DALLAS — GuideStone's theme for 2015 was the "Year of Efficiency," whereby GuideStone sought out new efficiencies in people, processes and policies. Scores of efficiencies were identified and implemented throughout the organization, including streamlining employee training and onboarding, renegotiating energy contracts and bulk mailing services, and lowered medical group sizes to help assist more churches. Coming out of that effort, GuideStone has announced a realignment of certain job responsibilities and the promotion of three new executive officers from within the ranks of the organization.
The restructuring dovetails with GuideStone's update to its long-range plan, GuideStone 100, to carry the ministry to its centennial in 2018, and beyond to 2020. Many positions were combined or redeployed, and a small number were eliminated. Eligible personnel were offered an early voluntary retirement package, while many other employees were reassigned to open positions. A total of nine people who were unable to be accommodated in open positions were offered severance packages.
"These steps we have taken will enable us to further enhance our ministry as we prepare to enter the second century of our service to Southern Baptists, while maintaining optimum staffing levels going forward," GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said.
Citing a market environment that continues to be evidenced by low interest rates and sluggishness in the economic recovery, Hawkins discussed the organization's commitment to its participants.
"The balance between ministry and God-honoring business practices is what we deal with every day," Hawkins said. "In maintaining this balance we are guided by our mission statement, drawn from Psalm 78:72, that reminds us we are 'serving those who serve the Lord with the integrity of our hearts and the skillfulness of our hands.'"
Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones echoed those sentiments.
"We take the stewardship of our ministry seriously," Jones said. "GuideStone at its heart is a ministry that adopts best business practices."
Earlier this year, GuideStone offered an early voluntary retirement option to qualified employees 55 years of age or older. This common business practice benefits employees who freely take the opportunity, and provides the organization additional staff flexibility as it continues to strive to better serve its participants. Fifty-nine individuals, a little over 10 percent of GuideStone employees — about half those eligible — voluntarily elected to take the early retirement package.
As GuideStone participants have indicated a desire for more self-serve, internet-based service, internal reviews conducted as part of the Year of Efficiency led to operational models indicating the possibility of a reduction in headcount while not impacting participant services. In a move toward increased efficiency, management implemented additional changes that reduced the number of printed account statements, and associated mailing costs, incurred by GuideStone and worked with insurance vendors to reduce consulting expenditures for GuideStone's insurance plan. GuideStone previously reduced its headcount in 2008–2009 through a combination of attrition and a similar voluntary retirement program.
Several department responsibilities shifted during the restructuring, including the Customer Service Center, which was merged with the Retirement and Insurance areas to provide continued excellent service.
New Members of the Executive Team
In a further step to strengthen GuideStone in its ministry, as previously reported, GuideStone trustees in their August meeting elected three new executive officers from within GuideStone's ranks.
"We are privileged to be able to strengthen our ministry at GuideStone by adding Mark Borchgardt, Harry Nelson and Harold Loftin to our Executive Leadership Team at this time," Hawkins said. "One of our ongoing goals at GuideStone is to provide a means to grow our staff in their career paths. These promotions from within our ranks help demonstrate our commitment to providing our employees with a path of upward mobility in their careers. These additions to our Executive Leadership Team have been enthusiastically embraced by our staff, and we look forward to the contributions they will make to further strengthening our ministry at GuideStone."
Borchgardt was elected Chief Services and Operations Officer after two decades of service at GuideStone. In this role, he oversees day-to-day service, operations and quality initiatives at GuideStone and provides leadership over the customer service teams and product management for GuideStone's retirement and insurance lines of business. He joined GuideStone's Finance and Accounting staff in 1996 and has held a variety of positions at GuideStone, including Financial Reporting, Retirement and Investment Product Development and Strategic Planning. Borchgardt previously spent several years in public accounting and banking. He has earned both bachelor and master’s degrees in business administration from Baylor University and is a Certified Public Accountant.
Nelson was elected Chief Strategic Investment Officer. He joined GuideStone in 2013 and previously served as GuideStone's Executive Director of Investments Sales. Prior to GuideStone, Nelson spent eight years with Golden Capital Management, an investment management affiliate of Wells Fargo. He has also served at Charles Schwab and First Union/Wachovia Bank throughout his 25-year tenure in the financial services industry. Nelson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina, and is a member of the Investment Management Consulting Association. He has earned the Certified Investment Management Analyst designation.
Loftin was elected Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel. He also joined GuideStone in 2013 and has served as General Counsel since August 2014. Before joining GuideStone, he was in private practice for two years with the international law firm of Dentons, LLP, where he specialized in securities law. Prior to that, he worked with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as a trial lawyer for 11 years as well as in practice in Austin, Texas. Loftin earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Speech from Houston Baptist University in 1983 and his Juris Doctor degree from Baylor University School of Law in 1990, where he served as Editor-in-Chief of the Baylor Law Review. He is currently pursuing a Master of Theology degree at Dallas Theological Seminary.
These promotions come just over a year after the elevation of Kim Walthall to Chief Financial Officer and a member of the Executive Leadership Team in 2015. She succeeded Jeff Billinger upon his retirement after 22 years of service. Walthall joined GuideStone's Finance and Accounting staff in 1995 and has served in a variety of roles at GuideStone, including leading Insurance Operations and Insurance Product Development. Prior to joining GuideStone, Walthall worked in the insurance industry, primarily working in life and health insurance accounting. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Business and Public Administration from the University of Texas at Dallas. Walthall is a Certified Public Accountant.
"GuideStone is always seeking to have best-in-class employees and vendors serving our participants," Hawkins said. "All four of these promotions from within our team help illustrate the best-in-class staff we recruit, develop and grow and serve as a reminder to all of our staff that we are committed to their development as professionals in service to our participants. Our vision, which reminds us that we 'exist to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security' has always guided and continues to guide our ministry, our mission and our methodology as we seek to serve those who serve the Lord."