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Hawkins upbeat in annual report as Annuity Board trustees meet

DALLAS (BP)–O.S. Hawkins told trustees of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention his first months as president “exceeded my most optimistic expectations,” as the trustees met in Dallas to receive the 80th annual report of operations.
The meeting Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 23-24, was characterized by celebration of investment results, growth in number of retirement plan participants, and a smooth transition of leadership. In the week before trustees gathered, Hawkins announced his selection of John R. Jones to be the next chief operating officer, succeeding W. Gordon Hobgood Jr., who retires March 1, and Rodric E. Cummins to succeed Jones as executive officer for investment services.
Trustees enthusiastically confirmed both selections and elected Jones executive vice president and Cummins senior vice president. All other executive officers were re-elected. The Annuity Board bylaws require annual election of both general (trustee) officers and executive officers.
Rodney R. Miller, managing director of the legal services eivision, was named general counsel and secretary of the corporation, succeeding James T. Herod who resigned earlier this month.
Trustees accepted the recommendation of their general officers’ nominating committee and re-elected Timothy E. Head of South Carolina to another one-year term as chairman. Ray A. Werline of Kentucky was elected to a one-year term as vice chairman, succeeding J. L. Williams of Texas.
In his formal report to trustees, Hawkins, who became president Oct. 1 of last year, said, “Despite dramatic financial market volatility, we closed the year with a highly satisfying record of earnings. Despite an increasingly tight employment market, we have a team of efficient and effective managers and employees. Despite an environment of competition for our products and services, we enjoy the loyalty of a very appreciative constituency in both church and institutional accounts.”
Board Treasurer William C. Lee reported total assets of $6.349 billion at Dec. 31, 1997, an increase of nearly $700 million over Dec. 31, 1996. The net income of $735 million was up from $589 million in 1996 and was the second highest annual net income in history.
Benefit payments and withdrawals in 1997 totaled $327 million, up 6.5 percent over 1996. Applications for benefits were processed for 2,241 people. At year end there were 28,343 benefit recipients.
The Church Annuity Plan had 42,222 people from 21,759 churches in active billing status Dec. 31, and another 39,720 institutional and agency employees had active retirement accounts. Participant contributions of $280 million represent a 10.5 percent increase over the year of 1996.
The various insurance programs of the board were declared in good financial condition. Life and accident claims paid in 1997 totaled $7.5 million; disability insurance claims paid totaled $2.8 million; and indemnity medical and dental claims paid totaled $76.1 million. In addition, prescription drug claims of $18.5 million were paid by Annuity Board plans.
The board’s supplemental assistance ministry paid out more than $3.24 million, with $1.1 million of that coming from the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program. The entire Cooperative Program allocation for the Annuity Board is spent in relief ministry without any expense applied, and the board’s Retired Ministers’ Support Fund supplements the convention allocation. More than half of the 701 people on relief at year end receive no regular retirement annuity because their churches never enrolled them in the Church Annuity Plan.
A total of $1.73 million was spent for relief, and another $1.51 million was paid out in Adopt An Annuitant benefits that provided an extra $50 each month to more than 2,700 annuitants with low regular monthly annuities. Money for the Adopt An Annuitant benefit comes from contributions by interested individuals and groups, and every cent given is applied to the benefit with no fund-raising or administrative charge applied.
Tom Elliff, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a trustee by virtue of his elective office, was the speaker at the board’s luncheon on Monday. The trustees’ dinner on Monday evening was a time for honoring retiring trustees and a special “roast and toast” to W. Gordon Hobgood Jr., who retires March 1 after more than 10 years as executive vice president/chief operating officer. Speakers for the occasion were Darold H. Morgan, board president from 1972-90; Paul W. Powell, president from 1990-97; Hawkins; Head; and Diane L. McBride, section head for benefit services, who represented employees.
The relief committee of the trustees considered 57 relief requests. They approved 20 two-year monthly grants, nine two-year expense grants and one one-time grant. Twenty-six requests were declined for being outside guidelines. One request was returned for additional information. Relief benefits were increased effective Jan. 1, 1998, from $180 to $200 per month for individuals, and from $240 to $265 per month for couples. Seventy-five recipients were retroactively approved for the Adopt An Annuitant roll. Each of the nearly 2,800 adopted annuitants began receiving $75 per month in January, a 50 percent increase over the prior gift.

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  • Thomas E. Miller Jr.