NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Morris H. Chapman, president and chief executive officer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention, has asked for a study regarding the investment of reserve funds held by entities of the Southern Baptist Convention.
In a memo to O.S. Hawkins, president of Guidestone Financial Resources and in a letter to the Great Commission Council (heads of the SBC’s entities and auxiliary), state executive directors and presidents of state foundations, Chapman said he has directed the staffs of the SBC Executive Committee and the Southern Baptist Foundation to engage in the study with the assistance of the SBC’s attorneys.
Chapman also sent the letter to officers of the SBC EC and trustees of the SBF.
The mission statements of GuideStone Financial Services and the SBC Executive Committee touch on this subject.
GuideStone provides retirement plan services, life and health coverage, risk management programs and personal and institutional investment programs to Southern Baptist churches and denominational entities.
The SBC Executive Committee discharges its responsibility regarding investment services through its subsidiary, the Southern Baptist Foundation.
SBC bylaw 18 directs the work of the SBC Executive Committee and among other duties, assigns the EC the responsibilities:
— “… to study and make recommendations to entities concerning adjustments required by ministry statements … and whenever deemed advisable, to make recommendations to the Convention …”
— and “… to present to the Convention recommendations required to clarify the responsibilities of the entities for ministries and other functions, to eliminate overlapping assignments of responsibility, and to authorize the assignment of new responsibilities for ministries or functions to entities.”
Chapman’s entire letter follows:
“As a matter of information, I want you to know that I have directed the staff of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention and of the Southern Baptist Foundation, and the Convention’s attorneys, to study the ministry assignments of GuideStone Financial Resources and of the Executive Committee on the matter of institutional investment services. Presently, both GuideStone and the Southern Baptist Foundation have responsibilities which touch on this subject. I have asked that the study test my hypothesis:
“‘That the Southern Baptist Convention would be best served if GuideStone could provide institutional investment services to an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention (meaning an entity listed in SBC Bylaw 14) without negotiating a cooperative agreement with the Southern Baptist Foundation.’
“I have directed these persons to provide me with the results of their studies and offer to me any recommendations regarding this hypothesis as well as recommendations on any other matter touching on the subject of institutional investments which they deem prudent.
“I would not wish either my hypothesis or the attendant study to unsettle the current requirement that GuideStone must enter into a cooperative agreement with state Baptist foundations before it can offer investment management services to churches and state denominational entities.
“In accord with the traditional practice and ministry assignment of the Southern Baptist Foundation, I expect it to maintain the right to manage investment funds of organizations, estates, trusts, and/or individuals that desire to contribute financially to SBC missions and ministries, now or in the future. Furthermore, the Southern Baptist Foundation will continue to provide other ministries and services to assist Southern Baptist churches, their members, and denominational entities in accord with their traditional practice and ministry assignment.
“I have come to the decision to launch this study only after several years of reflection upon the intended cooperative spirit of our Convention and the review of options afforded SBC entities for management of their institutional investment funds.
“In recent years, and for reasons best known and explained by their trustee boards, entities of the Southern Baptist Convention have sought and retained investment firms outside the Southern Baptist Convention to manage their reserve funds. If my hypothesis becomes a proposal and a revision of GuideStone’s ministry assignment comes to pass, I am hopeful that SBC entities would give serious consideration to bringing most, if not all, of their investment funds back under the management of either GuideStone or the Southern Baptist Foundation, thus keeping the funds, and the responsibility for them, completely within the Southern Baptist family. I believe this study will show that with only a slight modification to current ministry assignments, there will be little or no reason to enlist secular management for the investment of funds that come to SBC entities through the Cooperative Program, missions offerings, and designated gifts of faithful Southern Baptists.
“I am praying that this step will be a model to all Southern Baptists that the cooperative spirit is vital to the future success of our Convention, and given priority, can flourish to the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ and for the well-being and witness of the Southern Baptist Convention.