The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee approved legal documents at its semi-annual meeting Sept. 18 to allow GuideStone Financial Resources to set up five new subsidiaries providing, among other things, investment financial advice, its own property and casualty insurance and its own life insurance.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee approved legal documents at its semi-annual meeting Sept. 18 to allow GuideStone Financial Resources to set up five new subsidiaries providing, among other things, investment financial advice, its own property and casualty insurance and its own life insurance.
GuideStone is the name of what once was called the Annuity Board.
The Executive Committee passed the recommendation following one hour of discussion, most of which focused on whether the committee should study the issue until its next meeting in February. In the end, the recommendation passed on a show of hands.
Some Executive Committee members said they wanted more time to study the proposal’s documents, which they said were extensive. Others responded by saying the entire Executive Committee needed to trust the work of GuideStone’s trustees.
Jody Hudgins, a banker from Sarasota, Fla., requested that consideration of the recommendation be delayed until February.
What [GuideStone is] proposing is probably OK, but … there are a lot of questions here that we don’t even know to ask yet, and we don’t know the answers to those [questions],” he said.
Calvin Wittman, pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in Arvada, Colo., spoke for the recommendation, saying any questions about the proposal should be left up to GuideStone trustees.
“We have as the Southern Baptist Convention invested the responsibility for these very questions in the trustees of the various entities, and in this particular case GuideStone,” Wittman said. “… We are well served as the Executive Committee to respect their trustees and to do our role, nothing more and nothing less.”
GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins urged Executive Committee members not to delay the vote.
“This is something we’ve been working on a long time,” Hawkins said, adding that the new services of the subsidiaries will be consistent with GuideStone’s ministry assignment. “… This is all about serving our pastors at the crossroads.”
One of the more significant changes will be GuideStone’s ability to offer investment advice to pastors and other participants who currently have their retirement funds through GuideStone. GuideStone has not yet determined whether the advice will be free or fee-based.
“If you were on our call center today you would be hearing scores of pastors saying, ‘Please help me know where to put my funds,’” Hawkins said. “… They need advice on where to put their funds. We can’t even give it to them now.”
GuideStone also will offer churches property and casualty insurance directly, which it now provides through a third party. With its own insurance company, GuideStone will be able to lower costs, Hawkins said. Other denominations have followed that model, he said.
And GuideStone would have its own life insurance company, which will allow it to expand what it offers participants, Hawkins said.
GuideStone’s present subsidiary named GuideStone Financial Services will be renamed GuideStone Trust Services and its old name will be used for the formation of a new subsidiary.
The new subsidiaries will be named:
— GuideStone Risk Management Co. a non-profit Vermont corporation to serve as a property and casualty insurance and risk management affiliate. GuideStone officials chose to make it a Vermont corporation because of favorable laws there.
— GuideStone Life Insurance Co., a for-profit Texas corporation, which may be newly created or acquired substantially.
— GuideStone Agency Services, a non-profit Texas corporation designed to distribute the insurance products and services for GuideStone Risk Management and GuideStone Life Insurance.
— GuideStone Advisors, a non-profit Texas corporation will serve as an additional registered investment adviser.
— GuideStone Financial Services, a non-profit Texas corporation proposed as a broker dealer affiliate.
All five subsidiaries will have GuideStone trustees as their trustees, with the possible exceptions of GuideStone Risk Management and GuideStone Life Insurance. In the first instance, someone who is a member of a Vermont Southern Baptist church and who is not a GuideStone Financial Resources trustee may need to serve as a trustee on GuideStone Risk Management. Vermont law states that at least one trustee of the subsidiary must be a Vermont resident; GuideStone currently has no Vermont trustees. The exception for the life insurance subsidiary is to allow, in the event the subsidiary is formed by substantially acquiring a life insurance company, the election of unencumbered minority shareholder trustees, but the majority of trustees would be GuideStone trustees.
Two attempts were made to end discussion and vote on the recommendation. The first vote to end debate took place about 20 minutes into the hour-long segment and fell short of the required two-thirds majority. The second vote to end debate met the two-thirds requirement, and members subsequently passed the recommendation.
In various other business matters, the Executive Committee:
— stated its agreement with a motion referred from the SBC annual meeting in San Antonio that the Executive Committee “give serious consideration in the future to select cities as sites for the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting that have not hosted the annual meeting for the past 20 years.”
— responded to a referral from the San Antonio meeting calling for an amendment to the SBC’s bylaws that would stipulate the disclosure of disagreements nominees for the SBC’s various boards and committees may have with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
The Executive Committee stated: “…[A]long with a nominee’s objection to any portion of the Baptist Faith and Message, there are innumerable other specific details about board nominees bearing on their fitness for service and about which messengers may inquire during the Committee on Nominations report.” Declining to recommend a change in the SBC’s bylaws, the Executive Committee stated that it prefers “to encourage the continued inclusion, in the questionnaires and interviews of both the Committee on Committees and Committee on Nominations, of specific inquiries designed to disclose candidates’ affinity for and commitment to the Baptist Faith and Message as well as Convention policies, practices, purposes and activities.”
— declined to recommend to the convention the creation of a task force on “the spiritual gift of tongues” and “private prayer language” proposed in a motion at the San Antonio meeting. The Executive Committee stated that it “respectfully declines to appoint or act as a task force to develop a doctrinal policy on tongues or any other doctrine aside from the Baptist Faith and Message.” Akin to its previous statements on the BF&M, the Executive Committee stated that the BF&M is “sufficient in its current form to guide trustees in their establishment of policies and practices of entities of the Convention … [and] likewise sufficient to guide the Convention’s Committee on Nominations in its selection and qualification of trustee nominees.”
— approved LifeWay Christian Resources’ request to publish a new magazine named LifeWalk, a daily devotional for reading through the Bible in one year.
— elected Dave Hill, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Springfield, Ohio, to serve as chairman of the 2007-08 Committee on Nominations, filling a vacancy in the post created by the recent death of Glenn Weekley, pastor of First Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn. The Executive Committee also elected Ken Polk, senior pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to replace Weekley as a member of the committee.