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SBC DIGEST: GuideStone offers Colo. aid; pastor becomes church planter

DALLAS (BP) — GuideStone Financial Resources has announced it is providing assistance to churches and participants who have suffered losses in parts of Colorado devastated by severe storms and flooding.

GuideStone has put a plan in place to assist the individual participants, churches and ministry organizations it serves in the Colorado counties declared a FEMA Designated Individual Assistance Area: Boulder, Adams, Larimer, Weld, Clear Creek, El Paso, Jefferson, Arapahoe and Logan.

The initiative is in keeping with GuideStone’s practice of responding to disasters and tragedies involving participants in its plans and programs for Southern Baptist and evangelical churches and organizations.

For GuideStone participants who qualify, assistance will include continuation of the retirement plan protection benefits and waiver of the requirement that retirement contributions must be made in continuous months. Participant requests for plan distributions and loans will be expedited by GuideStone, taking requests electronically by fax or email. In addition, wire transfer fees and overnight mail fees will be waived to expedite payments to the affected areas.

Assistance will be available for life and health plan participants who are unable to make their monthly payments for coverage and who meet the following criteria:

— Individuals who are GuideStone participants must reside in, or in the cases of churches and ministry organizations must meet or hold church services in or substantially operate their ministry business in, a FEMA Designated Individual Assistance area.

— GuideStone participants who are churches or ministry organizations must have congregations or employees who are widely dispersed and/or unable to receive regular offerings or revenue.

— GuideStone participants that are churches or ministry organizations must be unable to remit their staff’s GuideStone contributions or payments or meet payroll so that staff is unable to remit their own insurance premiums, and individual GuideStone participants must also show evidence of similar economic loss.

Once GuideStone has determined that a participant is eligible for relief, they may receive up to three months of insurance premium waivers on medical, dental, life, accident and disability coverages.

“Our hearts and minds are focused these days on our churches, associations andm, in fact, all of our participants in Colorado,” President O.S. Hawkins said. “We have developed some tangible solutions that help us be Christ’s hand extended to our participants during these difficult days.”

GuideStone’s Customer Relations team can answer participant questions and explain benefits by calling 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. CST.

Ben Mandrell becomes Denver church planter

DENVER (BP) — The pastor of one of the fastest-growing churches in Tennessee is joining the Send North America: Denver church planting team. Ben Mandrell, senior pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, will partner with First Baptist Orlando to plant a church in the Mile High City.

“I am overjoyed by this opportunity to join the courageous tribe of church planters serving through the North American Mission Board,” Mandrell said. “We are anticipating a great adventure.”

Mandrell was on Englewood’s staff as college pastor for five years before becoming senior pastor in 2007. He and his family will move to Orlando in January to partner with First Baptist and senior pastor David Uth. The goals for Mandrell’s time in Orlando will be to form a bond with the sending church, to begin strategy planning for the plant, and to preach in casting a vision that some First Orlando members will join the church plant in Denver.

“Ben Mandrell is leaving a very successful and thriving ministry to go serve in a pioneer area of North America,” said Aaron Coe, NAMB vice president of mobilization and marketing. “The fact is he could have easily and happily stayed where he is, but he chose to go where he saw the greatest need. I can’t wait to see what God is up to in Denver.”

Mandrell will transition to the Denver area in late spring 2014 to begin church planting activities. He joins a growing number of church planters focusing on Colorado’s Front Range. The church plant location is slated for the Five Parks area of Arvada in northwest Denver.

“While Lynley and I are saddened to leave our Englewood family, we are trusting God to use us in reaching the lost in northwest Denver,” Mandrell said. “We are exceedingly grateful for First Baptist Orlando and their willingness to make this dream possible. What a blessing it will be to work with Pastor David and his team.”

Denver is one of 32 “Send Cities” NAMB is emphasizing in its effort to help Southern Baptists increase the number of churches in population centers. Send North America is NAMB’s strategy to penetrate lostness in North America by mobilizing missionaries and churches.

To learn more about Send North America, visit namb.net/mobilize-me.

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