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Protection section benefits changing, effective January 1

GuideStone Financial Resources has announced changes to the Protection Section Benefits offered to qualified participants in the Church Retirement Plan, the 403(b)(9) retirement plan offered exclusively to Southern Baptist churches and their staffs. The change in benefits will offer cost savings to state conventions, which can use the money in other avenues of missions and ministry.

The Protection Section Benefits, a unique benefit not found in most other denominational pension plans, nor in most secular retirement plans, currently offers qualified participants a disability benefit of up to $500 per month, along with a survivor protection benefit of up to $100,000, so long as there have been at least contributions in each of the last 12 months. 

The changes to the benefit will increase the minimum monthly contribution for those eligible for the benefits to $50 monthly, and disability benefits must begin before age 65 and will be limited to a payout of 60 months. There are no changes to the survivor protection benefit.

Participants currently receiving benefits will not be affected.

“These benefits have proven to be financial life-savers for many of the families of the pastors at the crossroads,” said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins. “I know of no other program like it. These changes will have minimal impact on our participants, making it a program that should interest every Southern Baptist pastor and church worker.

“We believe strongly that this helps our participants prepare for their retirement years while providing a level of meaningful protection today. Every Southern Baptist pastor and church worker should consider enrolling in the plan, for these benefits alone.”

To determine if a state convention provides a particular staff member with coverage, visit GuideStone.org/SBCChurchBenefits.

The changes are designed to help offset costs, which are currently shared. As of January 1, 2018, 70 percent of coverage costs will be absorbed by GuideStone and 30 percent by state conventions, which determine which staff positions are eligible for the benefits.

Through the end of September, participants have received more than $4.6 million in protection and disability benefits in 2017.The changes in the plan take effect January 1, 2018.

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