Adopt An Annuitant Sunday focuses on dignity of retired ministers

DALLAS (BP)--“Sacrifice was at the center of our ministry,” Noel Edwards said. He and his wife Sue dedicated their lives to the Gospel ministry. Noel started preaching when he was 16, spending 55 years in Southern Baptist ministry before retiring.

Today, the Adopt An Annuitant program of GuideStone Financial Resources is helping provide monthly support -- and a gift of dignity -- to the Edwardses and nearly 2,500 other retired ministers and widows.

Southern Baptist churches across the nation will participate in Adopt An Annuitant Sunday on June 25, a day for remembering the thousands of aged ministers and their widows who unselfishly devoted their lives to the God’s call but now are facing their retirement years without the financial resources to meet their basic daily needs.

“These pastors often served smaller, rural churches and missions that provided only a modest salary and little, if any, contributions toward a retirement account,” said John Ambra, director of development for GuideStone’s Adopt An Annuitant ministry. “Now in retirement, many struggle to afford the basic necessities of life such as food, housing, prescription drugs and medical care.”

That is the story of Noel and Sue Edwards. Serving small Southern Baptist churches while raising a family meant both Noel and Sue worked second jobs and often had a difficult time making ends meet. But God kept sending people into their lives to help, including a local grocer who provided food when they were down to their last two dollars.

The Edwardses never were able to save much toward their later years -— a small salary meant little was left for retirement planning. “We have gone to churches because we knew the Lord was in it even when we didn’t know what the salary would be,” Noel said.

As Sue put it, “We found out in our ministry that as we ministered to people, and then we had needs, they ministered to us.”

O.S. Hawkins, president of GuideStone, formerly the Annuity Board, said the Southern Baptist entity was founded on the idea of “serving those who gave sacrificially to spread the Word of God. Even though GuideStone has become a leading denominational benefits organization, the heart of our ministry is still providing support to these dear folks who have given of themselves sacrificially in the service of our Lord.”

Because of the generosity of Southern Baptists, nearly 2,500 individuals or couples like Noel and Sue Edwards are being helped monthly. Gifts to the Adopt An Annuitant ministry help retired ministers and their widows maintain their dignity through providing assistance to pay for food, utilities and medical care.

Recipients of Adopt An Annuitant funds must meet guidelines for income, assets and years of Southern Baptist service. Qualified recipients may be eligible for $200 per month for an individual or $265 per month for a couple.

Under GuideStone’s financial assistance guidelines, more than $6 million will be paid out annually in assistance to retirees whose income is insufficient to meet their needs. Nearly $1.4 million will come from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program.

However, the majority of the funding comes from the direct gifts of individuals, groups and churches to the Adopt An Annuitant ministry. Every cent received by the program goes to someone in need. No administrative expenses are paid from the gifts made to the Adopt An Annuitant program.

Free bulletin inserts are available from GuideStone along with “A Gift of Dignity” video to use on June 25 in worship services, Sunday School departments or mission-oriented organizations. Orders can be made online at or by calling 1-888-98-GUIDE (1-888-984-8433).

“Words just don’t express how much we appreciate the people who help us through the Adopt An Annuitant program,” Noel Edwards said. “It’s a life saver for us.”

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