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‘Focus’ to be Annuity Board theme for ’03, O.S. Hawkins tells trustees

DALLAS (BP)–“Focus” will be the theme of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, President O.S. Hawkins told trustees during their Feb. 24-25 meeting in Dallas.

“Our theme for this year is ‘Focus.’ Throughout the year we will continue to focus on our vision statement, ‘…to honor the Lord by being a LifePartner with our participants to enhance their financial security,'” Hawkins reported.

Trustees also heard reports from the board’s chief operating officer, John R. Jones, chief financial officer, Jeffrey P. Billinger, and executive officer for organizational development and strategic planning, Samuel E. Stohner.

Hawkins addressed the trustees using verses from Micah 6:8 and 1 Kings 12:7, reminding that Christians’ attitude should be that of a servant, with actions that reflect those of a servant. The board’s advocacy in behalf of its participants should be characterized by “… the integrity of our hearts and the skillfulness of our hands,” Hawkins said.

John R. Jones reviewed the year 2002 from an operations perspective. Jones updated trustees on the success of the Dallas-based organization in reaching its 2002 goals and reported on progress of key initiatives for 2003. Of particular note was the report on a new Capital Preservation Fund to be offered to retirement plan participants later this spring.

“This fund is designed to address the many requests we have received from participants to have an investment choice that stresses preservation of principal and offers a more attractive return than a money market fund,” Jones said. “We have listened to our participants and are pleased to offer this fund.”

Jones also reviewed progress of a special study related to healthcare design, exploring alternative healthcare plans and services to provide other options to medical plan participants in 2004. More specific plans will be presented to trustees in their summer meeting.

Another important new service to be offered at the end of the first quarter is E-statements, Jones reported. Retirement plan participants will have the option to receive their quarterly accounting statements online through the Annuity Board website rather than receive paper statements.

“We believe more and more of our participants are using the Internet for E-business. This will provide faster delivery of statements and also provide cost savings for the participants,” Jones explained.

Board Treasurer Jeffrey P. Billinger reported total assets were $6.1 billion at Dec. 31, 2002, compared to $7.2 billion at Dec. 31, 2001. “Although financial markets were down for the year, assets grew by 4.3 percent in the fourth quarter, producing net income of $256 million for the quarter,” Billinger told trustees.

Consolidated budget expenses finished the year favorable to budget by 1.8 percent for the year. Participant contributions to retirement plans and retail products were up 11.4 percent over the prior year.

Samuel E. Stohner provided trustees an update on the board’s organizational development and strategic planning division. “The primary goal of our strategic planning efforts is to prayerfully seek the Lord’s guidance in all our endeavors,” Stohner told trustees. “The planning process provides a more disciplined approach to planning and monitoring which enables the management team to more accurately assess resource availability and demands.”

Stohner also reported that during 2002, all training and development activities were centralized and the Annuity Board Employee Development University was created. “Each employee at the board will have a custom degree plan through the in-house training program,” Stohner said. “Over 239 course offerings have been developed to help prepare employees to meet the challenges of their individual responsibilities.”

A total of $5.8 million was distributed through the board’s relief program to needy retired ministers and their widowed spouses. A significant number of persons on relief receive no regular retirement annuity because their churches never enrolled them in the Church Annuity Plan. The amount received from the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program and special designations totaled $1.4 million. The entire Cooperative Program allocation for the Annuity Board and special designations are spent in the relief ministry without any expense applied. Gifts from individuals and churches to the Adopt An Annuitant program and the board’s Retired Ministers’ Support Fund supplements the SBC allocation. Information concerning the Adopt An Annuitant program may be requested by calling the board’s toll-free telephone number, 1-800-262-0511 or by e-mailing the board’s endowment department at [email protected].

The trustees’ relief committee considered 41 additional relief requests. They approved 5 two-year monthly grants and 2 two-year expense grants. Thirty-four individuals were declined for being outside guidelines. Fifty-five individuals were added to the Adopt An Annuitant roll since the last trustee meeting.

Trustees accepted the recommendation of their general officers nominating committee and elected George Tous van Nijkerk of North Carolina as chairman and William T. Patterson of Mississippi as vice chairman.

At the Monday evening dinner meeting, eight trustees were honored for their years of service to the board: Charles B. Brinkman, Virginia; Wayne D. Dickard, South Carolina; Robert N. Hammons, Oklahoma; E. Eugene Hawkins, Texas; Wendell C. Lang, Oklahoma; William H. Ledbetter Jr., Louisiana; John R. West, Alabama; and Solomon D. Whitten III, Florida.

The next scheduled meeting of the Annuity Board trustees will be Aug. 4-5.
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer, denominational and public relations services, for the Annuity Board.

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