Entering the Second Century of Service
GuideStone Marks Its Centennial with a Nod to the Past and a Focus on the Future
by Roy Hayhurst
O. S. Hawkins, current president and CEO of GuideStone Financial Resources (left), and William Lunsford (inset). Photos courtesy of GuideStone Financial Resources.
The story of GuideStone® could be told in time: one hundred years of ministry.
It could be told in dollars: A $100,000 gift from the Baptist Sunday School Board that kicked off its ministry in 1918, followed by $1 million in gifts from John D. Rockefeller Sr. and John D. Rockefeller Jr. during the early days of the ministry. Not to mention the more than $15 billion in assets under management* today.
It could be told in real estate: twelve homes during its first one hundred years and a new home coming this August.
It could be told in presidents: Seven men whose lives and ministries crossed three centuries.
It could be told in award-winning** mutual funds: twenty-six across various asset classes and risk profiles that make up the nation’s largest Christian-screened mutual fund family.
But GuideStone is about more than just facts and figures.
Our story is really the 250,000 pastors and professors, ministers and missionaries, hospital workers, college faculty and staff, children’s home employees, and others who work in ministry and church life.
And serving each of them are more than four hundred employees who seek to live out a vision that reminds them that “GuideStone Financial Resources® exists to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security.”
In that vision, GuideStone President O. S. Hawkins regularly reminds staff of the organization’s mandate and the motivation to achieve it. The mandate: enhance participants’ financial security. The motivation: honor the Lord.
A Charge to Keep
At a pastor’s conference one Monday morning in 1916, Dr. William Lunsford—the pastor of Nashville’s Edgefield Baptist Church—noted that the government was providing pensions and care for injured and dying soldiers returning from World War I. Industries were providing pensions to their older employees. Even other denominations had formed organizations to care for their workers; yet no similar program was at work among Southern Baptists.
But then in May 1918, as the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, messengers established a Board of Ministerial Relief and Annuities in Dallas, Texas—the only board to exist west of the Mississippi River. Lunsford stood before the messengers and offered this charge:
“Give yourself wholeheartedly to the work. We’ll stand back of you. If you fall in the work, we’ll care for you; if you die, we will not allow your family to suffer. If you grow old in the work, we’ll comfort you in your declining years.”
That call has never strayed far from the hearts of GuideStone’s subsequent leaders, Hawkins, president since 1997, said.
“I am a firm believer that as we care for this ministry, we should never stray far from Lunsford’s original vision—and that’s true for any leader of any organization,” Hawkins said. “We are stewards for a small snapshot in time until we pass it on.”
GuideStone maintains its commitment to our original charge through Mission:Dignity®, a ministry that ensures retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows living near the poverty line can receive financial assistance—up to $600 each month for the neediest couples with at least twenty-five years of paid Southern Baptist ministerial service—so that they don’t have to choose between food and fuel or medicine and mortgage. Over the last twenty years well over $100 million has been paid out for retired pastors in need. An established endowment covers the ministry’s operational costs—no raised funds pay for these expenses—meaning 100 percent of gifts are used for helping a retired minister, worker, or widow.
Additionally, all author royalties and proceeds from Hawkins’s best-selling Code series of devotionals—The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code, The James Code, The Daniel Code, The Christmas Code, and The Believer’s Code, as well as VIP: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose—benefit Mission:Dignity.
“We’re on a mission to provide dignity to some men and women who have not been forgotten by the Lord who called them to serve,” Hawkins said. “It’s our joy and humble duty to serve them in their sunset years.”
Come, All Who Labor
Meeting the needs of pastors and other ministry workers is another important task and one that keeps GuideStone focused on its future, Hawkins noted.
“For the most part, the next two generations who are coming to retirement are going to have twenty or more healthy and productive years to serve the Lord after they ‘vocationally retire’ from their churches or places of service,” Hawkins said. “If we can partner with them to help them reach that place of vocational retirement with adequate financial security and dignity, we are going to help unleash the greatest force of volunteers on mission our world has ever seen.”
Two other key components of GuideStone’s ministry today are to ensure that pastors have best-in-class options for investing their retirement savings and have access to health care options that meet the unique needs of pastors and churches.
“We are indeed a ministry that adopts best business practices for the benefit of those we serve,” said John R. Jones, chief operating officer of GuideStone. “We are thankful to have assembled so many best-in-class advisors and employees to ensure our participants and investors can achieve their goals and provide for their families’ needs.”
Meeting the needs of churches with health care coverage for their staff and with property and casualty coverage—through an alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company—to protect their people and property are other ways GuideStone is committed to caring for pastors and their churches.
As GuideStone arrives at the start of a second century of service, we remain committed to the church and its people.
“All of our sister entities in Southern Baptist life are focused on the message of the Gospel, and we are thankful for each of them,” Hawkins said. “We are the only entity, though, that is focused on the messenger of the Gospel. It is our sincere hope and heart that as we close out our first century and embark on our second that we do so with a fleeting glance to honor the past and learn from it but a focused gaze to the future and what the Lord will do through us for those whom He has called to serve Him.”
© 2018 Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee
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