GuideStone Financial Resources has announced changes to protection coverage offered to qualified participants in the Church Retirement Plan, the 403(b)(9) retirement plan offered exclusively to Southern Baptist churches and their staffs.
The minimum monthly contribution to their retirement account for those eligible for the benefits increases to $50 monthly, effective Jan. 1.
Disability benefits must begin before age 65 and will be limited to a payout of 60 months. Participants currently receiving benefits will not be affected.
GuideStone’s Protection Section Benefits, a unique provision not found in most other denominational pension plans nor in most secular retirement plans, currently offers qualified participants a disability benefit of up to $500 per month, along with a survivor protection benefit of up to $100,000, so long as there have been at least contributions in each of the last 12 months.
The changes in protection benefits contributions, which include increased support from GuideStone, will provide cost savings to state conventions, which can use the money in other avenues of missions and ministry.
The changes are designed to help offset costs, which are currently shared. As of Jan. 1, GuideStone will absorb 70 percent of coverage costs – up from the current 60 percent – with 30 percent to be provided by state conventions, which determine which staff positions are eligible for the benefits.
“These benefits have proven to be financial lifesavers for many of the families of the pastors at the crossroads,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “I know of no other program like it. These changes will have minimal impact on our participants, making it a program that should interest every Southern Baptist pastor and church worker.
“We believe strongly that this helps our participants prepare for their retirement years while providing a level of meaningful protection today. Every Southern Baptist pastor and church worker should consider enrolling in the plan, for these benefits alone.”
To determine if a state convention provides a particular staff member with coverage, visit GuideStone.org/SBCChurchBenefits.
Through the end of September, participants have received more than $4.6 million in disability and survivor protection benefits in 2017.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.)