EC WRAP-UP: Hawkins notes market correction

O.S. Hawkins
Photo by Morris Abernathy
NASHVILLE (BP) -- When the Dow dropped to 15,400 last month, many pastors exited the stock market and "lost a lot" of money. The market's volatility should prompt all ministers to carefully review their retirement accounts, GuideStone Financial Resources President O.S. Hawkins told the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee.

During the EC's Sept. 21-22 meeting in Nashville, members also learned of a North American Mission Board proposal to provide funds to the International Mission Board as it transitions hundreds of missionaries off the field, honored the Alaska Baptist Convention's retiring executive director and celebrated Frank S. Page for five years of service as EC president.

Hawkins said an Aug. 24 stock market correction prompted him to spend an afternoon in GuideStone's call center, where he heard "pastor after pastor" say, "I want out."

"So many got out, and today [the Dow] is already up 1,100 points higher, and they lost a lot in that downturn," Hawkins reported Sept. 21.

Individuals with GuideStone retirement accounts, he said, should use the tools available through GuideStone's website to determine their time remaining until retirement along with their risk tolerance and adjust their investments accordingly. Doing so will help prevent hasty decisions that lead to financial loss, Hawkins said.

He also reported on GuideStone's lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act's contraception/abortion mandate. After losing at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, GuideStone has appealed to the Supreme Court. Regardless of the lawsuit's outcome, Hawkins said, GuideStone will not provide abortion-causing drugs as part of its health plans.

Hawkins concluded by noting the need for $7-8 million annually to fund Mission: Dignity, GuideStone's ministry providing financial assistance to needy retired ministers and their widows.

"We're on a mission still to bring dignity to some forgotten folks," Hawkins said.

NAMB offers to aid IMB

Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, reported that a proposal to provide $4 million to the International Mission Board for each of the next two years will be on NAMB's trustee agenda during their Oct. 6-7 meeting in Salt Lake City.

"It's very expensive when you transition missionaries," Ezell said, "when you're trying to correct your budget and you're trying to take care of people at the same time.

"We're all in this together," Ezell said of IMB's planned reduction of 600-800 missionaries and staff members to correct its multi-million-dollar shortfall.

NAMB's proposed allocation, which would require Executive Committee approval, does not mean NAMB has an excess of funds, Ezell said. Rather, he said, NAMB can provide the money because steps in the past five years have placed the mission board in a fiscally sound position to assist the IMB.

Alaska exec honored

The Executive Committee unanimously adopted a resolution of appreciation for Michael Procter for more than 30 years of denominational service with Alaska Baptists in advance of his May 1, 2016, retirement as executive director/treasurer of the Alaska Baptist Convention.

Procter has held his current position for nearly five years and previously held positions of pastor, church planter, associational director of missions and state director of missions and church planting.

The Executive Committee recognized Procter for leadership marked by "an evangelistic zeal and vision to reach Alaskans with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" and for encouraging cooperation at every level of Southern Baptist life, including the establishment of partnerships with four associations in the lower 48 states. Procter established the Upper Tanana Valley Regional Church Planting Center in Tok, Alaska, introduced the "938 Prayer Strategy," and launched the "100 Village Challenge" to establish a Christian ministry in villages that have no ongoing Gospel witness.

Procter led the Alaska Baptist Convention to focus on reaching the state's rich diversity of ethnic, racial and language groups, the resolution notes, and planted churches among numerous ethnic groups and native Alaskan populations. During his tenure, the number of cooperating churches in Alaska has grown from 81 to 121, a growth rate of 49 percent over five years.

Procter and his wife of nearly 40 years, Rebecca, have contributed to Southern Baptist life, the resolution concluded, in ways that have been "numerous and distinguished."

Page honored for 5 years of service

Executive Committee members honored Frank S. Page and his wife Dayle for their five years with the Executive Committee during a reception Monday evening (Sept. 22).

Page, the EC's sixth president, was president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2006-08 and was serving as the North American Mission Board's vice president of evangelization when he was elected as EC president in June 2010.

SBC President Ronnie Floyd told EC members, "The Lord began raising up Dr. Page in 2006 and He has verified again and again his place, his calling, his dynamic influence within the Southern Baptist Convention."

Page has led the Executive Committee in a budget reduction stemming from a Great Commission Task Force recommendation to appropriate more than 50 percent of Southern Baptists' Cooperative Program gifts to the International Mission Board.

He has charted new ground in Southern Baptist relationships with ethnic constituencies, creating African American, Hispanic, Asian and Multi-Ethic advisory councils. Calvinism and mental health advisory councils also were initiated by Page.

He is the author of several books, including "Melissa" about the suicide of one of his three grown daughters.

SBC referrals

In response to motions referred from the 2015 SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio, the Executive Committee:

-- declined to endorse a change in SBC Bylaws to require that nomination speeches include information on the Cooperative Program giving of a nominee's church. The Executive Committee acknowledged "the generally recognized importance of various elements of church activity such as number of baptisms and Cooperative Program giving" and said it will "continue to provide such relevant information about announced candidates prior to each annual meeting through Baptist Press, and also via article compilations in the annual meeting phone app." The EC added that messengers are "fully capable of using all publicly available information about any nominee to determine whether the content of any nominating speech is accurate, sufficient, and persuasive."

-- declined to recommend an amendment to SBC Bylaws requiring nominees to publicly address the convention. The EC noted SBC Bylaw 10 "already allows a nominee to deliver his own nomination speech, and messengers may already become familiar with candidates prior to each annual meeting through Baptist Press, and also via story compilations available in the annual meeting phone app."

-- responded to a motion calling for the Executive Committee and SBC entities to mount an initiative to repair the moral fabric of America by citing the EC's "willing participation to continue conducting its SBC Bylaw 18.E assigned work." Bylaw 18.E requires the EC, among other duties, to promote work already conducted to repair America's moral fabric by the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and other SBC entities.

-- responded to a motion requesting shuttle service for SBC annual meeting attendees by stating that the EC "annually studies the costs and availability of transportation at each host city and will continue to evaluate and adjust shuttle service on an annual basis."

Executive Committee member Jim Gregory of Mountain Home, Idaho, in a question unrelated to the shuttle service referral, asked EC chairman Michael Routt whether any SBC entity other than the International Mission Board is faced with making budget cuts to reverse years of financial shortfalls.

"In light of what we have learned about IMB's financial [shortfall], in light of the fact that that amount of [shortfall] didn't just happen overnight," Gregory asked, "are there any other SBC entities facing a similar financial situation?"

"The answer is joyfully no," Routt said. "God's provided and we need to continue to pray for IMB."

Also during the meeting, Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources, presented checks totaling more than $570,000 for the SBC's two mission boards. The funds -- $306,585 for the International Mission Board and $264,113 for the North American Mission Board -- were mission offerings given this summer by participants in LifeWay's Fuge, CentriKids and World Changers ministries.

Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, general assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler and chief national correspondent David Roach.
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