DALLAS (BP)–Annuity Board trustees approved a 5 percent increase for most annuitants and adopted a resolution affirming the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program during their Nov. 6-7 meeting in Dallas.
Upon recommendation of the trustees’ administrative policy committee, a 5 percent increase in benefits was approved effective Jan. 1, 2001 for most annuitants receiving benefits established for periods of 60 months or longer.
The increase will apply to certain annuities funded from defined contribution accumulations, as well as Plan A retired and deferred benefits. Also receiving the increase will be persons eligible for International Mission Board past-service benefits (deferred or in pay status).
Persons still employed, who have deferred Plan A benefits, will receive the increase on Plan A when they annuitize that portion of their retirement program. The 5 percent increase will raise the Plan A benefit to 283 percent of its original formula benefit.
Trustees unanimously approved the resolution affirming the Cooperative Program, Southern Baptists’ unified channel for supporting national and international missions and ministries.
The resolution stated: “… the trustees of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention stand together with the churches and entities of the Southern Baptist Convention in their affirmation of the Cooperative Program.”
The trustees also stated, “… we encourage all Southern Baptists to resist any effort that would threaten to diminish the Cooperative Program and call upon the churches to maintain the historic partnership that has existed between the local congregations, associations, state conventions and Southern Baptist Convention entities.”
Annuity Board President, O. S. Hawkins provided and overview of the staff’s work in laying the foundation to incorporate expanded ministry assignments approved by the Southern Baptist Convention. “As we make arrangements for new products and services,” Hawkins told trustees, “we must be vigilant to continue to develop our people an demonstrate compassion.”
James Merritt, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of First Baptist Church, Snellville, Ga., addressed the trustees and management staff during a Monday evening dinner. In the midst of all the positive things happening in the SBC, Merritt challenged the trustees and staff, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit on a daily basis as you go about your work and witness.”
Board chairman George Tous van Nijkerk presided as trustees approved a 2001 budget of $49.2 million, a 7.95 percent increase over 2000. 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 board’s various retirement plans.
All Cooperative Program money received by the board is paid as relief grants to needy retired ministers or denominational workers or their widows.
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 2004. 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 provide up to $100,000 in survivor benefits and a supplemental disability benefit of $500 per month.
The relief committee of trustees approved applications for 17 two-year monthly grants, 2 three-month monthly grants, 1 six-month expense grant, 5 two-year expense grants and 1 one-time grant. Seventeen applicants were declined for being outside guidelines. Maximum supplemental assistance grants are $200 per month for single persons and $260 for couples. Fifteen individuals 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 Dec. 1.
The trustee insurance committee, chaired by Richard D. Welch, reported on enhancements to the board’s life and health products to be offered Jan. 1, 2001. New products to be added include dental coverage for Personal Security Program participants and a new life carrier with value-added services. Long-term care coverage is made available through General Electric Financial Assurance Corporation.
The board adopted a response to a motion referred to all SBC agencies from the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Orlando, Fla., last June. The motion asked the entities of the SBC to not require their employees to sign the SBC’s Baptist Faith and Message statement of beliefs. Trustees responded by affirming the Baptist Faith and Message as the accepted confession governing its work, and acknowledged the responsibility of each Southern Baptist Convention entity to utilize the Baptist Faith and Message consistent with its Southern Baptist Convention mission statement and ministry assignments. The full text of the official response to the motion will be printed in the 2001 SBC Book of Reports.
The next scheduled meeting of Annuity Board trustees will be Feb. 26-27 in Dallas.