Centennial, Mission:Dignity atop GuideStone report
DALLAS (BP) -- O.S. Hawkins brought the 100th report of GuideStone Financial Resources on Tuesday morning to messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention during their June 12–13 in Dallas.
"A century ago, our founder, William Lunsford, stood before the Southern Baptist Convention in Hot Springs, Ark., and told pastors, 'Give yourselves wholeheartedly to the work. We will stand back of you. If you fall in the work, we will care for you. If you die, we will not allow your family to suffer. If you grow old in the work, we will comfort you in your declining years,'" Hawkins recounted.
"Every day at GuideStone, we keep that founder's vision before us," Hawkins said.
The ministry has grown from a small board that had to beg and scratch to provide support for the "old soldiers of the cross," as Lunsford called them, to a $16 billion financial services organization. In its Mission:Dignity initiative, Hawkins said, it never lost sight of Lunsford's vision.
Hawkins also noted that 100 years ago at the same Southern Baptist Convention, women for the first time were able to serve as messengers. He said women serve an important role at GuideStone: 42 percent of the workforce are women, including 11 in senior management and the chief financial officer.
Last year, GuideStone topped $15 billion in assets under management and added $1.9 billion to the organization's asset base, Hawkins said, praising the GuideStone Capital Management, LLC, team for their work on behalf of nearly a quarter million participants.
Hawkins, regarding health care, said GuideStone hears nearly daily from pastors and church leaders who want to do right by their staff while at the same time being responsible to their budgets. In response, he said, the SBC entity has announced a new insurance plan option, Secure Health, with enrollment to begin July 1.
The new plan provides access to the nationwide Blue Cross Blue Shield network as well as Teladoc consultations at no out-of-pocket costs. More information is available at GuideStone.org/SecureHealth.
GuideStone's Property & Casualty program continues to save churches money while providing them with the insurance they need, Hawkins said. Through Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, GuideStone began offering coverage to churches and ministries in Louisiana. GuideStone has served as a Brotherhood Mutual agent in Texas and Alabama since 2012 and works to refer churches in other areas to Brotherhood Mutual's established agents.
Several years ago GuideStone launched its long-range strategic plan, Vision 20/20, to guide the ministry through its 102nd year. Hawkins said the long-range plan includes registering GuideStone's investment options, introducing new products and services and implementing participant service improvements. The plan culminates in 2020, when Hawkins said he would begin working with trustees to determine succession plans. Hawkins, who has led the ministry since 1997, is GuideStone's seventh and longest-serving president.
"When we assumed stewardship of GuideStone, Mission:Dignity provided $50/month to those in need," Hawkins told messengers. "Through your generosity, we are now able to provide the neediest couples of those with $600 each month."
Hawkins noted that an endowment is in place to cover the costs of the program so that every gift goes straight to someone in need. By 2020, he estimated GuideStone will have raised $150 million for Mission:Dignity over the past two decades. Mission:Dignity receives no Cooperative Program funding; all funding comes from gifts from individuals, churches and Sunday School classes.
Hawkins reminded messengers that Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 24; materials for this emphasis can be ordered through MDSunday.org.
"Pastor, if you're sitting out there today by that precious partner that for decades served alongside you in ministry ... if you go on before her, rest assured those of us at GuideStone through Mission:Dignity will be Christ's hand extended to her as you wait for her in heaven, in Lunsford's words, 'comforting her in her declining years,'" Hawkins said.
Hawkins spoke of his Code series of books, with all author royalties and proceeds given to Mission:Dignity. The books are a resource for churches in evangelism efforts. His book "The Christmas Code," which has sold more than 400,000 copies, has been used by churches around the nation as part of evangelistic efforts. More churches are expected to make use of the short, 25-day Advent season devotional this year. Hawkins also noted a new book, "The Easter Code," will be available for similar emphases in 2019. Additionally, "The Nehemiah Code: It's Never Too Late for a New Beginning," will debut in August.