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TRUSTEES: GuideStone’s president, O.S. Hawkins, calls 2011 a year of ‘opportunity’

DALLAS (BP)–Speaking from an Old Testament passage, GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins told trustees, “We are challenging our employees to make every effort this year to ‘see the glass half-full’ as we seize opportunities to enhance the financial security of our participants.”

GuideStone’s trustees, who met Feb. 28-March 1 in Dallas, also heard a report from Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones on the Southern Baptist entity’s various program areas.

Hawkins, in addressing the trustees, drew from Numbers 14:24, which says, “… But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit, and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” Caleb and Joshua, Hawkins noted, “had optimistic attitudes. They saw the glass half-full rather than half-empty as the other 10 spies who had obstinate attitudes.”

“Those who see a glass half-empty see a problem in every answer,” Hawkins continued, “while those who view the glass half-full find an answer in every problem.

“Organizations that see the glass half-empty often just play defense, and many of those are in decline. Organizations that see the glass half-full want to accomplish more and are on the offensive to succeed for the benefit of those they serve. We want to take every opportunity to succeed for our participants.”

Jones updated trustees on GuideStone’s work in investments, retirement and insurance and the entity’s financial assistance and developmental initiatives.

“The dawn of 2010 brought a more optimistic view of the financial markets as our participants continued to recover value lost during the recent recession,” Jones said in reviewing GuideStone’s investment funds’ performance for 2010. “All GuideStone funds posted positive returns for the year. All Equity Select Funds posted double digit returns in 2010. Investors in well-diversified portfolios, such as GuideStone Funds Asset Allocation and date-target funds, realized what we feel are strong gains for the year.”

According to Lipper Rankings, nine of 12 GuideStone Select Funds in the GS4 class met or exceeded median returns within their respective peer universe, based upon risk-adjusted returns, for the year ending Dec. 31, 2010. (The various GS classes are defined in the prospectus of each fund and largely relate to eligibility of participants and fund size.)

Three GuideStone Funds received special recognition. For the five-year period ending Jan. 31, 2011, GuideStone’s Extended Duration Bond Fund in the GS2 class was ranked number one among its peers by Lipper. For the one-year period ending Jan. 31, 2011, both the MyDestination 2035 Fund and the MyDestination 2045 Fund were ranked number one for date-target funds.

“In addition, GuideStone Funds ranked 60 out of 205 mutual fund families in the most recent Fund Family Fiduciary Rankings prepared by fi360,” Jones said of the report that ranks mutual fund families based on the percentage of their individual funds that pass various due diligence screens. fi360’s screens include 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.

Jones also reported, “Contributions to retirement plans increased as employers and employees began to reinstate contributions to participants’ accounts that were reduced or eliminated during the recent economic downturn.”

Turning to GuideStone’s medical plans, Jones commented on the continuing discussions regarding the new federal health care law. “Although new health care reform legislation was signed into law, the long-term effects and the implementation of that law continue to be surrounded by uncertainty,” Jones said.

As appeals continue through the courts and uncertainties remain in how it will be funded and what the legislation actually involves, Jones said GuideStone has teams studying the law and accompanying guidance, and is preparing for implementation.

In the financial assistance area, Jones reported good news concerning generous responses by individuals and churches that support the financial assistance program, Mission:Dignity.

“Many retired Southern Baptist ministers and widows face uncertainties as to how they will pay their bills, if they’ll get their medicines or what they will eat. It can be a traumatic time for these dear servants of Christ,” Jones said. “During this past year, Southern Baptists have continued to be Christ’s hands extended to provide financial assistance for those who need it most. Over 1,000 new donors made their first gift to Mission:Dignity during 2010.”

The Mission:Dignity program provides financial assistance to more than 2,000 retired ministers or their widows in crucial financial need.

Information concerning Mission:Dignity may be requested by calling GuideStone at 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433) or by sending an e-mail to [email protected].

Jones also told trustees that participant utilization of the personalized financial advice service launched in 2009, GPS: Guided Planning Services, continues to increase. The free service allows participants to select investment funds for their retirement account at GuideStone and assess whether they are on track to meet their retirement savings goals. Participants may work individually through the online tool or make a telephone appointment with a GuideStone investment adviser for personal assistance.

Jones reported that a new major GuideStone initiative is focusing on establishing an enterprise risk management program, with a goal of ensuring that risks are appropriately identified, assessed, prioritized, monitored and communicated.

“GuideStone has done a good job in the past to manage risks in our various business units,” Jones said. “This new initiative will help us to take a macro-approach in coordinating our risk management efforts across our entire enterprise.”

Trustees accepted the recommendation of their general officers nominating committee and elected Harold D. Vick of Florida as chairman and Ronald L. Bryant of the Northwest Baptist Convention, as vice chairman.

Seven trustees were honored during a Monday evening dinner as they reached the end of their terms of service: Gregory A. Bibb (Kentucky), Mary C. Dighton (Kansas-Nebraska), Robert A. Harris, Jr. (Virginia), James B. Henry (Florida), Darryl J. Hoychick (Louisiana), James R. Scrivner (Oklahoma), and Frankie J. Smitherman (Alabama).
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer for denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources.

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  • Curtis D. Sharp