Mission:Dignity recipients in Florida will receive an extra check — a 13th check — in 2022 and annually after, thanks to the establishment of the Florida Baptist Retired Shepherd’s Fund. Proceeds from the sale of the Florida Baptist Retirement Center were used to establish the Retired Shepherd’s Fund.
Florida marks the fifth state to offer such a partnership between Mission:Dignity/GuideStone and state conventions. Similar programs are underway in five other states.
“The newly created Florida Baptist Retired Shepherd’s Fund will distribute more than $2.5 million over the next 10 years to retired pastors through Mission:Dignity,” Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director Tommy Green said. “It will be a tremendous blessing.”
Rick Wheeler, president and CEO of Florida Baptist Financial Services, said Mission:Dignity was a natural channel to provide assistance.
“Once we prayerfully made the decision to sell, we began looking for the right partner to continue the ministry in Vero, and the Lord answered our prayer,” Wheeler said. He also indicated that donating the funds through Mission:Dignity would continue to honor the purpose of the retirement center, which was to provide assistance to retiring Florida Baptist pastors who have faithfully served the Lord.
In 2022, Mission:Dignity helped more than 2,500 individuals with extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications. It also ensures a well-deserved dignity, independence and, often, the ability to continue serving the Lord. About 300 Florida recipients and recipients who have served in Florida will receive a 13th check starting this December.
“We have been blessed to see so many state conventions come alongside our Mission:Dignity recipients to provide additional support,” said GuideStone President Hance Dilbeck. “It reminds them their Southern Baptist family has not forgotten their service to the Lord and His people. This generous gift honors the Lord by showing honor to these faithful servants.”
“We are so thankful for the leadership of Rick Wheeler and Tommy Green for making this additional gift possible,” said Aaron Meraz, director of Mission:Dignity. “These pastors and others we serve are truly deserving of a double honor, and thanks to the efforts of so many, those we are privileged to serve will be receiving this blessing.”
For more information on Mission:Dignity, to give, to apply for assistance or to refer someone in need, visit MissionDignity.org.
Roy Hayhurst is the director of denominational and public relations at GuideStone.