TOCCOA — A more delightful couple you will seldom, if ever, meet than Kenneth and Marilene Moon. They were high school sweethearts and though they have been married for 62 years it does not appear that their love has abated one little bit. Kenneth looked fondly at Marilene and stated, “I married way over my head.” She smiled at her husband lovingly.
Kenneth Moon served as a faithful Baptist pastor in ten different churches over a period of 38 years. His years of service were in churches in northeast Georgia and upstate South Carolina. Unfortunately Moon, with almost four decades of experience, was forced to retire in 1998 due to health issues.
Kenneth and Marilene were present for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board annual staff retreat at the Convention’s Conference Center in Toccoa to express their gratitude for the financial support they receive each month from Mission:Dignity. Kenneth and Marilene served small churches that did not sufficiently provide annuity funds for them, so maintaining their financial equilibrium since retirement has been a challenge.
Because health issues made Kenneth’s early retirement necessary and retirement funds were inadequate to meet their financial obligations, the Moons were faced with a crisis. That is when Mission Dignity came to the rescue.
Kenneth addressed the Mission Board staff and stated, “I do not have words to express what is in my heart, but Marilene and I are so very grateful for the assistance we receive each month from Mission:Dignity. It helps us in so many ways. For example, we could not afford the drugs we have to take if it were not for Mission:Dignity. Oh, yes, my wife told me if I mentioned drugs to be sure to say ‘prescription’ drugs.”
In January Kenneth had knee replacement surgery and Marilene has a history of heart and cancer problems. Several years ago she had heart quadruple bypass surgery.
Marilene has a Facebook ministry where she shares Bible verses and eternal truths to encourage others. In one post she has a photo of a road leading to a beautiful sunlit cross with the caption: “The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.” She stated, “This has been our motto all these years of ministry. My sister, Jackie, gave us a plaque with those words many years ago.”
Since 1918 GuideStone Financial Resources has been on a “Mission” to provide “Dignity” to retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers, and their widows. These are men and women who have faithfully served God’s people and now find themselves struggling to meet even basic needs. Many served small, rural churches that paid only modest salaries and couldn’t afford to contribute to their pastor’s retirement. Often, these loyal soldiers of the cross found it essential to work extra jobs just to make ends meet.
At the current time Mission:Dignity helps almost 1,800 people across the Southern Baptist Convention with extra money needed for housing, food, and vital medications.
In January the Georgia Baptist Mission Board staff was invited to accept a salary reduction so that the money provided from that challenge could be applied to Mission:Dignity. Keith Hamilton, GuideStone’s state missionary in Georgia, announced that 58 staff members had contributing $1,859 a month, or $22,308 annually, to this ministry to help needy retired ministers and their spouses in Georgia. The gifts will go to eight spouses or to six couples out of the 135 recipients of Mission:Dignity in Georgia.
John Ambra, GuideStone’s director of Development for Mission:Dignity, was present at the staff retreat to thank the Georgia Baptist Mission Board for their involvement in helping Georgia Baptist retirees. He stated that June 26 is Mission:Dignity: Sunday in Baptist churches across the nation.
Marilene stated, “Churches should put Mission:Dignity in their church budgets.”