DALLAS (BP) — This year’s 100th anniversary of the founding of GuideStone Financial Resources will be a time to glance to the past but remain focused on the ministry’s future, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins told trustees during their Feb. 26-27 meeting in Dallas.
Each year Hawkins frames the upcoming 12 months with a verse of Scripture and a theme, with 2018 being the Year of New Beginnings, drawn from Ruth 1:16–17.
In addition to the annual theme, trustees elected a new board chair and vice chair and heard reports from the Southern Baptist entity’s various ministry areas. Trustees also toured the location of GuideStone’s new offices, to which the ministry will relocate in late summer.
John R. Morris of North Carolina, a retired bank president who has served as his church’s chairman of deacons, was elected trustee chairman, having completed a term as vice chair. A trustee since 2012, Morris has served on the board’s budget subcommittee, administrative policy committee and executive committee. He holds a graduate degree from and has served as an instructor with the American Institute of Banking.
Renée A. Trewick, a vice president responsible for risk management at Marsh USA in New York City, was elected trustee vice chair. She is active in her church, serving as stewardship director and treasurer. A trustee since 2014, Trewick has served on the board’s administrative policy committee. She holds degrees in finance/accounting and information systems.
“We have been blessed throughout our history with trustee boards that have sought to come alongside us with the right mix of churchmanship and business and fiduciary knowledge,” Hawkins said. “I believe John and Renée continue that tradition. I cannot imagine two better people to lead our board at this point in our history.”
Hawkins told trustees he believes part of his stewardship of GuideStone is remaining true to founder William Lunsford’s clarion call in 1918.
“We are stewards of this ministry for a small snapshot in time until we pass it on,” Hawkins said. “As we enter this second century of service, we choose to give a fleeting glance to the past and a focused gaze on the future. We are reminded, as [the apostle] Paul notes in Colossians, that we have received this ministry from the Lord. We are stewards of this important ministry.”
Hawkins quoted to trustees what Lunsford said at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in 1918: “Give yourselves wholeheartedly to the work. We will stand back of you. If you fall in the work, we will care for you; if you die, we will not allow your family to suffer. If you grow old in the work, we will comfort you in your declining years.”
“If William Lunsford could see the ministry we are today,” Hawkins said, “we believe he would be pleased with our stewardship in this time.”
Retirement & investments
Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones reported on GuideStone’s work throughout 2017, noting that organizational assets exceeded $15 billion for the first time in 2017, growing 14.2 percent during the year. Jones commented that GuideStone Funds performed well against their peers in 2017 and praised the work of the investments team on behalf of retirement plan participants.
Total active retirement plan accounts continued to grow in 2017, totaling 186,000 participant accounts, up 2.2 percent year-over-year.
Additionally, total retirement and investment contributions exceeded $1 billion, an increase of 11.1 percent over 2016.
“For the first time in history, we garnered more than $1 billion in new assets under management,” Jones said, emphasizing the number was based on contributions, not market gains. GuideStone investments, including institutional and intermediary platforms, accounted for a little over one-third of that gain.
Insurance continued to be a focus for GuideStone in 2017, Jones said. Medical plans enrollment declined slightly in 2017 due to the continued impacts of the Affordable Care Act and uncertainty in the medical coverage marketplace. Jones said the No. 1 goal for GuideStone in health care in 2018 includes offering an additional health care option that will provide lower premiums. An announcement on specifics regarding that option will come later in 2018.
For the property and casualty ministry area, the alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company continues to benefit GuideStone and Southern Baptist churches. At the end of 2017, GuideStone had 1,146 accounts with total bound premiums of $23.9 million. Sales efforts resulted in $3.9 million in new coverage. GuideStone was able to retain 97 percent of its insured churches and ministries from 2016 to 2017.
Mission:Dignity had its best year ever, raising nearly $7.7 million in gifts to the GuideStone ministry that provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist pastors, workers and, in most cases, their widows. The gifts reflect a 2.3 percent increase over 2016, Jones reported. Nearly 2,100 new donors gave first-time gifts to the ministry during 2017, which saw a record $1.1 million in gifts in December alone, as well as more than $125,000 given during the “Giving Tuesday” emphasis in November. That amount was propelled by $64,000 in matching funds provided by five generous donors.
“Mission:Dignity is truly the heart of GuideStone,” Jones told trustees.
GuideStone continues to seek people eligible to receive assistance from the ministry. Pastors, directors of missions and others who know a retired Southern Baptist minister or his widow in need can refer them to Mission:Dignity by calling 1-877-888-9409 or by visiting MissionDignity.org and choosing the “Refer Someone in Need” link on the right-hand side of the page.
Trustees approved an operating budget for 2018 that reflects a 1.1 percent increase over the 2017 budget, which itself was reduced approximately 10 percent from 2016. Jones emphasized that a core goal at GuideStone is to aggressively manage costs, which employees at all levels of the ministry are working diligently to achieve.
Jones said the move this summer from GuideStone’s longtime headquarters in Dallas’ Uptown neighborhood to new rented space in North Dallas’ Pinnacle Tower should yield more than $3 million annually in budget savings.
GuideStone trustees thanked six of their members upon the conclusion of their terms of service on the board: Tom Evans (Oklahoma), Jim Law (Georgia), Pete Livingston (Missouri), David McMillan (Tennessee), O’Neal Miller (South Carolina) and Michael Rochelle (Nevada). Six new trustees will be elected at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 12-13 in Dallas.
Trustees will meet again in July in New York City.