NEW YORK (BP) — Marking the 100th anniversary of GuideStone Financial Resources, the Southern Baptist entity’s trustees gathered July 30–31 in regular session to hear ministry reports from its executive leadership team and staff.
Trustees gave thanks to the Lord for the entity’s ministry and for the vision of founder William Lunsford. The New York meeting site allowed trustees to recognize the contributions of John D. Rockefeller and his son John D. Rockefeller Jr., who together gave nearly $1 million in total during the board’s first decade of service to provide financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows.
Lunsford, a Nashville pastor, told Southern Baptist pastors in 1918 that they could focus on their work and trust that GuideStone — then known as the Commission on Ministerial Relief and Annuities — would be there for them, their widows or families.
“Give yourselves wholeheartedly to the work,” Lunsford told Southern Baptists gathered at the annual meeting in Hot Springs, Ark. “We’ll stand back of you. If you fall in the work, we’ll care for you; if you die, we will not allow your family to suffer. If you grow old in the work, we’ll comfort you in your declining years.”
That charge remains close to the heart of GuideStone’s staff, President O.S. Hawkins said.
“On every desk at GuideStone is a small sign that reminds us daily that we exist to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security,” Hawkins said. “That connects us to William Lunsford’s early charge to the Southern Baptist Convention, and it carries us forward to continue to serve our participants with excellence.”
Hawkins reminded trustees of the year’s theme at GuideStone — the Year of New Beginnings. He noted that while celebrating the centennial anniversary, staff and leadership were focused on entering the ministry’s second century of service, committed to the vision that had guided it through its first century.
In a final report to trustees on GuideStone 100, Hawkins noted that 2018 also marks the conclusion of GuideStone’s long-range strategic plan that has guided the ministry’s work for more than a decade. All of its key objectives, Hawkins reported, were met over the last 13 years.
Hawkins noted that an addendum — Vision 20/20 — now guides GuideStone’s long-range planning and focuses on three strategic goals: increasing market share, responding to changes in the marketplace and continuing to aggressively manage costs while keeping participant service as the No. 1 focus.
“GuideStone 100 proved to be an effective plan for us as we moved through the planning and executing of the various goals, including the Mission:Dignity name change from Adopt An Annuitant and the launch of our Target Date Fund approach, among many others,” Hawkins said. “We believe Vision 20/20 will continue to guide us as we adapt to a changing marketplace, while always keeping our participants’ needs and expectations front and center.”
Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones echoed Hawkins’ sentiments as he provided reports over the ministry’s key lines of business.
Retirement and Investments
As of June 30, 2018, GuideStone reported assets under management of $15.3 billion, having grown $1.1 billion, or 8.0 percent, year-over-year. For the second year in a row GuideStone’s assets under management grew by more than $1 billion. This growth is primarily attributable to positive one-year returns in the GuideStone Funds Equity Index, Growth Equity and Small Cap Equity, which each posted double-digit one-year returns.
Total retirement and investment contributions totaled $522 million, a $40 million — or 8.0 percent — increase year-over-year.
Income into the insurance plans continues slightly ahead of the same period year-over-year, with claims running slightly behind, though Jones indicated that as the year progresses, and deductibles are met, claims expenses are likely to grow.
A new health plan — Secure Health 3000 — was launched at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in Dallas in June. The new plan offers a unique benefit structure that allows participants to pay significantly less than a comprehensive plan, while still offering the security of true medical coverage.
Property & Casualty
GuideStone’s alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company continues to pay dividends for GuideStone and the churches it serves. In 2018, GuideStone and Brotherhood Mutual began serving churches and ministries in the state of Louisiana. Renewal rates nationwide continue to exceed target goals, and the hit rate — the percentage of new accounts won based on bids — remains high at 61 percent.
More than 5,700 churches across the United States participated in Mission:Dignity Sunday on June 24. The special emphasis, designated for the fourth Sunday in June on the SBC calendar, helps raise awareness and money for Mission:Dignity, which provides financial assistance to retired pastors, Southern Baptist workers and their widows in financial need.
More than 1,700 pastors, and in most cases their widows, receive assistance through the ministry. More than $3.5 million has been paid out by midyear.
While raising funds and awareness — the ministry receives no Cooperative Program funding; all gifts are given by local churches, Sunday school classes and individuals — Mission:Dignity has also launched a special emphasis searching for eligible retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows in financial need, Jones said.
“We are so thankful for the stewardship of this important and vital ministry,” Jones said. “We know this is very close to the heart of God.”
To refer a retired Southern Baptist minister, worker or pastor’s widow who might be eligible for help, to apply for assistance or to provide a gift, visit MissionDignity.org.
Donald A. Shepherd, the executive tasked with handling all aspects of the relocation of GuideStone from its home of 29 years to new leased space 10 miles north of downtown Dallas, told trustees that employees would report to work at the new offices Aug. 20, with most of the physical move occurring the weekend prior.
The move is a significant undertaking, especially with transitions in technology migration that will enhance the participants’ and investors’ experience, while driving efficiency and collaboration among employees.
The new location sits within a 45-minute commute of nearly 70 percent of the Dallas/Fort Worth area’s eligible workforce. GuideStone will occupy the top five floors of the 24-story Pinnacle Tower located at the intersection of the Dallas North Tollway and Interstate 635/Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway, across from the Galleria shopping center. New GuideStone signs were affixed to the top of the building in late July; some 500,000 vehicles pass the intersection daily, making it one of the most visible office spaces in the growing North Dallas area.
“These are indeed historic, and we trust God-honoring, days at GuideStone Financial Resources,” Hawkins noted. “We continue to remind our people that regardless of our location or our respective roles, we must always remember that we exist to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security. This will continue to be our guide each and every day.”