INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone Financial Resources, delivered the entity’s 90th annual report at the Southern Baptist Convention June 11.
“This is our 90th birthday in serving Southern Baptists,” Hawkins said. “Ninety years ago, at this convention in 1918, our founder, Dr. William Lunsford, stood here and shared a vision of what has now become GuideStone. We still remain true to that vision.”
The 90th anniversary marks a significant milestone in the organization’s work, Hawkins noted. It signifies the completion of GuideStone 90, the first phase of the entity’s long-range strategic plan, GuideStone 100. The second phase, GuideStone 95, will direct its objectives through 2013, the organization’s 95th birthday.
With GuideStone 90 charting the way, the organization has been able to continue its efforts to enhance the financial security of its participants, Hawkins said. He listed several milestone events derived from the strategic planning: the name change to GuideStone, which positions the organization as a full-service financial services provider for Southern Baptists; expanded fund opportunities; registered mutual funds, including the largest Christian-based mutual fund in the world and the fourth-largest mutual fund of any kind in the state of Texas.
Additional elements of this planning include enhanced institutional and personal investing, as well as expanded marketing opportunities; free life benefits for full-time students at the Southern Baptist seminaries; and enhanced financial assistance efforts for retired Southern Baptist ministers or their widows, Hawkins explained.
“This year we changed the name of our Adopt An Annuitant program to Mission:Dignity,” he told messengers. “We want people to know that we’re on a mission to bring dignity to these people we are so privileged to serve.”
Hawkins also reviewed GuideStone’s accomplishments over the past several years.
In investments, GuideStone passed the $10 billion mark in assets in 2007. It launched a new series of funds that allow participants to invest in date-target funds that are automatically allocated over the lifetime of the fund, according to the fund’s assigned time horizon.
Participation in insurance has increased by more than 15 percent, Hawkins said. Blue Cross Blue Shield now provides 99 percent coverage for all participants in GuideStone’s insurance plans.
GuideStone’s wellness initiative also is having an impact, Hawkins said. “We’ve taken responsibility and our participants have taken responsibility,” he said. “But still half of the claims we pay are for what we call preventable diseases. We need to take better care of ourselves physically.”
Many people are concerned about underwriting, Hawkins added. “There is a growing concern for everyone to be able to get the insurance they need,” he said. “We’re making great strides in enhancing those opportunities. Currently, over 80 percent of the people who apply are accepted into our insurance plans.”
He reported that GuideStone is on schedule with its property and casualty insurance, slated to be launched this fall. And the Mission Church Assistance Fund continues to offer financial aid to churches with smaller budgets that want to provide a retirement fund for their pastor.
Hawkins wrapped up GuideStone’s annual report by reminding Southern Baptists that the entity’s mission has remained essentially unchanged through the years. “The plight of our retired pastors and their widows continues to be the burden of our hearts, just as it was the burden of Dr. Lunsford’s heart 90 years ago,” he said.
“In 1997, Adopt An Annuitant recipients received $50 a month. Today they receive up to $530 a month,” he said. “These enhanced benefits are possible because of the way Southern Baptists have undergirded this program, giving $54 million in the last 10 years to this ministry. Because of God’s blessing on this program, we’ve been able to return Cooperative Program funds back to the ministries of the convention.”
Hawkins noted that 100 percent of offerings to Mission:Dignity are given to retired ministers or their widows. “Every dime given to this program goes straight to these people in need,” he said. “Not even the stamp on the letter that sends the check each month comes from your gift.” All expenses of the program are paid for by the program’s endowments, which have grown over the years, he said.
Hawkins’ final challenge was for all churches to recognize Mission:Dignity Sunday, to be held June 29.
Kathryn Aragon is a writer with GuideStone Financial Resources.