GuideStone® trustees gathered March 1 for their Winter 2021 meeting, their second Zoom meeting of the full trustee board in the last year. Trustees joined from around the United States to hear GuideStone’s management team reports about results, strategic endeavors, and other priorities.
Trustees re-elected Renée A. Trewick (NY) chair and John Hoychick, Jr. (LA) vice-chair for another one-year term.
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins, who has set a theme and verse before employees each year of his tenure, said 2021 would be the Year of Beginning Again and chose Acts 13:36 as his focal passage.
“Our text is found in really a parenthetical statement Paul makes in his first recorded sermon there at Pisidian Antioch,” Hawkins said, “when he uses King David as an example and says in verse 36, ‘David had served God’s purpose in his own generation and fell asleep.’”
In Beginning Again, Hawkins noted four points: “Our Privilege,” (David had served), “Our Purpose” (David had served God’s purpose), “Our Potential” (David had served God’s purpose in his own generation), “Our Passion” (David had served God’s purpose in his own generation and fell asleep).
Serving pastors and other ministry workers is the privilege of all who work at GuideStone, Hawkins told trustees. Hawkins emphasized Mission:Dignity® — which provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist pastors and, in most cases, their widows in financial need — remains the heart of GuideStone, as it has since GuideStone’s founding more than 100 years ago. 2020 was a record year in fund-raising for the ministry, with a record of $10.4 million being provided to retired pastors and their widows. Almost $200 million has been raised from churches, Sunday school classes and individuals since 1997 for Mission:Dignity, which receives no Cooperative Program gifts.
In addition to the monthly support, Mission:Dignity provides expense grants for one-time needs. Hawkins cited examples of a pastor’s widow who needs new dentures or a retired pastor who needs new tires as examples of expenses covered by the grants. Already, a multimillion-dollar donation has been pledged in 2022 to help endow and underwrite those expense grants.
Hawkins noted that while Mission:Dignity focuses on the financial needs, recipients’ emotional needs are also met: All GuideStone employees reached out to every Mission:Dignity recipient during 2020 to check on them and pray for them during the pandemic.
Moving to “Our Purpose,” Hawkins reminded trustees that GuideStone is not like other financial organizations.
“We have a higher purpose,” Hawkins said. “We’re serving God-called men and women, and we do so with a sense of our own calling.”
That purpose leads the ministry to excellence, Hawkins said.
Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones cited that GuideStone has undertaken new initiatives, despite the pandemic, including a new website launched last week.
“What we did during this disruptive year of 2020 was to continue to serve our participants better and to live out our Vision and Mission,” Jones said. For example, Customer Satisfaction surveys, the “Net Promoter Score,” and the percentage of participants saying it was “very easy” to work with GuideStone, all improved from already high numbers between 2019 and 2020. In the property & casualty and health plan arenas, GuideStone has found a 98% retention rate. This means, Jones indicated, that churches are shopping and finding GuideStone offers competitive pricing and service.
Under “Our Potential,” Hawkins cited the continued opportunities to serve additional pastors in Retirement and Insurance and especially through Mission:Dignity. The number of people receiving benefits from Mission:Dignity grew in 2020 thanks to a concerted effort to identify the neediest ZIP codes and to reach out to participants in those areas.
Additionally, Retirement and Insurance teams continued to work with new participants in enrolling them in plans to help enhance their financial security, Jones said.
In serving in our own generation, Hawkins noted that he is readying to pass the baton to a successor the trustees are prayerfully seeking to identify.
“Everything is rapidly changing around us,” he said. “GuideStone is going to need some new wineskins in this new generation,” citing Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 9.
“Our potential is to never change the message but always be changing the methods,” Hawkins continued. “We’ve been changing wineskins here for 24 years,” whether it was changing GuideStone’s name from the Annuity Board, expanding eligibility of those GuideStone serves, new investment opportunities, or adding products and services. Additionally, Hawkins and Jones noted the increased purposeful emphasis on inclusion and diversity in both employee and trustee ranks.
Finally, turning to “Our Passion,” Hawkins noting Paul said that David “fell asleep,” meaning David died. Getting pastors and other workers through their vocational ministry careers, to and through retirement is the goal of GuideStone, dating back to its founding and its founder, William Lunsford.
“Everyone is going to reach that time where we step over into eternity,” Hawkins said. “What’s going to happen to that pastor’s wife, his widow? GuideStone and Mission:Dignity will be there for them.
“This is our passion – caring for those we serve, to be a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security. It is the passion of our ministry.”
In other reports, trustees heard from the GuideStone Insurance and Retirement areas on various initiatives and results.
The Presidential search committee, announced last September, provided a brief update to trustees. The goal is to have identified the future leader of GuideStone by the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, scheduled for June 15–16 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services at GuideStone.