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Hawkins: Markets’ mountaintops, valleys

DALLAS (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins discussed the recent volatility in the financial markets during the Southern Baptist entity’s Nov. 3-4 trustee meeting in Dallas.

During the sessions, trustees also were updated on the launch of GuideStone’s property and casualty program and its plans to offer financial advice to participants beginning next year.

“Through the last 90 years GuideStone has had many mountaintop experiences,” Hawkins said. “We also have experienced many valleys such as the Great Depression, world wars, terrorist attacks and multiple recessions.” Hawkins referenced such valleys in comments to trustees drawn from Deuteronomy 11:11-12, which says, “But the land which you cross over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of heaven, a land for which the LORD your God cares; the eyes of the LORD your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the very end of the year.”

“It is during the valleys that we learn the real lessons of life,” Hawkins said. “Ups and downs in the financial markets are a reality. Whether we are in an up cycle or a down cycle, we must remember that God is our resource. His eyes are always on us.”

Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones, reviewing the primary business drivers that direct GuideStone’s work, told trustees, “In each area of our operations we are aggressively managing costs as we seek to hold down expenses in these difficult times.” Amid the current financial crisis, GuideStone is “committed to providing superior customer service, which is our number one business driver,” Jones said.

Concerning the launch of GuideStone’s new property and casualty program, Douglas D. Day, executive officer for insurance solutions and services, reported that the products gradually will roll out regionally over the next year.

“The initial roll-out of this program will be focused in Texas, Tennessee and North Carolina,” Day said. “However, churches and ministries in other states may request information through our website at www.guidestonepropertycasualty.org.”

Day reported that the property and casualty program had received its first client, First Baptist Church in Duncanville, Texas.

“This program is designed specifically to meet the needs of Southern Baptist churches and ministries,” Day said. “And we’re pleased that we can bring them not only affordable insurance coverage but comprehensive educational materials and risk management tools.

“GuideStone’s property and casualty program will facilitate reclaiming dollars for ministry,” Day said, “as we help churches obtain appropriate property and casualty coverage while we also provide educational and risk management programs.”

Patty A. Weiland, executive officer for financial solutions and services, provided trustees an update on GuideStone’s plans to offer financial advice.

The new service “will help us answer the most often asked questions that come from participants: ‘How should my retirement account be invested? Am I on track to meet my financial goals?'” Weiland told trustees.

Financial advice will consist of fund-specific investment advice related to GuideStone’s proprietary investment funds available to participants in GuideStone’s retirement plans. In addition to the investment fund advice, a retirement income gap analysis also will be available to assist participants in knowing how much more they may need to save in order to reach their retirement income goal. Project teams currently are working to put all of the elements in place for a launch of the service during 2009.

Gregory A. Bibb of Kentucky, chairman of the trustees’ budget subcommittee, reviewed the operating budget proposed for 2009 and it was unanimously adopted by trustees.

“The trustee budget subcommittee and the staff have carefully prepared a budget that undergirds our ministries and aggressively manages costs during this time of market volatility,” Bibb said. “The proposed budget is 4.1 percent lower than the 2008 budget.”

GuideStone receives no Cooperative Program funds for operations from the Southern Baptist Convention but pays all expenses from an advisory fee on its investment funds offered through GuideStone Funds.

The trustees’ relief committee approved applications adding 29 individuals to the Mission:Dignity financial assistance roll. Thirteen individuals were approved for grants.

The relief committee also approved a $200 Christmas check for each financial assistance recipient on the roll as of Nov. 1. Funds to provide the special Christmas check are made possible through GuideStone’s endowment program.

Individuals and churches can participate in the Mission:Dignity ministry or receive more information by calling toll-free 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433); visiting www.missiondignitysbc.org; or sending an e-mail message to [email protected].
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer for denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources.

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  • Hawkins: Markets have mountaintops, valleys