NASHVILLE (BP) — Continued growth of assets and business was evidenced in reports received at GuideStone Financial Resources’ summer trustee meeting at the Omni Nashville Hotel.
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins addressed trustees about GuideStone 100, the ministry’s long-range plan that guides the entity through its 2018 centennial and beyond.
“There is much work ahead,” Hawkins told trustees,” but GuideStone has the enthusiasm and energy to finish strong to reach GuideStone 100.”
Hawkins asked trustees to be prayer warriors in regards to GuideStone’s appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court over the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate that threatens crippling penalties to force certain ministries served by GuideStone to provide abortion-causing drugs and devices to women. GuideStone is fighting to be granted the same exemption extended to churches and other integrated auxiliaries of churches.
“We want our employers to know, regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court,” Hawkins said, “we’ll have a solution for all of the employers we serve.”
Trustees heard reports from the retirement, investment, insurance, property & casualty and Mission:Dignity program areas within GuideStone at the July 27-28 meeting.
GuideStone Funds, which became available for investment by church members in May 2014, continues to grow and returns continue to remain positive, chief operating officer John R. Jones reported.
“The growth in GuideStone Funds is due not only to a robust financial market, but the additional leveraging by the expertise of the GuideStone Capital Management, LLC, staff,” Jones said, speaking of the entity that serves as adviser to GuideStone Funds. During the last several months, GuideStone Capital Management has added several experienced team members who share a commitment to the cause of Christ as members of Southern Baptist churches.
Organizational assets have remained about $12.9 billion since May 2014. They have reached a new, all-time high of $13.4 billion in May 2015, before tapering back down to the 12-month average of $13.2 billion in June.
Total contributions are on pace with 2014, Jones said, and average account balances have grown along with the markets. GuideStone continues to grow its expanded audience of like-minded evangelical churches and ministries it serves, while Southern Baptist churches and institutions continue to comprise more than 90 percent of participants.
GuideStone also continues to address the needs of the aging and retiring baby boomer generation, much as other companies in the retirement industry. Jones said opportunities to serve this generation are growing each year.
“We experienced dramatic results in the insurance line of business with increases in enrollment,” Jones said. “We are very gratified with year-over-year group enrollment. Our health care programs are healthy and remain viable for our participants. There are positive possibilities ahead for GuideStone, even in the face of challenges with the Affordable Care Act.”
Insurance rates will be communicated over the next few weeks; average increases are expected to be in the single digits for Personal Plans participants.
Property & Casualty
GuideStone’s alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company continues to provide benefits to Southern Baptist churches, Jones said. Written premiums have increased by $1 million, or 14.2 percent, from 2014 to 2015. Nearly 340 accounts have renewed, which represents a renewal rate of more than 99 percent.
“2015 has been a robust year for the property and casualty line of business,” Jones said, “which remains in good stead.”
GuideStone’s Mission:Dignity continues to serve retired pastors and their widows in desperate financial need. The ministry added 1,600 new donors in 2014, with more than 7,100 churches participating in Mission:Dignity Sunday June 28. Close to one million bulletin inserts were distributed to Southern Baptist churches.
For the second year in a row, giving for the first half of the year was up 5 percent from the previous year, Jones told trustees, reminding them that 100 percent of gifts given go to help a retired pastor or his widow.
After a trustee-approved increase in 2014, the neediest individuals receive $450 per month in assistance and couples receive $600 per month.
Hawkins asked trustees to seek out retired pastors and ministers’ widows who might qualify for assistance, saying it is a challenge to find new recipients because so many are so humble, and many admit they struggle to ask for help.
GuideStone trustees will meet again in February in Dallas.