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GuideStone trustees receive reports on 2005 performance

DALLAS (BP)–“Each of our ministry areas contributed to enhancing the financial security of our participants in 2005,” GuideStone Financial Resources President O. S. Hawkins told trustees of the Southern Baptist entity during their Feb. 27-28 meeting in Dallas.

Trustees also heard reports from John R. Jones, chief operating officer, and Jeffrey P. Billinger, treasurer and chief financial officer.

Addressing trustees from Ecclesiastes 9:10, which states, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might,” Hawkins cited GuideStone’s vision statement: “GuideStone Financial Resources exists to honor the Lord by being a life-long partner with its participants in enhancing their financial security.”

“In order to accomplish our vision,” Hawkins noted, “we must demonstrate insight, initiative and intensity.”

Jones then updated trustees on how GuideStone’s program areas — retirement, investments, insurance and financial assistance — enhanced participants’ financial security.

“We have completed a year that added value to our participants’ accounts and provided discounts to many of our personal plan participants in life and health products,” Jones said.

Retirement contributions and rollovers into GuideStone’s retirement plans grew by 7 percent during the past year, he said.

Additionally, more than 5,000 participants have taken advantage of the Morningstar Retirement Manager software to help them in their retirement planning and asset allocation, Jones reported, “and over 30 percent have implemented advice provided by this online tool.”

Of particular note was the success of GuideStone’s retirement investment funds. For the three years ending Dec. 31, 2005, 10 of the 13 GuideStone Funds mutual funds (GS4 class) were ranked in the top half of their peer universe by Lipper Inc. The Reuters-owned company provides a nationally recognized comparison of the total return performance of mutual funds within a universe of funds having similar investment objectives.

In addition, for each of the three-year time periods ending Dec. 31, 2005, and Jan. 31, 2006, the Flexible Income Fund (GS4) was ranked first by Lipper in the Short Investment Grade Debt category (out of 179 and 181 funds respectively).

In updating trustees on GuideStone’s medical plans, Jones noted, “Our most significant improvement area for 2005 was in our medical plans. While medical inflation is running at about 8-10 percent per year, over 40 percent of our personal medical plan participants received a rate decrease in 2005 and over 57 percent received a rate decrease in January of this year. In addition to the rate decreases, participants also received increased benefits such as copays for office visits at medical specialists and enhanced wellness benefits. The combination of adding over 1,200 new participants to our plans, using a single provider network through Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield and pharmacy discounts through Medco has significantly helped to stabilize our medical plan rates.”

Billinger reported that GuideStone’s total assets were $8.9 billion as of Dec. 31, 2005, compared to $8.1 billion at Dec. 31, 2004. GuideStone reached an additional milestone with total assets crossing the $9 billion mark as of the end of January 2006.

Reporting on the results of the annual external audit, Billinger told trustees, “The independent auditor, PricewaterhouseCoopers, provided a clean audit opinion with no detection of fraud or concern for such and no concern with internal controls.”

In the financial assistance area, Jones reported a banner year for gifts to the Adopt An Annuitant program. With gifts of $1.4 million from the Cooperative Program and a special trust of $1.9 million from the Louisiana Baptist Convention, cash and deferred gifts to the program totaled more than $7.7 million.

The entire Cooperative Program allocation for GuideStone is spent in its relief ministry without any expense applied. Gifts from individuals and churches to the Adopt An Annuitant program supplement the convention allocation. Information concerning the Adopt An Annuitant program may be requested by calling GuideStone’s toll-free telephone number, 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) or by e-mailing the financial assistance department at [email protected].

Trustees accepted the recommendation of their nominating committee and elected William T. Patterson of Mississippi as chairman for a one-year term and Robert L. Sorrell of Tennessee as vice chairman.

At the Monday evening dinner meeting, three trustees were honored for their years of service to GuideStone: K. Milton Higgins of California, John J. Mulligan of New York and Bobby G. Sorrells of Alabama.

The next scheduled meeting of GuideStone trustees is July 31-Aug. 1.

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