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TRUSTEES: GuideStone trustees receives long-term plan update

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–During its recent summer meeting GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins updated trustees on GuideStone’s progress in completing strategic objectives related to its long-range plan, GuideStone 100.

Trustees also received a report on GuideStone’s operations from chief operating officer John R. Jones. Trustees met in regular session July 26-27.

“GuideStone’s priorities and long-range objectives are driven by its mission, vision and values,” Hawkins told trustees as he reviewed the continuing implementation of the long-range plan that will guide the organization’s work through 2018, the centennial anniversary of GuideStone. “The strategic objectives that will be discussed today are an outgrowth of a set of values reflecting GuideStone’s purpose and identity.”

GuideStone 100 was first conceived in 2004 as trustees and staff collaborated on a plan that would result in three-phases: GuideStone 90 (2008), GuideStone 95 (2013) and GuideStone 100 (2018).

“The increasingly competitive environment we face in the financial services industry demands that we develop and implement meaningful strategic initiatives,” Hawkins said. “We cannot just provide a tactical response to the challenges we face. GuideStone 100 provides a coherent, integrated approach to current and future opportunities that allow us to enhance the financial security of those we serve.”

Since 2005, more than 40 strategic projects have been completed, including the launch of the MyDestination Funds; a series of date-target mutual funds that automatically grow more conservative as they move toward the participant’s chosen retirement date. Other participant enhancements include a free life benefit for all full-time students enrolled in Southern Baptist seminaries, a personalized MyGuideStone website that allows participants to have 24/7 access to their account information, enhanced participant account statements, the launch of GuideStone’s property and casualty insurance program, and the implementation of Guided Planning Services (GPS), a free tool that provides specific asset allocation advice for retirement plan participants.

“Every project or strategic initiative that we begin is carefully examined through the lens of our vision statement,” Hawkins told trustees. “Before any decision is finalized, before any work is done, we ask ourselves, ‘How will our decisions and actions enhance the financial security of our participants?'”

“Much is still to be done as we move through GuideStone 95 which climaxes in 2013. Strategic projects on the near horizon include additional retirement income products for participants approaching retirement, enhanced online retirement enrollment capabilities, understanding and responding to healthcare reform, and program and coverage enhancement for our property and casualty program. These are just a few of the many initiatives that are now under way,” Hawkins explained.

John R. Jones, GuideStone’s chief operating officer, reported on GuideStone’s operations.

“Organizational assets closed the 2nd quarter at just under $9 billion, nearly $1 billion higher than this time last year,” Jones said. “While the current financial markets are still struggling to gain upward momentum, GuideStone’s participants made gradual moves in their asset allocation to increase their fixed income allocation while decreasing their equity exposure.”

For the one year period ending June 30, 2010, 13 of 16 GuideStone Funds outperformed their respective benchmark. The 16 funds include GuideStone’s four Asset Allocation Funds and 12 Select Funds. (Past performance does not guarantee future results.)

“Second quarter retirement plan contributions outpaced the same period last year,” Jones said. “The slight increase in retirement plan contributions is remarkable considering the economic climate in which we live. We want to encourage our churches and our institutions as they meet the financial challenges resulting from our faltering economy.”

Jones also updated trustees on GuideStone’s efforts to analyze and understand the impact of healthcare reform.

“While we have project teams fully engaged in this effort, it will likely be a continuing challenge as the various government agencies release regulations that will help us interpret how we are to structure our plans in the future for the benefit of our participants,” Jones said.

GuideStone’s rate action for 2011 will not be communicated until late summer or early fall. However, churches that have budget deadlines before the new rates are released may call GuideStone’s toll-free number 1-888-98GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) after August 9 and speak with a customer relations specialist to receive rates for 2011.

The Kaiser Family Foundation indicates premiums in the individual market will average increases of nearly 20 percent nationwide. This estimate is based on the combined trend for medical inflation and pharmacy inflation. Also, the uncertainty of the impact of the healthcare reform legislation on plan design is contributing to the increase in medical rates throughout the health plan industry.

Churches or individuals who wish to minimize the impact of rate increases on their 2011 budgets should consider GuideStone’s full range of health plans including higher deductible plan options that can save money on monthly rates, GuideStone leader say.

GuideStone’s implementation of its property and casualty program continues to make steady advances. As of June 30 of this year, coverage has been issued to 158 accounts in 14 states.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to make available risk management products to churches and ministry organizations that will provide affordable insurance coverage as well as comprehensive educational materials,” Jones said. “We are now licensed in 37 states and have applied for licenses in the remainder of the 50 states.

Commenting on its Mission:Dignity program, Hawkins told trustees, “Throughout its more than nine decades of service, GuideStone has remained faithful to its beginnings. Nothing we do is more significant than providing financial assistance to retired pastors or their widows who have great needs.”

Through the Mission:Dignity emphasis in June, a new record was set for requests of bulletin inserts to promote the program. In previous years, the most churches requesting inserts were 1,100. This year more than 1,355 churches requested more than 225,000 inserts. Interested churches or individuals can learn more about Mission:Dignity, by logging on to www.MissionDignitySBC.org.

Hawkins reflected on the turbulent economic times American has experienced in the past 24 months. He read from Deuteronomy 11:10-11 which says, in part, “But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.”

“Just as the children of Israel would experience hills and valleys in their conquest of Canaan,” Hawkins said. “we, as individuals and as organizations, experienced hills and valleys as we strive to serve God. Whether in the valleys or on the mountain tops, we must always remember that God’s eye is on us.”
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer for denominational and public relations services at GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

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