NASHVILLE (BP) – GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins thanked Southern Baptists for their support, prayers and the opportunity to serve the 103-year-old ministry as he gave his final report to messengers meeting Monday, June 15, in Nashville. Hawkins last year asked trustees to appoint a presidential search committee, chaired by retired Kansas pastor and trustee Steve Dighton. Last month, trustees unanimously elected D. Hance Dilbeck Jr., to become GuideStone president-elect.
“For four months, we asked Southern Baptists to give us recommendations for the new head of GuideStone,” Hawkins said. “The search committee was determined that they were not going to look at a search firm. They were just going to let Southern Baptists nominate, and they were only going to consider those whom Southern Baptists nominated.
“Several nominations came in, and it wasn’t too long before the name of Hance Dilbeck began to rise to the top.”
After a period of transition and training, Dilbeck will become president and CEO on March 1, 2022, and Hawkins will assume the honorary, voluntary position of president emeritus. Hawkins will have served almost one-quarter of GuideStone’s history upon his retirement.
Hawkins took time to recognize his “right arm,” John R. Jones, who has served as chief operating officer throughout Hawkins’ tenure, along with both current trustee chair Renée Trewick, the first Black woman to lead a Southern Baptist entity trustee board, and John Hoychick Jr., vice chair of the board.
Dilbeck provided a brief greeting during the report.
“My wife Julie and I have a deep love and great respect for Dr. Hawkins and for Susie, and for their quarter-century of service to the Lord and Southern Baptists,” Dilbeck told messengers. “I’m committed to following him, giving my best to serving the Lord with the integrity of heart and skillfulness of hands. I’m grateful to the GuideStone trustees for seeing fit to give me this stewardship, and I consider it an honor to serve Southern Baptists along with this great GuideStone team.
“We want to be a lifelong partner that helps you take care of yourself and take care of your household. Our goal is that you might be well and do well so that you can serve well and finish well so that one day you’ll do what we all want to do, which is stand before our Master, the Lord Jesus and hear, ‘well done.’ So I promise I’m going to do my best to serve you, and I ask for your prayers.”
Hawkins said he and Dilbeck are committed to making this the smoothest transition in the history of any Southern Baptist Convention entity and, “God willing, a model for all the rest of them that follow.”
During the report, Hawkins said that the 2018 relocation of GuideStone to new offices helped pave the way for the entity to weather the pandemic and stay-at-home orders well. In addition, increased automation and reliance on affordable, efficient technology allowed employees to serve participants and prospects from home as efficiently as when they were in the office.
“We didn’t miss a beat in working from home,” Hawkins said. “Consequently, we just had, in virtually every measurement, the greatest year in the history of GuideStone.”
August 27, 2021, will mark the 20th anniversary of GuideStone Funds, Hawkins said. The funds are where retirement plan participants can invest their contributions to help them achieve their financial goals.
Hawkins noted that GuideStone Funds is a two-time winner over the past decade – in 2012 and 2019 – of the Lipper Award for Best Overall Small Fund Family. These awards demonstrate GuideStone’s commitment to delivering attractive risk-adjusted returns while helping investors invest according to their values.
In health care, Hawkins cited the addition last year of Chu Soh as the Chief Insurance Officer. An Air Force Academy graduate, Soh led one of the nation’s largest health sharing organizations before joining GuideStone. Hawkins said Soh has brought new energy to the health plans and, along with his team, are looking at a variety of options to continue to provide quality and affordable health care to the churches and ministries GuideStone serves.
Hawkins encouraged messengers to stop by the annual Wellness Center to receive a screening for their blood pressure, glucose and other measurements. The Wellness Center sees hundreds of messengers each year and offers a snapshot of their current health stats.
In property & casualty coverage, GuideStone recorded a 98 percent renewal rate.
“What that means is we’re out there serving folks with their property and casualty needs,” Hawkins said. “We want to serve your church. Nobody knows the church better than GuideStone. No one can keep you insured and safe better than GuideStone and Brotherhood Mutual.”
Hawkins cited continued success with his Code book series, the royalties and proceeds of which g to the benefit of Mission:Dignity, GuideStone’s ministry that provides relief financial support to retired pastors and, in most cases, their widows near the poverty line.
More than 2 million copies of the books have been sold. This fall, a new book, The Prayer Code: 40 Bible Prayers Every Believer Should Pray, will be available. For calendar year 2022, the books’ publisher, Thomas Nelson, will take his first book in the series, The Joshua Code: 52 Scripture Verses Every Believer Should Know, and challenge churches to lead their congregations in a year of Scripture memory. The books will provide a year of preaching outlines while allowing the whole congregation to memorize the same Scripture together each week.
“One of the things I want to do as I conclude my race there and as I go into this role of president emeritus is I want to make sure we get endowed our expense grants for Mission:Dignity,” Hawkins said. The expense grants assist with one-time expenses like new dentures, glasses or car repairs, above and beyond their monthly honorariums. “I know of a multimillion-dollar gift, the largest gift that has ever come to GuideStone, and one of the largest gifts ever to a Southern Baptist entity, is coming to us in 2022. We’re going to match that gift and seek to endow the expense grants to Mission:Dignity.”
Hawkins emphasized the checks provided to Mission:Dignity checks are truly honorariums.
“That check we send out every month to these Mission:Dignity recipients is not an SBC welfare check,” Hawkins said. “It is an honorarium for what they never got when they were out there serving and trying to make a living and never had an opportunity to do that, let alone save for retirement.”
Hawkins concluded his final report by telling pastors that, even if their retirement savings might not be sufficient, they can be in peace that GuideStone will be there for those pastors’ widows, providing them the financial support.
With Mission:Dignity Sunday coming up June 27, churches, small groups and individuals have an opportunity to give “double honor” (1 Timothy 5:17) to more than 2,500 retirement-aged pastors, workers and widows in the SBC. GuideStone provides free bulletin inserts, promotional posters and a DVD with several brief testimonies of people assisted by Mission:Dignity. The materials are not dated and can be used on June 27 or anytime.
Churches and small groups can get involved by:
- Download or order free resources at MDSunday.org or by texting MDORDER to 41444 from a mobile device.
- Share this link on social media to set goals, make donations and encourage friends to donate using the power of crowdfunding
- Give directly to these recipients in need by texting MDSUNDAY to 41444.
100 percent of every gift to Mission:Dignity goes to Mission:Dignity recipients. An endowment established many years ago provides for all overhead costs of the ministry.