Rick and Betty Hall, who live in a modest mobile home in central Alabama, have a multitude of stories about the small churches they served throughout the eastern part of the state over the course of three decades.
When former pastor Rick Hall retired, he and his wife Betty had no savings to fall back on but heard about Mission:Dignity. It has made a huge difference in their lives.
In the Halls’ last church, five people attended on the first Sunday. No one had lived in the parsonage for 36 years, and there were only 34 people within a mile of the church. Attendance grew to nearly 40 during the eight years the Halls were there. The members learned how to give to missions, and it became the top per-capita giving church in their local association to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
The couple both worked a variety of jobs to pay their bills. Rick shared, “Most country churches expect a pastor to do everything – visitation, hospital calls, turning the lights on. But most of them can’t pay much, if anything.”
When they retired, Rick and Betty had no savings to fall back on but heard about Mission:Dignity. It has made a huge difference in their lives. Mission:Dignity provides financial assistance to Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows in need of additional resources to cover housing, food and medical expenses.
“This month, there was $3.27 in the bank when the Mission:Dignity check came in,” Rick said. “Our Social Security pays the bills, but the Mission:Dignity gift pays for our groceries. We can’t tell you how many times we have thanked the Lord for your help. Many months, we would not have bought food without your assistance.”
Mission:Dignity Sunday is June 23. It’s a day to remember and honor retired ministers, workers and their widows living on low retirement incomes. It’s also a time to give generously to help the nearly 1,700 individuals and couples assisted by the ministry.
More than $7 million is distributed annually, with most of the funding coming from the direct gifts of individuals, Sunday school classes and churches. One hundred percent of gifts provide monthly grants with nothing used for operating expenses. An endowment established many years ago covers the administrative costs of the ministry.
GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins noted, “One of the great blessings of our ministry is knowing that so many of the good and godly pastors and their wives we serve are able to have a measure of security and, yes, dignity in their declining years thanks to the individuals, churches and Sunday school classes who give to Mission:Dignity.”
“We are thankful that we can be Christ’s hand extended to these Southern Baptist pastors and their widows who sacrificed to serve His churches throughout their ministries,” he said.
For churches, Sunday school classes and others interested in supporting Mission:Dignity, GuideStone provides free bulletin inserts, promotional posters and a DVD with several brief testimonies of people assisted by Mission:Dignity. The materials are undated and can be used anytime.
The free resources can be ordered at MDSunday.org or by texting MDORDER to 41444 from a mobile device. Individuals wishing to donate, or wishing to refer potential recipients, to Mission:Dignity can do so through MissionDignity.org.
The ministry – now beginning its second century of service to Southern Baptist pastors – has been a blessing, Rick said.
“We just want to thank you so very much,” he said. “We know that God cares for us, and the assistance from those who give to Mission:Dignity is one way He has helped us. It’s amazing and we can’t thank you enough.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – John Ambra is director of Mission:Dignity at GuideStone. June 23 is Mission:Dignity Sunday in the Southern Baptist Convention.)