ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–A challenge to every minister and staff person to prepare well for retirement was issued by Southern Baptist Annuity Board President O.S. Hawkins in his June 14 report to the Southern Baptist Convention in Orlando, Fla.
Using the illustration of the ant from Proverbs 6:6-7, Hawkins told the messengers to “go to the ant and remember its ways and how it stores up food in the summer so in the winter it will have a supply.”
“I encourage every minister and church staff person to be a part of our retirement plan,” Hawkins said. “It is wise and biblical to prepare for your future just as the ant prepares for winter, and the Annuity Board offers you an excellent way.”
Hawkins also challenged every layperson to “return to your church and pay your pastor and church staff a salary worthy of their calling and make sure they are enrolled in our retirement plan. Every church should be participating.”
He said he has a vision to see thousands of ministers able to retire at age 65 “with 10 to 20 years of active service available to them to serve our Lord on the mission field. Plan for an adequate retirement and let the Lord continue to use you for his glory during some of your most vital years of service.”
Ministering to ministers and widows in need is a goal of the Annuity Board’s Adopt an Annuitant ministry. Hawkins reported the Annuity Board currently assists 2,600 individuals and couples, but almost “9,000 of our annuitants still live on $200 or less in monthly benefits from their retirement income.”
“I hope every church in the Southern Baptist Convention will participate in Adopt an Annuitant Sunday on June 25 and adopt one of these dear persons,” he said.
Through the Adopt an Annuitant ministry, an annuitant receives $75 a month, and this past year more than 700 churches, Sunday school classes and other groups adopted one or more persons.
Another opportunity for widows was offered this year through the Widows Might prayer ministry, utilizing the faithfulness of thousands of widows in the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Imagine the power of thousands of good and godly widows praying daily for our convention, missionaries, seminaries and churches. Each month this prayer effort is growing,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins reported that on Dec. 31, 1999, the Annuity Board’s total assets reached $8 billion, and net income set an all-time record of $960 million.
“It was a good year for the board,” Hawkins said. “Last year we enrolled 3,000 new participants in the Church Annuity Plan who serve in churches, missions and associations. And in the first five months of this year we have already enrolled 2,000.”
In addition, the Ministers’ Annuity Plan was launched at year’s end and is a new retirement product designed for the minister who has self-employment income.
On June 13, the convention approved enhancements to the Annuity Board’s mission statement and two new ministry assignments.
The first will allow the Annuity Board to offer a personal investing service to participants and spouses.
The second new assignment allows the Annuity Board to work cooperatively with Baptist foundations to offer investment management services to churches and entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Insurance continues to be the most challenging area for the Annuity Board, Hawkins said.
“There was continued progress in our insurance programs, despite the incredible upheaval in the medical field and the escalating costs,” Hawkins said. Some new products on the horizon include a long-term care plan and a dental plan for church staff members.