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Annuity Board trustees review performance, presidential search

DALLAS (BP)–Trustees of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention met in Dallas Feb. 24-25, heard reports of 1996 performance and approved a document of personal “qualities” with which candidates for the next Annuity Board president will be measured.

In his president’s annual report to trustees, Paul W. Powell called 1995 and 1996 “the best two back-to-back years in the history of the board.”

Total assets under management and administrative control stood at $5.67 billion on Dec. 31, 1996, an increase of more than $499 million since the same date a year ago. Retirement benefits paid in 1996 exceeded $200 million for the first time; and the board’s insurance programs paid out $107.8 million. There were 27,865 annuitants in pay status on Dec. 31.

Earnings allocated for the benefit of participants in 1996 totaled $589.9 million. Annual performance records of the four investment funds available to participants were: Variable Fund: 19.8 percent; Balanced Fund: 12.99 percent; International Equity Fund: 12.01 percent; and Fixed Fund: 6.13 percent.

Trustees adopted reports from their five standing committees and the presidential search committee; elected Timothy E. Head as chairman of the board and J.L. “Sonny” Williams as vice chairman; and authorized the development of a new retirement plan for chaplains and self-employed ministers to take advantage of provisions in federal legislation enacted in 1996.

J. Ray Taylor, a Texas trustee, reported for the presidential search committee. Taylor said the list of personal qualities had been developed by the committee after requesting input from all trustees. Trustees discussed at length the search committee’s recommendation to require that nominees be ordained Southern Baptist ministers. They voted overwhelmingly to sustain the committee decision. The list of personal qualities will be released through Baptist Press. Any person may send a nomination accompanied by a written resume, along with a statement that the nomination is made with the consent of the nominee, to: J. Ray Taylor, 3695 Encanto, Fort Worth, TX 76109.

The presidential search committee has no deadline for its report of a recommendation to the full board of trustees, and Taylor said he does not anticipate interim news releases.

Timothy E. Head, pastor of Cooper River Baptist Church, North Charleston, S.C., was elected chairman of the board, succeeding Richard C. Scott of Crawford, Texas, who served as chairman three years and will retire from the board of trustees in June 1997. Head, who is a former practicing attorney and college-level teacher of economics, will become an ex-officio member of the presidential search committee. Williams, the new vice chairman, is president of Minyard Food Stores, Inc. He is current chairman of the board of trustees for Dallas Baptist University. Williams succeeds Michael L. Rochelle, a Nevada trustee and pastor of West Oakey Baptist Church, Las Vegas.

When the new retirement plan is operational, it will be an IRS Code 403(b) plan that will serve chaplains and other self-employed Southern Baptist ministers whose prior participations in a church plan were not permitted because their income did not come from Southern Baptist churches or Southern Baptist-controlled or affiliated organizations. The Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996, sometimes referred to as the minimum wage bill, had a number of provisions of interest to church pension boards. Among them was a statement that chaplains and self-employed ministers can participate in denomination pension plans.

James T. Herod, general counsel for the Annuity Board, said, “The new law enables the Annuity Board to serve self-employed Southern Baptist ministers and to better serve Southern Baptist chaplains. Now that federal law provides these opportunities, we need to create a plan that will clearly meet the needs of these individuals. What the new law essentially does is to treat the eligible ministers as their own IRS 501(c)(3) organization for pension purposes. We are not ready to market the plan, pending further clarification of regulations and compliance, but the trustees took action that will enable us to serve these individuals.”

Trustees heard of new records in relief and Adopt An Annuitant benefits paid in 1996. The Southern Baptist Cooperative Program provided $1.19 million in 1996, all of which was used in the relief ministry. Designations, along with supplements to the relief ministry from earnings on the Annuity Board’s Retired Ministers’ Support Fund, made it possible for the board to pay out more than $1.51 million in relief benefits. There were 604 individuals or couples on the relief roll at year’s end. More than half the relief recipients receive no other regular benefit from the Annuity Board because their churches never enrolled them in the Church Annuity Plan. An average relief recipient in 1996 was 78 years old with monthly income of $742 and monthly expenses of $923, resulting in a deficit of $181 each month.

The board’s Adopt An Annuitant program, supported by direct gifts and endowments, paid out $1.2 million in $50 per month supplements to annuitants with low monthly benefits. Funding is now available to pay the special benefit to 2,910 individuals or couples each month.

The trustee relief committee considered 54 relief applications at the February meeting. They approved 19 two-year monthly grants, 10 two-year expense grants, one one-time grant and declined 24 requests for being outside guidelines. Forty-two persons were approved for new Adopt An Annuitant benefits.

The next meeting of Annuity Board trustees will be Aug. 4-5 in Palm Beach, Fla.

    About the Author

  • Thomas E. Miller, Jr.