Guidestone's 'Mission: Dignity' ministry cares for pastors and their families in their retirement


TOCCOA, GA – James reminds us that pure and undefiled religion will prompt believers to care for widows (James 1:27). The writer of Proverbs penned, “Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed” (Proverbs 19:17).

The spring edition of Mission: Dignity, a ministry of Guidestone Financial Resources, a Southern Baptist Convention entity, reported, “Widows are typically some of the most vulnerable members of society from a cultural perspective, which is why God calls His bride to step into the gap. In the United States, women often outlive their husbands, and 2,800 new widows are added to the national total of 11.8 million every day.

“Many of those in the current generation of widows did not work outside the home or did so on a very limited basis, . . . and did little in terms of (providing) for their own Social Security.”

Additionally, many pastors served small churches that were unable or failed to provide funds for an adequate annuity. Many churches had their own pastorium for pastors to live in, but upon retirement, those pastors have struggled to be able to purchase a home of their own. Adversities and hardships ensued. The consequences of aging began to take its toll on elderly pastors and their wives. Debts mounted. Discouragement arose. Fears assailed.

Mission: Dignity stepped in to help. Currently, this benevolent ministry is providing financial assistance to more than 2,800 individuals. Kenneth and Marilene Moon have been grateful recipients of Southern Baptists’ generosity through Mission: Dignity. Pastor Moon explained, “I was a pastor for 48 years, but a stroke forced me to retire earlier than I had intended. I loved the churches I served, but they were not able to pay living wages or put money in a retirement fund. I had never heard of Mission: Dignity until about 15 years ago. At that time, I applied for some assistance, and their help was almost immediate.”

Kenneth, age 90, and Marilene, 88, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary in August 2023. Currently, their health problems are significant, but the Moons express gratitude for their adult children who provide great support.  

Interestingly, at Moon’s church in Toccoa, the members gave a total of $100,866 in their offerings in his last year as pastor; and the church gave more than ten percent of their total receipts through the Cooperative Program with $16,428 given through the GBMB Executive Committee. When you calculate all the other expenses a church would normally incur it is most likely that the dear people were not able to pay their pastor a living wage.

Pastor Moon commented, “God has supplied all our needs according to His riches in glory. We don’t owe a penny to anybody. I don’t know how we did it, but I know that Mission: Dignity has played a big part in helping us survive and be debt free.”

Charles Seal is a winsome, personable individual with a captivating sense of humor, who is currently offering his help to the Odum Baptist Church in South Georgia because he continues to have a longing in his heart to serve. Charles’ journey in life has not only taken him to seasons of ministry in Indiana, Florida, and Virginia but he has been employed to serve and protect citizens as a law enforcement officer to help make ends meet.

Charles stated, “When I went to serve a church, I never asked what the church would be able to pay me. That may be why they typically stayed on the lower end of the spectrum regarding the pastor’s salary, but I always thought the calling upon my life and the privilege of serving the Lord was greater than any kind of financial remuneration.”

In recent years, Charles’ wife, Betty, has been beleaguered with some formidable physical challenges. However, Mission: Dignity has come to the Seals’ aid and provided constant care, prayer, and financial assistance directly at their point of need.  

Through the years the churches Seal served, including Waters Avenue Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla., where he was pastor for 14 years, provided some money for his retirement, but most of the annuity he had accrued was withdrawn in a time of crisis to care for Betty’s physical challenges. She battles systemic lupus, a disease that affects the lungs, heart, and kidneys, and often results in blood cell and immunological abnormalities. Charles explained, “It is a disease that causes the body to turn on itself.”

Charles admitted that the medical expenses were significant, but he stated, “I was determined not to ask for help.” However, one day he was informed about Mission: Dignity and discovered they are specifically designed to serve retirement-aged ministers, workers, and widows as they face advancing age, illness, and infirmity.

Charles explained that he “somewhat reluctantly, decided to apply for Mission: Dignity’s assistance to retired ministers facing a financial crisis. I soon discovered that they were more than willing to provide the assistance we needed. It was during that time of stress and uncertainty that I received a check from Mission Dignity for $1,200. God’s timing was perfect, and He provided for us through this benevolent ministry and has continued to do so. Mission: Dignity has proven themselves to be as good as gold.”

Mission: Dignity Sunday is June 23, 2024. Those who wish to give to aid retirement-age ministers, workers, and widows may donate online or make checks payable to Guidestone and designate Mission: Dignity and mail to: Guidestone, 5005 LBJ Freeway, Ste. 2200,  Dallas, TX 75244-6512