Be intentional. That’s the message John Ambra, director of development for Mission:Dignity, wants Southern Baptists to hear.
Kenneth Moon and his wife Marilene are among 1,800 retired pastors, spouses and widows receiving aid from Mission:Dignity from more than $7 million in contributions yearly by Southern Baptists.
The ministry is searching for retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers and their widows who need financial assistance – people who may find it hard to ask for help or may not know it’s there.
Kenneth and Marilene Moon, who were featured in a Mission:Dignity promotional video in 2016, were in a similar situation when they applied for help in 2008 to the ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources.
Having retired due to health issues more than a decade earlier, the Moons used credit cards to pay for food, medicine and many other day-to-day needs. Even with cutting back on basic necessities, their expenses were more than their income.
When they applied, they wrote, “This is the most difficult thing we have ever had to do – asking for help.”
“This is a generation that was taught to pay their own way and keep financial information private,” Ambra said. “They struggle with necessities, and no one, sometimes not even their own children, know how difficult their situation has become. Often that can mean they make difficult choices about necessities like food.”
Pastors, directors of missions and others who may know a retired Southern Baptist pastor, worker or his widow can refer them to Mission:Dignity for consideration by visiting MissionDignity.org.
To receive assistance, applicants must meet eligibility guidelines: age 65 or older and retired, minimum of 10 years of paid service with a Southern Baptist church, entity or institution, or an individual who was married to someone in a ministerial position for 10 or more years during the time of their service. Income cannot exceed $1,962 a month for a single person or $2,656 a month for a couple, and they must have less than $30,000 in assets, excluding their home.
Individuals can receive $225 per month and couples can receive $300 per month. Grant amounts are doubled for the neediest applicants with at least 25 years of ministerial service.
“We were called to preach the Gospel in 1960,” Ken Moon wrote in appreciation of receiving their first check from the ministry. “We never dreamed Southern Baptists and Mission:Dignity would one day be our lifeline to a more secure and stable existence. The extra resources you have so graciously shared with us have enabled us to pay our monthly doctor bills, catch up on late payments, and yes, even have food on our table.”
That food on the table is an image that sticks with GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins.
“So many people write to us to tell us that their Mission:Dignity assistance means they don’t have to choose between medicine and mortgage or food and fuel,” Hawkins said. “I will never forget the letter from Idell Austin, one of the dear widows we support, who told us, ‘Bless you, I have something to eat at night, and it’s not just a piece of toast.’
“We need our fellow Southern Baptists looking for those retired pastors and their widows to find others like Idell, who are subsisting on next to nothing, who could benefit from the assistance Mission:Dignity provides.”
For more information on Mission:Dignity, to refer someone in need or to make a gift, please visit MissionDignity.org.