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Hawkins recaps GuideStone performance

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources remains resilient in the face of volatile financial markets, O.S. Hawkins told messengers at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in Louisville, Ky., June 24.

Pointing to the SBC entity’s 2009 theme — the “Year of Perspective” — Hawkins, GuideStone’s president, said despite setbacks GuideStone is well-positioned for its long-range strategic plan GuideStone 100.

Hawkins pointed to success in GuideStone Funds, the organization’s family of Christian-based mutual funds, and to improvements made in the health care and new GuideStone new property and casualty coverage. Hawkins also highlighted the Mission: Dignity ministry to needy retirees.

Despite unrest in the financial sector as American stock markets fell more than 40 percent in 2008, GuideStone Funds performed well relative to their peers, Hawkins said. According to a national benchmarking firm, over the five-year period ending Dec. 31, 2008, eight of the 10 GuideStone Select Funds performed above median in their respective peer universe.

Hawkins said GuideStone Funds also ranks in the top 30 percent of all fund families according to the Fi360 report produced from industry firm Fiduciary Analytics. While acknowledging the funds faced a difficult 2008, Hawkins said they performed well compared to their peer groups.

“Markets are cyclical, and as is said on almost every page of this Bible, ‘This, too, shall pass,'” Hawkins said.

GuideStone trustees and employees could choose to give up, but they’ve chosen to seek wisdom from God, find new ways to cost-effectively serve their participants and reach out to participants to meet them at their point of need, Hawkins said. That includes reaching out to the next two generations of pastors and helping them understand the wisdom of setting aside money for the future.

Many of those who prepare adequately for their future vocational retirement, Hawkins said, could be able to serve as missionaries and church partners without needing to draw salaries because they had set aside and prepared during their vocational ministry years. This is the way GuideStone can help Southern Baptists realize a Great Commission resurgence, he added.

GuideStone’s commitment to its participants continued in the areas of insurance as well, Hawkins said. Referencing new Medicare reporting guidelines implemented in 2009, he said GuideStone’s insurance operations area established new procedures to ensure compliance with those guidelines.

Additionally, GuideStone introduced new senior plans last year and introduced the Health Choice 5000 medical plan with a $5,000 deductible. GuideStone’s insurance marketing areas, meanwhile, exceeded expectations for new enrollments and retention, he said.

Hawkins also pointed to GuideStone’s success in controlling health care costs. While medical insurance premiums nationally over the last five years have increased more than 50 percent, he noted that GuideStone participants on average have seen their premiums decrease 13 percent over the same period.

Hawkins noted that GuideStone’s insurance works on a three-pronged approach, with GuideStone focusing on wellness in the plans, participants emphasizing wellness in their own lives and churches providing adequate insurance. He challenged churches to not expect ministers to pay for their insurance in a package approach.

A wellness center at GuideStone’s exhibit offered a free health screening to messengers. At the time Hawkins delivered the GuideStone report, more than 1,000 people had participated. Illustrating the work needed to improve Southern Baptists’ health, Hawkins said 65 percent of those screened are in a moderate to high risk category for coronary disease.

GuideStone also introduced a new property and casualty line of insurance coverage. Hawkins said GuideStone’s vision hasn’t wavered with the addition of new product lines and services.

“The plight of our dear widows and retired pastors … continues to be the burden of our heart,” Hawkins told messengers. GuideStone was founded as a relief ministry, and it has not strayed from that message, he said.

Ten years ago, GuideStone provided participants in the Mission: Dignity (formerly known as Adopt an Annuitant) ministry $50 per month. Today, GuideStone is able to provide the neediest recipients $530 each month. Those gifts come from individual and church donations.
Roy Hayhurst writes for GuideStone Financial Resources.

    About the Author

  • Roy Hayhurst

    Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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