On June 25, Southern Baptists have the opportunity to honor righteous, unsung heroes of the faith — namely, retirement-aged Southern Baptist pastors, workers and their widows who served and abundantly blessed those in their care during their years of ministry.
Many of these heroes still serve in whatever capacity they can — by volunteering at church, preaching, leading Bible studies (in-person and online!), lifting up intercessory prayers and in many other ways.
Mission:Dignity, a ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, helps more than 2,800 people yearly with extra money needed for housing, food and medications.
In the last report provided by GuideStone, Tennessee was home to 154 individuals (35 couples, 84 singles/widows) which comprise 119 households that receive monthly checks through Mission:Dignity, said Roger “Sing” Oldham, pastor engagement specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“While most of these are retired pastors and wives/widows, the number also includes retired fulltime evangelists, church secretaries and other church staff, and even couples who are planting new churches in the fourth quarter of their lives,” Oldham said.
He noted that last Fall, the TBMB board of directors approved providing a “13th check” to each household. Through an anonymous gift, the TBMB was able to forward another $100 per household in February, he added.
“We have received scores and scores of thank you notes. Each card tugs at your heartstrings at both the thanks directed to the Board, but also gratitude to the Lord for providing a specific need at the time the gifts were received,” he shared. “These are spiritual heroes, men and women who continue to walk by faith and find the Lord faithful for every need.”
“At GuideStone, our mission is to enhance the financial security and resilience of those who serve the Lord,” said GuideStone president Hance Dilbeck. “What we hear from our recipients weekly is that these honorariums provide them with additional security — dignity — in their daily lives. I’m thankful we are able to join with churches across the Southern Baptist Convention to provide support for these retired SBC pastors and pastor widows.”
The SBC set aside the fourth Sunday in June for churches to celebrate and collect a special offering for Mission:Dignity. Churches, Sunday School classes and other groups can order or download free Mission:Dignity Sunday materials from GuideStone, or give by visiting MDSunday.org or the GuideStone booth at the annual meeting of the SBC.
“Every day, we hear from these dear soldiers of the cross striving to finish well with the dignity they deserve,” said Aaron Meraz, director of Mission:Dignity. B&R — This article includes reporting from B&R editor Lonnie Wilkey.