TRUSTEES: GuideStone declares 'Year of the Harvest'

Tags: GuideStone

DALLAS (BP) -- After marking GuideStone Financial Resources' centennial anniversary in 2018 and moving to new leased office space, the ministry continues forward, focusing on 2019 and beyond, GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins told trustees during their March 4-5 meeting.

Hawkins frames each year with a verse of Scripture and a theme, declaring 2019 as GuideStone's "Year of the Harvest." Hawkins spoke from Matthew 9:36–38, which says, "When he saw the crowds, he felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.'"

Hawkins told trustees that when it comes to GuideStone's potential, it must look outward and see that the harvest is plentiful. And it must look inward to see that the Southern Baptist entity is limited, and it must look upward to see the priority that it's the Lord's harvest.

"We have undertaken so many things as we seek to live out our vision to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security," Hawkins told trustees.

"Just like a farmer works the ground and tends to his crop," he noted, "he ultimately must harvest his crops, and we must take the products and services we've created for our participants and harvest those in the pipelines to bring in the economies of scale we need for the benefit of all of our participants."

Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones opened his presentation by showing a video featuring two former Mission:Dignity recipients -- Ed Enriquez and Caleb Goodwin, both who are now deceased. Jones told trustees that the two men are indicative of the thousands of retired pastors whom GuideStone has served through its relief efforts since its founding in 1918.

"Ed Enriquez literally gave the shoes off his feet to a migrant farm worker who had never owned a pair of shoes," Jones recalled from the video. "Caleb spent decades in local church ministry to Southern Baptist congregations without regard to his pay or his retirement needs. GuideStone, through Mission:Dignity, comes alongside these pastors and serves them in their declining years with a measure of financial dignity."

Mission:Dignity, Jones emphasized, remains GuideStone's heartbeat. 2018 witnessed several records in giving for the ministry: More than 8,000 individuals gave to the ministry, and more than $8.3 million was raised in all of 2018. More than $1 million was given each month for three consecutive months: November and December 2018 and January 2019. Hawkins' devotional and outreach book, "The Christmas Code," sold more than half a million copies in 2018; all author royalties and proceeds from the Code series of books benefit Mission:Dignity.

The ministry, which provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows near the poverty line, relies on the gifts of individuals, Sunday school classes, churches and other organizations. Mission:Dignity receives no Cooperative Program gifts. One hundred percent of all gifts to Mission:Dignity goes to provide financial assistance. Administrative costs are covered by endowments established years ago for that purpose.

Turning to pastors and churches today, Jones said the GuideStone commitment is steadfast with regard to serving today's ministry leaders.

Pointing to a prototypical bivocational pastor, Jones said that thanks to efforts in the last 12 months to lower fees in the MyDestination Funds -- the Target Date Funds default investment option in GuideStone's retirement plans -- as well as to offer a new, lower-cost health care plan (Secure Health 3000), those pastors are better able to provide for their families and their future needs. This allows them to be more effective in the ministries they have received from the Lord.

"Thanks to Secure Health 3000, which provides nationwide access to the Blue Cross Blue Shield network, this pastor and his family don't have to worry about unexpected medical bills," Jones said. "Thanks to the efforts of our team in reducing expenses in the MyDestination Funds, his retirement investments continue to grow so that when he reaches that place of vocational retirement, he may not have to rely on assistance."

Chief Business and Marketing Officer John T. Raymond told trustees that the ministry was continuing to focus on stewardship of participants' and investors' assets, products and services.

"This is why we exist, to best help those we serve achieve their long-term financial goals," Raymond said. "And the proof is in our surveys, which show we have about the highest client satisfaction rates in the industry. Ninety-eight percent of our clients are satisfied with the work we do on their behalf."

Raymond told trustees that GuideStone continues to make better use of data to help the organization make business decisions that benefit the participants served.

Jones reported on strong results from the move from GuideStone's home of 29 years in Dallas' Uptown neighborhood to new leased offices in Dallas' Midtown development. The move nets GuideStone savings of more than $4 million annually, which were used to reduce the fees in the MyDestination Funds. See related Baptist Press story.

"The thing that so many of us love about GuideStone: Our focus is on the bottom line of the pastor at the crossroads," Jones said. "It's imperative that we continue to zero in on the needs of those we serve in this Year of the Harvest."

Trustees in other business re-elected John Morris (North Carolina) chairman and Renée Trewick (New York) vice chair.

Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations at GuideStone.
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