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Annuity Board reports year of change, success

ST. LOUIS (BP)–Annuity Board President O.S. Hawkins declared the past year to be one of change and success at the Southern Baptist entity during his report to the SBC annual meeting June 12.

Last year Annuity Board trustees approved the restructuring of the investment funds to a registered mutual fund environment called AB Funds Trust. “This provided the framework for exciting new services and ministries including IRAs and personal investment accounts,” Hawkins said.

“With these new investment opportunities, we can now answer ‘ABsolutely!’ to the bivocational pastor who wants to roll over his retirement account from a secular employer or the small county seat pastor who receives an inheritance and needs a place he trusts to invest his money in a personal savings account.

“We can say ‘ABsolutely!’ to the parents or grandparents who want to set up an educational fund for their children or grandchildren and the institutional employee who wants to open an IRA or roll over his retirement account from a previous employer,” Hawkins said.

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“With these changes, I believe we can be a true life partner with our participants throughout their ministry and fulfill our vision statement: ‘To honor the Lord by being a LifePartner with our participants in enhancing their financial security,'” he said.

Reflecting on the national and international market volatility, Hawkins commended the work of the Annuity Board’s investment group and reminded the messengers that retirement planning is a “long-term event.”

“The Annuity Board is ranked as one of the 150 largest U.S. pension funds by Pensions and Investments magazine, and our managers are guided by a moral and ethical investment philosophy established by Annuity Board trustees,” he said.

Hawkins also expressed gratitude to the Annuity Board marketing staff in Dallas and the state representatives serving across the country. During the past year more than 1,000 marketing events were held with more than 73,000 people in attendance.

Other retirement statistics include:

— 23,500 churches participating in the Church Annuity Plan with more than 52,000 active participants

— 282 agencies and institutions in the Convention Annuity Plan with more than 38,000 participants.

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— 30,000 retirees receiving monthly retirement benefit checks.

Turning to insurance, Hawkins challenged the messengers to begin taking the issue of wellness to heart. “During 2001 at least one-half of the medical claims paid out were for preventable diseases. As a whole, we are overweight and do not exercise enough.

“The apostle Paul told us our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and we need to start living that way, and when we do, it is a win-win situation for you personally, for your family and for your church,” he said.

A continuing challenge at the Annuity Board is to care for the thousands of aged ministers or their widows who face critical financial circumstances in their retirement years.

“These dear people touch my heart and I am grateful for your participation in the Adopt An Annuitant ministry now and in the future,” Hawkins said. “I also hope you will join us in supporting Adopt An Annuitant Sunday on June 23.”

This year the Annuity Board trustees approved a new benefit structure for the recipients and qualifying persons receive a monthly supplement of $200, if single, or $265, if married. More than 3,000 individuals or couples are currently receiving assistance each month.

“As always, I am grateful for your support of the Annuity Board and our staff as we daily strive to serve those who serve the Lord ‘… with the integrity of our hearts and the skillfulness of our hands,'” he said.
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