DALLAS—In the Old Testament, we find these words: “They will still bear fruit in old age, healthy and green, to declare, ‘The Lord is just.” Psalm 92:14-15a.
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.
Michael and Sandra Dowling have served the Lord together for more than 15 years in Alabama. Though they’ve reached retirement age, they still feel called to serve the community where they live.
“When we received the acceptance letter from Mission:Dignity, it immediately helped us feel that we were going to be more free to serve,” the Dowlings said. “There are no words to describe what a difference Mission:Dignity has made in our lives. They serve us so we can serve others.”
Today, Mission:Dignity helps more than 2,800 individuals yearly with extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications. It also ensures a well-deserved dignity, independence and, often, the ability to continue serving the Lord.
“In accepting the call, I realized that I was responsible to support my family, and there was going to be a lack in our finances with Social Security alone as income,” Michael Dowling said. “Mission:Dignity, by providing this monthly grant, allowed us to be free to serve the community without worry. Now, I have a pulpit on my front porch to reach the people who walk by and say, ‘Pray for us.’ And I have food to give them when they need it.”
Stories like the Dowlings’ highlight the importance of Mission:Dignity.
“At GuideStone, our mission is to enhance the financial security and resilience of those who serve the Lord,” GuideStone President Dr. Hance Dilbeck said. “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 Southern Baptist Convention has set aside the fourth Sunday in June for churches to celebrate and raise 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 Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans in June. The materials are not dated, so churches can use them any time of the year they wish.
“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. “With 100 percent of donations given to Mission:Dignity going to help them continue to ‘bear fruit in their old age,’ our churches can be assured that their gifts are not only meeting physical needs but advancing the Kingdom of God as well.”
Visit MDSunday.org for more information on this vital ministry from GuideStone.