DALLAS (BP)–GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins updated trustees on the first three quarters of 2009, including how the GuideStone staff has demonstrated perspective amid one of the greatest economic crises in the nation’s history.
GuideStone trustees, meeting Nov. 2-3 in Dallas, also received a financial status report from Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones and approved the 2010 budget.
Each year GuideStone selects a Scripture verse and a theme to guide the work of the Dallas-based Southern Baptist financial services entity. For 2009, “The Year of Perspective” theme is drawn from Habakkuk 2:3: “Though the vision tarries, wait for it; it will surely come.”
“In times of uncertainty we can give up, give in or give out,” Hawkins told trustees. “However, through the power of God’s leadership we must reach up seeking His guidance. We must reach in to fine-tune our processes and make the most of the resources that we have. And we must reach out to our participants in helping them to also gain a proper perspective as they navigate these tumultuous times of financial crisis.”
Jones, summarizing GuideStone’s financial status through the first nine months of the year, said, “From a low point of $6.9 billion in assets in March of this year, our asset base at the end of September was $8.8 billion, an increase of 31 percent.
“The substantial increase in the assets reflects the upward movement we have seen in the financial markets and underscores the importance of staying invested in a planned allocation to take advantage of the improved performance in the financial markets,” Jones said.
The overall performance of GuideStone Funds was positive for the year both on an absolute basis and a relative basis, Jones said, citing the ranking of the funds in the latest report by industry analysis firm fi360.
“GuideStone Funds was ranked at the 26th percentile among mutual fund families in the most recent Fund Family Fiduciary Rankings prepared by fi360,” Jones said. “That means we ranked higher than 74 percent of all other mutual fund families ranked by fi360.”
The fi360 report ranks approximately 213 mutual fund families based on the percentage of their individual funds that pass fi360’s due diligence screens, including 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.
“Additionally, for the first nine months of this year, nine of 11 GuideStone Select Funds performed better than their respective benchmarks,” Jones told trustees.
Interest in GuideStone’s new property and casualty insurance products continues to grow, Jones reported, noting that GuideStone is now covering churches and ministries in 15 states and is licensed in 38 states, with applications for licenses in the remaining states.
Jones also reviewed the success of GuideStone’s Mission:Dignity program for the first nine months in providing assistance to retired ministers or their widows who have significant financial needs.
“Since the first of this year, 3,833 donors have made gifts to Mission:Dignity and 1,064 donors made their first gift,” Jones said. “We are grateful that churches and individuals have continued to support this vital ministry even in the midst of a difficult economic period.”
Greg Bibb of Kentucky, chairman of the trustees’ budget subcommittee, reviewed the operating budget proposed for 2010, which then received unanimous trustee approval.
“GuideStone’s performance, as it relates to budget issues, was excellent in 2009,” Bibb said. “Management made additional expense reductions well below the approved budget while at the same time continuing initiatives in insurance, financial advice and technology improvements. The proposed budget is 15.5 percent lower than the originally approved 2009 budget.”
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.
The trustees’ relief committee approved applications adding 35 individuals to the financial assistance roll. Eight individuals were approved for grants.
Other action by the relief committee included approving a $200 Christmas check for each eligible financial assistance recipient on the roll as of November 1. Funds to provide the special Christmas check are made possible through GuideStone’s endowment program.
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 MissionDignity@GuideStone.org.