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SBC president highlights EKG to Annuity Board trustees, staff

DALLAS (BP)–Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham challenged trustees and staff of the Annuity Board to “max out” for God during their Nov. 4-5 meeting in Dallas.

Graham emphasized the SBC theme “Empowering Kingdom Growth” in speaking from Matthew 6:33 during a Monday evening service recognition dinner for employees.

“To be Kingdom Christians we must exalt our King Jesus Christ, empower Kingdom growth, establish Kingdom families, expand our Kingdom witness and expect Kingdom glory,” said Graham, pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.

During their business sessions, trustees unanimously approved a 2003 operating budget and heard officer reports on various facets of the board’s work.

Board President O. S. Hawkins reminded trustees of the plight many churches and pastors face in a period of declining markets and a national healthcare crisis.

“We are facing a national healthcare crisis. Many of our participants are facing significant rate increases in their medical plans. While we cannot control the financial markets, we are determined to continue to find ways to enhance the financial security of our participants,” Hawkins told trustees.

John Jones, chief operating officer, reported on successful efforts to undergird the board’s primary business objectives and the eight business drivers, or key tactics, for implementing the objectives. Citing examples of how the staff has worked to support the business drivers, Jones told trustees, “We are pleased with the successes we have had in positioning our organization to provide superior customer service to those we are privileged to serve.

“We continue to aggressively manage costs in our products and services,” Jones continued. “For example, the [administrative] cost for a health program such as the Annuity Board offers normally averages over 15 percent. The Annuity Board’s health program cost averages only 12 percent. More than ever before, we are focused on finding solutions that will provide products and services to help us achieve our mission.”

George Tous van Nijkerk, chairman of the board, presided as trustees approved a 2003 budget of $53.1 million, a 3 percent increase in spending and operations over 2002. The Annuity Board receives no Cooperative Program funds for operations, but pays all expenses from an advisory fee on the investment funds available to participants.

All Cooperative Program money received by the board is paid as relief grants to needy retired ministers or denominational workers or their widows.

John West of Alabama, chairman of the trustees’ insurance committee, reported on enhancements to the health programs that will be implemented Jan. 1.

Transition is underway to a new third party administrator (TPA). Whereas in the past, only 70 percent of medical plan participants had access to discounts, expanded networks through the new TPA arrangement will make discounts available to 90 percent of participants, West said. A well baby care benefit will be added to other wellness benefits that are already offered in the medical plans. For participants who are looking for a lower cost plan, a fourth level of the comprehensive medical plan will be available. This plan will have higher deductibles and co-pays with a premium that is 55 percent of the level one premium.

West also reported on the declaration of a dividend in the amount of $200,000 to be paid to the Annuity Board’s endowment program from the Southern Baptist Convention Managing General Agency, Inc. (the MGA). In 1988 the Annuity Board established a subsidiary known as the Southern Baptist Convention Managing General Agency, Inc., to assist Southern Baptist churches and organizations in obtaining property and casualty insurance. Since 1991, the MGA has had a contractual relationship with GuideOne Insurance of West Des Moines, Iowa. Dividends and charitable contributions from the MGA are paid to the board’s relief program, which benefits hundreds of retired ministers, missionaries and their widows. Since the inception of this relationship, more than $2 million has been provided to the board’s endowment program.

Trustees received a valuation report of the Fixed Benefit Fund, which provides annuity payments to annuitants receiving Plan A benefits and certain fixed annuities. While recipients of commercial fixed annuities do not normally receive an increase in benefits, the Annuity Board has granted seven increases to annuitants since 1990. Three of these increases were 10 percent increases while four were 5 percent increases. The most recent increase was a 5 percent increase granted at the beginning of 2001. Each year the Fixed Benefit Fund is valued and if there is sufficient margin, an increase is granted. The financial markets’ low performance during the past 12 months has not provided sufficient margin to consider an increase for 2003.

The trustees’ relief committee, chaired by Eugene Hawkins of Texas, approved applications for 1 two-month grant, 2 three-month grants, 6 two-year monthly grants and 2 two-year expense grants. Forty-six applications were declined for being outside relief guidelines. Ninety-nine individuals were added to the relief assistance roll during the third quarter.

In action approved earlier this year, trustees approved steps to combine the supplemental assistance program and the Adopt An Annuitant program into a single program. As a result of this action, many relief participants’ benefits more than doubled. Maximum supplemental assistance grants are $200 per month for single persons and $265 for couples.

Other action by the relief committee included approving a $200 Christmas check for each relief recipient on the roll Dec. 1. Funds to provide the special Christmas check are made possible through the endowment program of the Annuity Board.

In other action, trustees approved amendments to the board’s retirement plans to comply with recent legislation and approved a resolution commending recent action by Omni Hotels to encourage Christian values by removing adult literature and videos from its hotels.

The next scheduled meeting of Annuity Board trustees will be Feb. 24-25 in Dallas.

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  • Curtis D. Sharp