SBC DIGEST: GuideStone fund garners 2 honors; SBCAL names regional leaders; Mo. apologetics enters 3rd year

GuideStone Defensive Market Strategies Fund garners honors

By Roy Hayhurst

DALLAS (BP) -- Two top investment industry honors have been awarded to GuideStone Financial Resources for its Defensive Market Strategies Fund - Institutional Share Class.

The fund was named by industry analyst Lipper as the best of 425 similar funds over a three-year period and best of 322 similar funds a five-year period in Lipper's Flexible Portfolio Funds category.

The 2017 Lipper Fund Awards, which honor funds for consistently strong risk-adjusted performance relative to their peers, were announced at an investment industry dinner March 23 in New York.

This marks the seventh and eighth times in six years that Lipper has awarded GuideStone one of its top honors.

GuideStone's Defensive Market Strategies Fund - Institutional Share Class offers a lower-volatility option that aims to deliver equity-like returns at reduced risk when compared to the S&P 500 Index. The fund is designed to participate in the return potential of stocks over time but at lower risk levels than traditional stock portfolios.

"We are humbled and energized by these awards," said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins. The awards bear witness to the Southern Baptist entity's commitment to honor the Lord, he said, by being a lifelong partner with its participants in enhancing their financial security.

"These awards, once again, distinguish GuideStone from all of our peers," Hawkins said. "As we develop our investment products, we want to ensure that they always reflect the values of the pastors and other church and ministry workers we serve, while not sacrificing performance. We strive for excellence in all we do for God's glory and for the benefit of our participants."

The Defensive Market Strategies Fund fills a unique position in the market, said John R. Jones, president of GuideStone Funds and chief operating officer of GuideStone Financial Resources.

"Our team worked diligently in 2011 to create the Defensive Market Strategies Fund, seeking to offer our investors an opportunity to achieve long-term capital appreciation while seeking reduced volatility when compared to the equity markets," Jones said. "We believe this fund helps illustrate the value active management can have in investing environments like we've experienced in the last several months and years."

GuideStone's other honors from Lipper are:

2012 - Best Overall Small Company Award (1 out of 182 eligible as of Nov. 30, 2011).

2013 - Mixed-Asset Target 2025 Fund Award-3 year for the MyDestination 2025 Fund (1 out of 92 funds eligible as of Nov. 30, 2012).

2014 - Corporate Debt A-Rated Fund Award-3 year for the Extended-Duration Bond Fund (1 out of 57 funds eligible as of Nov. 30, 2013) and the Corporate Debt A-Rated Fund Award-5 year for the Extended-Duration Bond Fund (1 out of 51 funds as of Nov. 30, 2013)

2015 - Corporate Debt A-Rated Fund Award-3 year for the Extended-Duration Bond Fund (1 out of 44 funds eligible as of Nov. 30, 2014) and the Corporate Debt A-Rated Fund Award-5 year for the Extended-Duration Bond Fund (1 out of 41 funds as of Nov. 30, 2014).

David S. Spika, chief strategic investment officer of GuideStone Financial Resources and president of GuideStone Capital Management, LLC, the adviser to GuideStone Funds, said the awards "speak to the excellence pursued by our GuideStone Funds team and investment sub-advisers each and every day on behalf of our investors and GuideStone participants."

Spika said the latest Lipper awards "continue to tell the story that Christian-screened investments do not come with a discount on performance; one can invest according to his or her values and still expect best-in-class returns."

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Regional coordinators named by Baptist associational organization

McDONOUGH, Ga. (BP) – The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders has named regional coordinators parallel to the North American Mission Board's four U.S. regions.

SBCAL's regional leaders are in the process of enlisting state ministry coordinators, all of whom will comprise a regional leadership team "to better strengthen, encourage and partner with DOMs [Baptist associational directors of missions] across the country," the organization reported in its latest newsletter, The Encourager.

More than 1,100 Baptist associations, encompassing 35 to 150 churches, work cooperatively in their localities in missions, ministry, leadership development, church planting and church revitalization. The Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders describes itself as "a national professional organization representing and assisting associational leaders of the 1100-plus Southern Baptist associations across North America."

SBCAL's regions and coordinators are: Northeast, Keith Lawrence, Maine Baptist Association; South: Robby Smith, Catawba River Baptist Association in North Carolina; Midwest, Mark Millman, Southern Wisconsin Baptist Association; and West, Deryl Lackey, Inland Empire Baptist Association in California.

Ray Gentry, director of ministries for the Southside Baptist Network in McDonough, Ga., is SBCAL's executive director.

The regional and state coordinators will seek "to find out needs DOMs have and how we can help meet those needs," The Encourager reported, "and will explore the possibility of holding a one-day winter conference in their region in cooperation with the North American Mission Board and the state conventions beginning in 2018. In the South region, SBCAL will promote the Network of Baptist Associations in its focus on educational development, resourcing and networking.

SBCAL's annual meeting will be June 11-12 in Phoenix, prior to the Southern Baptist Convention's June 13-14 annual meeting. For information about SBCAL and its annual meeting, go to www.sbcassociations.org.

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Mo. apologetics network in third year of ministry

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (BP) -- The Missouri Baptist Apologetics Network has entered its third year of ministry with 11 speakers to help Missouri Baptist Convention churches train their members to defend the Christian faith.

The MBC launched the network in 2015, enlisting leaders committed to the defense of the faith and called to equip Missouri Baptists to engage others in meaningful spiritual conversations. Each leader is an active member of a Missouri Baptist church, involved in an apologetics ministry and a convention-approved Christian apologist.

These leaders are available to speak in churches and at conferences. Information about them and their areas of expertise may be found at mobaptist.org/apologetics. Topics range from arguments for God's existence to apologetics training for women and children.

"Our vision is to equip every Missouri Baptist to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect, according to 1 Peter 3:15-16," said Rob Phillips, who directs the MBC's apologetics ministry.

Compiled by Art Toalston, Baptist Press senior editor, with reporting by Roy Hayhurst, director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources; The Encourager published by the Southern Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders; and The Pathway (mbcpathway.com), newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.
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