DALLAS (BP) – Generous donors ensured a record harvest for Mission:Dignity during the Nov. 30 national Giving Tuesday emphasis – more than $1.2 million was raised to provide financial assistance to retirement-age Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows struggling to meet basic needs.
Gifts on Giving Tuesday were doubled thanks to $500,000 in matching contributions provided by generous donors.
“What an incredible testimony to the generosity of God’s people,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “Never in our history have we raised more than $1 million in a single day, yet when people catch the vision, they open their hearts to provide assistance to these dear soldiers of the cross.”
Relief efforts for retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows were the entire reason for GuideStone’s founding in 1918, noted President-elect Hance Dilbeck.
“Ensuring dignity for these retirement-aged ministers, workers and their widows is in the very DNA of GuideStone,” Dilbeck said. “We are so thankful to the Lord for His favor in achieving this stretch goal.”
More than 2,500 people are helped annually through Mission:Dignity. The assistance from Mission:Dignity often means not having to choose between medicine and food or between gas for their car or heat in their homes in wintertime.
“So many of these pastors served in settings where there was barely money to provide a suitable living, let alone to set money aside for retirement,” Mission:Dignity Director Aaron Meraz said. “To hear the joy in their voices when they find out their Southern Baptist family still cares for them in their declining years makes it an absolute privilege to serve them. We cannot thank enough our SBC family for their generosity and faithfulness in standing with these soldiers of the cross and in many cases their widows.”
Mission:Dignity receives no Cooperative Program gifts; it is funded through the direct gifts of churches, Sunday school classes and individuals. One hundred percent of contributions go directly to help those in need. An endowment established many years ago provides for the administrative costs of the ministry.
Beginning in 2022, the neediest eligible couples will receive $750 each month in financial assistance. A quarter of a century ago, recipients received $50 monthly.
“We’ve seen the Lord bless Mission:Dignity in so many ways over these years,” Hawkins said. “No Southern Baptist pastor and no pastor’s widow should ever go to bed hungry or forego medicine. It is the greatest privilege to steward this important and God-honoring ministry.”