DALLAS (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention (Annuity Board) has launched a concentrated effort to locate retired Southern Baptist workers, ministers or widows whose income is insufficient to meet their daily needs.
“We are seeking the help of laypersons, pastors and associational directors of missions to aid us in finding individuals or couples who may not be aware that assistance is available to them,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said in a March 15 news release.
For more than 80 years, GuideStone has provided critical financial relief to thousands of retired Southern Baptist workers, ministers or their widows.
“These dear people are often reluctant to ask for help. Our hope is they will see this as a way for their Southern Baptist family to honor their years of devoted service,” Hawkins said.
Norma Friend, a widow currently receiving assistance from GuideStone’s Adopt An Annuitant ministry, recently said, “Being approved for the Adopt An Annuitant program means so much more than receiving a check each month. It is a part of God’s provision for taking care of me.”
John Ambra, GuideStone’s director of endowment, said, “God’s promise to provide for His faithful servants, and our opportunity to act on that promise, are at the heart of GuideStone’s Adopt An Annuitant ministry.”
Through the Adopt An Annuitant ministry, Norma and thousands like her receive “the precious gift of dignity from their Southern Baptist family,” Hawkins said.
“We need for local church members to be sensitive to the living conditions of aged ministers or their widows, and then to act if a need is discovered,” he added.
Assistance from the program is not limited to pastors or their widows. Any retiree age 65 or older with 10 or more years of paid Southern Baptist service is eligible to apply. Other eligibility guidelines include an income of less than $1,250 per month for single applicants and less than $1,665 per month for married applicants. Applicants also must have less than $30,000 in assets, excluding their home.
Recipients must meet the eligibility guidelines and re-qualify for the assistance every two years. A widow/widower, married at least 10 years to an individual who would have met the qualifications, also is eligible to apply.
Qualified individuals receive $200 a month and qualified couples receive $265 a month. Depending on their situation, they may receive monthly support, a one-time grant or emergency assistance.
Anyone with knowledge of an individual or couple who may qualify is urged to call GuideStone’s toll-free number, 1-800-262-0511, or send an e-mail to [email protected], and provide the possible candidate’s name and address or request an application on their behalf.
Applications also are available on GuideStone’s website, www.GuideStone.org, by selecting Adopt An Annuitant from the menu bar and following the link to “Know someone in need?” and scrolling to the bottom of the page for the application and instructions.
With more than $6 million paid out annually in assistance, the Adopt An Annuitant ministry relies on the gifts of churches and individuals. Almost $1.4 million of the program’s annual funds come from the SBC Cooperative Program. However, the majority of the funding, $4 million to $5 million, comes from the direct gifts of individuals, groups and churches.
Gifts of any size are accepted and are tax-deductible to the maximum allowed by law.
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer for denominational and public relations for GuideStone Financial Resources.