John Morgan, who followed in the footsteps of his father as a Baptist pastor, understandably has a heart for pastors and their families. And what touches his heart most is the plight of retired ministers and widows across the Southern Baptist Convention who live near the poverty line.
Several years ago, Morgan decided to act on his concerns. He led Sagemont Baptist Church in Houston to reach out and minister to the needs of aged ministers and their widows living in the Houston area. The church began gathering the names of individuals with specific needs and responded by sending them $100 to $400 each month. The number grew to thirteen.
"As our church began to invest in the lives of these dear people, we were blessed," Morgan said. "I would receive monthly thank you notes from these retired pastors with a 10 percent tithe to my church. The notes of these faithful servants touched my heart.
"Then I heard about the Annuity Board's Adopt An Annuitant program which is a wonderful ministry that identifies ministers and widows in need across the convention and responds with a monthly $75 check to supplement their income," he said.
The Adopt An Annuitant ministry currently assists 2,600 individuals and couples, but "thousands of our annuitants live on $200 or less in monthly benefits from their retirement income. I shared this need and the ministry with my congregation this spring and the people responded," Morgan said.
And the response was overwhelming. Individuals, families, Sunday school classes, businesses, Bible studies, and other groups said "yes" to giving $75 a month.
In April, Sagemont sent the first check for $10,650 to the Annuity Board and committed to adopting 142 individuals for the coming year.
"We hope this number will grow," Morgan added. "And I hope others in the church will see the need and get involved. I would like to see 200 annuitants adopted this year by Sagemont members."
Morgan readily admits helping pastors is one of his passions and he knows firsthand how inadequate retirement planning can leave pastors and their families in need during their later years.
"My father was pastor at First Baptist Church of Pasadena (Texas) for thirty-three years. He loved the church and they loved him, but planning for the future was not emphasized when he started in the ministry," Morgan said.
"My father and others of his generation went into the ministry with no turning back. Sometimes they received a salary, sometimes they were paid in food or work. They trusted the Lord to provide for all their needs and put the needs and ministries of the church first.
"Now they are looking to us to respond and to show they are not forgotten," he said.
Morgan challenged his church to give to the Adopt An Annuitant ministry in the midst of a $9 million building program for a new preschool and children's building.
"I believe anytime is a good time to respond in love to others," he said. "People sit in judgment of the church today. They are not interested in bureaucracy or impressed with buildings. They want to know how a church is sharing its love.
"I have been in ministry for forty years and almost thirty-four years at Sagemont and I believe that what makes a church a great church is loving God and loving people. When a church shows love to those in need, God will pour out a blessing.
"Helping our retired pastors and widows is a way of showing love and I believe it touches the heart of God," Morgan said.
Sunday, June 25, was Adopt An Annuitant Sunday across the Southern Baptist Convention. During the past three years more than 3,500 churches have participated in the Adopt An Annuitant Sunday emphasis and learned about the desperate needs of retired ministers and their widows.
Any church can share in this ministry. For just $75 a month, or $900 a year per annuitant, a church can make life more secure and less worrisome for aged Baptist ministers and their widows in need. Information is available by calling the Annuity Board toll-free at 1-800-262-0511, or logging onto their Web site at www.absbc.org.