Hawkins recaps GuideStone's legal & financial gains
PHOENIX (BP) -- GuideStone Financial Resources' theme for 2017 is the "Year of Innovation," President O.S. Hawkins said in the opening report to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention, June 13–14 in Phoenix.
Hawkins reported to messengers about GuideStone's litigation over the Obama-era contraceptive mandate, which would have required ministries like some Christian schools and missions organizations served by GuideStone to provide abortion-causing drugs and devices or face crippling fines.
In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled in a case that also included the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Catholic group, that the government must seek out a solution that does not violate the plaintiffs' religious liberty concerns. Hawkins expressed appreciation for the Trump administration's desire, through its executive order, to protect religious liberty.
Churches and closely integrated auxiliaries of churches were exempt from the mandate.
Hawkins told messengers about GuideStone's ongoing efforts to control health care costs, including providing group health coverage to churches and ministries with as few as two employees.
Citing the rising costs in health care due to claims related to preventable diseases -- those that can be mitigated or eliminated by proper diet and exercise, which account for half of the claims paid by GuideStone's health plans -- Hawkins invited messengers to come to the GuideStone booth for a free wellness check to learn their numbers.
"Just lifestyle changes would make such an incredible difference in the cost of health care expenses," Hawkins said.
In property & casualty insurance, Hawkins reported that GuideStone's coverage provided through Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company has a renewal rate of 98 percent of church and ministry accounts annually.
Hawkins reported that the GuideStone Funds Defensive Market Strategies Fund-Institutional Class was named the Lipper Fund Award winner out of 425 similar funds in the three-year period and the Lipper winner out of 322 similar funds in the five-year period in Lipper's Flexible Portfolio Funds category as of Nov. 30, 2016. The Lipper Fund Awards honor funds for their consistently strong risk-adjusted performance relative to their peers. The accolades were announced at an investment industry awards dinner March 23 in New York. For the GuideStone fund family as a whole, this marks the eighth time in six years that Lipper has awarded GuideStone one of its prestigious trophies.
"We're so thankful for our investment team and the incredible job they have done in that arena," Hawkins said, adding that the accolades help GuideStone prove that investors can have Christian-screened funds that compete in the marketplace.
GuideStone was founded in 1918 to provide retirement assistance to retired pastors and their widows, which continues through Mission:Dignity's financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows in their declining years.
In preparation for GuideStone's centennial in 2018, the Mission:Dignity ministry unveiled its 100 Reasons campaign, encouraging churches and individuals to join in sharing in the ministry. More than 1,800 retired pastors and their widows receive assistance through the ministry, which receives no Cooperative Program funding.
"God has raised up Southern Baptists to help us raise over $100 million for Mission:Dignity," Hawkins reported.
Churches that wish to learn more about Mission:Dignity can request materials for use in churchwide emphasis by visiting MDSunday.org. Mission:Dignity Sunday is the fourth Sunday of June on the SBC calendar -- June 25 -- but materials created for Mission:Dignity emphases are undated, allowing churches to use them throughout the year.
Hawkins also recognized three churches -- Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kan., First Baptist Church in Douglas, Ga., and Bedias Baptist Church in Bedias, Texas, for their support of Mission:Dignity.
Additionally, Hawkins noted the newest book in the "Code" series he has authored, "The Christmas Code," a 25-day devotional available for less than $1 per copy with bulk pricing that will also benefit Mission:Dignity.
Hawkins has penned four Code books -- "The Joshua Code," "The Jesus Code," "The James Code" and "The Daniel Code." In addition to The Christmas Code, "The Believer's Code" debuts this fall. All author proceeds and royalties benefit Mission:Dignity. By early next year, more than 1 million copies will be in print.
GuideStone will mark its centennial anniversary during the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Dallas on June 12–13, 2018.