DALLAS (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins provided trustees a progress report during their meeting Nov. 6-7 on initiatives related to GuideStone 90, the first phase of GuideStone’s long-range strategic plan, GuideStone 100.
In their meeting in Dallas, trustees also heard an update on GuideStone’s operations from Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones, received a report for GuideStone’s plans to create a property and casualty insurance program and approved the 2008 operating budget for GuideStone.
In his report to trustees, Hawkins framed his remarks in the vision statement of GuideStone, which states “GuideStone Financial Resources exists to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with its participants in enhancing their financial security.”
Hawkins reminded trustees that GuideStone’s long-range plan is divided into three phases. GuideStone 90, the first phase, is to be completed by June 2008. GuideStone 95 is targeted for completion in 2013 and GuideStone 100 will complete the long-range plan in 2018, GuideStone’s centennial year.
Initiatives already completed for GuideStone 90 include:
— Completely redesigning the “front end” website, providing enhanced navigation and ease of access for participants.
— Expanding investment options through the launch of the GuideStone Funds Real Estate Securities Fund and the MyDestination Funds, a series of five date-target funds.
— Offering more affordable and flexible health care products along with health savings and reimbursement accounts.
— Offering a free $10,000 life benefit for all full-time students attending the six Southern Baptist Convention seminaries.
— Expanding guidelines that will enable more retired ministers or their widows to qualify for GuideStone’s financial assistance program as well as increasing benefits for those who have the greatest needs and have long years of Southern Baptist Convention service.
— Enhancing the Mission/Church Assistance Fund guidelines that allow more small churches to qualify and increasing matching funds for ministers serving those churches.
Hawkins also reported on the September action by the SBC Executive Committee where approvals were given to create new GuideStone affiliates.
“These affiliates will facilitate future initiatives that will enable GuideStone to offer property and casualty insurance, expanded life insurance products and financial advice to our participants,” Hawkins said.
Property and casualty insurance is the first of the new initiatives to be addressed. Expanded life insurance products and financial advice are being studied by project teams. Trustees will receive additional reports on these two initiatives in the summer of next year.
“In every initiative we focus our tasks through the lens of our vision statement,” Hawkins said. The theme that has directed GuideStone’s work for 2007 is found in Matthew 25:21 which says, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Hawkins added, “We want to say to our participants, ‘Well done’ as they serve in their places of responsibility.”
Jones reviewed the key financial indicators for the first nine months of 2007. “In each area of our operations we are experiencing success,” he said.
He reported that assets under management for GuideStone Financial Resources totaled $10.5 billion at the end of September. He also shared the success of GuideStone’s investment programs offered through GuideStone Funds.
“For the five years ending Sept. 30, 2007, eight of the nine select funds provided by GuideStone Funds (GS2 share class) exceeded the median of their peer universe by Lipper,” Jones said.
Lipper Inc., a Reuters Company, is a nationally recognized organization that compares the total return performance of mutual funds within a universe of funds having similar investment objectives. Past performance, of course, does not guarantee future results. The most recent investment performance and fund rankings can be viewed at www.GuideStone.org.
GuideStone Funds were also included in a ranking by fi360, formerly known as Fiduciary Analytics. As of September 30, 2007, the GuideStone Funds family was ranked 29th out of 228 mutual fund families in the most recent Fund Family Fiduciary Rankings prepared by fi360. This report ranks mutual fund families based upon the percentage of their individual funds that pass fi360’s due diligence screens. These screens include the fund’s track record, assets, management tenure, style consistency, expense ratio, risk adjusted performance and performance relative to their peer group among other criteria.
In the retirement/savings area, Jones indicated that GuideStone has continued to achieve a strong presence in the marketplace. Through Sept. 30, there has been an 8.4 percent increase in active participants in GuideStone retirement plans.
Jones updated trustees on the growth of GuideStone’s life and health program for the first nine months of 2007. As of the end of September, enrollment in GuideStone’s personal and group medical plans has increased 10 percent year to date, representing almost 2,600 new participants.
“The growth has been strong in both personal and group plans with group enrollment growing at a greater clip. With over 90 proposals in process, we have the potential to increase our medical plan enrollments significantly before the end of 2007,” Jones told trustees.
The Financial Assistance ministry has seen an increase of 376 new donors since January, he said.
“There are now approximately 2,100 Adopt An Annuitant recipients,” Jones said. “The average recipient is 80 years old with about $1,100 of income and $1,300 worth of expenses. We are able to help bridge the gap to make up the $200 shortfall these dear servants of God experience every month.”
Trustees also received a report concerning GuideStone’s plans to offer a property and casualty program. In reviewing the report, Douglas D. Day, executive officer for insurance solutions and services, explained the impetus for GuideStone offering such a program.
“GuideStone’s property and casualty program will facilitate reclaiming dollars for ministry as we help churches obtain appropriate property and casualty coverage while we also provide educational and risk management programs,” Day said. Trustees will hear additional updates on this initiative at their next meeting early next year.
Gregory A. Bibb, chairman of the budget subcommittee, reviewed the operating budget proposed for 2008. It was unanimously adopted by trustees.
“The trustee budget subcommittee and the staff have carefully prepared a budget that undergirds our ministries and provides the resources to move ahead in developing future strategies that will help us fulfill our vision to enhance the financial security of our participants,” Bibb said.
GuideStone receives no Cooperative Program funds for operations from the Southern Baptist Convention, but pays all expenses from an advisory fee on its investment funds offered through GuideStone Funds. As of Sept. 30, GuideStone released its Cooperative Program allocation which was previously used exclusively in GuideStone’s relief ministry. The earnings on its endowment reserves and continued gifts from individuals and churches made the release of the Cooperative Program allocation possible. At the same time, GuideStone has expanded its financial assistance, guidelines enabling more persons to qualify for assistance and will double the benefits for the recipients with the greatest needs and long years of service as of January next year.
The trustees’ relief committee approved applications adding 41 individuals to the financial assistance roll. Relief committee chairman W.R. Chestnut reported that 275 individuals or couples will be eligible for increased benefits beginning in January.
“These individuals or couples are retired ministers or widows who have the greatest financial needs and also have very long years of SBC service,” Chestnut said. Trustees approved the increased benefits in actions taken earlier this year.
Other action by the relief committee included approving a $200 Christmas check for each financial assistance recipient on the roll Dec. 1, 2007. Funds to provide the special Christmas check are made possible through GuideStone’s endowment program. Individuals and churches are invited to participate in the Adopt An Annuitant ministry.
For more details on the Adopt An Annuitant ministry, call 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433), visit the website at www.AdoptAnAnnuitant.org or e-mail [email protected]
Compiled by the staff of GuideStone Financial Resources.