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GuideStone enhances Adopt An Annuitant ministry

DALLAS (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources has adopted new guidelines to allow more retirees to qualify for financial assistance through its Adopt An Annuitant ministry.

Effective immediately, single applicants with incomes up to $1,500 and married applicants with incomes up to $2,000 can be eligible for Adopt An Annuitant benefits, according to new guidelines approved by trustees.

In addition to enhancing the Adopt An Annuitant program, GuideStone also is releasing its Cooperative Program allocation to be used for other Southern Baptist ministries.

“We are excited to be able to amend the guidelines so that more individuals will qualify for assistance and that those who have served so faithfully will be eligible for increased benefits in the future,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said in his report to trustees during their during Feb. 26-27 meeting in Dallas.

In addition to the increased income guidelines, trustees also approved increased amounts for ministers or their widows who have extremely low incomes and more than 30 years of service. These benefits will begin Jan. 1, 2008.

“We are so grateful to be able to double the amount of assistance to these dear people who have long years of Southern Baptist service and income amounts below the national poverty levels,” Hawkins said. Currently, the Adopt An Annuitant ministry provides $200 in assistance to single annuitants and $265 to married recipients.

As part of its ministry assignment from the Southern Baptist Convention, GuideStone Financial Resources provides a channel through which individuals, churches and organizations can provide assistance to ministers and other church employees who, for whatever reasons, were not able to save for retirement.

“The Adopt An Annuitant program is the very heart of our ministry,” Hawkins said. “From the establishment of our organization in 1918, we have always remembered to care for these dear soldiers of the cross.”

Over the past 10 years, individuals, churches and organizations have given more than $50 million expressly for GuideStone’s Adopt An Annuitant ministry.

The Adopt An Annuitant ministry formally began in 1981. In the early years, recipients received $25 per month in financial assistance. The monthly assistance was raised to $50 in 1984 and then to $75 in 1998. In 2002 the relief program and the Adopt An Annuitant ministry were merged and the guidelines were amended to raise the monthly assistance to $200 for single recipients and $265 for married recipients.

Current guidelines require that financial assistance recipients must have at least 10 years of Southern Baptist service and have assets of less than $30,000 and income of less than $1,250 for a single recipient and less than $1,665 for a married recipient. Qualifying widows must have been married for 10 years to an individual who meets the guidelines.

GuideStone also announced at the mid-February meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee that it was releasing the Cooperative Program allocation it has been receiving to be used in other Southern Baptist ministries.

In his report to the Cooperative Program subcommittee, Hawkins said GuideStone has deeply appreciated the Cooperative Program allocation it has received through the years. Every cent of this allocation has been used to fund financial assistance for needy retired ministers, other denominational workers or their widows.

With earnings on endowment reserves and continued gifts from individuals and churches, GuideStone is able to release its Cooperative Program allocation of 0.76 percent, effective Sept. 30, 2007, to be used by the convention for other Southern Baptist ministries.

“We are pleased that our financial situation allows us to release these funds for other SBC ministries while at the same time we are able to enhance the benefits for our financial assistance recipients.” Hawkins said.

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