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Vision statement sets Annuity Board’s course

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)–Annuity Board President O.S. Hawkins introduced the board’s 86th annual report to the Southern Baptist Convention June 16, by reciting its vision statement: “The Annuity Board exists to honor the Lord by being a LifePartner with our participants in enhancing their financial security.”

“Everything we do at the Board is filtered through the lens of our vision statement,” Hawkins said on the first of the two-day annual meeting at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis. “We exist to honor the Lord and our message is to walk alongside our participants, helping them to prepare for retirement. Finally, our mandate is to enhance their financial security so they can have a vocational retirement and continue serving the Lord.”

Hawkins thanked the messengers for approving the recommendations to change the name to GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention and allowing the board to serve evangelical ministry organizations outside the SBC.

“This year will be a milestone year for the board with the name change and new opportunities, but we have other good news to share,” he added. “Following the worst three-year cycle since 1941, the financial markets made a significant rebound in 2003 and for the first time in our history our asset base grew by $1 billion dollars during a calendar year reaching $7.3 billion by Dec. 31, 2003.”

In response to the continuing national health care crisis, Hawkins shared that the board introduced new health plans effective Jan. 1, 2004, with varying levels of deductibles and monthly rates. The board also emphasized a three-prong approach to address the rising cost of health care.

“These three prongs include the Annuity Board, the participants and the local churches taking responsibility for managing health care costs. The board is aggressively managing our costs, including lowering our overhead costs and continuing to create plans that provide more options for our participants.

“Next, our participants need to continue to develop healthy eating and exercise habits,” Hawkins added. “Finally, our churches need to take the initiative to provide medical coverage as a benefit for their ministers and staff rather than as a part of the salary package.”

The core of the board’s work continues to be its relief ministry. “We were founded in 1918 as the Commission on Ministerial Relief and Annuity and relief remains as the heart of our work. We hope you will join us in honoring retired ministers and employees who have special needs as we observe Adopt An Annuitant Sunday on June 27.

“To help meet the needs of more than 3,000 retired ministers and their widows who have inadequate retirement, the Annuity Board receives approximately $1.4 million from the Cooperative Program. In addition to this amount, individuals and churches contribute more than $4.5 million to ensure that the needs of these deserving servants of God are met,” Hawkins said.

The average relief recipient is 78-years-old with $973 in monthly income and $1,072 in monthly expenses. The federal poverty guideline for a single individual is $748 per month and $1,010 for a couple. Through the Adopt An Annuitant ministry, qualified single recipients receive $200 per month and couples receive $265 per month.

“We look forward to the coming year and the opportunities before us,” he said. “But let me assure you that in the midst of the changes ahead our commitment remains on serving those who serve the Lord.”

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