By: Barry G. Allen- President and CEO
What an opportunity you have to assist a generation of God called servants, who loved their churches, and their churches loved them, but for whom planning for the future was not emphasized when they began serving. They went into the ministry with no turning back. They trusted the Lord to provide, and they put the needs of their churches first. Now they need and deserve our help.
Most people do not realize how many men and women there are, who served God’s people faithfully across the years, and now find themselves struggling to meet even their basic needs. Most of these served as pastors and pastors’ wives in small, rural churches that paid them very modest salaries and could not afford to contribute toward their retirement. In many instances these men and women had to work extra jobs just to make ends meet.
Mission:Dignity™ is the name GuideStone Financial Resources, formerly the Annuity Board, SBC, has given that part of its mission which provides “relief” assistance to these needy retired ministers and their widows. This ministry was previously called the Adopt-An-Annuitant program. Although the name is new, the need is greater than ever.
Currently GuideStone pays out $6M per year to assist 2,000 retired ministers and spouses across the nation with money for housing, food and medications while seeking to ensure a well-deserved dignity and independence for these faithful servants of the Lord.
You will be pleased to know the Kentucky Baptist Foundation partners with GuideStone in supplementing those Mission:Dignity recipients living in Kentucky. This supplement is provided from the earnings of the Baptist Minister’s Aid Endowment Fund, which was established 122 years ago. Currently we are providing $275,000 per year to 91 Kentucky recipients ranging from $200 to $530 per month.
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting by telephone with several of the Kentucky recipients. These are some of the comments they shared with me about the impact of this financial assistance on their lives. The widow of a pastor said “I don’t know what I would have done without this blessing from the Lord.” Another widow shared, “It helps to pay for the supplement insurance so I can see the special doctor I need for my health condition. I thank God for those who make this possible.” A retired pastor stated “When I accepted the call to preach I lost my teacher’s retirement, did not have any social security and the churches I served only contributed the minimum toward my retirement. I guess I could have made it without this help, but it would have been difficult.”
Don Spencer, Director of the KBC Church Financial Benefits Department, affirmed this ministry like this: “For the folks receiving this assistance each month it often means the difference in having basic necessities like food on the table or paying the utility bills, and they get quite emotional when they express appreciation for the difference these dollars make in their lives.”
When you think about the ministry of the KBF you would not think it included financial assistance to needy retired pastors and their widows. And yet, across the years there have been those who have demonstrated their admiration, appreciation and affection for these soldiers of the cross by making gifts into endowment funds administered by the KBF that provide “relief funds” for their well-being.
You, too, can participate in this important ministry by sending a designated gift directly to GuideStone and/or to the KBF. Your gift can be in the form of a check, appreciated assets, a beneficiary designation of life insurance or retirement account and/or a bequest in your will.
For more information about this ministry and how you can support it click on www.missiondignitysbc.org, call toll free 1.888.984.8433 or call me toll free at 1.866.489.3421.