive Committee followed months of negotiations between staffs and legal counsel of the Executive Committee, the Annuity Board and other entities.

Two Executive Committee members raised concerns during the discussion period. Both Steven D. Boyd, pastor of Simpsonville (Ky.) Baptist Church, and W. Ted Kersh, pastor of Village Baptist Church, Oklahoma City, said they were concerned that in the negotiations prior to the Executive Committee action some state convention officials’ concerns about the matter were not given proper consideration. However, neither Boyd nor Kersh offered any amendments to the proposed recommendation.

The recommendation passed overwhelmingly although several negative votes were heard in the voice vote requested by Claude Thomas, Executive Committee chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church, Euless, Texas.

Personal investing opportunities for participants refers to the ability of a Southern Baptist pastor, staff member or denominational worker (or the spouse) to invest over and above the amounts that can go into a traditional retirement plan, board officials explained. The investment funds for personal investing will use the same investment guidelines adopted by the Annuity Board trustees.

The other new ministry assignment offers the Annuity Board’s institutional investment management services to the Southern Baptist Foundation and state Baptist foundations (or state Baptist conventions where no foundation exists).

“The Annuity Board would like the opportunity to work in cooperation with Baptist foundations,” said Roddy Cummins, executive officer for investments. “We believe this cooperation could enhance the ministries of Baptist foundations as they utilize our investment services and see us as a viable alternative to secular investment providers.”

The Annuity Board would not offer estate planning services or assume any roles currently held by foundations, officials said.

“The Annuity Board is not proposing to overlap any of the ministries of the Baptist foundations and will only offer its services after reaching a cooperative agreement with each foundation,” Cummins said.

In other business, a motion was approved, without generating debate or opposition, to ask each SBC entity’s staff and trustees to review their “cooperative endeavors with other denominations and religious groups and report in writing on the status and implications of these endeavors to the Executive Committee” no later than Sept. 1 of this year.

The request related to a recommendation adopted during the September 1999 Executive Committee meeting that SBC entities “maintain the historic position of Southern Baptists as they cooperate with various other groups in appropriate evangelistic enterprises or moral advocacy initiatives … .” The recommendation additionally asked SBC entities to “avoid committing Southern Baptist resources, personnel, or ministries to relationships which would compromise the historic distinctives or the unique witness of Southern Baptists to the world.”

Also during the meeting, the Executive Committee:

— approved a SBC Cooperative Program Allocation Budget for fiscal year 2000-01 of $167,996,385 which will be recommended for consideration by messengers to the SBC annual meeting in June. All the percentages for SBC entities included in the budget will remain the same as the current fiscal year, including 50 percent of the receipts for the International Mission Board for overseas missions. Keeping the same percentages for two years, although the dollar amounts may fluctuate according to the previous fiscal year’s receipts, is a policy the Executive Committee adopted with last year’s budget.

— approved the addition of Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va., to the list of secondary exhibitors, on a space-available basis, at SBC annual meetings.

— approved a request from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., to incur $3.5 million in indebtedness for the conversion of Rice/Judson Halls to conference and guest housing.

— approved New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s undertaking of a capital campaign, “New Horizons: Equipping Leaders to Change the World,” to be completed in 2020.

— approved a request from the North American Mission Board to publish a new student periodical, GO!, six times a year, and a request from LifeWay Christian Resources for a yet-to-be-titled publication to support the agency’s wellness program.

— presented a resolution of appreciation to David T. Bunch, who retires March 31 after six years as executive director-treasurer of the Colorado Baptist General Convention. Bunch previously held administrative positions with the former SBC Home Mission Board and pastorates in Missouri and South Dakota.

— approved two new directors for appointment to the Southern Baptist Foundation: Herbert T. Thomas of Alabama and Hollie Miller of Tennessee.

— elected six SBC representatives on the Baptist World Alliance Youth Committee: Mike Lopez, associate director of the International Mission Board’s student section; Dean N. Finley, national consultant to youth in the North American Mission Board’s evangelism section; Bill Henry, director of LifeWay Christian Resources’ National Student Ministry; Len Taylor, NAMB director for student evangelism; Laura Savage, Women on Mission consultant with Woman’s Missionary Union; and John Tadlock, director of the Baptist General Association of Virginia’s collegiate ministry group.

— filled four positions on the 1999-2000 SBC Committee on Nominations, electing Wallace Edgar, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church, Texarkana, Ark.; Bob Yoder, member of Bookcliff Baptist Church, Grand Junction, Colo.; Gary Pack, pastor of First Baptist Church, Waverly, Ohio; and Rick Frie, pastor of First Baptist Church, Mustang, Okla.

— approved an increase of 2.7 percent in the salary structure for Executive Committee staff.

— received two checks, each totaling $50,600, in missions offerings received from the 46,000 participants in the seven-city YouthLink 2000 held Dec. 29-31. One check will be forwarded to the International Mission Board, the other to the North American Mission Board.

Executive Committee members also were informed that C. Barry McCarty of Cincinnati, longtime chief parliamentarian for SBC annual meetings, will again assume that role at this year’s meeting in Orlando.

Jerilyn Armstrong contributed to this article.

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