In early August of 1918, William Lunsford, the founding chief executive of what today is GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention®, received a letter from trustee Cullen F. Thomas. In it, he was advised that July 31 the state of Texas had granted the charter for what was then the Board of Ministerial Relief and Annuities.
The closing line of the letter simply said, “You are now a ‘going concern.’ May you continue to grow and go.”
Growing and going has been part of the GuideStone® story now for 100 years. The growth has been focused to provide the products and services that churches and ministries need.
“On every desk at GuideStone is a small sign that reminds us daily that we exist to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said. “That connects us to William Lunsford’s early charge to the Southern Baptist Convention, and it carries us forward to continue to serve our participants with excellence.”
Today, GuideStone is a sophisticated $15 billion* financial services organization serving almost a quarter of a million pastors, professors, ministers, missionaries, hospital workers and other ministry workers. Through its affiliate GuideStone Funds®, an award-winning** family of 24 mutual funds and risk profiles, church and ministry staff are able to invest with the nation’s largest Christian-screened mutual fund family.
Through Mission:Dignity®, GuideStone also serves almost 1,800 retired pastors and their widows living near the poverty line.
“When William Lunsford first offered the vision for what has become GuideStone, he was concerned for the plight of old, retired pastors who could no longer serve and had no money for retirement,” Hawkins said. “He raised the consciousness of the Southern Baptist Convention, and he set out to raise funds for the effort. Mission:Dignity is the contemporary embodiment of that charge.”
Through Mission:Dignity, churches’, Sunday school classes’ and individuals’ donations go to support retired pastors and their widows — 100 percent of gifts go to help a retired person in need.
“Thanks to an endowment set up many years ago, all of our operational expenses are provided for,” Hawkins said. “I don’t know of any other ministry that is able to guarantee that 100 percent of gifts go to help people in need.”
In May 1918, as the Southern Baptist Convention held its annual meeting in Hot Springs, Arkansas, Lunsford stood before the messengers and offered a clarion call:
Give yourself wholeheartedly to the work. We’ll stand back of you. If you fall in the work, we’ll care for you; if you die, we will not allow your family to suffer. If you grow old in the work, we’ll comfort you in your declining years.
That charge has never strayed far from the hearts of GuideStone’s subsequent leaders. Hawkins, president since 1997, said.
“I am a firm believer that as we care for this ministry, we should never stray far from Lunsford’s original vision — and that’s true for any leader of any organization,” Hawkins said. “We are stewards for a small snapshot in time until we pass it on.”
Hawkins, a prolific writer as a pastor even before becoming president of GuideStone, donates all of his author’s royalties and proceeds from his best-selling Code series of devotionals — The Joshua Code, The Jesus Code, The James Code, The Daniel Code, The Christmas Code, The Believer’s Code and The Nehemiah Code as well as VIP: How to Influence with Vision, Integrity, and Purpose — to benefit Mission:Dignity.
“We’re on a mission to provide dignity to some men and women who have not been forgotten by the Lord Who called them to serve,” Hawkins said. “It’s our joy and humble duty to serve them in their sunset years.”
At the start of a new century, Hawkins looks forward to new opportunities. On August 20, GuideStone will move from its headquarters of 29 years in Dallas’ Uptown neighborhood to new, leased space 10 miles north of the city center. The new location will help foster collaboration, innovation and efficiency to help GuideStone’s 425 workers better serve participants today and into the future.
“We are indeed a ministry that adopts best business practices for the benefit of those we serve,” said John R. Jones, chief operating officer of GuideStone. “Every day, we challenge our people to look for new opportunities to serve our participants, to anticipate their needs and to exceed their expectations. This new office space will help us have the physical facilities to better accomplish how we work today and into the future.”
Another part of that future is continuing to work to ensure that pastors have best-in-class options for investing their retirement savings and that pastors and churches have access to health care options that meet their unique needs.
Meeting the needs of churches with health care coverage for their staff has been part of GuideStone’s commitment since the mid-1960s and continues today. Recognizing that health care costs continue to grow nationwide, GuideStone created Secure Health 3000, a new lower-cost alternative health plan that offers a unique benefit structure that provides peace of mind with insurance while costing significantly less than a comprehensive plan.
Ensuring churches have adequate property and casualty insurance is another key component of GuideStone’s ministry. Through an alliance with Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, GuideStone works to help churches protect their people and property.
GuideStone, Hawkins emphasizes, is committed to the local church and its people.
“All of our sister entities in Southern Baptist life are focused on the message of the gospel, and we are thankful for each of them,” Hawkins said. “We are the only entity, though, that is focused on the messenger of the gospel. It is our sincere hope and heart that as we close out our first century and embark on our second that we do so with a fleeting glance to honor the past and learn from it but a focused gaze to the future and what the Lord will do through us for those whom He has called to serve Him.”
Risk: Investing involves risk, including potential loss of principal.
*As of December 31, 2017
**Best Overall Small Fund Group (U.S.) in 2012 for the entire GuideStone Funds family out of 182 eligible fund families with up to $40 billion in assets over the three-year period ending November 30, 2011. Awards honor funds for their consistently strong risk-adjusted performance relative to their peers.
The Fund may experience negative performance. Lipper designates award-winning funds in most individual classifications for the three-, five- and ten-year periods and fund families with high average scores for the three-year time periods.
The Lipper Fund Awards are represented annually and are not a ranking of performance-based methodology. The Lipper Fund Awards are part of the Thomson Reuters Awards for Excellence, a global family of awards that celebrate exceptional performance throughout the professional investment community. The Thomson Reuters Awards for Excellence recognize the world’s top funds, fund management firms, sell side firms, research analysts and investor relations teams. The Thomson Reuters Awards for Excellence also include the Extel Survey awards, the StarMine Analyst Awards and the StarMine Broker Rankings. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit excellence.thomsonreuters.com
You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses of the GuideStone Funds before investing. A prospectus with this and other information about the Funds may be obtained by calling 1-844-GS-FUNDS (1-844-473-8637) or downloading one at GuideStoneFunds.com/Funds. It should be read carefully before investing.
GuideStone Funds shares are distributed by Foreside Funds Distributors LLC, not an advisor affiliate.
Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations services for GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention®.
Director of Denominational and Public Relations Services
GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention
Roy.Hayhurst@GuideStone.org | (214) 720-2141