By Roy Hayhurst
DALLAS (BP) — For the first time in the 175-year history of the Southern Baptist Convention, one of its historic boards will have an African American woman trustee chair.
Renée A. Trewick was elected March 2 by GuideStone trustees. She is a vice president at Marsh USA in New York and is active in Southern Baptist life. She served as vice chair of the GuideStone board in 2019. Her other Southern Baptist service includes serving on the executive board and finance committee of her local association.
Trustees met in scheduled session March 2–3 in Dallas.
“We have been blessed with outstanding trustees representing the broad cross section of Southern Baptist life, but Renée Trewick has truly risen to the top,” GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins said, adding that Trewick “loves the ministry of GuideStone.”
Hawkins also said, “Her keen business understanding uniquely gifts her for the role of chairwoman, and we give thanks to the Lord for her historic election.”
Trewick expressed thanks for her election.
“I am humbled that my colleagues on the trustee board voted to elect me chair,” Trewick said. “My main focus with GuideStone is helping it live out its vision to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with our participants in enhancing their financial security. I have enjoyed serving since 2014 on the GuideStone Board of Trustees and look forward to this upcoming year, serving as chair of the Board. It is a distinct honor to come alongside the staff and executive officers as, together, we serve more than 250,000 pastors, denominational workers, hospital and university employees, and investors with their retirement, insurance, investment, and property and casualty needs and as we assist retired pastors and their widows near the poverty line through Mission:Dignity.”
John Hoychick, Jr., an attorney from Louisiana, was elected vice chairman.
Hawkins presented his annual vision for GuideStone, calling 2020 the Year of Execution. Each year is framed with a verse of Scripture and a theme. Defining “execution” as “the act of effectively carrying out a plan or vision to its successful conclusion,” Hawkins said there were two main themes GuideStone needed to employ to execute on the organization’s goals: Keep Focused and Keep Faithful.
“We want people to keep focused, to stay off the side streets,” Hawkins said, adding that all of GuideStone remains focused on the main thing: to honor the Lord by being a lifelong partner with participants in enhancing their financial security. “Secondly, we must remain faithful and stay off the sidelines. No athlete wants to be on the sidelines; neither do we at GuideStone.”
Hawkins said that coming off the most successful year in the organization’s history in 2019, it’s important to keep focused on the organization’s goals as outlined in Vision 20/20, which include increasing market share to drive economies of scale, responding to changes in the marketplace and aggressively managing costs.
Chief Operating Officer John R. Jones celebrated with trustees the outstanding results staff produced in 2019, exceeding goals in all areas of GuideStone’s ministry.
Mission:Dignity, which provides financial assistance to retired Southern Baptist pastors and their widows in severe financial need, remains the heartbeat of GuideStone’s ministry. More than 9,300 donors – a 6 percent increase over 2018 – gave a record $9.7 million to Mission:Dignity in 2019. That represents a 16 percent increase over 2018 donations. One hundred percent of donor gifts goes to benefit those served by Mission:Dignity; an endowment established years ago provides for the ministry’s administrative costs.
“We had incredible momentum in 2019,” Jones said. “It’s interesting to note how grassroots the program is; 80 percent of our donors are individuals that have captured the wonderful ministry Mission:Dignity provides to those who are in financial need.”
Churches that want to know more about Mission:Dignity – either contributing regularly to the ministry or referring a retired Southern Baptist pastor or his widow in need – can find out more at MissionDignity.org.
Investments and retirement
GuideStone’s investments did well in 2019. All Funds had positive 1-, 3- and 5-year performance. Assets grew by $2.5 billion during 2019, and for the first time, GuideStone’s assets exceeded $17 billion.
“David Spika (chief strategic investment officer) and his staff have been able to achieve these stellar results and provided this outperformance while also better managing downside risk,” Jones said. “David has brought many things of value to GuideStone, and one of the best things he has done in the last year or two is to understand better, analytically, how we best protect capital when the markets get into a decline, such as we have had in the last week and a half.”
GuideStone’s Retirement area continues to grow, retaining the largest institution GuideStone serves and adding an additional $200 million in assets due to that same institution merging with another Baptist entity.
Combined with investment growth, contributions have grown at a compound growth rate of 13 percent.
Insurance and property and casualty
GuideStone retained 96.3 percent of its Group Plans ministries in 2019, a remarkable record, given the competitiveness of the health care space. By comparison, the industry retention rate is closer to 70 percent, Jones said. Net enrollment was up significantly over 2018.
Turning to property and casualty, Jones said that the alliance between GuideStone and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company continues to pay dividends, and 98.4 percent of churches and ministries served by GuideStone were retained in 2019.
“This continues to be the most robust area of growth at GuideStone,” Jones said. GuideStone serves as a Brotherhood Mutual agent in Texas, Louisiana, and Alabama. While new in Louisiana, GuideStone was able to win its first college/university account, as well as several major churches in the Bayou State.
Toward GuideStone’s goals outlined in Vision 20/20, Jones said staff has done an outstanding job in all areas: increasing market share, responding to changes in the marketplace and aggressively managing costs. To that last point, Jones pointed out that the annual budget for 2020 is lower than 2014 and 2015.
Jones concluded his report by reminding trustees about the focus of GuideStone: ensuring the financial security of its participants, especially those pastors at the crossroads. Jones said the staff and leadership always ask a question when considering decisions for the organization: Will my decisions enhance the financial security of the pastor at the crossroads?
“All of us at GuideStone feel called to serve those pastors at the crossroads with retirement, insurance and investment needs, so that they are freed up in that pulpit to better preach the Gospel and win the lost,” Jones said.
Roy Hayhurst is director of denominational and public relations at GuideStone.