The neediest couples participating in Mission:Dignity with at least 25 years of paid Southern Baptist service will see their benefits grow by $150 each month — from $600 to $750 — beginning in January 2022, following recent action by the board of trustees for GuideStone Financial Resources.
GuideStone trustees also approved other increases for Mission:Dignity recipients. Couples not in the first category will see their benefits increase by $75 each month. Widowed and single recipients will see their benefits increase either $50 or $100 each month, depending on their years of service and need.
The increases were part of several enhancements approved by trustees as they met in regular session July 26–27 in Nashville.
Last year, Mission:Dignity raised more than $10 million for the first time in its history; current trends in giving indicate the ministry may eclipse that in 2021.
Mission:Dignity, which does not receive Cooperative Program support, is funded by the generous donations of individuals church groups and others. Almost 1,000 new donors contributed for the first time this year.
This past June was the largest in terms of fundraising on record and closed out the largest second quarter on record. More than 2,300 retirement-aged Southern Baptist ministers, workers and widows have received assistance so far this year, and giving is up 16% over the same time last year.
GuideStone Relief Committee chairman Dennis Adams of Arizona said the committee also approved higher asset limits for eligibility (from $30,000 to $45,000), an increased funeral benefit and an increased grace period after the death of a spouse before having to reapply for benefits. Those enhancements take effect immediately.
In other reports, Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones told trustees about the GuideStone team’s efforts to live out the vision that reminds employees that GuideStone exists to honor the Lord by being lifelong partners with participants in enhancing their financial security.
Across all the ministry areas of GuideStone — insurance, investments, retirement and Mission:Dignity — staff are working diligently to ensure that vision is carried out, Jones said, citing the insurance area as one of several examples.
“I can tell you that (Chief Insurance Officer) Chu Soh and his entire insurance team have brought an incredible focus to how we can build the base in our health care plans,” Jones said. “It’s not just our group plans, but also inclusive of our personal security plan. He’s putting together more specific metrics to accelerate this number of participants in the health care area.”
Soh and the insurance team are also reviewing new opportunities and initiatives that will address the affordability challenges affecting the entire health care industry nationwide, Jones said. Ensuring a continued strong GuideStone health care program for pastors, church and ministry staff, while making it more affordable for more churches is a major emphasis for Soh’s team.
Additionally, the property and casualty area has continued to exceed expectations, Jones said. While turnover in property and casualty is a common theme in the industry as a whole, as clients look for lower rates, GuideStone, through its alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, has attained a 97% retention rate.
Investment updates and retirement guidance
In the investments division, Jones noted that August marks the 20th anniversary of GuideStone Funds, the registered mutual fund family that provides the investment options in GuideStone’s retirement plans. Through the past two decades, GuideStone staff have worked diligently to ensure retirement plan participants understand their choices in the investment space and that they make wise decisions on how to allocate their long-term retirement savings.
GuideStone offers retirement guidance and information through its website: GuideStone.org/Individual/Retirement/Planning-and-Advice.
Presidential transition plan
Jones also provided an update on the Forward Foundations strategic plan, which serves as a roadmap to guide the transition between GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins and President-elect Hance Dilbeck.
GuideStone’s strategic plans — GuideStone 100, which guided the ministry to its centennial in 2018, Vision 20/20 and now Forward Foundations — provide a framework to guide the ministry’s day-to-day efforts on behalf of their participants. In Forward Foundations, emphasis is placed on four key areas: ministry, people, technology and financial.
Hawkins spoke to trustees about the transition of Dilbeck to the role of president. In May, trustees unanimously named Dilbeck, then executive director of Oklahoma Baptists, as president-elect of GuideStone. By the end of the first quarter of 2022, Hawkins will assume the honorary role of president emeritus, and Dilbeck will become president and chief executive officer.
In the unpaid role of president emeritus, Hawkins said he would continue to write his Code book series and raise money for Mission:Dignity.
Dilbeck said the first month of his tenure as president-elect has been affirming.
“One of the great blessings is watching Dr. Hawkins and John Jones and the way they work together, their friendship and collaboration. It’s a joy,” Dilbeck said. “My gratitude is deeper, and my sense of calling is clearer than it’s ever been.”
By Roy Hayhurst/GuideStone