June 19, 2002
DALLAS – Southern Baptist churches across the nation will celebrate Adopt An Annuitant Sunday on June 23. The theme for this year’s emphasis is "Lest We Forget."
Adopt An Annuitant Sunday is the day set aside each June by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) to remember the thousands of aged ministers and their widows who unselfishly devoted their lives to the gospel ministry, but are now facing critical financial circumstances in their retirement years.
"Through the Annuity Board’s Adopt An Annuitant program, Southern Baptists are embracing the godly servants and their spouses who have been our pastors and teachers," said O.S. Hawkins, Annuity Board president and chief executive officer.
With the support of individuals and churches, the Annuity Board’s Adopt An Annuitant ministry currently provides monthly financial assistance to about 3,000 retired ministers and their widows living on meager retirement incomes.
"These people served at a time when little thought was given to planning for retirement – often in smaller, rural churches and missions that provided only a modest salary and little, if any, contributions toward a retirement account," said John Ambra, head of the Annuity Board’s endowment department. "Many struggle to afford the basic necessities of life such as food, housing, prescription drugs and medical care."
Recipients of Adopt An Annuitant funds must meet guidelines for income, assets and years of Southern Baptist service. Qualified recipients may be eligible for $200 a month for an individual or $265 per month for a couple.
Under the Annuity Board’s new relief guidelines, more than $6 million will be paid out annually in assistance to needy retirees. Almost $1.4 million will come from the SBC Cooperative Program. Investment income on the Retired Ministers’ Support Fund provides some additional funding. The balance comes from the direct gifts of individuals, groups and churches in our Southern Baptist family through the Adopt An Annuitant and relief ministries of the Annuity Board.
"In addition to helping those in need, we are able to offer our Baptist family the privilege of obeying and serving the Lord in a tangible way by sharing with His laborers," Hawkins said. "John asked an important question in his first epistle, … whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in Him? (1 John 3:17)
The "Lest We Forget" theme for this year’s Adopt An Annuitant Sunday demonstrates two primary ways Southern Baptists, through this ministry, are lifting up these needy individuals. First, remembering them with financial assistance affirms their many years of service and helps secure their day-to-day lives and future. In addition, the monthly check is an ongoing reminder to them that they are loved and not forgotten in their declining years.
"It is urgent that Southern Baptists step in to affirm their service and let these servants of God know they are loved and not forgotten," Hawkins said. "On Adopt An Annuitant Sunday, Southern Baptist congregations across the nation join together in extending God’s care and compassion to His faithful servants – providing the comfort and dignity they deserve."
Free bulletin inserts and a video explaining the ministry are available to use in worship services. For more information call 1-800-262-0511.