GuideStone reflects 'our roots & our direction,' Hawkins tells SBC
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention is "our fourth name in our 87-year history," President O.S. Hawkins said in his report to the SBC June 22, "and we believe affirms our roots and direction."
In addition to thanking the messengers for giving final approval of the name change from the Annuity Board, Hawkins gave an update on GuideStone's products and services and highlighted the entity's Adopt An Annuitant ministry.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a "guide stone" as a marker for travelers, Hawkins said, noting that they had three primary purposes: to point direction; to help gauge distance; and to warn of danger ahead.
"These three points are essential to our ministry," Hawkins said. "We are committed to going the second mile for our participants as we attempt to point them toward a secure future by gauging the distance and time horizon and then warn them of possible dangers along the way."
Highlighting the medical program, Hawkins acknowledged he often is asked why Southern Baptist-related employees are not mandated to be in the medical program and spread the risk for everyone.
"The reality is that we are not like the Methodists. We are not a denomination, but a fellowship of autonomous congregations and we do not mandate action," Hawkins said. "This means the rates on our medical programs are based on premiums received versus claims paid."
Hawkins added that GuideStone is working on reducing medical premiums using a three-prong attack: GuideStone takes the responsibility to offer affordable medical products; participants take the responsibility to live a healthy lifestyle; and churches and conventions take the responsibility to meet the needs of their ministers and staff members.
In an effort to offer more flexibility in plan options, deductibles and competitive rates, GuideStone offered new health plans to its participants and broadened the networks. In 2004, 40 percent of GuideStone's medical participants received a decrease in their monthly premiums.
Hawkins said many participants in GuideStone's medical plans are beginning to make healthy choices and changing their lifestyles. More than 700 participated in the Living@YourBest walk/run on the first day of the SBC annual meeting and are changing their eating habits, but "we still have a long ways to go."
"Fifty percent of our claims are still for preventable diseases, and during the first two days of the wellness booth testing, 67 percent of the 1,000 participants tested in the high risk category for heart disease," Hawkins said.
The third facet for improving medical coverage is for the local church to provide medical coverage for their staff instead of a lump-sum approach.
Hawkins concluded his report with a seven-minute video promoting the Adopt An Annuitant ministry.
"We continue to make Southern Baptists aware of the tragic plight of retired ministers and their widows who are unable to plan adequately for retirement," Hawkins said. "The Adopt An Annuitant ministry is at the heart of who we are and what we do and we encourage you to join us in this work by observing Adopt An Annuitant Sunday on June 26."
GuideStone offers retirement, investment, life and health plans to 175,000 participants worldwide and is recognized as one of the largest providers of Christian-based, socially-screened investment funds.
GuideStone reached a significant milestone at the close of 2004 as assets reached an all-time high of $8.3 billion. In addition, the 13 retirement funds available to participants through GuideStone's investment programs turned in a positive performance for 2004 as well as positive returns since their inception on Aug. 27, 2001.