DALLAS (BP)--“What about the needy?”
The question is the focus of a sermon being distributed by the Annuity Board to pastors throughout the Southern Baptist Convention for use on Adopt An Annuitant Sunday, June 27.
Written by Annuity Board President O.S. Hawkins, the sermon reviews the biblical charge to care for the less fortunate. It also calls attention to the Adopt An Annuitant relief program of the Annuity Board.
With the support of individuals and churches, Adopt An Annuitant monthly financial assistance is provided to about 3,000 retired ministers and their widows living on insufficient retirement incomes.
“The evidence of God’s love in our lives is in how we treat others -— especially those in need,” Hawkins said. “The church should not stand idly by and wait for government programs to fill in the gap, but should take seriously the command of Jesus to care for the needy.”
John Ambra, director of the Annuity Board’s endowment department, noted that former ministers or their widows who unselfishly devoted their lives to the Gospel ministry -- but now face critical financial needs in retirement -- often served smaller, rural churches and missions that provided only a modest salary and little, if any, contributions toward a retirement account.
“Many struggle to afford the basic necessities of life such as food, housing, prescription drugs and medical care,” Ambra said.
Hawkins noted that the Annuity Board “was founded on the idea of serving those who gave sacrificially to spread the Word of God. Even though the Annuity Board has become one of the largest denominational benefits organizations in the world -— offering an array of retirement, life and health and investment options -— the heart of our ministry is still providing relief to thousands of aged ministers and their widows.”
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.
More than $6 million is paid out annually in assistance to needy retirees. Almost $1.4 million comes from the SBC Cooperative Program. Investment income on the Retired Ministers’ Support Fund provides some additional funding. The balance comes from the direct gifts of individuals, churches, Sunday Schools and other groups in the Southern Baptist family through the Adopt an Annuitant ministry.
“In addition to helping those in need, we are able to offer our Baptist family the privilege of obeying and serving the Lord in a tangible way by sharing with His laborers,” Hawkins said. “[The Apostle] John asked an important question in his first epistle, ‘... whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?’” (1 John 3:17 NKJV).
In addition to the sermon, free bulletin inserts and a video explaining the Adopt An Annuitant ministry are available for use in worship services, Sunday School classes or mission-oriented organizations. The resources can be requested by phone, 1-800-262-0511; e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org; or online at www.absbc.org.
Judy Bates is communications coordinator for the endowment division of the Annuity Board.