TRUSTEES: GuideStone assets nearly double
NEW YORK (BP) -- GuideStone assets have nearly doubled since the bottom of the economic downturn of 2008-2009, trustees learned during their 2014 summer meeting.
Total organizational assets rose to $13.1 billion by the end of June, nearly doubling the trough in organizational assets of $6.8 billion experienced in February 2009, GuideStone chief operating officer John R. Jones told trustees.
"For 2013, we didn't think we could be more blessed with the results in the way that God's hand just continued to be on GuideStone," Jones said during the July 28-29 meeting in New York. "We shake our heads and continue to say that, here going into the latter half of 2014. We give thanks to the Lord."
"Over the course of the last five-plus years, we've seen an increase of 91 percent in the total assets base of GuideStone Financial Resources," Jones said, noting the returns are unprecedented and unsustainable in the long term. "Thankfully, for the benefit of our participants, our being focused on enhancing their financial security, their participant account balances are at an all-time high."
Even as assets have performed well, GuideStone Funds continue to receive recognitions from national ranking firms. For the 14th consecutive quarter since early 2011, industry firm fi360 has ranked GuideStone Funds in the top 20 percent of all fund families, using broad-based criteria selected to reflect prudent fiduciary management.
Additionally, in fund performance based on 10-year periods, Lipper ranks 10 of 14 GuideStone Funds as performing above the median. Morningstar rates 18 of 20 GuideStone Funds as three star or better in the Overall category.
"Not only has it been a wonderful environment for investors just because of how well the financial markets have done, but also GuideStone Capital Management has shown their ability to add value, additional returns, to enhance the financial security for the benefit of our participants," Jones said.
In medical plans participation, GuideStone experienced a 1.3 percent increase in enrollment over 2013.
Additionally, trustees were updated regarding GuideStone's challenge to the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has set the oral argument in the government's appeal of the preliminary injunction in the GuideStone litigation against the abortifacient mandate. A three-judge panel will hear the appeal at 9 a.m. Monday, Sept. 29 in Denver.
Property and Casualty
GuideStone's alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company continues to prove beneficial for GuideStone and the churches it's able to serve, Jones said. GuideStone serves as Brotherhood Mutual's agent in Alabama and Texas, and has an endorsed relationship in other states where Brotherhood Mutual does business.
Written premiums grew by 42.8 percent in 2014, while total accounts grew by 24 percent, Jones reported.
"About 75 percent of the number of accounts reflects renewals," he said. "These are relationships that are beginning to enter their second if not third year. Fortunately, we have a 99.5 percent renewal rate. This underscores the strength of the partnership we have with Brotherhood Mutual."
Gifts for Mission:Dignity, the GuideStone ministry that provides financial assistance for retired Southern Baptist ministers and their widows, grew by 5 percent between 2013 and 2014. Mission:Dignity receives contributions from individuals, churches and Sunday school classes; it receives no Cooperative Program gifts.
"We are expecting the best year that we have had in recent years," Jones said. "We are very encouraged by the fact that there were 5,800 churches across the Southern Baptist Convention that on Sunday, June 22 got bulletin inserts that trumpeted and made greater awareness of Mission:Dignity."
The Relief Committee, a trustee sub-group that provides oversight and guidance to Mission:Dignity, approved changes to the eligibility guidelines and increased support payments to recipients. Under the new rules that take effect in October, eligible couples with at least 10 years of paid SBC service will see their monthly assistance rise to $300. Monthly assistance will rise to $600 for the neediest couples, those with at least 25 years of paid ministerial service.
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins informed trustees of his latest book, "The Jesus Code: 52 Scripture Questions Every Believer Should Answer," now available online and in stores. All author's royalties and proceeds from the book will benefit Mission:Dignity, just as with Hawkins' 2012 book, "The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know."
For more information on Mission:Dignity, visit www.MissionDignitySBC.org.
Mutual fund expansion
GuideStone Chief Business and Marketing Officer John T. Raymond updated trustees on the expansion of GuideStone's mutual fund eligibility.
In May, GuideStone Funds officially became available to Southern Baptist and other evangelical church members through the GuideStone 100 plan, an expansion approved by messengers to the 2013 SBC annual meeting in Houston.
Some 222 new accounts, totaling $6.5 million in new assets, have been opened since May 1, at least half of which are a result of the expansion of GuideStone Funds' new eligibility rules, Raymond said. Various branding and public relations activities are planned through 2015 to make eligible investors aware of the new opportunity, Raymond told trustees.
"At the end of the day, there are three things we want people to be aware of when they hear about GuideStone Funds," Raymond said. "First, GuideStone Funds is the largest Christian-screened mutual fund family in the entire world. Secondly, we've been around since 1918 and we have had great performance indicators. Lastly, we're a no-load fund; we have low expense ratios. It's a very compelling story."
In other action, trustees welcomed new board members David Puckett of Alabama and Renée Trewick of New York. Trustees will meet again in February in Dallas.
Timothy E. Head is the executive officer for denominational and public relations services at GuideStone Financial Resources. Baptist Press reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).