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WRAP-UP: GuideStone makes pitch for new ministry assignment

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — GuideStone Financial Resources president O.S. Hawkins told members of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee Tuesday (Sept. 18) that changing the entity’s ministry assignment to make its investment and insurance products available to church members would benefit Southern Baptists.

Hawkins made his pitch during a PowerPoint presentation to the Executive Committee’s Cooperative Program Committee, which was only gathering information and did not take a vote. A vote could take place during the EC’s February 2013 meeting.

As part of the proposal, GuideStone would be allowed to offer its products to members of Southern Baptist and other evangelical churches.

Hawkins listed several primary reasons for the move, saying it would:

— undergird GuideStone’s long-term strength and stability, allowing it to, for instance, maintain “competitive products, services and fees.”

— create additional revenue to support its Mission:Dignity ministry, which provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows. More revenue is needed, Hawkins said, because 63 percent of GuideStone’s current participants likely will retire in the next 15 years.

— provide revenue allowing future financial support of Southern Baptist mission causes on the state and national levels.

The timing is right for the move, Hawkins said, because research has indicated there are “thousands” of Southern Baptist church members who are interested in GuideStone’s products.

GuideStone would remain a non-profit, Hawkins added.

GuideStone’s hope is for the recommendation to be presented to messengers at the SBC annual meeting next June in Houston. GuideStone does not receive Cooperative Program funds.

Other business

The Executive Committee declined a call for a bylaw amendment that would have required certain content in nominating speeches.

In its response to the motion made during this summer’s annual meeting in New Orleans, the Executive Committee acknowledged the “generally-recognized importance of various elements of church activity such as number of baptisms and Cooperative Program giving” but chose not to recommend the requirement of particular content in nominating speeches, “believing the messengers to be fully capable of assessing whether the information given about any nominee is accurate, sufficient, and persuasive.”

Addressing another motion from the New Orleans convention, that the Executive Committee create an SBC officer policy manual addressing vacancies and other issues, the EC “respectfully” declined to develop a “‘convention officer’s policies and procedures manual’ or a complaints and/or removal process pertaining to SBC officers.”

The Executive Committee declined to act on a referred motion requesting that the 2015 annual meeting be moved to Memphis, Tenn., “believing that the lack of adequate meeting facilities” in Memphis as well as current contractual agreements in Columbus, Ohio, “preclude consideration at this time.”

Regarding another referral from the annual meeting, the Executive Committee declined to act on a request that future annual meetings be scheduled during the last week of June. The schedules for the currently approved dates from 2013 to 2018 “do not conflict with the week following Father’s Day.”

Defining a specific week for the convention, the Executive Committee said, “could reduce the availability of facilities to consider in the site selection process.” The convention arrangements workgroup, though, “will intentionally seek to avoid recommending the third week of June for future SBC annual meetings in order to encourage our churches to promote, celebrate and support godly fathers.”

The convention arrangements workgroup, the Executive Committee said, will study possible alternatives to the 2019 dates to eliminate any conflict with Father’s Day.

The Executive Committee adopted resolutions of appreciation for Bill Crews, who will retire in December after five years as executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention, and Emil Turner, who will retire in February after 16 years as executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

Among Crews’ achievements, as noted in the resolution, were leading the Northwest convention through a major reorganization; serving as president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary for 18 years; serving as chancellor and president emeritus at Golden Gate; and serving as president of the California Southern Baptist Convention and the Northwest Baptist Convention.

Crews “distinguished himself as an exemplary leader of Southern Baptist work across the entire western region of the United States for more than forty-five years, developing contextualized strategies for theological education, leadership development, evangelism, and church-planting,” the resolution stated.

The Executive Committee also said Crews “has been noted by colleagues and friends for his integrity, devotion, faithfulness, compassion, warmth, and unflagging commitment to reaching the West for Christ.”

Turner was recognized for “educating local churches about the power of cooperative giving through Southern Baptists’ Cooperative Program for the purpose of reaching the state of Arkansas, the United States, and the nations of the world with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

According to the resolution, Turner “modeled for Arkansas Baptists the discipline of personal evangelism, encouraging pastors, local churches, and the convention as a whole to devote themselves to reaching the lost with the saving message of salvation through Jesus Christ.”

During the course of Turner’s leadership, the Arkansas convention “baptized more than 200,000 precious souls, an average of 13,000 per year for the sixteen years he served as their executive director,” the resolution stated.

Also during the meeting, Brad Waggoner, executive vice president of LifeWay Christian Resources, presented checks to the Executive Committee totaling more than $630,000 designated for the SBC’s two mission boards. The funds were mission offerings given this summer by more than 100,000 participants in LifeWay’s Centrifuge, CentriKids, World Changers and PowerPlant projects. The International Mission Board will receive $308,107 and the North American Mission Board $322,592.
Compiled by Baptist Press associate editor Michael Foust and assistant editor Erin Roach. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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