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GuideStone name change, appreciation for 3 leaders approved

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–The Southern Baptist Convention approved the GuideStone Financial Resources name change, from the former Annuity Board, on June 21 and 22.

Messengers also passed resolutions of appreciation for James T. Draper Jr. and Adrian Rogers, a fraternal tribute to Billy Graham and a Cooperative Program Allocation Budget minus a proposed amendment to increase the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission’s allocation.

The votes were part of the Executive Committee report at the SBC annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

The name of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention was approved following a 2004 vote that included a provision authorizing the board to do business as GuideStone during the past year. The recommendation to change the board’s name, articles of incorporation and SBC bylaw amendments required two successive votes of the convention.

“We are delighted to be known officially and legally as GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “We have experienced a year of transition and tried to be good stewards of our resources as we walked down this dual path. Now we are excited about going forward with our new name and renewed commitment to serve our participants.”

GuideStone was founded in 1918 as the Commission on Ministerial Relief and Annuity and has now gone through three name changes to reflect the organization’s duties. Today it is a leading financial services provider of retirement, investment, life and health plans serving 175,000 participants worldwide. GuideStone is recognized as one of the largest providers of Christian-based, socially screened investment funds, with assets of $8.2 billion at the end of March.

The name GuideStone is a combination of two words the organization’s officials said represents their new identity. Guide refers to expert, trustworthy leaders in the industry to show the way and provide knowledge and guidance needed to make educated financial and life and health decisions. Stone refers to the organization’s permanence and stability.


Rodney Albert, pastor of Hallsville Baptist Church in Hallsville, Mo., presented a motion to amend the 2005-06 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget by reducing the percentages given to the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board so that an increase may be given to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“I don’t think we’d disagree here today that we are in a substantial cultural war,” Albert said. “We’re fighting for the soul of America to stay true to its godly Christian heritage, but the organization we’ve charged to lead us in this fight gets one of the smallest allocations of any SBC entity.”

Albert called for a .25 percent decrease in the IMB and NAMB allocations and a .5 percent increase in the ERLC budget. Messengers voted down the amendment.


The resolution of appreciation for Draper comes as he plans to retire in February 2006 after more than 14 years as president of LifeWay Christian Resources. Messengers recognized Draper’s commitment to the infallible and inerrant Word of God, his passion for international missions, his “unflagging commitment to evangelism,” his servant leadership, his concern for younger leaders of the SBC and his service in several official capacities within the convention over the decades, including as SBC president during the conservative resurgence.

Messengers recognized Rogers upon his retirement from the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn., after 32 years as senior pastor and because he is the only individual to have served three terms as SBC president.

Among the accomplishments highlighted in the resolution were his leading of the conservative resurgence, his role as a model for future presidents, his service as chairman of the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee that led to the adoption of various changes in 2000, his reputation as the “preeminent pulpiteer” among Southern Baptists, his Love Worth Finding radio and television ministry and his evangelistic efforts.

The fraternal tribute honoring Billy Graham read, in part, “the Southern Baptist Convention offers highest praise and deepest gratitude to God for being pleased to bless the life and ministry of Billy Graham, and through him to enhance the ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and to further the Kingdom of God across this nation and around the world, to the honor and glory of God.”


Stephen Swofford, pastor of First Baptist Church of Rockwall, Texas, was the recipient of the 2005 M.E. Dodd Cooperative Program Award during the SBC’s June 21 session. The award, which was inaugurated during the 75th anniversary celebration of the Cooperative Program in 2000, honors a person, congregation or organization that has demonstrated continuous, long-term excellence in supporting missions and ministry efforts of state and regional conventions and the SBC.

The award is named for M.E. Dodd, who served as pastor of First Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., and as chairman of the Future Program Commission that recommended to the convention the creation of the Cooperative Program in 1925.

In the 16-plus years since being called to FBC Rockwall, Swofford has led his church to give 18 percent of its undesignated offerings through the Cooperative Program, amounting to about $462,000 in 2004.

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  • Erin Curry