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TRUSTEES: GuideStone Financial Resources funds yield positive returns

DALLAS (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins told trustees the theme that will direct the entity’s work for 2010 is “The Year of Initiative.”

GuideStone trustees, meeting March 1-2 in Dallas, also received a financial status report from Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones.

“We are challenging our employees to make every effort this year to take initiative in finding unique ways to serve our participants,” Hawkins said.

Referring to the passage about the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, Hawkins said “in order to be one who takes initiative, we must see the need, feel the need, touch the need and then meet the need.”

Jones updated trustees on GuideStone’s program areas, which include investments, retirement, insurance, financial assistance and developmental initiatives.

“While the beginning of 2009 continued one of the most tumultuous financial markets in our nation’s history, by mid-March we began to see some improvements in the markets and some measure of stability,” Jones said as he reviewed GuideStone’s investment funds’ performance for 2009.

“In sharp contrast to 2008, all 20 GuideStone Funds (GS4 share class) posted positive returns for the year. Nineteen of the 20 Funds posted double-digit performance for the year, with the only exception being the Money Market Fund.

“For the one-year period ending Dec. 31, 2009, 10 of 13 funds in the GS2 share class exceeded their respective benchmark. The 13 funds include nine Select Funds and four Asset Allocation Funds.

“In addition, GuideStone Funds ranked 34th out of 213 mutual fund families in the most recent Fund Family Fiduciary Rankings prepared by fi360,” Jones said.

The report ranks mutual fund families based upon the percentage of their individual funds that pass fi360’s due diligence screens. The 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.

“While contributions to retirement plans were lower due to employers’ budgetary restrictions, overall annual contributions to retirement plans exceeded withdrawals and benefit payments,” Jones said.

Turning to GuideStone’s medical plans, Jones said 42 new groups were added throughout the year representing more than 1,400 additional lives. Group enrollment overall was up 3.2 percent for the year. However, personal enrollment was down 3.6 percent, due largely to the uncertain economic conditions felt by many churches and smaller ministries as many had to downsize their staff or reduce benefits in order to remain viable.

In the financial assistance area, Jones reported good news concerning generous responses by individuals and churches that supported the financial assistance program Mission:Dignity.

“Even with a very shaky economy, Southern Baptist churches and individuals continued to be faithful in supporting Mission:Dignity. Over 1,200 donors made their first gift to Mission:Dignity during 2009,” Jones said.

The Mission:Dignity program provides financial assistance to more than 2,000 retired ministers or their widows in crucial financial need.

Jones also reported on GuideStone’s initiative to offer property and casualty insurance to churches and ministry organizations.

“This new program, launched in the fall of 2008, offers a competitive property and casualty program that provides risk management programs for churches and may provide the opportunity to reclaim dollars for ministry that have been lost to for-profit insurers,” Jones said.

Jones reviewed for trustees the progress of several development initiatives. New services for participants included enhanced account statements which now assist participants in knowing how well they are preparing for retirement and how they can improve in their future.

“For those who want more detailed investment assistance, we now provide specific investment advice through our new GPS: Guided Planning Services,” Jones said.

Participants may work individually through the online tool or make a telephonic appointment with a GuideStone investment adviser for personal assistance.

Also launched during the year was a new Inflation Protected Bond Fund and additional fixed annuity options which provide a greater range of choices for participants who are anticipating retirement.

Trustees accepted the recommendation of their general officers nominating committee and re-elected Timothy Head of South Carolina as chairman and Harold Vick of Florida as vice chairman.

At the Monday evening dinner meeting, seven trustees were honored as they reached the end of their terms of service. Those receiving recognition were William Delk of Georgia, Barry Divine of Maryland/Delaware, Truman Fallaw of South Carolina, Kenneth Howe of Missouri, Gerald Jones of Arkansas, Ray Sikes of Oklahoma and Robert Sorrell of Tennessee.
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer for denominational and public relations for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Churches and ministries seeking more information about coverage offered through GuideStone may visit www.GuideStonepropertycasualty.org or call 1-877-455-GSPC (1-877-455-4772). For more details on the Mission:Dignity ministry to needy retirees and widows, visit www.MissionDignitySBC.org, call toll-free 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433); or send an e-mail to [email protected]

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  • Curtis D. Sharp