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Hawkins: ‘Year of the second mile’ to be GuideStone emphasis

DALLAS (BP)–“The theme for our work during 2005,” O.S. Hawkins told trustees of GuideStone Financial Resources (the Annuity Board), “is ‘the year of the second mile,’” a theme drawn from Matthew 5:41.

Hawkins, in his president’s report to trustees during their Feb. 28-March 1 in Dallas, said, “In order to go the second mile, you must go the first mile. The first mile is doing what is required, doing the job you are tasked to do. The second mile is doing more than what is required.

“While the first mile is motivated by law, the second mile is motivated by love,” Hawkins said.

“We have challenged every GuideStone employee to not only perform their duties with integrity and skill but to go the second mile whenever possible in assisting our participants,” he added.

John R. Jones, GuideStone’s chief operating officer, reviewed with trustees the 2004 year from an operations perspective in entity’s four program areas: investments, retirement, insurance and endowment.

“A new name and new opportunities for service characterized 2004 while the successes of the financial markets added value to our participants’ accounts,” Jones said.

Jones added that Lipper, Inc., a nationally recognized Reuters company that compares the performance of mutual funds having similar investment objectives, reported that 11 out of the 13 AB Funds Trust mutual funds (85 percent) for the GS4 share class met or exceeded the median for the one- and three-year periods in their respective peer universes as of Dec. 31. In addition, seven funds were in the top quartile for the three-year period and eight funds were in the top quartile for the one-year period.

Jones also provided additional information related to GuideStone’s medical plans. “The transition to two Preferred Provider Organization networks, along with a deliberate effort to enroll new participants, provided rate stability for our medical plans.” As a result of the efforts in the insurance area, more than 40 percent of medical plan participants received no rate increase for 2005, Jones reported.

Jeffrey P. Billinger, GuideStone’s chief financial officer, reported total assets were $8.3 billion as of Dec. 31, compared to $7.3 billion at Dec. 31, 2003. 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.”

Consolidated budget expenses finished the year favorable to the budget by 1.16 percent. Participant contributions to retirement plans and retail products were up 11.5 percent over the prior year.

Douglas D. Day, GuideStone’s executive officer of benefit services, updated trustees on the board’s initiative to provide investment guidance and advice.

“We are in final discussions with Morningstar to provide a Web-based tool that will provide specific investment guidance and advice in helping participants choose an asset allocation and funds that are appropriate for their individual risk tolerance and time horizon,” Day said. The new tool is expected to be available to participants in the third quarter of this year, he said.

A total of $6.3 million was distributed through GuideStone’s relief program to needy retired ministers and their widowed spouses during 2004. A significant number of persons on relief receive no regular retirement benefit because their churches never enrolled them in the Church Annuity Plan. The amount received from the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program and special designations totaled $1.4 million of the $6.3 million distributed.

The entire Cooperative Program allocation for GuideStone and special designations is spent in relief ministry without any expense applied by the board. Gifts from individuals and churches to the Adopt An Annuitant program supplement the SBC allocation. Information concerning the Adopt An Annuitant program may be requested by calling the board’s toll-free telephone number, 1-800-262-0511 or by emailing the endowment department at [email protected].

The trustees’ relief committee approved four two-year monthly grants, five two-year expense grants and one six-month expense grant. Twenty-nine individuals were added to the Adopt An Annuitant roll since the last trustee meeting.

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

At the Monday evening dinner meeting, two trustees were honored for their years of service to the board: Willis W. Henson of Kentucky and George J. Tous van Nijkerk of North Carolina.

The next scheduled meeting of GuideStone’s trustees is Aug. 1-2.
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer, denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources.

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