Citing gratefulness to the Lord for the privilege to serve those who serve Him, GuideStone executive officers and staff provided updates on key lines of business during the entity’s summer trustee meeting.
The board’s July 25-26 regular session in Newport Beach, Calif., facilitated trustees’ visit to the world headquarters of PIMCO, a long-time sub-adviser in GuideStone’s investment work and one of the largest bond investment companies in the world.
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins addressed trustees about the ministry’s 2016 theme “Year of Influence,” referencing 2 Corinthians 10:13, “But we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you.”
People and organizations of influence, Hawkins said, have vision, integrity and purpose.
Citing a customer satisfaction survey GuideStone recently concluded, Hawkins said respondents overwhelmingly rated GuideStone as “trustworthy.”
“It takes integrity to maintain trust,” Hawkins said. “We are thankful for the trust our participants place in GuideStone, and we continue to work diligently to maintain that trust.”
Retirement and investments
Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones noted that GuideStone Funds are now available on 20 intermediary platforms, including Fidelity and Schwab, as a result of reaching out to Christian financial advisors. Financial planners use intermediary platforms to access the investments they offer to their clients. As the number of platforms offering GuideStone Funds grows, the number of potential investors grows with it.
Year-to-date, retirement and investment contributions are up 20 percent compared to the same period in 2015.
As medical inflation plagues the health care industry, Chief Financial Officer Kim Walthall reported that GuideStone continues to work diligently to keep medical rates down; but medical inflation has been higher than projected. Published reports have indicated some state and federal health care exchange insurers have requested rate increases ranging from 50 percent to 65 percent for 2017.
These dramatic increases are driven by a combination of core medical inflation and the ongoing impact of the Affordable Care Act.
While rates for GuideStone’s medical plans will increase for some participants in 2017, Walthall said they will not be nearly as high as the rate increase requests seen by exchange-based insurers. GuideStone’s rates will be announced in September, but Walthall advised churches to prepare for rate increases regardless of their 2017 provider.
GuideStone’s group medical participation continues to be strong, Walthall said, thanks to competitive insurance plans and rates, customer service, broad provider networks and the diligence of sales and support teams.
Property & casualty
GuideStone’s alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company continues to prove beneficial for both organizations as well as the churches and ministry groups served. Premiums year-to-date for Brotherhood Mutual, a property and casualty agency serving Texas and Alabama, total $18.6 million, up from $17.3 million at the end of 2015.
While enjoying a 99 percent renewal rate, GuideStone continues to grow the property and casualty part of its business, adding more agents to serve churches and ministries in Texas, and looking for opportunities in 2017 and beyond.
Mission:Dignity, GuideStone’s ministry that provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows, continues to add new contributors to its donor base. During Mission:Dignity Sunday, celebrated across the Southern Baptist Convention on June 26, an all-time high of 8,274 congregations participated.
Mission:Dignity continues to add new contributors and is able and willing to serve more retired Southern Baptist ministers and widows in need, Jones said. Trustees were asked to be alert to the needs of retired pastors or their widows and to inform Mission:Dignity staff of potential opportunities to serve.
To refer potential recipients, visit MissionDignity.org, and select the “Refer Someone in Need” link on the right-hand side of the page. The link provides eligibility guidelines and more information.
New executive officers
Trustees approved three new executive officers.
Harry Nelson, who joined GuideStone in 2013 as executive director of investments sales, was named chief strategic investment officer to lead GuideStone’s investments division.
Mark Borchgardt was named chief services and operations officer, where he will oversee day-to-day service, operations and quality initiatives. He joined GuideStone in the Finance and Accounting area in 1996 and has fulfilled a variety of roles including financial reporting, retirement and investment product development, strategic planning and retirement services.
Harold R. Loftin, who joined GuideStone in 2013 as associate legal counsel, was named chief legal officer and general counsel regarding GuideStone’s regulatory and legal needs.
Jones told trustees that GuideStone continues to seek new measures to be effective on behalf of its participants, whether through new products, services or opportunities.
Hawkins echoed that sentiment, noting that GuideStone is in position to take advantage of tremendous opportunities in 2016 and beyond.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy E. Head is executive officer for denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)