Rick and Betty Hall of Eclectic have a multitude of stories about the small churches they served throughout Eastern Alabama over the course of three decades.
In the Halls’ last church five people attended on the first Sunday. No one had lived in the parsonage for 36 years and there were only 34 people within a mile of the church. Attendance grew to almost 40 during the eight years the Halls were there. The members learned how to give to missions, and it became the top per-capita giving church in their local association to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering.
Rick and Betty both worked a variety of jobs to pay their bills. “Most country churches expect a pastor to do everything — visitation, hospital calls, turning the lights on. But most of them can’t pay much, if anything,” Rick Hall said.
When they retired Rick and Betty had no savings to fall back on but heard about Mission:Dignity, a ministry of GuideStone Financial Resources that assists retired Southern Baptist ministers and their wives who have faithfully served God’s people and now find themselves struggling to meet even basic needs.
Like the Halls many of those who receive financial assistance from Mission:Dignity served small, rural churches that paid only modest salaries and couldn’t afford to contribute to their pastors’ retirement.
Mission:Dignity currently helps almost 1,800 people with extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications. It has also ensured a well-deserved dignity, independence and, often, the ability to continue serving. It has made a huge difference in the lives of those who receive help.
Rick Hall confessed one month there was $3.27 in the bank when the Mission:Dignity check came in.
“Our Social Security pays the bills, but the Mission:Dignity gift pays for our groceries. We can’t tell you how many times we have thanked the Lord for your help,” he said to GuideStone. “Many months, we would not have bought groceries home without your assistance.”
More than $7 million is distributed annually with most of the funding coming from the direct gifts of individuals, Sunday School classes and churches. One hundred percent of gifts provide well-deserved monthly grants with nothing used for operating expenses. An endowment established many years ago covers the administrative costs of the ministry.
“One of the great blessings of our ministry is knowing that so many of the good and godly pastors and their wives we serve are able to have a measure of security and, yes, dignity in their declining years thanks to the individuals, churches and Sunday School classes who give to Mission:Dignity,” said GuideStone President O.S. Hawkins.
“We are thankful that we can be Christ’s hand extended to these Southern Baptist pastors and their widows who sacrificed to serve His churches throughout their ministries.”
For churches, Sunday School classes and others interested in supporting Mission:Dignity, GuideStone provides free bulletin inserts, promotional posters and a DVD with several brief testimonies of people assisted by Mission:Dignity.
The materials are undated and can be used anytime. The free resources can be ordered at
Individuals wishing to donate, or wishing to refer potential recipients, to Mission:Dignity can do so through MissionDignity.org.
The ministry — now beginning its second century of service to Southern Baptist pastors — has been a blessing, Rick Hall said.
“We just want to thank you so very much. We know that God cares for us, and the assistance from those who give to Mission:Dignity is one way He has helped us. It’s amazing and we can’t thank you enough.” (GuideStone)
For more information visit MissionDignity.org.