BARTLESVILLE—Former state pastor/evangelist William E. (Bill) Spencer was bitten by the “writing bug” as a young man, and said he has started writing again at the robust age of 82. In fact, he had his first novel, The Thrilling Adventures of King David—a biography of the biblical king—published in July, and is working on a second book to be released in November.
However, he knows sales of the book probably won’t send him and his wife, Shirley, to the bank on multiple occasions. So, he is extremely thankful for the monthly stipend he receives through the Mission:Dignity program made available to retired Southern Baptist ministers through GuideStone Financial Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“I tell you, if it wasn’t for Mission:Dignity, I don’t know what we would do, really,” Spencer said recently. “It means that we can meet our financial responsibilities. Without that, it would be extremely difficult to do so, because we were in the retirement program for only 11 years before I left my last church to enter evangelism full time. So, our contributions into the system were very small.”
Spencer was ordained on June 5, 1960 as pastor of the Ochelata Mission of Ramona, First. He later pastored at Marietta, Eastside; Duncan, Trinity; Hinton and Broken Arrow, Arrow Heights before entering full-time evangelism.
“Mission:Dignity is a great mission work for the old preachers like me who have been here through the years and have kind of been put on the shelf,” he said. “We really appreciate it. I do a funeral every now and then, but I very seldom get to preach anymore. I guess I’m getting too old, but as long as I have a voice, I’ll preach, you know. As long as the Lord opens the door.”
And, the Spencers are holding fast to the message of Luke 12:48, “to whom much is given, much is required.” They aren’t forgetting about other retired ministry couples who will find themselves needing financial assistance in the future.
“Oh, my goodness, yes,” Bill exclaimed when asked if Mission:Dignity is a worthwhile program. “We’re giving back 10 percent of our estate in our will; five percent to Mission:Dignity and five percent to the Baptist Foundation. Ten percent goes to the cause of our choice. We’ll give half of our estate to Mission:Dignity to help other struggling preachers who need it.”
The Baptist Foundation of Oklahoma has had four accounts established to whom the beneficiary is Guidestone Financial Resources for Mission:Dignity. Total distributions from those accounts since 1999 in the amount of $33,041.99 have been made to Guidestone.
The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma also offers assistance to retired ministers/widows from two trusts established through the Foundation, the Joseph Young and Thelma H. Young Irrevocable Trust for Elderly Baptist Ministers and the Wayna J. Young Irrevocable Trust Agreement for Needy Ministers and Their Widows.
Applications for assistance through these trusts may be made through the office of Thomas Jordan, BGCO church and employee benefit specialist.
The Convention’s Pastoral Ministries Office also offers one-time assistance to pastors for counseling and forced-termination assistance based upon recommendations of Directors of Missions.
Mission:Dignity began in 1918 through GuideStone Financial Resources to benefit retired Southern Baptist ministers, workers or their widows who faithfully served God’s people and now find themselves struggling to meet even basic needs. Many served small, rural churches that paid only modest salaries and couldn’t afford to contribute to their pastors’ retirement. Often, these long-time servants had to work extra jobs just to make ends meet.
Mission:Dignity currently helps almost 2,000 retired SBC ministers, workers or their widows by providing monthly income extra money needed for housing, food and vital medications to qualified recipients and pays out more than $6.5 million annually in assistance.
In Oklahoma, 84 retired ministers are receiving assistance through Mission:Dignity.
For more information, contact Mission:Dignity at GuideStone by calling 888/98-GUIDE (888/984-8433) or visit www.missiondignitysbc.org.