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TRUSTEES: Hawkins urges ‘proper perspective’ amid volatility, uncertainty

DALLAS (BP)–Continued volatility in the nation’s financial markets “reminds all of us that we need to have a proper perspective in times of uncertainty,” GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins told trustees during their March 2-3 meeting in Dallas.

Hawkins cited Habakkuk 2:3 in the Old Testament, which says, “Though the vision tarries, wait for it; it will surely come.”

“In times of uncertainty,” Hawkins said, “we can give up, give in or give out. 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.”

John R. Jones, GuideStone’s chief operating officer, updated trustees on the program areas of the Southern Baptist entity (retirement, investments, insurance and financial assistance).

“In a year of significant financial markets volatility, GuideStone Funds continued to perform very well compared to its mutual fund peers,” Jones said. “For the five-year period ending Dec. 31, 2008, six of nine [GuideStone] Select Funds in the GS2 class exceeded their respective mutual fund peer universe median as measured by the Lipper Ranking.”

Lipper Inc., a Reuters company, is a nationally recognized organization that compares the total return performance among mutual funds having similar investment objectives. (Share classes such as GS2 are defined in the prospectus of each fund and largely relate to eligibility of participants and fund size. Two of GuideStone’s Select Funds are not part of the GS2 share class, the Global Bond and the Real Estate Securities funds because they are not part of the Lipper Rankings).

“In addition, GuideStone Funds ranked 92 out of 226 mutual fund families in the most recent Fund Family Fiduciary Rankings prepared by fi360,” Jones said. This report ranks mutual fund families based on the percentage of their individual funds that pass fi360’s due diligence screens. These 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, “Even during a very difficult period of time, we saw an increase in the number of active retirement plan participants.” GuideStone now has more than 97,000 active participants in its various retirement plans. Total retirement plan participants active and inactive now total more than 153,000.

Turning to GuideStone’s medical plans, Jones reported that in 2008 net enrollment increased by 3.9 percent. “During this difficult time we continued to experience growth in both our personal and group programs,” he said.

In the financial assistance area, Jones reported good news concerning generous responses by individuals and churches that support the Mission:Dignity financial assistance program. Total gifts for 2008 exceeded $6.12 millioin, the most ever received in one year.

“This was our first full year of no Cooperative Program distributions,” Jones reminded trustees. GuideStone released its CP allocation back to the Southern Baptist Convention, effective September 2007, to be used for SBC national and international missions and ministries.

“We believe the re-branding of our financial assistance program from Adopt An Annuitant to Mission:Dignity has resulted in heightened awareness of this important program,” Jones added. The Mission:Dignity program provides financial assistance to more than 2,050 retired ministers or their widows in crucial financial need.

Reporting on GuideStone’s launch of property and casualty insurance for churches and ministry organizations last fall, Jones said the new program “offers a competitive property and casualty program that provides risk management programs for churches and may provide the opportunity to reclaim dollars for ministry that have been lost to for-profit insurers.”

The trustees’ relief committee affirmed the addition of 34 new applicants in the fourth quarter. Eight applications were approved for grants and one application was approved for a one-time emergency grant.

Trustees accepted the recommendation of their general officers nominating committee and elected Timothy E. Head of South Carolina as chairman and Harold D. Vick of Florida as vice chairman.

At the Monday evening dinner meeting, eight trustees were honored as they reached the end of their terms of service: Oliver Allred, New Mexico; G. Robert Benson, Missouri; Robert W. Boyles, West Virginia; W. Randy Chestnut, Ohio; Ronnie W. Floyd, Arkansas; Phillip D. Koos Jr., Pennsylvania-South Jersey; and Danny E. Watters, Georgia.
Curtis D. Sharp is executive officer for denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources. 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]. Information about GuideStone’s property and casualty program may be accessed online at www.GuideStonePropertyCasualty.org or by calling 1-877-455-GSPC (1-877-455-4772).

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  • Curtis D. Sharp